Love has been the inspiring muse of writers, musicians, poets, artists and citizens of the world who cannot conceive life without this feeling. Today, in #sinrecato we talk to the young paisa author Esteban Palma Maza who tells us about his book: ¿Qué putas es el amor? (tr.: What the fuck is love?)
Esteban Palma, @estebanpalma, is a writer and tech entrepreneur (www.estebanpalma.com). He was born in Medellín, but with roots in the coast and influences from Bogotá, because he has always lived in the capital. He is the creator of literary editions such as the anthology ‘Doble filo’, which has been read in more than 20 countries, and the series of stories published under the pseudonym @museodehistorias.
During the Fiesta del Libro (Book Party) in Medellin, @fiestalibro, he presented his newest work which aims to answer, through 28 stories, the meaning of a word with only four letters but a broad meaning for humanity.
“When I started writing I wondered how such a tiny word can be, at the same time, so powerful and I started spinning stories and weaving ideas and came to the conclusion that love, more than an explanation, needs a guide. And that’s what this book is a bit like”.
The author summarizes his work in 28 stories that through different narratives try to give a meaning to the abstract concept that we have about love. And he explains: “Maybe there is no universal answer, but here we will realize that everyone can put a tint to what we think it is through these stories”.
I asked him what was his inspiration to write and he answered with passion: “I had this idea when I was an Advertising student, but I was always thinking about writing and I remember a phrase of the writer Juan Rulfo who said that writers can only write about three things: life, death and love. Love is the one that teeters between the two, it has a little bit of death, it has a little bit of life and that is where these stories start”.
Esteban did some research on where the word “love” comes from and its meaning, “because in the dictionary there are many meanings and I asked myself, ‘why not write about a universal and at the same time everyday subject?’ If we suffer for it, others seem crazy to us, but at the end of the day it is what makes us more human. It was inevitable not to talk about love”.
I could not help but ask him: how is the process of making a book in Colombia? He confesses that the writing took about eight months and along the way some stories were improved while others were discarded: “From writing this first draft and finding a publisher who believed in a new author and understood my work, it took me about 2 years of evolution to get the final product”.
“When I started with the idea, not only of this book but of the several writings I have, I asked myself: Who is the writer? The writer is the one who does. There is no other way but to write. It’s not enough to think or to say ‘tomorrow, I’ll start’, it’s sitting in front of a blank page and start that first line that is the most difficult step”.
And he says that in this exercise while he was starting the book, he found a phrase that motivated him: “‘It is much easier to edit a poorly written page than a blank page’, there is no other choice, if you want to be a writer, if you want to have a book, you must write and write a lot of bad things, surely, and among those bad things you are going to write something good. That is the exercise of a writer”, he says.
In a mocking tone he explains: “In my case, there is no muse or inspiration that comes out of nowhere, I don’t have to be under the moon or the stars or in front of the sea to get inspired. In the end it’s like when you go to the gym and you have to train the muscle, it’s exactly the same, you have to write and write”.
Esteban started writing on Instagram three years ago and created an account called Museo de Historias (tr.: Stories’ Museum), where he writes micro-stories, and in this creative exercise, many of the stories in his book were born.
“The writer’s vocation starts when you lose your fear. You can have your writings or notebooks full of great ideas, but if you don’t publish them, you will never know the public’s reaction. The big step is when I try and find the resources to publish”.
The title of the book is very striking and of course creative, as the cover which depicts love through an almost beating heart, which is made up of small fragments of all the stories.
Esteban Palma is an admirer of Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez, among other authors. And today, he conceived the idea of this book and some attempts at short stories after 10 years.
He maintains that a writer needs many references: “A good writer must be a good reader and have good references or see the narratives of other authors. It is essential to know the rules of the language. Write a lot to get there and lose the fear of publishing and sharing, lose the fear of what they will think of you. There are always good and bad critics, but there are also people who connect. The writer transmits feelings and emotions that some will take in some way or another, that is the risk we must take”.
“This book is born trying to understand what love is, because we say love to many things and we feel it in many ways. There is the love of a couple, the love for a child, for a parent, for a deity, for money, for oneself. All of these are love”.
And what better way to conclude this column than with a beautiful phrase from the author: “Love is what connects us the most as humans”.
Traducción del español: Catalina Oviedo Brugés