Armin Kõomägi [Estonia]
Author photograph © Playboy Estonia
I have been asked repeatedly how a businessman like me found his way into literature and why I became a writer at all. However, nobody (except for one friend) has asked why I write. It's hard to say which is more important. It’s like the dilemma of which came first, the egg or the chicken. I would prefer to answer the latter question.
I started writing in 2003 when I was thirty-four. Up till then, I had spent eleven years in business and, to be frank, it was thanks to my success there that I had the time and the freedom to do something else. My first short stories were written purely for self-amusement. But when I realized that there was an audience that would read them with gusto, I developed a more critical approach to what I wrote. I probably thought of how my stories would affect their readers and that inevitably blunted or dulled my words. It’s not easy to admit, but I’m sure that subconsciously I was constantly calculating how a certain piece of written text would influence my image as a businessman (for I hadn’t given up my entrepreneurship and I’m still very busy on that front). I thought of how to keep the reader thrilled and surprised, how to make him smirk, and at the same time the hypothetical reader influenced me by forcing me as an author to be decent and even to self-criticize. So the influence was mutual.
In a time, however, darker tones surfaced in my short stories. Being witty alone wasn’t enough for me anymore—although I still think that life is better when there are fewer taboo topics that can’t be joked about.
Recently I’ve been thinking about the opposite form of anecdotes. Is it possible to make a reader cry with a few sentences? I haven’t succeeded yet.
No matter how trivial writing a text may seem, one constantly discovers things about oneself and about the world. Having just completed my second novel, The Good Firm, and reading it over, I discovered that many of my seemingly witty thoughts also have sinister undertones. Being honest, I think, means that we have reached the point where we can only laugh through tears. We are far from the beautiful and pure joy that can be afforded only by distancing ourselves from all life’s trifles. Writing gives me that opportunity. I withdraw to be alone in my forest of thoughts and rediscover myself when I exit that forest. It’s interesting, and that is why I write.
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