Which side of the Atlantic do I belong to?


Dorothea Brande in her Becoming A Writer writes; “It is not by weighing, balancing, trimming, expanding with conscious intention, that an excellent piece of art is born. It takes its shape and has its origin outside the region of conscious intellect. Any art must draw on this higher content of the unconscious as well as on the memories and emotions stored away there.”

If in my writing I draw on the content of my memory who would I be? Chance had it that I was born and raised in Lebanon. Not an Arab myself, I grew up to love Lebanon as my country. For socioeconomic reasons I immigrated to Montreal in 2006 and now I am a Canadian citizen. In my letters to publishers, editors and literary agents I refer to myself as a Canadian writer. Does Being a Canadian citizen define me as a Canadian writer? Shouldn’t I be writing about Canada, its culture and people to become one? To be honest and true to myself I haven’t gathered enough experience and collected enough memories to write about. When I sit at my desk and close my eyes I go back to my childhood and the people and places in Beirut, or I see the streets of Dubai and the many people I have met there as an adult when I worked and lived in the Emirates for twenty two years, without totally belonging there. Who am I and where do I belong? If I write about Lebanon and its people am I a Lebanese writer? If my characters are from Dubai and the events in my books take place in the Emirates will I be an Emirati writer? Shall I stick to what I know? As Ray Bradbury writes in ‘Zen in The Art of writing’;

“It is a wise writer who knows his own subconscious. And not only knows it but also lets it speak of the world as it and it alone has sensed it and shaped it to its own truth.”

As I ponder the question ‘Which side of the Atlantic do I really belong to?’ I can only think of one answer; I am a writer who belongs to the Universe. Because that is who I am, that is who I truly want to be, to quote Ray Bradbury once again;

“Do not for money, turn away from all the stuff you have collected in a lifetime. Do not for the vanity of intellectual publications, turn away from what you are- the material within you which makes you individual and therefore indispensable to others.”

ChK

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2 Responses to Which side of the Atlantic do I belong to?

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