Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What's your next book about?

After your first book is finished, the next question shortly after you finished is: 'What will you write next about?'
At the first sight, it is an optimistic view of your potential. Somehow, writing can be compared with a gargantuan appetite: the more your write the more you want to continue writing. And your head is bubbling of subjects that hardly can be kept inside your crane. 
On the other hand, the question can be seen as an unpleasant intrusion into your life. Do the person asking it know exactly what does it mean writing a book, how much pain and sacrifice can be behind any single sentence? Very often, after such an effort that can also involve the members of your family, longing to spend a normal and relaxed evening with you, all you want is to relax as normal people do: sleep, drink a glass of wine and have a good meal. And sleep again. Not sure if reading can be included on the daily schedule, at least for a while. 
As someone who published at least one book and is regularly writing at least one academic article the month, I dare to say that the truth is in between the extremes. I love so much the feeling when the work is done and my book is out in the air - to be read, on - that I want to get the best momentum for continuing writing to more projects. When I am happy I can always write easily and good articles. But, because of other family and work obligations and some limits that I want to set myself- such as dedicating more time to documentation or eventually improving my English writing skills - I don't have any choice but delay some of them, even though in some cases the projects are more than 2 years old. I am not happy with that and I promise to behave better the next year, but I can't do anything. I need time between projects, while trying to respect my limit of one book the year. At least for this year I am done, but hope to finish another one in the next 60 days and thus, I also did some of the home works for the last year. 
To be even more honest, my love for writing is sometimes taken by my enormous love for reading. Especially when I am working to certain topics, writing almost everything available on the subject can be seen as a desire to tackle my work as serious as possible. But, to be honest, it also means that I am somehow delaying the moment when I will have enough courage to say the things in my own words. Call it denial, but it is not a wasted time, this time spent while reading other people's words. Very often, I can find a lot of inspiration to start new projects on my own and to move forward with other topics I am writing about.
The world of words is not a normal one; there are some rules - grammar rules especially - but as long as we depend of imagination and talent, there is not easy to keep a strict schedule. I am the very strict type of writer, that needs to have things done in time and taking the deadlines as serious as possible. But, on the other hand, I know that being too strict with my writing schedule can influence negatively my inspiration, and as long as I do not have a contract to respect for the delivery of my manuscripts, I try to keep my pace and do my writing when I really have something to say.
I hope that my time of inspiration has come and the next months will offer me the occasion to finish some of the projects already started. It is a good feeling that I am trying to consider as carefully as possible. It may sound as a very empty discourse, but it is how I feel right now. Full of energy, but careful to use it properly, for good and valuable things. Believe me or not, but moderation can be of good use, after all. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Salman Rushdie talking about Joseph Anton in Berlin

With the autumn season only a couple of weeks away and a winter around the corner, I need to be more careful finding more indoors events for my next weeks spent in Berlin. Fortunately for me, there are too many events around to go when the time is limited. The Literature Festival is close to the end today, but the Berlin art week is about to start this Tuesday, with a lot of happenings and events that I hope to attend and write about soon. Add to this some new concerts and comedies and theatres that are daily taking place in different corners of the city and you can have the landscape of a very busy cultural schedule in the German capital city. As long as there it is nothing else to do than run from an event to another, there is fine, otherwise, one can feel the deep frustration of too little time for really being everywhere. For this Sunday, I was inspired enough to book in time a reservation to a discussion with Salman Rushdie, at the Berliner Festspiele. As a long time admirer and reader of Rushdie's books, I was grateful to be able to attend the discussion, focused on his last book, Joseph Anton, a autobiographical novel I was familiar with from a chat with the author on Goodreads
Even though I arrived 10 minutes before the start of the discussion, I did not have difficulties of going through the gates. After a couple of seconds check of my ticket, I was in the Festspiele hall, trying to find a place. At that level, there were only a couple of places left, but the first floor was offering a lot of options as well. I'd found a place finally. On my left, a lady was reading the German translation, while in the front of me, two ladies that met on the spot were worried about how difficult will be to understand the English discussion. Translation headphones were available free of charge as well. At 11.33, the doors closed and the participants arrived.
Held in a classical format, most of the discussion focused on reading excerpts from the English and German translation of Joseph Anton. There were no questions from the public, unfortunately, but during the marathon of book signing at the end, it was possible to ask one simple question, which I did, but more about that later.
Joseph Anton is the autobiographic novel of his years of hiding following the death sentence pronounced by ayatollah Khomeini shortly after the publication of the Satanic Verses, whose 25th anniversary is in 10 days time. He described the book as a 'non-fiction novel' that approaches real life events using fiction techniques to tell the story. Joseph Anton is the name hr used for his hidden identity: Joseph from Joseph Conrad, an artist of the hidden secret world, and Anton from Anton Chekhov, whose sadness and loneliness correspond to some of the stages Rushdie went through. His situation affected his family too, especially his son, around 9 years old at the time of the fatwa. 
The book ends on the third person as he recognized that did not like too much to overuse the 1rd person. During his years of hiding, he kept a journal recording the facts he was coping with. Several times he was told to use the experiences to write a book about those years, but it took him a lot of time to realize that after 12 years he wanted to use another 2 years to write about what happened and another year to talk about it. However, after reading 'a lot of nonsense' about his own cases, he wanted 'to tell the truth about what really happened'. Rushdie wanted to go back to his life as a novelist, but he 'realized it is a good story to tell and did not want someone else to write it'. Repetition, especially in the era of Internet, magnifies and make things true despite the reality and he wanted to tell the truth. A special part of the story is occupied by the police officers that took care of his security during that terrible decade. Some of those appearing in the book are composite characters. 
Although the official and political discussions around his case were often taken an accusatory note, as considering him the only responsible for that situation - 'you broke it, you fix it' kind of attitude, according to his words - and thus, not necessarily allowed to benefit of a full state support, despite being an UK citizen since the age of 14, his literary friends made 'a ring of steel around' him helping him to find new locations, among others. 
Reading intensively and writing with talent does not guarantee a high level of morality, but such reasons are not enough for giving up reading and books in general. A conclusion similar with my own regarding the intellectuals in general. Being anti-intellectual is not the 'right' attitude when faced with the moral failures of some representatives of this world. Books and education empower each of us to react to the daily reality in different ways, but it is up to us to make the right choices. 
Rushdie disclosed an interesting story about his family name. It was chosen by his father who praised the great Arab thinker Ibn Rashd, who in the 12th century faced a situation similar with his, being banned for years because his writing was considered subversive by the Arab Caliphate at the time.  
Now, he is more free to move and inspired by Joseph Conrad is living his life despite everything. The book signing went on automatic pilot, and in less than one hour he left his signature on more than 100 books - including mine. I asked him if he is planning to write another travel book, besides the Jaguar Smile, his early account of a trip to Nicaragua, but he reassured me with a 'maybe'. 
I have now a long list of his books to be read, so maybe till his next novel, I will be done already. 
Again, I am enormously grateful to be in a city where so many things are going on! The today discussion with Salman Rushdie was another reminder of how lucky I am. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Ups and downs of the writer

Today, I am very happy with my writing and I'd spent more than 10 hours polishing my words and updating my blogs. What I happy day was it. Tomorrow is another day. Eventually, tomorrow I will be very unhappy with what I've done not only yesterday, but from the very first day when I decided to start a writing career. After 2 days, I will be offered more reasons to feel so, as a very rude contractor despised my work done and also forgot or refused to pay. The next days I start feeling better, but I work one day for a ridiculous pay. It is already Friday and I will go offline to relax for a while. And on Sunday, the marry-go-round starts again. To be continued...
How many times I've went through this schizophrenic unhappiness. For around one year I survived exclusively on writing, refusing obstinately to take any other non-writing assignments. I knew how good I can be doing PR and how much money I can get out of it, therefore any contact with that world will not bring anything good for my other side of my writing personality.
I improved a lot and as a non-English speaker, I find from time to time reasons to be at peace with my achievements. But it is enough to read an article written exactly as I would like to write one day that will make me fell low and completely unprepared for my full time writing career. Did I enter too late this fight for being able to get the professional path I think it is the best for me?
Where are my pitches? How many serious freelance articles I wrote in the last months? Where are my book plans? Maybe I should stop harassing myself. Maybe it is enough to do my best to improve my writing each day and give hope a chance. But to be honest, I am not too much used with waiting. I don't like the insecurity of it. And my mediocre career in the last 2 years. I did grow a lot spiritually and got a deep understanding of things. I did a lot of travels and met wonderful people, but I want to do more, to feel again the comfort of a glamorous job and of a daily schedule. 
Something is not settled yet, I continue to whisper myself every week. The next time perhaps will get better. I feel it goes better and I love more my stylish turnarounds and word juggling. I feel more at home with English and more rich to express feelings and describe situations. From time to time I even publish successfully. 
I will continue to read more and write even more and be more stubborn. And will find new fantastic jobs hoping that a full time project for the next 3-4 months is waiting for me. Can't wait for the next stage.