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Authors Should Only Write for Themselves

During the 35th Edition of Sharjah International Book Fair


Two prize-winning authors from Serbia and Algeria have told an audience at the Sharjah International Book Fair, being held at the Expo Centre Sharjah, that their readership should be incidental to their writing. Compromising creative integrity is a price they would never pay.

Algerian novelist, short story writer and journalist, Basheer Mofty’s recent novel ‘Toy of Fire’ was nominated for the 2012 Arabic Booker Prize. He said the name of the session, ‘To Whom Do I Write’ is one of the most dangerous questions to ask a writer.

“Honesty does not contradict what a reader wants. Some readers want the passionate beliefs of a writer, and there are others who are happy with what I call ‘fast-food’ novels. There are different tastes for different people. While an author must write for himself, there will always be a virtual barrier because he cannot control how the reader interprets his work. In a way, the reader will also be the author of the book.

“Aside from this relationship, there should be no doubt that you write honestly about your convictions and your beliefs in the way you feel expresses you best.”

Also on the panel, Dragan Velikic, a writer and journalist is known throughout his native Serbia and well beyond, having published several novels and collections of essays across Europe.

“I am not a writer who sits down every day and has to write – I write when I have to express my emotions and my words. In essence, I write books that I would like to read and I believe that is creative honesty. If we look at both sides of the fence, if I had to choose between being a reader or a writer, I would read, because I could live without writing, but never without reading.

“There can be no falsifying the first sights we see, the first sounds we hear or the fragrances we smell as children. It is those memories which we combine when we start a book. There can be no substitution for those experiences and that comes through in the pages.

Mofty said that writing may be an art, but like every artist, he suffers for his work: “As I said, writers must write for themselves, but be under no illusion, there can be months of hardship involved in that process, but that is passion of writing that is its essence. Compromise is not an option.”

Velikic added: “Maintain your integrity. It is better to write to the best of your ability – even if you are the only reader – then the book is a success.”

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