Why Do We Write: Because Were Homophabula

Why Do We Write: Because Were Homophabula

    Why Do We Write: Because we’re homofabula.
    Why do we write? Or perhaps, why do we continue to write for a populace
    that’s increasingly preocular? With the advent of digital publishing we’re like
    insects that trickle across content, probing bits and pieces of story and
    information with antennae – always searching and never really getting deep
    into the big pieces for the sake of something else close by, tempting the
    senses. Yet, despite our limiting attention spans and hyper activity – books
    remain and writers still write.

    On the 24th of May at the Kingsmead book fair in Johannesburg, the multiaward
    winning Israeli novelist Shifra Horn shed some light on why and how
    she continues to write.
    Jokingly, Shifra says that writing stops her from seeing a psychologist. But
    inherently, Shifra says that the act of writing and reading a book gives you
    perspective on your life – allowing you the time and space to digest your own
    lived experience via story. Shifra draws her inspiration from being an ardent
    lifetime student of Hebrew and the Bible. Shifra’s legacy includes a dynamic
    collection of both fiction and non-fiction but has recently begun exploring the
    delicate art of writing children’s books. “It’s like eating sorbet after a heavy
    meal” Shifra says smiling - contentedly.

    A large part of why Shifra writes is hidden within how she writes. It’s about
    solving a riddle – putting together the pieces to present you a whole – it’s to
    uncover a particular message. “I begin writing from the senses. I focus on a
    smell, or a sound or a particular sight and grow the story from there”. Shifra
    writes intuitively, allowing her imagination to create bits of chapters, endings
    and beginnings before stitching it all together into one coherent story.
    According to how Shifra writes, writing is about making sense of the world.
    Why we write also has to do with what we write. Shifra’s modus operandi is
    fiction writing and says that fiction can sometimes present you with a better
    representation of the truth than non-fiction can. Where non-fiction can
    sometimes distance a reader emotionally by the hard cold nature of factual
    recall – fiction encourages the reader to believe and feel from the depths of
    their imagination, their lived experience – from the depths of their own
    personal truth.

    We are homofabula; meaning half human, half story. The power of writing
    allows us to connect the two halves. In South Africa where our national
    identity is threatened by the diaspora of dialect, class and culture, Shifra
    believes that the power of story is the only thing that will, and can, bind us all.
    Having her novels successfully translated into eight international languages –
    this is particularly true. For the writer and the reader, even though we’re
    distracted by cheap and quick stories fed to us by the information age, books
    will never stop being written and should never stop being read so long as we
    call ourselves human.

     By Journalist: Tamlyn Wilson