A note: 20 October 2020.
I have just now created a copy of a document I last opened in 2018. In 11 days, I will again try to complete NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is simple enough: 50,000 words in 30 days – simple enough when broken down into elements of words, characters, symbols on a screen. More difficult when each of those fifty thousand words is torment, enticement, anger, anguish.
I am not an easy writer. The words come to my head more than to my fingers, but this particular story echoes back at me all these years later. I’ve been circling it, stalking this idea – this series of images – of a place, and its inhabitants through history. It feels wrong to be so obsessed with this teal and white building, the structure known now as the Kunstkamera, or the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. It is morbid, this fascination – but it is also enchantment.
The image in this post is from research materials gathered together in Australia in 2017. I managed to write 50,795 words of that draft in NaNoWriMo that year, but it was not the story I wanted to tell. Last year, when I returned to Saint Petersburg, I also visited the place the cabinet began: Kikin Hall. And so now I know where this story will have to begin.
For anyone else taking part, I’m dash_m12 at https://nanowrimo.org