In Collage, Collages, Current reading, Drafts, Once in a parking lot, Revision, Sanford Meisner, Story material, Visual artists on July 20, 2014 at 8:12 am

From the pile next to the bed, last night, I extract a biography of Marguerite Yourcenar by Josyane Savigneau, picked up at the sale of library books a few weeks ago. I don’t get much further than the introduction because of two crucial elements in it. The first has to do with a strict separation Yourcenar attempted to maintain between the writer, the person and the character i.e. the persona. Yourcenar was obsessive about this, aided by her companion Grace Frick. Every scrap of paper, every response to every letter: sorted, burned or collected in the archives – those for immediate consultation, those sealed off for fifty years. Creating the Yourcenar persona occupied a lot of their time.

The second element: a throw-away line by Savigneau, commenting on Yourcenar’s creative style. Like many other writers, the biographer says, she could create a fictional scene based on a true-life incident. She would then re-interpret a moment in her life in the light of this fiction, something Savigneau considers much less common.

Oh? If the fiction you write doesn’t transform the vision you have of who and what you are relative to who and what you were prior to writing it – what’s the point? Same as for actors – both in profound and in ridiculous ways. Actors take on the mannerisms of the character they play, for instance. Or become the type cast they interpret in each and every production. But actors also learn and change through being a specific character for the duration of a theater run or a shoot. Several hours every day, they set their every day personality aside. They step into the shoes, clothes, makeup and presence of a fictional being who must be compelling and convincing or else, why bother? The same holds true for a writer. How can you not see your every day life in a different light when you step back into it?

Then, to the background of the growing conflict in Gaza,  in current reading this morning: two interviews in Le Nouvel Observateur. One of Zeev Sternhell, an Israeli historian specializing in French fascism. The other by Asaf Hanuka an Israeli graphic artist whose family comes from Irak. The ways in which the intimate and the personal meld into fiction and history.

The order in which you juxtapose sentences in a paragraph, or paragraphs within a scene. The order in which you assemble the scenes.



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