Occasionally I get this comment: ‘I have the feeling that I know you inside out.’ I receive this feedback out of the blue when walking down the street, inside a supermarket or by email. It is mostly women who tell me this, often followed by a second sentence: ‘Through reading your columns.’
These columns have secured me several blind dates. Well, I was blind, not the date, she ‘knew me inside out’.
I am a writer whose work is closely related to his own life. I think that my columns show the lighter side. I immediately have to issue a warning: my funniest columns are often written when I am in a deep depression. When I am very happy, I don’t write a thing.
It works differently for novels. I write those when I am in a stable mood. It gives me the peace and quiet to write about terrible issues. My novels show my darker side.
When I write I probably say more than in real life. But I think this is true for all literature and probably also for creating art in general.
Literature tells you what people say on the drive home after leaving a birthday party. Or more in general: you read about genuine thoughts and feelings. Literature and art deal with issues that are not expressed but when people read about it makes them think: yes, that’s right.
Whenever I welcome a new creative writing student, I always think: will this student stay at the party or also tell us about the drive home?
Even if you were to read all my columns, novels and poems, the picture you form remains subjective. Every reader has his own interpretation. However each time that someone approaches me to confess: ‘I have the feeling that I know you inside out’, I take this as a compliment.
The best thing would be for me to marry a writer. We don’t need to get to know each other. Of course we do.