Why I write—Anneloes Timmerije

I write because I cannot choose. If I didn’t write, I would like to be a hairdresser and a veterinarian and a viola da gamba player in an ensemble for old music, and I would train dogs to sniff out cancer cells in people. I also write because talking doesn’t do the job, the spoken word is an inadequate tool for turning thoughts into sound. That, too, has to do with the inability to choose. I want to say many things all at once, yet only one sentence comes out. Usually the wrong one.

Writing goes so painfully slow that choices dissolve in time. It takes a week before I can answer questions like: Does this character speak in the first person or in the third? Is it a man or a woman? In which period is the story set? Is it best told in the past tense or in the present tense? Once I know, the choice is gone. Unless I discover other possibilities at a later stage when the book is almost done.

Then again, sometimes I write so quickly that my fingers cannot keep up with my thoughts. On days like that I may end up with five thousand words and then I feel good. Very good. I take it to prove that I am in deep concentration, with all my senses wide open. It cannot get any better than that. Or even: I cannot get any better than that.

That wonderful feeling lasts until the next morning, when I notice everything that is wrong with what I have written and I start deleting and rewriting—facing new choices that I can only make by writing.


—Anneloes Timmerije