A Trunk Full of Words
Fernando Pessoa was born in Lisbon in 1888. From the outside, his life might have seemed unsuccessful, even small.
He worked as a translator, lived alone, and died of hepatitis in 1935.
But Pessoa wasn’t alone in his solitude. He invented fictional alter egos he called ‘heteronyms,’ and together they wrote, and wrote, and wrote.
He attributed much of his best work to these folks (as explained in this fascinating article in The New Yorker).
From 1912 until his death Pessoa worked on The Book of Disquiet, an ‘intimate diary’ not published in full until 1982.
In the book’s introduction, William Boyd writes:
“Possessing a disguise far more complex than mere pseudonyms, these heteronym-poets had styles, biographies and personalities of their own…There are seventy-two distinct heretonyms in the Pessoa oeuvre but four predominate: the poets Alberto Caiero, Ricardo Reis, and Alvaro de Campos and the author of The Book of Disquiet, Bernardo Soares.”
I like browsing through this book and recommend it as a form of dreaming, as compelling and contradictory thought bubbles float by.
On the same page Pessoa writes:
“My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tambours I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.”
“In a moment of enlightenment, I realized that I’m nobody. absolutely nobody…If I was ever reincarnated, I must have done so without myself, without a self to reincarnate.”
After Pessoa’s death, there was discovered in his apartment a large trunk containing more than 25,000 manuscript pages, much of it on random scraps of paper. They’re in Portugal’s National Library now.
The desk contest results are in!
First, the bad news: If you have not received a separate email from me, that means you did not win the desk contest.
Don’t be sad. There will other opportunities!
Drumroll…the winners are…
Tamara Kabat of TRB Writing & Editing Services, whose desk is profiled below,
JC Keough, writer of magical mysteries with supernatural shenanigans. JC’s desk appeared a couple of weeks ago (did you see the RED SKULL?), and will reappear in a future issue in more detail.
Honorable mentions to Cara Trent of Midnight Quill Story Development Services and Mike Dobie (hmmm, that name sounds familiar!), whose desks will surface in future issues of the Thursday Postcard.
A winning deskscape from Western Australia
Tamara Kabat sent in this photo of her desk, with a few notes.
“This is my desk. It’s made from local native wood, Jarrah, and is very heavy. It’s also in my craft room, which I barely use as such these days. I live in very hot Western Australia with no air conditioning. My craft room is the coolest room in the house.”
Desk as creativity nexus
Tamara’s desk is clearly a nexus of creativity. Lots of room on the surface, much of it taken up by useful things for making art.
Having worked with a lot of writers, I am never surprised to find out they’re into making other things as well. I guess writing’s one of the few things you can make from thin air…though I have yet to meet a writer with an empty desk.
Tamara’s work / writing activity is represented by a laptop, a mini-monitor propped up on books (HG Wells’ short stories and Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales), “…notebooks, journals, receipts, accounting, and other assorted papers…”
Don’t miss the contest entry form to WIN AN iPAD AIR! Fingers crossed.
(Note: If you’ve been thinking desk work is easy on the body, what about the hand squeezer near the tea, which Tamara says, “is new this week after some RSI set in thanks to a particularly hand-stressing Excel session. Even the rollerball mouse couldn’t help with that one.”)
Words of Wisdom from Tamara Kabat
“I need visual reminders. My desk often houses clutter and multiple to-do lists. These are sitting behind my cup of tea (because I can’t function without a cup of tea in the mornings).
But when the clutter REALLY piles up (like it’s starting to do now), you know I’m too busy, my mind is too full or I’m too stressed. When I see the clutter build, I know it’s time to step back, destress, clean up and start again.”
Whether you keep your writing in a trunk, on a desk, or in your head, whether your soul is an empty shell or an orchestra…may you find your way back to it every chance you get.