Notebook

MEET THE WRITERS

JAVIER LÓPEZ-ALÓS

PHOTO TAKEN BY SANDRA PINEDO

Q1) Can you think of a moment/situation/event in your life which made you realise writing was your vocation?

A1) Not a particular moment, to be honest. I remember myself doing different types of writing since I was a child: scripts for radio programmes, letters, articles on football, etc. I started typing as a self-learner when I was 10, and I used to spend hours doing that, and much longer when being a teenager. So, I don’t think there was a specific event I can mark as key for discovering that was my “vocation”. What I’m sure about is that words have been important for me since I was very little, and I have always felt writing to be a very important part of my life in order to understand both others and myself.


Q2) You've got your younger self at the beginning of his writing career in front of you. Which is the most important piece of advice you would give him?

A2) There are not too many things I’m sure enough to give a piece of advice to anyone. Maybe there is one that goes beyond writing and it’s more related to the notion of career: do not rush, do not be obsessed about success, protect your vocation for writing, if you have one, regardless of the commercial side of your activity. I mean, writing and being a successful writer are two different types of desire: they can actually meet at some point or not, but what makes part of your identity, that is what you need to protect the most.


Q3) What do you enjoy most about writing?

A3) Probably, beginnings are the most enjoyable moments, but very ephemeral. At that point, everything is open and that gives you – let’s say – a powerful optimism. Of course, soon after, you bump into obstacles, difficulties, the real job, which sometimes is not that funny. Finally, ending provides deeper and more solid satisfaction.


Q4) Which is the hardest challenge in writing a book?

A4) For me, just that, to end it. Anybody can have good ideas, that’s not the real issue. We all have them, every day, much more than we can explore or develop. What is less common is the ability, will, self-discipline and so on to keep on writing and finish your work, accepting that it is not going to be perfect, but just roughly in agreement with your original idea.


Q5) Have you ever experienced the so-called writer's block? How did you handle it?

A5) Well, not exactly in front of the sheet or the keyboard, but I struggled to sit down and start writing. The way I face this is to think about the real reasons for that to happen, and to attempt to take some pressure off. It seems to me these blocks are manifestations or symptoms of issues like too high expectations and perfectionism. But at the end of the day – and reminding yourself about this is of great help – many times we know from experience that best is the enemy of the good, and we need to accept life has its limits.


Q6) Give us the three books who have inspired you the most

A6) Not sure. Perhaps the most inspirational ones are those you are not fully aware of their influence on you. However, I can mention three books I do know had a great impact on me, beyond the specific moment of their reading. When I was a child, I read the Sherlock Holmes’ The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle, which I remember as one of the first occasions in which I felt completely engaged in a book. Years later, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes and The Karamazov Brothers by Fiodor Dostoievski, for different reasons, deeply impressed me. But even in these cases, it is not easy to know in which sense, to what extent, the nuances, etc. The only thing I know is that those readings contributed to my growth as a person.

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