The Malta Independent 20 May 2024, Monday
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How I Write - Erika Brincat

Malta Independent Sunday, 18 April 2010, 00:00 Last update: about 11 years ago

I find this question an interesting one to answer, because there are so many different ways to write, it’s a bit of a mystery in itself!

In my case I have a passion for writing poetry as well as a passion for collecting journals. The journal itself has to be to my liking – something ethnic or Asian in style preferably. I was given a soft leather-bound tie-up journal I simply loved writing in because it felt like an ancient manuscript waiting to be filled, and I was happy to find Egyptian inspired notebooks in India for example. I guess some girls drool over Jimmy Choos and I get excited over exotic notebooks!

Life itself is the inspiration and it’s essential to find quiet gaps during the day when one can relax and put pen to paper. I find it best to write poetry during peaceful moments, usually late at night here on the island when the day is almost over – there are no more mundane tasks and duties to see to – and one can feel a more silent energy in the air.

When I write it’s a process of unthinking myself – letting go of the mind – all the To Do list functions in the brain – and tuning in to the heart. If I am travelling it’s somewhat easier to do because life has a different flow – you have more time to yourself and a journal is a great travel companion – it is a real pleasure to write in a balcony overlooking some gorgeous view or lounging by the pool. I also tend to be a little more inspired – looking at the world with fresh eyes and intrigued by new discoveries and unusual circumstances.

However, I also enjoy writing when back in Malta. It’s a very selfish process and a beautiful way for me to reconnect with the intensity of any experience whether romantic, challenging, mind-opening or visually stunning. Love is definitely that indefinable ingredient which makes life and therefore writing even juicier.

Words are magical. Poetry is a kind of Alchemy. Well, I’m not exactly transforming metal into gold yet when the words just pour out and find their own rhythm you do feel closer to your true self in that moment and it can be a real healing experience. Sometimes it feels like something else takes over, and the energy just flows through you. I don’t want to make it sound too grand – I believe anybody can write in this way. We are creative beings. If we are made in the image of God – creativity is our very birthright, a natural gift.

I love it when I write the unexpected and learn new things from my own words. This used to happen a lot in my 20s – being still a student I had more time for experimentation, painting and discovering things about the mysteries of life.

Writing an article is a very different process. First of all prose is more logical – more left brain than right brain hemisphere – so it’s not always about a spontaneous flow of words – it needs a little more research and looking into the facts of the matter before one starts to write. While writing poetry I prefer to use pen and paper, but in the case of an article I’d feel lost without my laptop. It’s important to be interested in the subject being tackled as well as the interviewee. I have been fortunate to meet many interesting people connected to the arts, music and culture who have made it a joy to write about them – and hopefully interesting for the reader too!

It is essential for me to write about things I love such as art, music, culture, enterprising people, holistic health and more. Along the way I have learnt that other subjects could interest me too whether antiques, interior design, alternative energy or even cars - it’s good to stay open to different possibilities and not put unnecessary limits upon yourself.

Writing my first short story for kids was a pleasant surprise. The story unfolded in a dream – all I had to do was get up and write it and this is the closest I ever got to “automatic writing”! But I did put in a lot more energy to finish it off and commissioned illustrations to substitute my own drawings – it took me over four years to print it so I guess it wasn’t as effortless a process as I think it to be.

I’d love to write a novel someday – maybe in my old age when I have more of a sense of completion with my own life and can immerse myself in a different world more fully. I dream of retiring somewhere in India and I’m sure writing will still be one of my most trusted companions on the journey wherever I may be.

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