How to Train to Be a Writer
"To be an artist, I had to learn to live without money. This was key."
Argentinian writer Samanta Schweblin shares essential lessons on writing which she learned from her grandfather, visual artist Alfredo de Vicenzo: “He called it “the artist’s training”.” Read more …
Every two weeks, Schweblin would join her grandfather on trips discovering museums, theatres, horse races, and everything in between. They would steal things from the Arts and Crafts stores and travel without tickets: “This training was extraordinary,” says Samanta Schweblin and continues: “He said that to be an artist, I had to learn to live without money. This was key.”
The lessons always ended the same way: writing about the day’s adventures in a diary. “There were some things that were not allowed like saying, “I liked it” or “It was nice. Everything had to be expressed with extraordinary precision.” When words failed, Schweblin and her grandfather would open a book by Alfonsina Storni or Walt Whitman and copy lines from poems that would grasp what could not be written by themselves.
While reading the poems aloud for the young writer, the grandfather would shake with an emotion that was hard to understand. Still, Samanta Schweblin explains: “I did understand that whatever was happening to him I wanted to happen to me. It was like a very strong admiration or desire for that passion.”
Samanta Schweblin (b. 1978) is an Argentinian writer. Her first publications – two slim volumes of prose, ‘The Core of the Disturbance’ (2002) and ‘Birds in the Mouth’ (2009) – immediately led to her international breakthrough. Her short story collections have received numerous awards, including the prestigious Juan Rulfo Story Prize. Her original short novel ‘Fever Dream’ (2017, originally published 2014) is her first novel translated into English and was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. Both Mario Vargas Llosa and the literary magazine Granta have proclaimed Schweblin as one of the most interesting contemporary young Spanish-language writers. She lives and works in Berlin.
Samanta Schweblin was interviewed by Peter Adolphsen at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival in August 2021.
Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by: Johan von Bülow
Produced by Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling
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