Searching for Reality in an Artificial World

I have returned from my trip to Venice and Florence with a camera full of pictures and a belly full of gelato, just the way such trips ought to go. I didn’t get as much writing done as I would have liked, and I didn’t get to update my blog – in fact, internet was so scarce on the ground that I couldn’t even write to tell my boyfriend I had landed.

I went to Venice to enjoy myself and see an old friend, but I also went there to gather inspiration. I’m working on a story about a city with canals instead of streets, gondolas instead of carts, doges instead of princes. I wanted to walk around Venice and soak up the atmosphere, see how this bizarre city works, and try to inject some of that magic into my writing.

But, to be honest, I don’t feel like I got to see the real Venice. I don’t even know whether there is a real Venice. It’s all mask shops and paper shops and glass shops punctuated by restaurants with overpriced tourist menus. Even when we tried to avoid the more tourist-populated areas and visited places like Cannaregio (where the Jewish Ghetto was built), we couldn’t escape the tourist-trap feeling.

The entire island was sinking under the weight of visitors. Every time I looked at the houses above the shops, or the little side areas that appeared to hold residents, I wondered: Can people actually live here?

I wouldn’t be able to do it.

The Venice I wanted is probably the Venice that everyone thinks of when they set out. Something darkly romantic, full of secrets exchanged in gondolas and hidden behind carnival masks. Whispers in the night. Secrets the day does not quite manage to conceal.

This is no more the real Venice than the city I saw. But I was hoping, in my travel, to find some kind of truth that I could work into my prose.

All I saw was a city so heavily gilded that no one could pass by without stopping. Full of light and sound and colour and shape – the city is full of the appearance of substance, but the meat of it eluded me completely.

So, after traversing the islands on foot for four days, we moved on to Florence.

Maybe living in Venice would give me a different perspective on it – but I wouldn’t really want to move there to find out. I will keep looking for my great metropolitan muse. In the meantime, there’s plenty of other stuff to write.

(Hopefully Not Very) Problematic Updates: Travels in the Near Future

So today I have no new chapters, and I won’t have them next week either. I’m not sure whether I’ll be posting next week, in fact, because I’m going to Venice! Hooray!

It will be a welcome change from the rainy Danish summer, and a welcome change from work. My professor is pleased with my thesis progress, so I don’t feel bad about taking a week off there. The guy I’m writing a web shop for can’t pay me yet, so I don’t mind taking a week off there. And in my last week of tour guiding, I was first verbally abused by a passer-by not even on my tour, and the next day I had to take an emergency shift totally unprepared. So I don’t mind taking a week off there.

I will definitely be writing a lot about Venice and Florence. I may try to take some pictures, although I am a notoriously bad picture-taker. If time and the internet permit, I’ll be able to post as normal next week. But if not, I’ll try to post another chapter of Tracks when I get back, as well as some cool Venice-Florence thoughts.