The Traveling Writer

12 Sep

Where was I? Where were you?? 

This is where I was:

1st Lap in white, 2nd Lap in light pink, 3rd Lap in magenta

1st Lap in white, 2nd Lap in light pink, 3rd Lap in magenta

Firstly, I was in Toulouse for the European Juggling Convention. Then I drove with a friend from Toulouse (over La Rochelle) to Brighton, to attend the Aerial Dance Festival there. I spent a few quiet days and not-so-quiet-nights in London with my best friend, then I flew to Carcassonne and travelled around with botanists I met at the EJC, ending up in Montpellier and catching a flight from there to Frankfurt-Hahn.

Before hitting the road I didn’t know how much I would be able to blog so I thought it best to advise everyone to follow my Tumblr account (rittisoncco.tumblr.com) If you want more pictures from my summer, feel free to check them out there!

Oooo it’s strange to be blogging after such a long pause. I feel a bit awkward. Sorry if my writing is bizarre: I need to get back into the flow!

My summer was truly beautiful, and I did it by planning absolutely nothing. I wanted the wind to take me. Following a beautiful invitation, the wind took me back to the south of France for ocean waves, melons, rivers and lakes and frommage de chevre. 

In Brighton we trained to a beautiful song. In Montpellier I jotted down a memory. If you like, listen to the song and then give my anecdote your eyes. It’s work-in-progress – or perhaps it’s as far as it will ever go. It’s an anecdote I wrote to remember, and the home for memories are diaries, short stories, and you.

Two Travelers Find Themselves In a City

photo 1Two travelers climbed out of the entanglements of the woods and found themselves among the soft French murmurs of the ocean city Montpellier. His hair fell in masses that mimicked the leaves in autumn and smelt of bonfires over which he had cooked dinners and boiled coffee. Her scalp was covered in sand, le sable, and her hair clumped into what would, with time, become dreadlocks formed by swimming in the Mediterranean Sea and in lakes.

photo 2

Their eyes still searched, accustomed by now to deciphering transparent jellyfish from choppy green water; deciphering which roads led to less people; which rocks could be climbed over and which would cut her left foot.

In this state, they found themselves abruptly in the center of Montpellier. They were trying to camouflage by wearing clothes of finer material, but their skin smelt of midnight washes, naked under the waning moon, and they knew they were tourists – not to this city, but to all cities. The only intimacy she felt necessary, she had come to find in the space between her face and her hair. They had peed in vineyards, on mountains, in showers. They had swum naked; they had argued in towns where no one knew their names.

Now they sat in a restaurant and ordered food.

the food that came looked something like this

the food that came

She crossed her legs beneath the glass table with finesse but she was thinking: I hope this city doesn’t grow much larger for it will come between us. I’m pretending, she knew. The woods they had lived in had demanded they expel everything but their core, and it had taken a while for her head to leave. She didn’t want her core to return to the entanglement of the woods, wrapped and hidden by leaves.

He looked as little as ease as she, but his movements were perfect: how he selected the wine, how he held the glass as he tasted his choice. She began a table conversation, but hesitantly.

As they ate, the conversation turned to judgement: how they were perceived on occasions. Feeling the city between them, she told her story in more direct, more revealing manner. She said things she normally would not have; not so quickly: I know they think I’m beautiful and I’ve been judged as having things made easier for me because of that. His smile grew as she gave him intimacy with her anecdote, and he set the wine glass down to hear her.

And they thought: Let’s get the hell away from this restaurant and back into the van.

photo 4

Let’s cook on its small gas stove that goes out if we leave the doors open. In the kitchen that sways whenever a car whizzes past. Let’s eat on stone slabs and scratch our skin from the latex of figs. I saw who she was when she learnt how to climb. I saw who he was when he swam in the ocean. 

I was seen in the woods. Take me back there, I want to be seen again. 

photo 3

Yes, I loved being away from civilization. I thought of you often and wondered if you were checking my blog, wondering where the hell I was. Traveling was beautiful, but it’s good to be back and blogging

I’ve been thinking about the future of the blog since I first toyed with the idea of going to uni. I came to the following conclusion: This has always been a blog about my writing, and as my writing will continue as long as I breathe, this blog will continue being about my writing.

SCALED_3_800_600_800_565_595_420_29056_file.pic.1972.6435484376604

There’s quite a bit to say, but I should mention that the upcoming Kulturnacht on Saturday, 14th September, will be my “last” performance in Germany this year – since I am moving to Scotland in 9 days…

There was a MISTAKE in the official PROGRAM BROCHURE: I START AT 8pm. I’ll probably be reading until 11 pm / midnight, depending on the audience / feedback. I will do my utmost to limit myself to 20 minutes, but I’m feeling quite liberal about the night. I’m taking the guitar, I’ll experiment a bit with poetry, Qayqa, and stuff, and if you show me that you want a performance to go on for longer: I will.

Friedrich Glorian will not be performing with me, as he has engagements elsewhere. I am, ofcourse, very sad to not be collaborating with him on Saturday (I was especially looking forward to our rehearsals!!! I had the impression that they would be great fun) but when he spoke to me about his other engagement, I understood and support his decision 100%. You have to go where your art takes you.

I’m really just letting the Kulturnacht 2013 surprise me. I have a few ideas, and ofcourse I’m slightly nervous (it’ll get stronger as Saturday approaches), but all in all, I just want to focus on feeling comfortable.

On the road and since I’ve returned, I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of artist – and wondering if I really have what it takes. I took this year 2012 / 2013 to focus on my writing, and I found that I wasn’t necessarily more productive than if I hadn’t taken a year off to write. I usually wrote the most when I had to leave the following morning, because the pressure of departure was on me.

The winter was hard. I asked myself often if I really have what it takes to be an artist, a productive creator. I see other artists around me who have been doing this for years, and I admire their enthusiasm and energy so much. It’s such a rollercoaster ride; how the HELL do other people do it?!

I met up with very good friends of mine: filmmakers. They made this film:

It premiered at the Berlinale and was a great success. Since then, the filmmaking company they founded, Kunststoff, has been thriving. They can live comfortably off their work, and we spent a very interesting evening comparing our lives as freelancers, artists, creators.

And I heard my words coming out of their mouths: “It’s a rollercoaster ride. If it weren’t so damn emotional, it’d be alright, but we’re not machines… Sometimes everything is so overwhelming and there no one who can help you with your problem because you’re doing something new, something no one has ever done before, so there’s no one to tell you how to do things. You have to find the solution yourself. It’s beautiful – but it’s exhausting – but it’s beautiful.”

A few days later in Ulm, I went to the Roxy to see the band Okta Logue in concert. Mark and I had stumbled over them accidentally in Darmstadt, and now they finally made it to Ulm… Back in Darmstadt we saw them give an interview and present their music video, which was…

They were in Ulm to present their new album Tales Of Transit City which was stunning, really really stunning. With the first strum of the guitar, the audience of Ulm closed their eyes and swayed. I went to the bar for another beer and from the distance, I could feel Okta Logue cast their spell over the crowd. I walked back into the cloud and felt bewitched. It was a beautiful, beautiful concert, and if you ever have the opportunity to see them live, please don’t miss it.

Here is another song I quite like:

After a magical concert, I fell into a long and interesting discussion with the guitarist and drummer about the nature of being an artist. They mentioned not being too pleased with the gig because they were tired, etc, and we discussed the automatisms we fall into while we perform.

“I know that during this particular sentence, I usually do this hand gesture, so I do it. Even when I don’t feel it, I do it,” I said.

The guitarist nodded quickly: “I know this is usually my pose, so I take it, but I don’t feel it. I start thinking too much, and that’s when I make mistakes. Then it’s oh no, one mistake, and the insecurities pour in so I make a second mistake. Then it’s 2:0 mistakes against me. It’s an internal battle no one else sees while I am onstage.”

photo 2

I recounted: “I gave a reading once that I wasn’t pleased with and yet the audience gave me great feedback that night. But I was somehow saddened that I had missed out on a beautiful experience that they had all shared with one another. I was there, yes, but I had missed the feeling the night had for them.” They nodded understandingly.

“That’s how it is,” we agreed. “It’s a damn emotional rollercoaster ride.”

photo 3

Okta Logue is in the middle of a tour throughout Germany and in October they’ll hit the States for 3 weeks. I told them (and I’ll keep saying it) that I wish them every success because they truly deserve it. Their music is divine. Please visit their page here: http://oktalogue.com/wordpress/  and go to their concerts and buy their vinyls and t-shirts. Talk to them afterwards if you can. It’s rare to find people you can fall immediately have deep, meaningful conversations with; but you can with them.

So my insecurities questioning “am I real artist?” are the echo we all share. I’ve written all my life, and I love performing. But for how long will the doubts echo? Will we ever be sure of ourselves as artists? – or is the point of confidence also the point of arrogance?

I know I need the freedom to travel and to write as I see fit. There are many people with many very good ideas about how I should continue my career, and they would all be right, except that I have other plans… Just as Basti said about being a filmmaker: you hit a problem and no one can solve it for you because no one’s ever been here before. It’s the same with every other choice in the artist life: no one has ever been here before, so I will do things my way. I know I’ll doubt and fight and love, but as long as my words reach you, I think I am doing alright. 

Find the way you need to live.

I leave you with an interesting conversation I had yesterday with Manfred Eichhorn, owner of the Eichhorn Buchladen where I’ll be reading at the Kulturnacht. Before I hit the road, I gave him the Qayqa manuscript for critique, and over a cup of jasmine tea, he gave me excellent feedback with direction.

And he said:

“You and your novel are inseparable. When you read it, there’s magic. But what happens when you’re not around to read it? Can your words stand on their own? In order to do so, they still need some work.

I also have doubts about your character: why is he a man? He doesn’t always sound or act like a man. If you are so inseparable from your book, why not make the main character a woman? You, perhaps? That will help your reader dive quicker in the world you are creating. Damian is very feminine, and that’s sometimes a problem because I didn’t always believe him.

Either you change Damian into a woman… Or keep the third-person narrative structure and stop speaking from his perspective.”

I have been asking myself ever since: why do I love that Damian is a man? Given the choices Manfred Eichhorn proposed, I would immediately choose to stay true to the third-person narrative and (sad as I find it) eliminate all first-person recounts. Because I love Damian is a man. I cannot turn him into a woman.

But: why not?

Why not…?

See you at the Kulturnacht… Or on the blog.

last night, experimenting different tunes for my poetry

last night, experimenting different tunes for my poetry

I will blog again before Scotland.

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