Last week, London changed my life. I know, it has already changed it when I was accepted to the MA and many other times, so I guess I should say that London changed my life again.
It changed everything because, finally, I felt like I could accept who I am… in literature. This may sound silly, but I really think every writer needs that kind of moment, sooner or later. The thing is that, when you say that you are a writer (I never say that, I tend to say that I like writing), there are so many expectations raining down on you. Writers are well-known for taking themselves so seriously, almost as seriously as artists. My education in Italy brought me to think that a “serious” writer needs to really bloody enjoy all the classics, the post-modernist literature, all the poems by Allen Ginsberg. That is what is normally expected from a good writer. A writer needs to write deep, important novels and poems that will change humanity.
Well, last week I saw two movies at the cinema. I went to Westfield and saw La La Land with my boyfriend. And I also saw T2 Trainspotting at Picturehouse (to be honest, I saw it twice. Not in a row, though). I have spent my whole life trying to re-define my tastes, to adapt them to what a “serious writer” needed to appreciate. And I never thought that what I do write is not just shite. It is always what I say: I write shit, I just write frivolous stuff. But then, and I know many people will not believe that I’ve come to realise this after an MA in Creative Writing, I finally saw that writers don’t have the pressure of not being serious enough nowadays. I am a beginner. I do not feel the pressure of writing the great, 21th century novel in London.
And I loved La La Land. I want to write love stories that make the audience get stuck to the page until they fucking find out if the couple is going to end up together or not. I do not want to write novels that will change the world. My objective is to write stories that compell the reader, that make them want to go on until the book is over. Same happened for T2 Trainspotting. What is that makes us care about the story of such a loser as Mark Renton, a part from him being interpreted by Ewan McGregor in the movie? Well, it was Irvine Welsh and Danny Boyle who made him a character you want to care for. You want to see where he’ll end up, just like you want to do with Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie, even if Begbie is a fucking piece of shit.
So why did these two movies made me realise what I want to write in my life? Well, because yes, of course I do enjoy the classics and I really like post-modern literature. I love reading books that are deep and serious and obscure (well, not too obscure). Among the last authors I read there were Erri De Luca, Allen Ginsberg, Thomas Pynchon, Flannery O’Connor, Thorton Wilder. Pretty serious stuff. But what I also really love is a fucking good story. The right amount of emotions, and alcohol, and sex, and guys and girls that have reached a dead-end point in their life but they are really too romantic to stop dreaming and trying. They want something badly – whether that is a smile on the face of their lover or a hit of heroin or money or glory or a great career. This is what I love. A compelling, involving, tremendously cynical and tender story that will make the reader hate and love the characters at the same time. I love a good amount of conflict. I love emotions and gazes clashing.
I need to accept myself as a writer. I need to accept that there are some things that I will never enjoy – sorry, Iain Sinclair – and some others that are fucking good – like chick lit, my soft spot. Tonight I bought Skag Boys, the prequel of Trainspotting and Porno. I had never read it because I lost a bit of my fascination for Trainspotting after it became huge and fashionable. I bought it online and said, fuck it. I love it. I love Irvine Welsh. I don’t care if my fellow writers say it’s cheap. In my head, it will never be.