We’re Just a Writer

by Augustin Erba

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My first writing personality is the artist formerly known as Augustin. He writes like there’s no tomorrow, or, as my other personalities would put it: as if there were no readers. The artist writes because it makes him feel better and he don’t give a rat’s ass what it means to anyone else. And, yes, he believes that his writing is heavenly. Which it isn’t.


Which brings me to my second writing personality: the Editor. She doesn’t like nonsense. She hates adverbs. She goes: “Oh, you think this is so clever, don’t you?” to the Artist. And the Artist smiles and blushes and says that he never thought anyone would pick up on that farfetched hint of recherche perdu. “Nobody likes you anyway,” says the Editor and removes it with a swift stroke.


When the Editor has done her deed the manuscript is not only readable to others, it is supposed to be pretty good as well. (But the Artist is ruined. Ruined. And he will get back at the Editor one day. Maybe it will be in a parenthesis just like this one.)


The Artist and the Editor having done their work now have to leave everything to the Salesman. No one will read my books if they’re not available. Which means that the Salesman has to get up and tell everyone that this writing is good. And even though it is worth reading, it still feels awkward having to say that. It’s like pleading innocent to a crime you haven’t committed. You’d better do it, but you feel that you shouldn’t be there in the first place.


In my early writing days the Artist would write a sentence and then the Editor would yell insulting words at it or simply erase it, while the Salesman was calling friends just to tell them about the must-read sentence (now erased). I couldn’t have it that way, so I’ve now done what some doctors call compartmentalization.


I don’t allow my multiple personalities to meet. We are better off apart. And so am I.

Augustin Erba’s essay in the Swedish anthology Mission: Fatherhood got outstanding reviews. In May 2009 he will publish his novel in Swedish: The Lonely Bridges (Ensamhetens broar) at Albert Bonniers Förlag. Augustin Erba is 40 years old, responsible for developing new programs at the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and writes his books in an 18th century wooden cottage in Stockholm.

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