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On Moving, Home, Creativity, and Books

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A partial view of the bookshelves in my office

I only feel at home when I have unpacked my books. We left our previous home on May 13th, but only last Thursday I unpacked my books. The reason for this was a good one: I got my very own office, with lots and lots of shelves where all my books can live in peace. However, I'm realising now that it's been a month and a half since I wrote a blog post, and probably since I wrote any new words because I was embroiled in the moving process too much.

The topic of "home" has been a complicated one for a while now. I think it's complicated for many people, which is why the Odyssey is such a classic. What home is, where it is, how do you find it? These are questions we deal with as part of the human condition. (Sorry. I'll drop the philosophy soon, though, promise.) We deal with them whether we know it or not. It's a question of awareness.

As a writer and a constant therapy client, I'm keenly aware of my home issues. Because, of course, home is a code word for belonging, for feeling safe and loved. I usually find symbols tedious. Why not talk about what we really want to talk about? Why hide talk about equality in "coming of age" stories about dystopian societies? Why hide talk about depression and suicide in stories about love? And mostly, I find it exasperating to hear story after story about superheroes when the stories we are actually interested in are about how regular people cope with regular life.

Anyway, back to my unpacked books. Books, for me, are knowledge. They are windows to other people's psyches. And apparently, this aspect of reading, of knowing, of understanding is tightly linked with my ability to feel secure and produce anything creative. I think this is my scientific training and sceptic stance rearing their heads: knowledge is the only secure base. But I've learnt in the last few years that you can't know everything and that sometimes knowing isn't the point.

Still, always, the base for my creativity is knowledge. It doesn't have to be perfect, but that's my starting point, which is why I'm reading a bunch of books right now. And they all have a place in my lovely new office.


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