by Evans Yonson
(Note: I wrote this piece on 3 July 2005 during the early days of Spanish summer in Madrid, Spain, as a Spanish government scholar.)
madrid – i just had a very intense lunch. seafood paella, meat chunks, red wine with lemon, and a very heated conversation. an exchange words about a written story submitted to the annual writing contest of the dormitory. the story, authored by a psychiatrist, is about people’s relationship within the confines of the Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Senora de Africa. many got irked by the story as it was too good to be true. it was so real that the author was really walking on thin ice.
when does a writer use his artistic license? and when does his abuse it?
a writer provokes other people when the story hits them below the belt – literally. the story in question is set in a colegio mayor but without mentioning any name. about people’s relationships complete with superlatives – the mostest of the most, and the worst of the worst. this was a bad call, according to many.
another good argument is that the writer based his story on reliable sources and his observations of the world around him.
if we try to look at it from a literary and sociological point of view, the story was very well written, complete with vivid details. but the sad thing is that it was in a very common setting – a colegio mayor. i, for one, could have set the story in a village of international character. changed the nationalities of the characters involved. made them look different from a fair skinned to dark toned one. or probably made all the characters animals and put them in a farm. or probably aliens finding their way to earth. or a city far away from madrid, say johannesburg or a village in an island in the caribbean… but still maintain the characters and their relationships.
i praise the writer for a coming up with a very detailed story but he could have written it differently. as a writer, he knew his story. but as a psychiatrist writing his story in such a manner is completely way out of order.
i think the others have no right to impose their opinions on the writer – how his story affected the people concerned. and the writer should not be sorry about what he did.