Benjamin Constable

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Bristol, The United Kingdom


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April 2013

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Benjamin Constable I don't really get writer's block. There are days when I don't, or can't, write as much as I'd like, for reasons like the Internet and a host of other…moreI don't really get writer's block. There are days when I don't, or can't, write as much as I'd like, for reasons like the Internet and a host of other distractions. Concentration is a real issue and one that I could write an essay about. But my understanding of writers block is that it's about not knowing what to write. I see stories everywhere, woven in to everybody's lives; the question is how to frame them. There's a metaphor that I find useful and that is of a photographer framing a shot - there are questions to be asked like how much context do I want to show. But the more you take photos the beauty you see around you. When you start looking for stories they are right there spilling out in front of you. Choosing which one to write is again another subject, but I try to just write without focussing on it good or worthy. The desire for perfection stops us all from doing so many things. I try to be kind to myself and write whatever comes. If it's rubbish, I throw it away, if I like it, I rework it and rework it until it becomes something I can be proud of.(less)
Benjamin Constable Since my earliest memories I have dreamt of flying. It was something I could do at will, whenever I remembered that it was possible. I would just kind…moreSince my earliest memories I have dreamt of flying. It was something I could do at will, whenever I remembered that it was possible. I would just kind of relax and concentrate at the same time and my body would levitate, sometimes just above head height or sometimes high above the world, swept along by the wind. Would that flying had been for pleasure. unfortunately it never sprang to mind when I was having a good time. Flying was always a brilliant and skillful means of escape from bad things. It was my joker, my get out of trouble card that my dreams have always provided. I think I'm not the only one. I think a lot of people dream like this.

I had just written a book called Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa. It's a book about Paris and New York and friendship and murder. I wanted my next book to have no murders, no gimmicks. I wanted it to show another side of life, or another side of the way I see life. But what it has in common with Three Lives is the idea that stories are all around us and it is just a question of how we frame them.

Books are rarely just one idea. My books and my understanding of other people's books is that they are a collection of ideas gathered and stitched together. I saw an article about an exhibition at the V&A museum in London called something like: Great Inventors of the Arab World. I got stuck on a picture of a man in a flying machine and read about the 9th Century inventor Abbas Ibn Firnas from Andalusia in the South of Spain which was at the time part of the Caliphate of Mohamed I. Abbas Ibn Firnas fascinated me. He was a polymath. He had invented a way of cutting crystal and he wrote poetry. He also was also the first historical figure to have been documented as flying. He had built wings from wax feathers and silk, and jumped from the tower in Cordoba and flew 200 metres. He broke both his legs on landing, but he was the first person to fly. He was 70.

A friend told me the story of how he took his then boyfriend to meet his grandmother who had dementia. She thought the boyfriend was a prince come to woo her. Another friend told me about a canal boat that is a travelling opera. I since found another canal boat which is a theatre. I wanted to write about not fitting in and wanting to make art - these are big parts of my own development. I wanted to write about France and how, particularly in the countryside, the war still has influence. While I was writing this book, everything I saw and everybody I met seemed to connect in to this story. Maybe it is about me and the many conflicting arguments about everything.(less)
Average rating: 3.66 · 519 ratings · 150 reviews · 2 distinct worksSimilar authors
Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa

3.64 avg rating — 509 ratings — published 2011 — 8 editions
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Love and Invention

4.90 avg rating — 10 ratings
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Free Your Mind at Barbie Deinhoff's, Berlin

Have you ever caught yourself pondering questions of your existence in a world that seems to have no purpose beyond feeding its own tail into its mouth? Do you notice the blank despair on the faces of the people you pass and can you feel the very essence of life draining through your fingertips on to the screen in your hand as your brain atrophies in the vacuous ignorance fed to you as entertainme Read more of this blog post »
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Published on September 19, 2018 13:07

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Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Benjamin Constable
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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
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