In terms of appearance, elegance is a crisp, tailored silhouette; glossy, neat hair; tinging the classic with contemporary; a slick of makeup – light lips for strong eyes and the other way round.
An elegant personality is intelligent; sensitive; tactful; generous in spirit; and when need be, is firm and takes the high road.
In writing, elegance is prose that is succinct and evocative, not verbose.
Elegance is substance in a fresh and light robe.
The main collection that I’ve consciously undertaken, and that I try to keep up to this day, is a postcard collection. I’ve always loved stationery and paper things (from a quick browse through my supplies stash, I could say I collect fancy pens and notebooks too), so I would just have to stop at whatever stationery or newsagent shops I’d randomly pass by and pick out a postcard or two. Landscape photographs, drawings of daily life, animals…those were my favourite subjects. Whenever my father went overseas on a business trip, he’d bring me back the best he could find, which I’d carefully stash away in a white cardboard Ikea box meant for CDs. The postcards that first come to mind are a bit larger than normal. One is a pastel colour drawing of a tropical fruit stall, and another is a photograph of an oryx’s head from the front, its delicate, long horns pointing to the sky. I haven’t bought a postcard in a long time now, mainly because I tend to travel to places that I’ll see again. Also, since the practice of sending postcards has dramatically fallen into disuse, those that I do manage to find on weekend trips here and there tend to be rather dated and sad. The last postcard I received was about two years ago now, and depicts animals from South Africa.
When I was younger I used to collect stamps too. Shops used to sell “multi-packs” of assorted stamps from far-flung and tiny countries, tightly wrapped in thick cellophane. I’d also pilfer some doubles from the old collections of my mother and her siblings from when they were children. It felt very grown-up to be handling such official-looking, “historical” and fragile documents. I had a few books, each page of which was lined with a low plastic sleeve and alternated with a thin, translucent shiny paper sheet that made a very satisfying, official and solid sound when turned.
I guess I could also say that I’ve always collected books…? Lately I’ve been “collecting” Russians (see “Reading Russians” post below) and what I suppose could be defined as modern classics.
Perhaps because it’s still early days, but thankfully motivation has definitely not been lacking. I’ve always loved writing and reading, but since I’ve decided to try my hand at it properly, it’s as if a tap opened for a stream has let forth a waterfall. Crazy and geeky as it may sound, I cannot stop writing and reading – if I’m not, I’ll be thinking about something I do want to write about, when can I get back to the book I’m reading, ooh that’s an interesting thought I’ll scribble something about it later… The will to write even appears to me. It’s a churning multicolour force, recondite but very much pulsating, like a primordial instinct.
So, since starting, I’ve always managed to dig out a few minutes to note down my thoughts (although admittedly at the expense of sleep or efficiency). Because they just have to come out, really.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t encountered roadblocks. Actually, that is precisely what I’ve encountered: road blocks. Something on the road from Point A of I Have To Get This Out in Words to Point B of Written Words On Subject X that blocks my flow of thoughts. How to channel this energy into cogent words around a topic. Which topic? Which word to use? Usually this happens if I have a lot on my mind and cannot or will not allow the words to come.
But if I sit still for a minute and find or acknowledge the reason, then they flow again.