Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Self Doubt

I saw Orhan Pamuk at a book signing recently. It was a most disappointing experience. For although we, the avid fans, could get close enough to stand practically nose to nose with the man, all we did was shuffle past him in a disciplined line as he somewhat morosely signed our books. I and, I believe most of the others, had expected him to talk about his work, share ideas and inspiration and craft with us.

I shouldn’t complain for I was the very first in line. As I started to pose my well thought out question on locale and character, the manager, a most polite and gracious gent I should emphasize, announced that the author requested that the queue move in a fast and orderly fashion. By engaging in discussion I was intending to break this newly stated rule whose amplification was, in any event, drowning me out.
I persisted. Mr. Pamuk answered quickly before gesturing urgently that I should move along. ‘Many people in line’, he said impatiently in a faintly panic-stricken manner.

Showing off my signed copy to a friend, I discovered that most others had had their copies personally inscribed. I managed to make it back to the front, shamelessly breaking ahead of a bewildered couple.

‘I didn’t realise it was permitted,’ I said as I told Mr. Pamuk my name and held out my already signed and much-valued copy of “My Name is Red”. That got a little laugh out of him. ‘We were in an experimental phase then’, he replied.

I could have heard him speak the previous day but having assumed I would have a chance at the signing, I chose instead to listen to Vidya Dehejia, which was fine. I read that at the lecture I missed, Orhan Pamuk commented on how modern aids such as sophisticated word processing programmes tend to distract the writer. I paraphrase but he said something like, one worries too much about layout. Surely one would choose ones font, use the standard format and get going, I thought. But now that I’ve started this blog, I see his point. I’ve spent hours positioning everything on my page only to find that when I view it full page everything is rearranged.

Does it matter how it looks if the content is sound? But is the content sound? And isn't it important that it look good?

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