Naima Morelli

Write As You Live

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One of the reasons I decided to become a journalist – or whatever you want to call me, art critic/curator, writer, whatever – is because of my unconditional love for magazines. Although art magazines are usually those which I write for, I’m a self-confessed reader of Marie Claire, Elle and the Italian weekly magazines Io Donna, D and Il Venerdì di Repubblica.
I love the first ones because of their carefree attitude. The way they create beauty with couple of pictures of Erin Wasson and a caption reading “I’m a female Johnny Cash! To hell with the it girls!” Fashion magazines create dreams and aesthetics. One can criticize them for a whole bunch of reasons – from the fact that they usually push the starving-model look to the fact that half of these mags is usually composed by advertising. That can true sometimes, but on the contrary what these magazines elicit in me is a sense of empowerment. Those worlds that Elle is creating may be fake, biased, too far away from reality. But still, just by browsing through a good editorial or reading a feature on Colette, I can’t shake off that feeling that I’m part of the beauty of the world. That through my writing, drawing, playing, photographing, I’m creating an personal aesthetic – in my own terms.

The other day, while drinking coffee in a tropical-looking garden, I stumbled upon an article of another fav of mine, Il Venerdì di Repubblica. Il Venerdì usually runs articles about established authors whose books have been recently published or translated in Italian. These articles never fail to inspire me. This time the write-up was about Joan Didion. There was one sentence that intensely resonated with me: “It’s not easy to describe with one word the work of a person who managed to find a desk – in all the houses and hotels around the world – to work on every day.”

That is precisely how I’m feeling right now. Since 2012 I never had a proper working space. I have been constantly on the move, more often than not being an host in other people’s houses. I have been adjusting my routine every time and carving out a little bit of space and time to work. Other times I’d feel suffocated by a tiny desk, which was way too close to my bed in a camper-size room. To deal with it, I ended up spending one too many hours in cafes around town. Of course – I felt hindered; how could you work at your projects when half of your time is wasted in typing new wi-fi passwords?
I often find myself thinking it would be much easier to settle down for good. That way I would have time to do the other things I’m not able to do now that I’m sleeping in a different bed every two weeks – constantly planning where to go after. But then, after whining and complaining about my first world problems (you sissy!) I reconsidered the concepts of resilience and adaptability. Go ask E.B. White, who famously said that a writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work, will die without ever putting a word to paper. As things are now in my life – I’ve to write as I live.

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That doesn’t mean you have to became a slacker and work only when you have time. Mostly because you’ll never have time. You have to make time. You have to find your damned Didionan desk and put your laptop there every single day. That’s how you get things done (clearly that’s not only true for writers).

I would say, to show up every day despite the chaos around you, it’s not only necessary, but also charming. I was amazed by listening to a weekly New York design podcast keep on releasing episodes during the Katrina hurricane. British Vogue didn’t stopped during the Second World War. Lee Miller just started to photograph models in bombed sites and with gas masks.
Less epically- I was thrilled to know my favorite bloggers where keeping on recording a video course while travelling around. They took advantage of the fact of being temporarily hosted in a Victorian house own by the parents of one of the bloggers. The house had a beautiful garden and instead of going: “ah, you know, our parents are helping us once again”, they recorded their episode precisely from that garden.

These were just a few examples of when life and work come together – thanks to the internet that is more true than ever. My suggestion is, don’t let the chaos, uncertainty and instability bog you down – use them as a strength instead. It’s the difference in attitude between people defying themselves precarious workers or freelancers. From unstable conditions can sprout glorious things – it’s all about owning it. Today I feel so inspired, happy and surrounded by beauty that I’m spinning around in my full red skirt. That is power for me.

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Image1: Vintage 60’s Design Icon: OLIVETTI VALENTINE mechanical typewriter by Ettore Sottsass
Image 3: Installazione di Tania Campisi ospitata da Elena Boni, ph_ Paolo Assenza
Image3: Margaret Kilgallen