Okay, I may have cheated, sending in two photos. I deliberated for a while – which one should I send? They both said different things. But that’s the purpose of masks, isn’t it? We wear so many. They all show a different face.
Part of my heart is in Venice. I don’t know why. I’ve always been drawn to the city – the architecture, the history, the mystery. Perhaps it is the way it is so ragged, the skinny buildings with peeling paint, connected by washing lines. The grand churches, the gondolas, the winding cannels… and the masks. There’s something exotic about masks, but also something frightening. Distorting. Menacing.
I love that. I love that in writing, too. Elegant, duplicitous prose that both seduces and terrifies. It is a tone I strive for in my own writing. But what does it mean to be a writer? Is it just another mask we wear? Or is it an essence beneath the mask? Can we shed our masks without shedding layers of ourselves?
There are two sides to a mask. The face that is displayed and the face that is concealed. The external and the internal. In writing, these sides meet.
Of course, the fear is that once we remove all our masks, we find only an empty space where a face ought to be.
SOPHIE PLAYLE is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway University of London. In her spare time she runs Inkspill Magazine (www.inkspillmagazine.com). Her work has appeared in a variety of small press publications and she is currently working on her first novel in the steampunk/horror genre. You can follow her MA adventures and explorations of the craft on her website: www.sophieplayle.com
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