To write about a moment and nothing else, you must first sit in front of whatever you write on, even if it is a piece of tissue. You must sit straight, close your eyes, and slowly erase everything else. I like to imagine it as a shockwave of deletion as the world around me becomes a grey blur, with only a desk and me in the centre of this vast space of nothingness. A spot of colour between all the white almost painted in rustic brushstrokes. And then, you must bring the first thing you remember into the picture. Then, slowly, you must let the picture form. If it is a cup of coffee, then, in this world of three passages and about three hundred words where you can play God, you must imagine it as you remember it without opening your eyes. You must remember the taste of the coffee to the last detail. One after the other, you must bring each vital thing into the picture again while everything else remains removed. And now, you see the moment for what it is, and you can now write about what is essential. All else is gone.
A writer is not a painter. It is not our job to take in every detail; writing is remembering. It is a test of what you can remember seconds later, days later, and sometimes, years later. As I write these words, I sit at a messy desk in the corner of my bedroom with used-up tissues all over its smooth laminate since I woke up with a stuffy nose. There is a scalding and fragrant cup of coffee, helping me with my runny nose and making it harder to breathe simultaneously. The door to my right opens to a patch of grass and right into the white, overcast October sky, with a broad stroke of the hills: a grey-blue silhouette. The city lays the path between here and the hills. The trees and houses compete for domination as a woman hangs laundry on the balcony, a beeline from mine. Her son—a little boy—stands facing the hills, watching the view or lack thereof. He’s still in his pyjamas; school is off.
The music—a violin overture—sneaks its way into the picture, and the happy, slightly sentimental notes make me remember my childhood. For a second, it seems to be a balcony away, but then I open my eyes. Here I am, back in the room, and the writing is done.