Welcome back to The Story Behind The Story series. Today’s post is by Elissaveta Marinova. Her writing is enchanting and charming. I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did.
It all started in 1997, the year my mum and I moved to Casablanca. I was 7 at the time. I tell people I was born in Bulgaria and raised in Morocco but really, ever since I left my second home, all I talk about is Morocco. That is why it came as no surprise when I first declared:
“I’m writing a novel about Morocco!”
Many writers begin a story on a hunch. It can start with an interesting character or a particular object. It can stem from a memory or take shape in an airport lounge. Me, I knew one thing: the setting would be Casablanca. It wasn’t a constraint, rather something that imposed itself to me. An evidence.
And so it began. The long, chaotic, sometimes daunting, others exhilarating writing process. It was messy. And that’s okay as long as you’re in no hurry to become a full-time writer. (I can hear you snorting from here: Ha. Of course we want to be full-time writers right away!)
So I had my setting. Casablanca – The White City. What next? I had a few characters and a vague plot in mind. A few places stood out: the harbour and the smell of fish nets and wet timber, the hustle and bustle of Maarif – the shopping district, Casa Voyageurs train station and the grey wagons carrying phosphates from the south. All real experiences for me. Places I have walked past, memories I have made.
But it wasn’t a memoir I was after. It was a work of fiction stemming from my own reality. It was a way of paying tribute to my childhood, to my wonderful mum and most amazing single-parent I could have ever dreamed of, to the sunny country I still dream of and to a rich culture I strongly believe deserves more coverage.
But how do you build a story with no real plot in view?
Here’s how it goes. I want to go for a walk but don’t know where. So I simply get dressed, put on my favourite lipstick and leave the house. I usually let my feet take me wherever they want to go and end up discovering some place I didn’t know. Or get lost. Both have their merit.
That’s how I wrote the first draft of The Wind Knows Everything – ironically, not knowing everything myself. After over a year (almost two) of writing, rewriting, giving up, starting again, making storyboards and mind maps, banging my head against my desk (literally), walking aimlessly and drinking shameless amounts of caffeine, going through a big move from London to Paris… After almost two years, my head is clear. Clearer.
Today, I realise what I have known all along. The Wind Knows Everything is a portrait of Casablanca. It is a multi-faceted story following the lives of three seemingly disparate characters, set against the backdrop of a dust storm sweeping over Casablanca. Some were born there, others came from across the border, others yet don’t belong anywhere: they came from the desert, where the wind starts.
This is Casablanca. It is a puzzle and so is my novel.
Ex-Londoner, recent Parisian, Elissaveta grew up in Morocco and is currently working on her first novel, drawing inspiration from her childhood spent in Casablanca. After working as a freelance architect and design writer in London, she moved to Paris to reinvent herself and find her purpose, all the while editing The Wind Knows Everything.
You can follow her journey on her blog (http://www.writerscaravan.com) and find her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/WritersCaravan) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ElissavetaM) . Architecture lovers can also check out her architecture blog. (http://www.elissavetamarinova.wordpress.com)
P.S. This was the last post in the series. In April, I’ll be blogging daily, except for Sundays. I’m taking part in the A to Z blogging challenge. If you’d like to contribute to The Story Behind The Story series, please e-mail me at email@example.com.