I don't know what it is with me but I love photographing citrus. Be it oranges or lemons, cut into thin slices , blood oranges bursting in colour, tart lemons that are ripe with sunshine, there is something about the form, the colour and the luminosity of citrus fruits that makes me want to photograph them, again and again. If I see a photo of mandarins on my instagram, I'm sure to give it my thumbs up, that's how much I enjoy them.
And not just for photographing, for eating as well. When we get to this time of the year, after the festivities, I always find myself navigating towards the consuming of mandarins, and oranges and lemons, which I eat just peeled and sliced, or turn into juice, or cook into curds. I'm always slightly under the weather come January and February, prone to colds and flus and tonsilitis, so a shot of citrus fruit may just be what the doctor would order.
There's a funny story behind these pictures. They were taken in one of these days where I had just sat down to write, a cup of tea on my desk, celtic music playing softly on the background to set me in the mood, my laptop ready to go, the blank page staring back at me. I was obsessed with a chapter I was yet to reach its writing phase, a chapter where there would be some sort of sword fighting, a death or two, and the storming of a couple of dragons at the end of the whole shebang. It kept playing around at the back of my mind, breaking my concentration on all the other chapters I had yet to pen down before I reached that one, because even though I had it all outlined inside my head, it just didn't add up.
I had settled that the action would be taking place inside a palatial library, and it envolved quite a few characters. Two of them were set to be having a sort of a conversation, where confessions were to be made and accusations to be thrown about. Three other characters would be listening in on that conversation, each one by themselves, and at certain points each one of them would be making an entrance, reacting to the secrets they had listened in on. A fight would ensue, someone would die, some others would be in mortal danger, and at the end of it, a couple of dragons would storm into the room via a french window. Sounds grand, doesn't it? Action packed, a crescendo of emotion if well written, a page turner of a chapter that would leave certain questions unanswered and people just itching to know the faith of certain characters by the end of Book II, which would be just one chapter away from that. A cliff hanger of a chapter, the sort that would bring readers back for Book III.
And yet, something didn't add up. I wasn't satisfied. And the two prior chapters, which I was trying to pen down by then, were suffering for it, as I couldn't concentrate on them, having my mind go back to paying that scene in my head over and over again, and not be satisfied with it. The chapters I should be focusing in were coming out crap because my head just would not be on them. So I decided to take a break from writing, and take my creative outbursts elsewhere. I needed to stay away from the book so I could go back to it with a fresh head and a fresh view. I picked up my camera and my tripod and faffed around with a couple of madarins we had brought from my mother in law's garden. I styled them around the marble board my husband uses for his dough making. I added leaves, I took away the leaves. I opened up a mandarin and pulled it apart. I ate some of it, all the while taking pictures, playing with the light, my mind far, far away from dragons and fencing and writing books. I downloaded the photos onto my laptop, I edited them. The day moved on, I had to leave my desk and get my son from school, give him his bath, get started on dinner, and suddenly the day was done and I was in bed, ready to sleep and no obsessing over that chapter whatsoever.
And then it hit me, the next morning as I was coming back home from dropping tthe kid at school, it hit me as I was singing under my breath Red Hot Chilli Pepper's "Californation", the problem was the setting. The library. That was what made it all feel so wrong. I mean, as big as the library was it would be rather hard for the characters eavesdropping not to ne noticed or seen, either by some of the others doing the listening in or by the ones having the conversation. And the dragons! How could they, big beasts that we all know dragons to be, storm through a french window without breaking through the rest of the wall, the foundations, and thus collapsing the whole building, killing every character inside it? As soon as my mind was cleared of obsessing about it, it was easy to finally pinpoint the problem and solve it. As soon as I moved the whole action to the outside, to a labirinthine garden - much like that one on the Overview Hotel in Shinning, the movie with Jack Nicholson - everything else fell into place, and those other chapters that were to come before this one, well, they got themselves written, and they are sounding mighty good!! Sometimes all we need is to step back in order to get a clearer view...