Who I am and Why I Write ...
Lluís-Anton Baulenas was born in 1958 in Barcelona. He has a degree in Catalan Philology. He has been a theatre director and, among other plays, he directed El gran màgic d’Oz (‘The Great Wizard of Oz’). At present he is a critic, translator and novelist. Lately, he has also written screenplays for the films Anita no perd el tren (Anita Doesn’t Miss the Train) and Amor idiota (Idiot Love) by the Catalan director Ventura Pons.
I was born in 1958 in a traditional working-class neighbourhood of Barcelona, Sant Andreu, where the rule is live and let live, where everyone's accepted and there's not much prying into other people's business. It's a neighbourhood of people with initiative, who came there to live on their own account and where there's a lack of small enterprise and family businesses. It must be said, too, that it has a great tradition of amateur theatre and a particular affection for Zarzuela.
Mine is a typical Sant Andreu family. There are no literary precedents in my house. Neither are there artists, unless we count my mother's older brother, Xavier Setó, the film director who discovered Marujita Díaz and whom I hardly knew.
All this means that the chances of my being a writer were minimal, even more so when I'm no example of the early deep vocation. When they used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said everything except "writer". I'm sorry. It wasn't my dream and neither was I a witty, entertaining kid or even, as in the case of my buddy, my friend Ferran Torrent, the pain-in-the-neck kind of kid that was always telling adults stories he'd invented. If I could get out of it, I didn't even write the Christmas poem. Nothing changed when I was an adolescent. My maximum effort of imagination in those days was a three-division, double round-robin football league, just like the real one. I locked myself in my room and spent the corresponding hours working at imitating the voices of the "Carousel Deportivo" (Sports Carousel).
After a whole range of jobs and studies, I ended up doing private teaching and, after some years of that, sat for public exams to become my family's first civil servant. Whatever the case, in those days I wasn't even like Pedro Almodóvar, who says that, in the twelve years he was working in Telefónica, he always knew he'd end up being a film director. Meanwhile, the poison (as some might say) of theatre had penetrated deep within me. I'd started doing theatre for the same reason as anyone else that didn't come from a board-treading family: to pick up girls. The theatre enabled me to discover that I could "create" something, and that this something could become real. I'd like this idea to be properly understood and not to be taken as some kind of "romantic" notion. Until then I, like the immense majority of the population, especially if you're a neighbourhood boy, thought that "creators" were other people, some other people. That was normal and accepted. Thanks to the theatre, I discovered that I too could create. It's thanks to the theatre, then, that I am a writer. Thanks to the theatre and a motorbike accident I had at the age of twenty-eight that obliged me, like Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, to reflect a little on my thousand vocations. The result was stopping my classes, asking for leave and starting to write.
Ten years have gone by since I published my first work of fiction. In this time I've published novels, stories and theatre where I've written about things that have gone through my head and other viscera of my organism. And I've realised that there are a lot of people who enjoy the things I write.
This seems so incredible to me that, even though I still don't know what I'll be when I grow up, I find that being a writer is one of the best things anyone could do.
Copyright © 1998 Institució de les Lletres Catalanes, with the author's permission.