I don’t know if there is a single experience that got me into writing, though I was sort of prompted at a point. By that, I mean my intention to become a writer, a novelist.
It was the darkest time of my life. I had no perspective at all. I had given up on everything that required long term planning – even middle term was a lot to ask. Half a year before I had finally given in and quit studying physics, I was living in an attic apartment with 8 m² (less than 100 square feet), including the shower cell, and what little money I had went into a little pasta, oil, and alcohol; once in a while I would grant myself a döner kebap, which is the only explanation for my surviving that period of my life.
Well, my best friend had moved into the apartment that my brother left rather recently, so I visited him and his grilfriend, who taught me some of the finer points of shop lifting. Also, I had a few “underground” connections, and I got a little dosh peddling weed to college students, but nothing serious or regular. So much for the circumstances in my life back then. I was never caught, luckily, and it was more than 3 years ago, so it is irrelevant in Germany. I don’t intend to do anything of the likes again.
My Mom got me a short term job at a church-run day-cre center for disabled people. They hired me for a week of vacation in the Franconian Winelands around Würzburg. Aside from being really good with “retards” – most people who smoke too much pot and drink alcohol are also kind of slow – they wanted me to write a protocol for the trip. So, every evening, I would sit there and write. And I wrote a lot. And I liked it. The writing. Didn’t mind working with the disabled people, they were nice and they liked me, but writing helped me process everything I had seen and done that week. Also, my general observation became keener, and my imagination more vivid. I started dreaming again – or, more precisely, remembering my dreams. So, one night I dreamt the plot of an entire book, though towards the end it became rather blurry. I tried to write down what I remembered, which wasn’t much, but I worked around that, added some things, and in the end, I had at least 10 pages of raw plot, which just needed fleshing out.
I never really got around to doing that, though. I figured I didn’t know enough about people and the world to continue, so I signed up for Cultural Anthropology the next semester, and in the mean time, I lost those notes in a computer crash – what did you think, that I write 10 pages by hand?