Who I Am and Why do I Write, I'm being asked
And why I write, I'm being asked. There are many reasons. And I should think the answer would have been different if I had been put this question during other stages in my life. At the beginning, during my early youth, for instance, I should think it was the challenge of finding out about, and exploring, one's own skills, and of making oneself known, in order to compare the image that you have of yourself with the image that the others have of you. Just the opposite of what I seek at this stage in my life. I would now say that I read and write in order to gather and sort a personal anthology of images taken from books, experiences, characters, scenes, sentences, words... that somehow have exerted a mesmerising power and hold a special meaning for all of us. They may well be those primordial images that - according to what they say - stream across the mind of those that find themselves in an imminent danger of death, which summarise their whole life in an instant. In my childhood, they used to relate this about those fearless swimmers who used to plunge into the most dangerous spots of the Ter river, and some would drown swept down by the hidden whirlpools. To me, all this hearsay sounded like pious little tales told to hide from children the cruelty of a sudden death. I used to ask myself, ‘Out of those who had really drowned, who would have been able to explain what had gone through his mind at the moment of losing his life?' Yet I do believe in a private collection of essential images that we spend our whole life compiling, of fragments of fiction we lovingly choose and cherish in our inner library. They are the images we resort to at specific moments in order to discover the meaning of our lives, as if the fullness of life would concentrate on this sheaf of beautiful images, as if only they would have the power of concentrating in a perfect whole the powerful truths and the fabulous myths that illuminate us and provide us the strength to plough ahead. They are the deeds we have lived through, our personal experiences, and those facts that we have discovered in art and literature - and this conjunction would seem to express our desires, our deepest hopes. Some say that a full and happy life is only possible if we find ourselves in harmony, fully agreeing, and perhaps even in communion, with these symbolic images.
Whoever said that literature preserves, deep down, at its root, the preverbal custom of helping out to build worlds, a habit that is largely visceral, emotional, so personal and non-transferable that it is often far removed from merely linguistic interpretations?
To obtain these imaginary downloads of varying intensity is what pushes me to write. And it must be said that they depend not only on the writer's capacity, but also on the reader's receptive ability. But in the best of instances, in the best books, whether they be written or read, especially when talking about books of childhood and first youth, we find some qualities that make them especially precious to be preserved in the mind. This is one of the gratifications of writing for children and youth. There are many more, such as the progressive discovery of the rules of a new genre. But let us return to the imaginary world that makes certain books or certain images discovered in their pages precious: I think that there is a mystery or secret that concerns us all, old and young, such as an inkling of the immense possibilities regarding the future that these years hold, so that the seriousness and even the sadness of adults would be nothing more than the awareness of loss or the wasting of this original force. These images, these books, also have a liberating function. They have the capacity to help us to escape from specific situations that overwhelm us. There is nothing more frustrating than the impossibility of escaping, of fleeing. Some also say that an adult is nothing more than someone who has lost the ability to imagine, to flee, to fabulate... A literature and a pedagogy that is too rationalistic have done away with this sense of wonder, of fantasy, of fabulation... And for this reason, the stock of images compiled throughout one's readings or experiences - and in which we ought to recognise ourselves and by which we should be valued - is poorer as time goes on. The dramatic urge to live and the ferociousness of existence would seem to pose a threat to the wealth of wonders that we accumulated during our early years. But the reserve of these possibilities and the indestructible trust in the achievement of the desires expressed by these images or sentences, situations or characters, is probably the only thing that can keep us solely hopeful and strong during the difficult years - if not the only thing that can keep us truly alive.
There are many more reasons for writing and reading, especially for beginners, but if only I could attain a tiny part of those reasons expressed, I would feel fully satisfied and rewarded.
Copyright © 1998 Institució de les Lletres Catalanes. Reproduced with the permission of the author