Who I Am and Why I Write

Tina Vallès

I realise that it’s easier for me to say that I write to explain who I am. It’s taken me many years to be able to say that I’m a writer without having the sensation that I’m expressing a desire rather than a reality—and this isn’t false modesty. But, deep inside, I’m not at all modest. I believe in what I do and what I write but then I have to defend it outwardly, and everything gets complicated. If I write, it’s because I like telling stories. After that there will be many nuances, but everything goes back to wanting to tell stories. For some time now, in any context from the most solemn to the most trivial, I’ve been able to say I’m a writer and I believe it. I believe in what I write. I like writing. I wouldn’t write if I didn’t enjoy it and I always cite Calders when I say that because he apologised for not suffering when he was writing. I’ve never suffered when I’m writing either, but I’ve suffered afterwards, suffered insecurity, vulnerability, uncertainty, fear of ridicule, and a whole lot more things which, I suppose, are shared by all of us who create, all of us who live creating. I was about to say, “all of us who need to create in order to live”, but I desisted.

I write because I like telling stories, which is to say I’ve always thought there was someone on the other side. I’ve never written for myself. I’ve never been one for writing diaries. I’ve always written for somebody. The first thing I published was a blog, in 2002, and I’ve been acquiring readers, one by one, ever since. Eighteen years later, I’m still writing for somebody. I have an active reader in mind, who not only listens or reads but also works with me. Maybe the verb “work” is exaggerated but I think it’s the most graphic.

Why do I write now? Because writing is still a challenge. Each new story I need to tell means going back to look for how and from where I want to write, and this is the best thing, this quest, because it’s different every time, though there are points in common with earlier searches, points that I manage a littler bit better every time, and this prowess pushes me to look for new challenges, to get more complicated so that writing will always be an uphill road but one which, infected by Calders, I always climb enthusiastically. Without this keenness for a challenge, I wouldn’t write. I strive to write what I don’t yet know how to write, and I seek a reader who will come with me and who, reading, will end up writing with me. When I find this reader, who I do find and often, my happiness is absolute.

So, I always write for somebody. I’m a storyteller, that’s what I am, but I also find that there’s work behind every narrative, a whole framework of questions and answers, which means what I do isn’t only storytelling but, I’d say, I spend more hours thinking about what I’m writing than actually writing, and I only realised this quite recently. Right now, I’ve just written a children’s book starting out from an idea I had a couple of years ago, an idea that, since then, has been running round in my head from time to time until I saw that I’d given it enough thought and could throw myself into writing it.

When I start typing, I feel that a good part of the most complicated work is done, and now it’s time to come out and play, to write, and have fun. I write because it’s what I most like doing after reading, reading actively, with all my senses alert and waiting for the person who’s writing to trust me. Because I write trusting in a reader who is able to read beyond the words I leave written on paper.

I’m someone who wants to tell stories to someone who won’t be limited only to listening to them. My books aren’t finished if they’re not read. If I want to tell stories, I need to count on somebody on the other side. If I had to write only for myself, I’d read what others have written.

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