Saturday, June 20, 2009

a privilege and a responsibility

Today, as with most days, I had every good intention of spending time writing. I always manage to find something else to do, though. I wander around whatever town I am in, plan the upcoming parts of my trip, chat in Spanish with locals, read. These all count as productive activities, so I don't have to feel guilty for not making good use of my time and my wee computer.

Of the three unread books I have with me, I selected On Bullfighting to serve as my breakfast companion this morning. I purchased it largely because it was one of 50 or so available English books, had a cool cover, and was endorsed by Jeannette Winterson. Since I wasn't going to attend a bullfight, I thought I may as well read about it. It felt like a bit of a duty rather than a pleasure, though. When I bought it, I secretly thought that I would have good intentions to educate myself but would end up reading the trashy mystery that is based in Sevilla (which counts as somewhat educational since it is set where I bought it) or even the Spanish book (which is waterproof and lends itself to reading while floating in the sea).

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the book is a weird combination memoir/non-fiction account. Odd because the writer is reflecting on her own experiences as a person and a writer, even though these have no direct relation to bullfighting. I find non-fiction more interesting when I can hear the writer's own voice. So I was reading and eating my crepes and I came upon a passage in which Kennedy talks about her trip to Granada. Since I am voyaging to Granada in two days, I paid special attention. The author refers to poet Federico Garcia Lorca; my friend told me to read a recent New Yorker article about him before going to Granada.

I lingered over breakfast and read Kennedy's' musings on Lorca's execution in 1936 by Nationalists, She is moved that Lorca died for his art and links it to her own weaknesses as a writer, saying, "I also think that if I had any backbone I would write as best I can, because of the silenced dead, because writing is a privilege and also a responsibility."

Then I closed the book, payed the bill, and climbed up to the rooftop deck of Hostal Africa in Tarifa, Spain and gazed out over the meeting of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, at the Rock of Gibraltar and the haze of Morocco, and I started to write.

No comments: