An artist is someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.’
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
i just lernend the other day that many Dutch writers apparently kept working in regular office jobs all their life. There was kafkaesk suffering from the time taken away from writing by mondane tasks overy day life.
Ferdinand Bordewijk apparently wrote his books on the train from The Hague to Rotterdam on his way to work.
So, future writer: fear not to keep your day job. Something may still come of it.
“All mankind is divided into three classes:
Those who are immovable,
those that are movable
and those that move.”
We are all born as geniuses! See what happens next:
Alphabet (in German)
“Was man nicht nützt, ist eine schwere Last,
Nur was der Augenblick erschafft,
das kann nützen.”
– Goethes Faust
I have been trying to establish a writing habit this year. After a quite successful NaNoWriMo in November 2014, I was confident that I had found a way to start incorprating writing into my daily life. Making it a habit. Like brushing my teeth. Not that I reached the writing goal in Novmeber or anything, but I pretty much all month long sat down in the morning for half an hour and wrote. If neccessary I got up a bit earlier. It was pretty satisfying to see my work develop. 30 minutes is not very long and you’d think you can always spare 30 minutes. However, this year, I am really struggling to get back into my writing habit. Maybe I don’t want it enough? There are so many things distracting me. But are those things really the source of the problem? Are they really that important or do I just give priority over wrting? Am I in the way of my own writing?
I think, we all know the answers to these questions.
- born in 1964 in Germany
- Education: studied law (specialisation: criminal law)
- First publication: short stories Verbrechen (crime) in 2009 (aged 45)
Ferdinand von Schirach was 45, when he published his first book, a selection of short stories that are loosly based on cases he had worked on as a lawyer. Before his career in writing, he was a very successful lawyer and had many famous and influencial clients. Following the success of his first book, he has published several other collections of stories, novels and essays. He still keeps his chambers.
Apparently, he is one of the few contemporary German writers with international success.
I first heart of Ferdinand von Schirach through an interview with the German newspaper Die Süddeutsche. The title is: “It is not about loneliness, it is about distance.” That caught my attention. How he openly spoke about feeling distanced from people and how he likes to be alone, even prefers it sometimes. He seems like a person, who knows what he’s saying, because he has thought about already for a very long time. Maybe because he only started his publishing career in his mid-40s. He is not overwhelmed by his success. It feels like had given this interview many times before in his head.
It is not a common and popular way to be these days. Everybody is supposed to be active on social media to keep up with life, especially if you are writer and want to promote your book. You need to be proactive, outgoing, even slightly aggressive. Is seems that writing the book is only half of it – once it is written, you need to become some happy go lucky puppet that loves smalltalk and canapes. And if you are not into all that – how dare you speak out about it?!
After the newspaper interview, I was intrigued and read his first book Verbrechen (crime), because I like crime and detective stories. I read, or rather listened to, it in one go on a very long train ride between the Netherlands and the south of Germany. It grasps the banality and triviality of life in a very distanced and detached style of writing. The tragedies of life stand on their own, without being dramatised through literary transformation – naked, just as they are: normal tragedies of life.
His literary work is not only reflected in his interviews, but also on his website. Here is a screenshot from the landing page: