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"writing is the essence of my life" (3/3)


Part three of three





[see Part one here]

[see Part two here]


And this brings us to another topic and a new confession, which is that after only a short time I forget everything that I have written in a book. Forget it so completely that even reminders about what I have written don’t help me. Then I just shrug my shoulders uncertainly and say: “It’s possible that’s in one of my books. But I can’t say.” I know so little, I forget the contents of my books so completely that sometimes I’ve told the same story twice without noticing. And nothing has ever been able to induce me to look into one of my books again, I positively shudder at the prospect.

I suppose there are several reasons why that’s the case. One reason is that the child has to make its own way in the world, if it has turned out well. The father can’t always walk along beside it trying to protect it. It is ready, and the father (who in this case of course is the mother too) now has other children to deal with. That’s one reason, but it’s not the most important. For me the most important reason never to look at a book again and to forget it completely is entirely different. I would give you a quite false picture of being a writer here if I created the impression that an author has nothing to do but write novels. That’s the pleasant part, but in terms of time spent, also by far the smallest part of the job. Because if the novel is written by hand—and I’m one of those authors who still has to write every line by hand, I can’t create onto a typewriter—then when you’ve finished the novel of course you have to revise it a bit and then either dictate it to a typist or type it yourself. Sometimes I type it myself, and sometimes I dictate it. And then you have to check the typescript very carefully for mistakes, which is already the third time that I check my child very carefully. Then the publisher and the editors read it, and now the author receives a wish-list, long or short as the case may be, but he gets a wish-list. Firstly this contains a schedule of factual and technical errors which have escaped the author’s attention despite all his efforts, and secondly a schedule of the things which the editor finds undesirable, concerning, dangerous, or just improbable. The author has no choice, he has to sit down and look at his child a fourth time, and often look at it very thoroughly.

Are we finished now? No, we’re starting now. Because now the novel goes to the printer, and the way things usually are the author has to proofread three times, first the so-called galleys, then the page proofs, and finally the author’s corrections. They’re the kind of technicalities of the book trade which firstly I don’t understand too well myself, and which secondly I don’t want to bore you with, but in any case, I have to deal with them, so after the last corrections I have read and written the novel seven times, and I can assure you that I can proofread for twenty pages without remembering a word of what I’ve read afterwards. The brain just goes on strike, it’s as though you’re trying to learn and to learn a list of words which you’ve known perfectly for years, as though you’re trying to memorize a song which you can already sing from the first verse to the last.

Have we now finished with our child…? No, now we’re just getting started with it! Because of course most of my novels have been serialized in a newspaper or a magazine before appearing in book form, and that kind of serialization requires a further and special revision. Because in the first place a newspaper can never publish something as long as the book version, the readers would forget the beginning by the time they got to the end, and in the second place a serialization has to cut out many things which could cause offense in a broader circle of readers. So I have to go through the text again, cut it to half its length, write connecting passages, leave things out, put things in, make things clearer. Once, twice, three times—and hope that what I end up with is acceptable. Hope.

And then there are the movies. Yes, now this novel is supposed to be filmed too, you have to turn the novel into a script for a film of no more than two-and-a-half-thousand meters, so start again and revise it again! I did the sums once, and worked out that the author has to go back to his novel and revise it about a dozen times. Obviously it’s not very pleasant, it’s tedious journeyman work, but it’s better to do it yourself than to let someone else do it. Because after all you know your own child best, and as a father it pains you to suddenly hear it speaking in quite the wrong way, and with words it never had from you. That’s a major but unavoidable burden in my profession, so you’ll understand that after the last revision I let my child go, and never want to see it and never want to hear from it again—that in fact I then forget it completely. My head and my heart have attended to it a little too often, so that at the end I have actually had to force my brain to deal with it. And once it’s no longer necessary, I won’t do that anymore, and my brain won’t either. Away with that book, forget it, start a new one, plunge into the joy of creating once again, and if I encounter the previous book, or the film, or the serialization, or even a review or a well-meaning reader, then I think: Ah yes, that was then—yes, that was a long time ago, but now I’m busy with a completely different book, now I’m living in a completely different world, don’t bother me with what used to be, and such a long time ago too!

But with my first novel, with Farmers, Functionaries and Fireworks, or with just F.F.F. as I call it privately, I had some curious experiences. I told you that the publisher and the editors and various other people were not unfavorably disposed towards this, my first child, and I was also informed that the Cologne Illustrated newspaper had acquired the novel for serialization. That pleased me not because I was ambitious, but for a different and very material reason: because I was supposed to get lots of money for it; I’ll even tell you that I was supposed to get nine thousand marks for it. And of course you know how we had lived until then, from one day to the next, on a minimal salary, we still couldn’t call a single stick of furniture our own, so it was no surprise that we almost went crazy at the prospect of all that lovely money. Oh, how we sat around making plans about all the things we would do with the money. Because back then, it seemed to us, we could buy half the planet with nine thousand marks. We talked about it when we went for a walk, when we sat at the dining table, when we were about to fall asleep at night, we made neat lists, and made new lists, and one of us decided to buy this, and the other decided to buy that, and the nine thousand marks seemed entirely inexhaustible, and our lists grew longer and longer, up there in our furnished room near the Criminal Court in Moabit.

And then the money came, but things were so tight at that point that I only received it in installments, five hundred one time and maybe a thousand the next. But that didn’t bother us at all, we didn’t think about the tight, about the dangerous economic situation, we went out and bought things. We bought a two-and-a-half-room cottage in a settlement—on an installment plan; and we bought furniture—on an installment plan; and we bought clothes and linen and things for the cottage—on an installment plan; and we bought books—on an installment plan. And we moved out of the city and into the eastern suburbs, onto a street with the delightful name of the Green Corner (though actually it wasn’t very green), and we lived there in fine style and in expectation of further payments—on an installment plan.

But one black day I discovered that there wouldn’t be any further payments for a while, but that my worthy publishing house had gone bankrupt (the biggest banks and firms in Berlin were going bankrupt at that time), and now my money was stuck in the bankruptcy somewhere, and I was in debt up to my ears, and much higher! Oh, those were very difficult hours and days and weeks, I didn’t know what I would use to pay the next installments, in fact it wasn’t even possible to buy the most essential groceries, and so I squeezed my brain and wrote stories and little pieces for newspapers, and everything they earned me was just a drop in a bucket. So I had written my way into trouble, and didn’t really care that my name was on posters everywhere as the author of F.F.F., and drawing attention to the serialization in the Cologne Illustrated newspaper.

But somehow those days passed, just as all days pass, the good ones and the bad ones, and the publishing house traded its way out of bankruptcy, and I received every last penny of my money and was able to pay my debts, and we weren’t living on installment plans anymore, but among our own property. By then I was already deep in my work again on the book Little Man, What Now?, and the world outside no longer interested me much, and I was walking around in a dream again.

Then I finished the book, and we found that title for it—and I have to admit that I can’t really remember who found the title which helped the book to its great success. Originally the book was called “The Shrimp,” but everyone thought that wasn’t much of a title. And so one day we were sitting together at the publishing house, Rowohlt and my wife and I and the two editors, and maybe some other people were there too, I don’t remember. And Rowohlt kept repeating to us the title of a novel which was very successful at that time, Where Are You Rolling To, Little Apple?, as a kind of model of what we were looking for. And so we were sitting there, feeling pretty stupid actually, and making suggestions which were all promptly rejected, and then silence reigned again, and Rowohlt broke the silence with Where Are You Rolling To, Little Apple? one more time—and suddenly it was there: Little Man, What Now? had been born. Who found the title? I can’t remember. I’d almost like to think that I found it, as no-one has ever said to me that he was father to it. So it was probably me. But I can’t remember, just as I can’t remember what’s in the book about the little man, I’ve forgotten.

And the little man became what they call a world-wide success, which means that he was translated into lots of languages, that he made his author very famous, and earned him lots of money. I can only tell you that a world-wide success isn’t a pleasant thing—or at least not for me. Suddenly all kinds of people were writing to me, and most of them wanted money from me, and if all they wanted was for me to sign their copy I was getting off lightly. And I was supposed to give a speech here and make a visit there and open something somewhere else and write an article for newspaper X and give my next novel to publisher Y and finance somebody’s miraculous invention which was guaranteed to make me a millionaire. And castles were offered to me to buy, and now, when I wouldn’t have gone back to farming at any price, I could have become the owner of agricultural estates and had employees of my own, when all the time the only thing I wanted was to go on writing books in peace.

But even this flood of outside interest—which incidentally soon receded again, to crash in on an even more famous man—wasn’t the worst thing about my world-wide success. Because the worst thing was the money. Only a very short time before, I had been forced to live on a very modest income, and we had owned almost nothing. Then F.F.F. had brought a little money into our house, but after all it hadn’t taken us any further than to a cottage with two-and-a-half rooms. But now the money started streaming in. The river swelled more and more, flowing not just from Germany, but from ten, from twenty countries, and it seemed as though it would just keep growing, and never end…

No-one should receive such a sudden access of wealth, you have to learn how to deal with money as much as with anything else, and I hadn’t learned that in my life before. Yes, we had got on fine with very little, we knew how to do that, we could cope very well on two or three hundred marks per month. But on two thousand, or on twenty thousand? Could we really afford whatever we wanted now, buy half the planet, or how was that supposed to work? A wise old auditor said something to me in those days which has always impressed me with its truth: “Yes, Fallada,” he said, “you don’t have to be a genius to live properly when you have very little money, but there aren’t many people who can fulfill all their obligations when they have lots of money!”

And I, for one, couldn’t do it. I stopped my work, because I had now found an entirely new occupation: getting and spending money, and I was at great pains to pursue this occupation in the most foolish way possible. I really didn’t know how to stop, and I was in a very fair way to ruin my family, my health, and my appetite for work, and my fortune along with them, until my friends and my wife eventually persuaded me to flee this veritable gold fever by moving to the country.

I finally came to my senses again in a little village in Mecklenburg, where I had acquired an extremely modest smallholding. And it was high time. Because my world-wide success had been superseded by the next world-wide success (no world-wide success lasts longer than six months), the river of money was slowing to a trickle, and finally, of course, there was this institution called the Revenue Service, an institution which I had completely overlooked during my recent senseless life. But it was enough that I got away in one piece again, I found my salvation in the country, on my little farm. But I wouldn’t like to go through it all again, even if I’m now a lot older and—perhaps—have learned to deal a little more sensibly with money.

No, quite apart from all the money problems: I wouldn’t like to go through all that again. Because sitting at your desk creating a world for yourself is a different thing from standing outside in the real world, asserting yourself in it, and holding your place in it. Those are two very different things. And the stronger your attraction to the first world is—and I’m not ashamed to call it the unreal world, and I’m so strongly attracted to my unreal world that I wouldn’t give it up for anything—the weaker the figure you cut in the outside world will be. Writing a book and championing it in the outside world demand quite different skills from a man, and I would say that the better you are at writing the book, the worse you are at championing it. Or at least I only felt at ease again when I was sitting at peace again, the storm had blown itself out, clean white paper lay before me, and I said to myself: On to a new one. Start your third book now!

Because now I had finally reached the point where I had understood what I had not realized during the thirty-six years of my life: That my vocation was to write books, and only that, nothing but that. And I’ve kept to that realization all my life since: I’ve lived with and for books, and when I was among people and experiences and deeds, then they always became material for books for me. It wasn’t that I decided to approach life like that, that I singled out this or that person for observation and surveillance, with the firm intention of making him into a character in a book, no, nothing like that. But over the years I’ve noticed that everything which I see and experience can become material for a book or for an episode in a book or for a character in a book. I don’t know that, I don’t plan anything. But suddenly, while I’m writing, this or that experience resurfaces in me, from years ago or just days ago, and I’m sitting in a suburban train again and such-and-such a man looks such-and-such a way and says such-and-such, and now I have to describe that so everyone can see it. My brain, my whole life has become a storehouse for things that ought to be written one day, and I couldn’t tell you all the things that are in the storehouse, because it’s so big, and I can’t see into its dark corners and compartments, but I know that I’ll find everything in it. Putting it another way, perhaps I’d say that I’m a natural scientist who describes Nature as it is. But then I have to limit or expand that—and in this case limiting and expanding are the same thing—by saying that I describe Nature as it is collected in me, as it is selected and accumulated in me, and as it changes in me.

In an earlier part of my remarks I was very insistent that I repudiate my first two novels, because they weren’t “my” novels, but someone else’s, written at someone else’s instigation. I’m in a rather embarrassing position now, when I have to admit to you that since then I have sometimes—and more than just once or twice—written novels which were straight commissions, for example from a magazine editor, but which I nevertheless acknowledge as my true children. And I must also admit that during the Nazi dictatorship I was seldom allowed to write as I wanted, because there were not just thematic restrictions, but also very detailed instructions about what you were and were not allowed to write. For example, I remember that from a certain point on we novel-writers were forbidden to mention clergymen, to mention priests, whether favorably or unfavorably, because in the Third Reich the existence of clergymen was supposed simply to be forgotten. On the other hand, we were only allowed to write positively about teachers, we were only allowed to show appealing and completely faultless teachers in our books, because there was a shortage of teachers in the Third Reich, and it was highly desirable that as many young people as possible resolved to become members of the teaching profession. There were countless instructions of that kind, and I had to follow them while writing my books, otherwise there was no prospect of publication. And even under these restrictions I wrote books and acknowledge them as my books.

As I already said, I’m in a rather embarrassing position when confronted by this contradiction. Perhaps it’s best if I say I’ve now progressed to the point that I am so skilled at my trade (because my occupation, like every other, is in many ways like a trade), anyway, that I am now so skilled at my trade that I can turn even unfamiliar, commissioned material into something entirely my own. It wasn’t like that when I was starting out. Back then I was still uncertain, because I didn’t even know if I could produce a novel at all, every constraint made me nervous, and I had to turn in on myself completely, seal myself up like an oyster, and no-one was allowed to disturb me, I couldn’t even talk to my wife about my plans.

Today I know that I can write a novel. And what’s more, I know that I can produce my novels from almost any material, because I have now determined my own way of seeing and describing things. That’s why a commission doesn’t make me nervous anymore, no, I just start looking for the way to carry it out, and I always find a way that suits me.

I’d like to show you how curiously this process can function, using a very recent example. It was a good year ago, let’s say in October of the year 1945, when I had just moved from the country to Berlin, and was still shattered by my work as mayor of a small town, which had been forced upon me despite my unsuitability. An acquaintance put a slim file in my hands, a Gestapo file about a case against a worker and his wife in Berlin. During the war, these two rather elderly people, who up until then had held minor posts in the Nazi Party, suddenly began writing cards criticizing Hitler, and leaving them in the stairwells of busy office buildings. They had got away with this for about two years, before the husband was caught by the Gestapo, and after him the wife, and then came the inevitable case before the People’s Court and the death sentence, which was carried out on both of them in the year 1942.

My acquaintance asked me if I thought it was possible to make a novel out of this case. And yes, I thought it was possible. I read the file, and then first of all I wrote a short non-fiction article about it for a magazine, and the article was duly published. That was all about a year ago.

But while I was writing the article, I understood for the first time the problems with the material. You had two rather elderly people, with no children, no friends, no-one they spoke to. They wrote cards, for two years, nothing else, and left them in the stairwells. Finally they were caught and executed. It was too dry, it wasn’t enough. Not a trace of youth, light, hope. Of course, you had the Gestapo, and the people who worked for the Gestapo hunting the people who were writing the cards, but hunting so indifferently, so routinely, so clumsily. Their hunt had all the vigor of a post-office clerk selling stamps behind his counter!

No, there was nothing in the material, it was too dry, you could make an article of twenty typewritten pages out of it, but never a novel of four hundred pages! And then—who wanted to read about such things anymore? Did I like thinking about them? Illegal activity during the war, and then illegal activity like that . . . ! The idea incredibly ill-advised, the messages on the cards primitive beyond belief, and they had never had any effect. Of course most of the cards had simply been handed to the Gestapo as quickly as possible. No-one had taken the time to read them and think about them. Just get rid of them!

And I banished this material from my memory for ever. I didn’t want anything to do with it, it wasn’t anything I could use. I wrote another little novel which I messed up rather badly, and then I turned my attention to another plan, to a really great novel which was to be set in Berlin today: A young man comes from the country, it’s the first time he has ever seen a city, a refugee lives among the ruins, he’s in danger, he sinks, and then he pulls himself together, he builds a little security for himself, finds a little happiness, a little optimism…

My mind was occupied with these things, and I was about to begin writing, though still preoccupied with the minor journeyman work which is so necessary these days, when a letter summoned me to a film company. So I went along, full of expectation. But what I heard there disappointed me sorely. Because—after a year had passed—the people there had read my little article about the Berlin worker and his wife, they had found the material interesting, and believed that they could make a film out of it. So they asked how I was getting on with my novel. I had to admit that I hadn’t started it yet. I told them about my other novel, my optimistic novel.

But no, people are so unpredictable, they didn’t want to know about my nice, optimistic novel, they wanted me to work up this other, depressing material, that dead-end book without youth and without hope and without love was the one they thought I should write.

Well, even a writer has to live, a film commission means money, sometimes lots of money, and when I went home I had negotiated a contract with these people about the very book that I didn’t want to write at any price. That was on September 26, 1946, and the date for starting work had been set as October 1, 1946. I wasn’t happy as I went home, and I wasn’t pleased about the money that I could earn. I was only thinking about what an ordeal this job would be and how it would come to nothing anyway.

But my professional conscience wouldn’t let me rest. I didn’t even glance at the notes and extracts which I had made previously from the Gestapo files, and I didn’t look at the article which I had written either. But my brain was turning the material over nevertheless, constantly turning over the question: How do I bring a bit of light and color into this gloom? And then: What does the first chapter look like? The first chapter is like the door of a house, because once you’re through the door you only need to keep moving.

I began writing a day earlier than agreed, I had found my door. And in any case my time was limited, I was supposed to deliver the manuscript in two months.

And I kept writing. As early as during the first hundred pages I was surprised to see that this wouldn’t be a story, but that it would be a full-grown novel, that I would be more likely to have too much material than too little. I’ve already told you that I can’t create onto a typewriter, I have to scratch a novel out by hand, and as I’m also subject to writer’s cramp, it’s a laborious business. The deadline left me no peace, so that I had a long and difficult day’s work every day. I was sitting at my desk at five o’clock in the morning, and I rarely stopped before seven in the evening. As was my pedantic habit, I drew up a work calendar, and in it I recorded how many pages I had written every day. And I made a rule for myself, as I always did, that I was not allowed on any day to write fewer pages than on the day before. I was permitted to write more, but strictly forbidden to write less. In short, I drove myself and my brain along with all of the old and the new tricks that I knew.

And while I was writing, while I was working up the material, while I was horrified to see that the material was growing and growing, and that I would have to work hard to get a grip on it, during all that time I was constantly amazed by my own brain. Because I had truly believed that I couldn’t make anything of this material, I had filed it away for good and dismissed it. For a whole year I hadn’t thought about it at all, but developed more optimistic plans. And then as chance would have it, a year later some film guy got his hands on my long-forgotten article, he gave me a commission, I accepted it, I accepted it for external reasons, basically because I was in a hurry to earn as much money as possible, and it turned out that everything I had thought was wrong. Because my brain had continued to worry away at the material, quietly, without me having the slightest idea of what was going on, and my brain had taken the material apart, added to it, reshaped it: In short, it had made it into the basis for a novel, quietly transforming nothing into something, and I hadn’t known anything about it!

I asked myself again and again what would have happened if I hadn’t received that chance external impetus to write the novel. Would it then have remained within me, unwritten? Were many more novels lying within me, unwritten? I didn’t know, I would never find out. But perhaps you’ll understand what a strangely exciting adventure life is for me even today, at an age when most people are already thinking about stopping work, but when I’m starting again and again. And now you’ll also understand that I call this commissioned novel my book after all, my own work, which I acknowledge. I can’t deny that it was commissioned, I can’t deny that I accepted the commission unwillingly, but it’s equally undeniable that what I wrote became my novel.

I needed twenty-four days to do it, to write this novel, and it’ll be a good six hundred pages or so when it’s published. I drove myself along, alright. I experienced all the joys of a creator while I was writing the novel, but I couldn’t take the time to enjoy them, because I had to keep going, because I didn’t know if the inspiration would keep flowing or whether it would suddenly dry up, I pushed myself on. And finished on October 24. Saved again, a book brought safely into harbor again! And while I look only unfavorably on many of my children, particularly on those from the last Nazi years, because I messed them up partly or completely, after finishing this novel that I hadn’t wanted to write at all I had the feeling: I’ve pulled it off, at last I’ve created something really worthwhile again! I’m happy…

I treated myself to a week’s rest, which is to say that I answered letters, ran errands, and took care of all kinds of business, I gave my brain a rest. And I found that it needed a rest. Then, punctually on November 1, I began revising the book, I typed some parts of it myself, and dictated other parts. This revising and dictating took almost as long as writing the manuscript, but after all the novel was safe now, I had written it down, I didn’t need to drive myself so hard anymore…

Though I have to qualify that a little. A novel which is complete in manuscript doesn’t exist yet, it’s always at risk. A single copy—and there can be a fire, it can be stolen (although I’ve never heard of any thieves who steal novel manuscripts!), it can get lost somehow—and I would never, never, never be able to write it again! A novel in manuscript doesn’t exist yet, it’s just a problem child. It’s only when it has been typed, only when there are three, four copies of it, that I can breathe easy, that I’m—almost—sure that nothing more can happen to it. What would you have me do? Because in everything connected with my work, I’m a superstitious man. I never want to talk to anyone about my work, I can’t imagine letting anyone read even a line of the manuscript. I always think that the inspiration will dry up, that the novel will never be finished. I’m afraid what will happen to it—again and again, in different ways. I’m a slave to all these feelings, just as I’m a slave to my work. Am I writing these books? Something in me is writing them. I simply have to! Truly, there’s no pleasure in sitting at a desk for ten, twelve hours every day, day in and day out, and being driven by your work, when after sixteen novels I know that so far I have finished every one, that the inspiration has never yet deserted me. When I also know that hundreds or at least dozens of my fellow authors write their books much more easily and calmly, and their books aren’t worse than mine!

But none of that helps me at all! I have to. I have to write the way the law within me requires, or I have to give up writing. And as I don’t want to give up writing, and never will give up writing, I have to drive myself on, today, tomorrow, I’ll probably still be driving myself on when I’m an old man, an ancient, I’ll always be afraid that I won’t finish the book.

And this novel I’ve been telling you about, which at the moment has the title Every Man Dies Alone? Well, its fate is the same as many of my novels: Soon I will develop a profound distaste for it, I won’t want to hear of it ever again. It isn’t just that it will be filmed, and it isn’t just that I will be obliged to help write the script. No, it will also be serialized in the New Berlin Illustrated newspaper. And—as I said before—the problem with a serial, and particularly with a serial in a paper which only appears weekly, is that the story can only run for a certain time, otherwise the readers forget how it started. Thirteen weeks, three months is really the most that you can expect of them. But in its current state my novel is long enough to run for well over six months, so I have to cut out a good half of it, and I also have to change quite a few other things to put it into shape for a serialization. This work awaits me, and I have to tell you that I sigh when I think of it. But as Captain Shotover says in George Bernard Shaw’s play Heartbreak House: “Money is not made in the light,” and anyway I always think it’s better if I do the chopping, rather than some butcher I don’t know, and so I’ll get the job done.

But if I may make one request of you today, please never judge a novel by its serialization. I’ve drawn a little picture for you of how such a serial comes to exist, and I’ve also told you why that has to be so. We have to accept the things that it seems we can’t change, or that it’s not possible to change at the moment. But that’s why you should honor my request: Please don’t judge a novel by its serialization. The shrewd reader and the well-informed reader will soon notice while they’re reading the serial that there’s a bit missing here and another bit there which happens for no obvious reason, and they’ll say to themselves: Aha, it’s the serialization! But that’s no reason for us to denigrate serials. Not only do they enable the author to earn a good part of his living, but they also offer a first impression of how the novel really is, they bring in readers for it, and that also has its value.

And then in the distance—unfortunately, the not very far distance—the corrections of the book editions are beckoning. All three of them. And foreign publishers are starting to contact us again too, just a few countries at first, but after all that’s a beginning. And we’ll have to go through the novel again for the foreign publishers as well.

In short, all the unpleasant journeyman jobs which are part of a writer’s profession are now standing directly before me. I’ll get them done, as I’ve got them done many times before, not exactly with enthusiasm, but because they’re a duty I have accepted. No-one can expect of his profession here on earth that it will only bring pleasant experiences, there will always be duties attached to the privileges, even in my profession, which I love so much and which I will never give up. The intoxicating hours of creation are followed by the hours, long, much longer, hours of work, of demanding, tiring, often unpleasant work. I felt it was important to tell you that as well.

And now I’m at the end of what I wanted to say. I wonder whether I have, I hope that I haven’t forgotten to say something significant. I’ve given you a very personally colored view of my work. I’ve described for you, in a very abbreviated way, how I became what I am today, how I came to be the writer I am. I firmly believe that all of us, which means all of you, have such an inner vocation, each of us has some kind of task which he is best suited for. It takes time to realize what that task is. You shouldn’t try to find it too soon. After all, it took me thirty-six years to see clearly what I’m in this world to do. Take your time too. Don’t rush into anything. It will reveal itself one day. There are so many tasks, and so many ways to reach them.

And you must try to ensure that you don’t take on a task purely for the sake of doing something, but that you take on a task which is right for you—and thus benefits others. I wish that this may be granted to every one of you!