Recently there have been many very different reasons and occasions for me to think about my writing. One reason being the invitation to write a small contribution to this blog. So: what is important for and what is central to my writing? To my own surprise, the answers seemed all at once to stare me clearly in the face and were no longer an inextricable knot of thoughts, beliefs and vague notions.
I am convinced that there is nothing as important as finding “our own stories”. I think that we must develop something like an individual, literary fingerprint on to which flows everything we have ever experienced and read and written. All our nightmares and fears and concerns and our disappointed hopes. And above all our questions. Our surprise and our amazement. I believe that that is the source of each individual’s manner of perceiving the world; and I think that a large part of our job consists of finding a form and a tone for that. I know that the “stories which only we can tell” are not the first ones we encounter (and, unfortunately, mostly not the ones that follow either) – and that the search for it can be a long and laborious process.
Meanwhile I have been surprised at how much I have been wrong in the past about so many aspects of writing. I completely overestimated the relevance of talent and underestimated practical experience and constructive criticism. I used to believe that a person either had imagination and creativity at their disposal – or they didn’t. I didn’t realise that the need to write can also develop and grow. I didn’t know how important it is for us to be open to our own ideas and that we also have to endure this when these threaten to become uncomfortable. But above all I had no concept of the fact that it is necessary “to become the one person who can write the book which one has to write” (Jonathan Franzen). I believe that’s how it is.