My Life as a writer
When did you first realise you wanted to write for a living?
I could hardly speak when I realised making up stories works for whatever ends.
Which writer, past or present, do you most admire?
It has to be Tolstoy. There isn’t much you could possibly add to War and Peace.
Also Thomas Mann for writing Death in Venice. When life slows down and nothing matters anymore, you just see these books as slowly waving films, where you have a round view of the characters, inhabit them, zoom out, zoom in, they are alive and you cannot be any more, just one of them. I feel so utterly inferior to these writers.
Julian Barnes for writing Flaubert’s Parrot, I wrote my thesis on that and I think only he could appreciate the irony of what I have actually written about the book.
What was your first published (or performed) credit as a writer?
A collection of short stories, Dreams in Judea, which was titled after one pseudo-Biblical story in the collection.
Which piece of writing work are you most proud of?
Funnily I am most proud of a piece I wrote when I was 17. I knew that I am trying to take in all that the universe has to offer and stand up to be seen and give my own answers, I remember that it made me feel so alive and courageous. It was a moment of an immense fight and waiting for a mighty challenger. With all my being I tried to say, I am ready.
Who or what inspires you to write?
Unresolvable contradictions of human life, the rich juxtapositions and adjacencies of experience.
How do you switch off when you’re not writing?
I resent not writing. I do not waste too much thought, energy on anything else, most of the time I successfully ignore life. The sentiment seems to be mutual.
Which one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
There is the craft you need to learn in and out, the universe you need to take in somehow and your time cruelly slipping away every minute. Master them all, be aware of the different times you live in, you’ve got to be in sync and sense them all punctually to create the drama and leave your own indelible signature question marks behind.
Why are you a member of WGGB?
I’m proud to be a member of the British writing community and I hope one day the British writing community will be proud to have me.
Alicia Arvay is a writer and member of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain