Most people who don’t write are under the beautiful delusion that authors, as a rule, make a lot of money. Hilarious. They have so much imagination.
Anyway, I’m this ambitious creature who will then try to explain a bit about publishing and that in Belgium (for example), no more than twenty writers can live from their writing. For the past few months, my friends and family have noticed me slaving over the translation of ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte, with Love’. I don’t suffer in silence.
Don’t get me wrong, I like translating. I have a degree and all. 117.000 is just a lot of words.
I adore ‘PSL, with Love’. I wrote this book in the fall and winter of 2020, and it celebrates so much of what I care for, and everything I still had left after the pandemic halted life as we knew it. In spring 2021, I introduced myself to a publisher for the very first time in my life. And when I got offered the chance to publish this translation as an e-book, I didn’t hesitate.
Since I have to carve out writing time as it is, I did not work on new projects for over three months. Worse, I barely had time to think of them. On top of work and family there are limits to what a person can cram into 24 hours a day. There should be limits.
I have been tired. I also took most of my stories offline because piracy has been running over Wattpad. Which meant I cut myself off from the online feedback that makes writing less lonely.
It didn’t get as lonely as it could have been, because my husband listened to every chapter I translated (text-to-speech) and amused or horrified me by telling me exactly how ‘Among Us’ gets pronounced in the middle of a Dutch text. He also reflected upon the many moments in ‘PSL, with Love’ that are based upon our every day life. I guess the story showcases what my mind did with these moments, and how often I get lost in my own imagination.
Which is very often and for better or for worse. There cannot be a party or I will have imagined what it will be like. That work meeting we will have tomorrow? Imagined it. Very frustrating that people almost never follow those scripts I wrote out in my head. Free will, they call that. Impractical. Unless, of course, I imagined the worst.
Imagination is why I will pace through the house like a soldier on a mission after I read or watch a story that didn’t unfold as I would have hoped. Correcting it in my head. Or expanding it, when it ticked off all my boxes. Imagination is part of me. Often very unstructured and fractured, sometimes very detailed and vivid. If you are gonna imagine things anyway, you’re better off imagining something fun.
I write to console, to attack, to amuse, to love, to divert. Myself, or others. So at its root, it’s my chosen form of self-expression. Keeps me from imploding. I would paint if I was better at expressing myself that way. Dancing, playing music… I love it all. And I do it all. But not in public.
Writing is a tool. Imperfect and frustrating and faulty. Incomplete. I’d chose another tool in a heartbeat. But as I get better at wielding it, I get better at creating the worlds within my heart.
Which is fun. I get to pour in all my emotions and every single sentiment that in this world it is not cool, or way too intense, to show. We hold back, we adapt, we try to fit in. We assure each other, that we are ‘quite alright’. We bend, we settle, we try to be a palatable version of ourselves.
It’s awesome to set it all on fire and create your own reality. Creating stories is the closest to magic I’ve ever been. It’s Disneyland living in your head. Or any land you’d like to see. For free.
Yet all the effort that goes into perfecting a story is definitely aimed at sharing it.
I share my stories for the same reason we played Babysittersclub with the kids who lived in our street. Imagining, too, is so often more fun when you are not alone. So many of my favourite moments are connected to sharing my writing. I would like to add that it’s WAY easier to share your story with strangers on the internet than it is to share it with the people in your everyday life. Yet many of these strangers have now become friends. And I guess, thanks to them, I no longer need for every single person in the world to be my friend.
I don’t need every person close to me to like my stories either. I know some people do. Which makes sharing my writing more of an opportunity, and less of a risk.
Still, a story is not a crochet project. It’s a piece of you. Having it judged by others is heavy stuff.
Yet that’s exactly why I translated PSL, with love.
It’s a part of me. It’s a story that I needed, last fall and that kept me stable through a very hard time. I love these characters, for keeping me company. I am proud of them. I love spending time with them, and I love sharing them with others who love them too.
So that’s why I do it. It doesn’t buy me a yacht (why do people always imagine a yacht?) but I don’t really want a yacht.
I want a story that steals my breath away.