I am sitting at a large table. There has been a gallery opening. I find myself surrounded by individuals active in the Amsterdam arts scene. Among them, a famous Dutch writer – a very famous Dutch writer – but not the kind that does judging gigs, I think. And when it’s my turn to introduce myself to the Intelligenzia something interesting happens.
I say I have just found a publisher for my first book and that it will be coming out in a few months. My announcement causes neither much enthusiasm nor skepticism. But whether it is a good book, or if it will ever sell even one copy, the consensus appears to be that it is still an artistic endeavor and therefore honorable. My place at the table seems granted.
Before long the famous Dutch writer is coming forward in his chair across from me, scraping his throat to speak. He looks me in the eye and it is at that moment that my chair loses a screw and becomes wobbly, going on kaput in fact. Something tells me I had better slow down on the spritzers.
“So, why did you write your book?”
I don’t even think to answer.
“What is the reason you wanted to write your book?”
I try to have a go at a slice of time, the moment before all is revealed at the end of some inevitable sequence that would probably come the closest to getting cherry popped. Because nothing else could feel like this, I say to myself, not quite finding inner dialogue either.
But, however wacked the question, and well-timed too, it is a fair one. And most importantly: I have an answer.
I come forward myself.
“I wrote my book on the day I had nothing left on my shelf that was worth reading again,” I say, and add that I wrote it because I needed to read it. “Because it didn’t exist yet.”