Writers on Writing: The Art of the Short Story

By Maurice A. Lee | Go to book overview
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Writing Home

Minoli Salgado

“To write,” claims Iain Chambers, “is to travel.”1 And for those of us who have experienced displacement from our homes, not once or twice, but so often and so early that it has become a condition of our existence, the process of writing serves as a kind of reclamation of that which was lost. Writing is a process of self-discovery, a means of coming to terms with our being in the world and our place in it. This is true for all writers, but for the migrant writer it becomes not simply a question of self-definition but, more poignantly perhaps, a question of survival, a question of forging a selfhood that, however inchoate and nebulous, allows us a temporary fixity, a transient but welcome wholeness, a position from which to find ourselves and, perhaps, to speak. This is not to say that our writing is necessarily autobiographical. Of course it is not. Rather that the process of writing allows us—no, requires us—briefly but surely, to find our place, our site of imagined unity, our home. And as Rushdie reminds us, our homes are necessary fictions.2

My own homes are multiple. They are at once real and imagined, provisional and permanent, deferred into a timeless future and an endless past. This has always been the case. 1 was born in Malaysia to parents who were themselves migrants. I then spent the next few years of my life in my grandparents' home in Sri Lanka, aware of my other home where my parents, brother, and sister lived. I had two homes from the start. After that, a sense of home—of belonging—was painfully complicated by boarding schools, where I was to spend almost 12 years of my life, first in Malaysia and then in England. In these years home was an imagined construct, one I would re-create during those times when I felt strong, or else, as was more often the case, deny, reliev

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