New Beginnings

This text is courtesy of Cristina Correa. It´s her story. We are happy to share it.


When I arrive home after BST Storycamp Ligenau 2019, my hometown Santiago was possessed by the eclipse madness. The second of July the moon covered the sun almost completely and we could see it with paperboard sunglasses. Eclipses were messages of the gods for some ancient cultures, bringing good or bad auguries. In astrology they are symbols of openings and closure. That is my feeling after this few extraordinary days in Lingenau. Something is completely changed and still the same about myself.

In that bucolic scenery at the foot of the Alps, I became part of a nomad tribe of jugglers and It felt like home. We were creating, in an open format, our way to fall in love with stories. We did that in many different sessions ranging from questions around politics, organizational change to questions concerned with the very foundations of what stories are.

The session that perhaps had more impact in my future was about how to enter in a world/story.

How to enter a story?

Wolfgang Tonninger was in charge of leading this quest, that at the end resulted in a quest for a very fresh beginnings for my self-fiction novel. We started with an article about the Californian wildfire that destroyed the settlement called Paradise. A tragedy that turned the settlement into ashes.

And the journalist made quite an entrance, literarily speaking, showing us the image of a man rescuing from the ruins a jewel of his wife. This indian firestone survived, while gold was melted. In just three paragraphs he caught our attention with a metaphor of religious imagery and the foundation of this city, built at the beginning of gold fever in that region decades ago.

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Entering a story must be a sensual/essential thing, we all agreed. Then we started to share stories that we thought can be useful for this amusing exercise, and we speed up into a perfect circle in which everyone could participate (wich). That was for me the most precious jewel of my Journey in BST19 Storycamp Lingenau.

Re-writing the beginnings of a novel

At start I gave them some cues about the story. In the opposite of pitching, I just threw separated facts into the air. Instantly, the magic of storytelling did its job. My new german speaking friends were totally hooked up, making this story their own.

The novel centers around a woman in the search for her grand dad that fled the country as his sexual orientation was revealed, being gay in socio-political context in which there was no space for it, becoming a cheerished cook and an esteemed entrepreneur. The woman herself has just broken up with her boyfriend at that time. Searching for the traces of her uncle and a new beginning for herself, she reveals different aspects of her family story.

What is wonderful about these openings is that you don’t need to see the whole picture. You can feel the gaps just reading these different beginnings. This are some of the images that I will always treasure in my heart:

1. She is back from Pucallpa, Perú. She goes to bar and sees his boyfriend, chatting and drinking with a male friend. From thi very moment, she realizes he is gay.

2. Rudy is smoking, and the way he is sustaining this cigarette is kind of delicate, almost feminin. He presses the remains in an ashtray. Now she knows. From this moment, she revisits many other moments in his relationship and she thinks about what she never wanted to see…

3. What I did not know in the moment I was throwing my clothes into my backpack in this shabby hut in the jungle in Perú was that my grandfather did the same in that very day 55 years ago. He was not at Perú but in Santiago it was early morning, just after the military was marching in the streets once again and the political tension was rising. Even if my grandfather was using the political turmoil to enter Argentina as a political refugee, it was not the reason why he disappeared from the life and stories of my family. Last night, after another sad fight with Paolo I decided to head back for the south.

4. Impenetrable darkness. She listens absolute silence in the middle of a rainforest. The sensation of being lost. She want order in her life, but she had chosen poorly, throwing herself into the chaos of this silent jungle.

5. Shots are heard, there are soldiers in the streets. At the same moment a door knocking is heard and a woman yelling: "¡Jorge, open the door!".

6. Burned photographs of the family leads the main character to this one photo of his former boyfriend.

7. She meets the lover of her grandfather at a bar. They have an interview in wich none of them feels like talking.

8. Conversation with her grandpa. After a chapter about this encounter, she says: well, that never really happened.

9 .Does every journey needs a destination? Does a family needs its secret story? She is in the train looking at her own reflection in the window.

I can't reproduce all beginnings here in full length, but what is important to me as a writer, was how much different viewpoints and different ways of entering this story sets the stage for what comes next. The freedom to experiment with different approaches to set the scene.

For all our new fresh starts, we will never lose the thread. Now is my turn to take this inspiration further in the rewriting of my first novel story. Thank you Lingenauers!

Link to the Zeit article (paywall):