Creativity is just connecting things.

Let’s delve into what creativity is with a writer I follow on social media who graciously answered some questions and seemed perfect for broadening our perception of creativity: Anna Bertini.

Anna lived abroad for many years, where she studied Theater Science, Dramaturgy, Music Education.
In 2021 she graduated in Literature Art Music and Performance. She has taught Italian Language and Literature for Foreigners, in elementary school she has curated workshops on writing, musical expressiveness, theater, and for years she has been involved in the careers of musicians and the organization of musical events, collaborating with the most prestigious institutions in the field in Italy and around the world. She currently lives between Tuscany, the island of Menorca, Spain, and the Rila Plateau, Bulgaria. She has a daughter and two dogs.

Tell us who you are what you do what you dream.

I am a 61-year-old lady who has worked for many years as a music artist manager and event organiser.

I have lived mainly abroad since the age of 24.

Since my teenage years, I have felt the need to use writing. I dream of continuing, health permitting, to lead the life I have chosen, a bit of a nomad, nurturing my many curiosities.

What curiosities? Have they changed over time? Do you think curiosity is fundamental?

Curiosity about life, existence, creation, humanity. Of course, maybe my research nuclei have also changed over time, but for me the basic curiosity remains the same, it has nothing to do with gossip, and it is fundamental: asking questions about our existence, recognising limits and always wanting to go beyond them, therefore remaining open to observe, understand, know. To know using the various processes through which knowledge can proceed, which do not necessarily have anything to do with knowing

Writing: how does the creative act of writing begin and proceed? Tell us your process.

It begins in an instant, an urgency, that makes you search for words because of a strong feeling. It starts with a monad, around which you then imagine a path, and build a story.

So the stories come after this urgency? Tell us more: do you make an outline? Do you imagine the characters? Do you change direction as you write? It is interesting to know the creative path, tell us more.

Around the primary idea, the nucleus of what will be a story I want to work on, others are born, and my fundamental work, the one I like – since I believe in the end that I am at ease in the short story above all – is to intertwine them. To weave stories, to make imagined lives touch, destinies meet. For example, the story I am working on now, came out of the realisation that two places, different and distant, were similar. I imagined a woman, who was connected to both those places, for different reasons. From there everything else was born.

I can make outlines, indeed I do, but then I change them, because as I proceed in the writing the story changes, it adapts to new directions that the characters and their stories ask me to take. The major work of maturation and progression of my stories, however, does not take place while I am writing but while I am walking, swimming, gardening or doing other household chores, while I am discovering a city or travelling a route. There are, in my observation of the world, moments of revelation that spill over into the stories. Then, when it is finally clear to me what I must do, how I must proceed, I find the time to sit down and write.

When your creativity gets blocked, what do you do?

I drop everything and dedicate myself to nature, to physical movement. To flow, to observation, until that urgency to create returns, until ideas come back and I feel like developing them.

You have lived in and visited many cities: how are you stimulated by them? Do you think it is important to travel?

I can no longer imagine myself to be completely settled, not only physically but also culturally. It is from the confrontation/clash between realities that my human and also artistic evolution is set in motion.

Has a city ever disappointed you? And if so, why? What do you expect when you arrive in a new city?

The city that has disappointed me most of all is Milan. I have never had a feeling for that city, because when I was a girl, when I went there, it was to visit a friend who lived in an underprivileged suburb, grey and repetitive, cramped and noisy. When we then went to the centre with her, it was a kind of epic. When we arrived, we couldn’t enjoy anything of that elegant city; everything was too expensive and glossy, even the Rinascente was too much for us, we could only buy a few hair clips. I, who lived in an opera-loving family, used to look at La Scala as if it were an unattainable temple. Then when I started going to Milan for work, I was left with that feeling of being out of place. I tried to rehabilitate it, once I took a nice hotel in the centre, near the Navigli, I walked to the Auditorium for a concert. On the way out they attacked a colleague of mine whose moped they were trying to steal, we spent the night in the emergency room with him bleeding from the head. To rehabilitate Milan then, I could not. Recently I went back a couple of times for book fairs or exhibitions: I saw a different city, I felt I could like it now. My daughter loves it. But the feeling that it is not my place I think now will remain forever.

Of new cities that have disappointed me there are not many, perhaps only Los Angeles, for similar reasons to Milan, or certain remote towns in the middle of California, like Palm Springs or Sacramento, of which I had gotten an idea through films or series, and which were then dull towns closed around small bourgeois existences. From a new city I perhaps only expect it to fill my soul with novelty, with mysteries to be unveiled, with some beauty I have not yet enjoyed.

What does speaking several languages take away or add to your creativity?

What it takes away is a more mottled vocabulary in one’s mother tongue, because inevitably when you search for a word, words from other language contexts come to mind. But thinking in multiple languages automatically makes you draw on other imagery, so in the end it definitely results in an extension.

By changing city and language, what do you feel creative in adapting to the new?

I feel creative in accepting what I encounter, in making it interact with my personal baggage, I feel creative in making new stimuli part of what moves me inwardly.

Having had many approaches with different cultures, do you think creativity differs from country to country? If so, in what?

Yes, I believe that each geographical reality and culture we live in offers different stimuli, and therefore leads to creative expression in a more mottled way. It doesn’t completely change your creative imprinting but it does introduce new inputs, the ‘output’ from your imaginative baggage of new inventions is definitely different.

How important is creativity in translating from one language to another? Is it an added value or does it risk distorting the meaning of the language to be translated?

I don’t believe that translation can be slavish. You have to know how to ‘fit’ different terms, different meanings, to a context. Thinking ‘idiomatically’ is a creative process in its own way. Of course, without overdoing it, without taking too much of an axe to grind.

Why should we have to travel or live with other people from elsewhere to increase creativity?

I believe that understanding, respecting what is different is the first condition for not taking oneself too seriously, for aiming to constantly confront and evolve. I don’t know what I would be like today if I hadn’t had to constantly measure myself against people, contexts, places that were initially ‘foreign’. Because everything that seems ‘home’ to me today was once just an ‘elsewhere’. Because everything that is me today was partly what I was afraid of yesterday. I have no sympathy today for parochialism and nationalism, perhaps because my concept of the ‘familiar’ has expanded so much, and I see the blurring of boundaries as a great opportunity for mankind.

You can find Anna Bertini HERE and HERE.

If you would like to read the interview in Italian, click HERE.

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