In several interviews you’ve given, the question almost inevitably arises of: How did you start? When? You started when you were seven years old…
I know. Before I was seven I was already making up stories. For example I thought of a story that never ended… It’s hard to explain what that story was like. But when I learned to read and write, I also began to write stories. Little stories.
When the young, practically adolescent Clarice Lispector discovers that it’s literature, that area of human creation, that attracts her the most, does the young Clarice have any goal in mind, or does she just want to write?
Just to write.
Can you give us an idea of what the teenage Clarice Lispector’s production was like?
Chaotic. Intense. Entirely outside the reality of life.
Can you remember any titles from that period?
Well, I wrote lots of things before publishing my first book. I’d already written for magazines, stories, newspapers. I went with enormous shyness—but the shyness of someone daring—I’m shy and daring at the same time. I’d go to the magazine and say: “I wrote a story, do you want to publish it?” And then I remember once it was Raymundo Magalhães Jr., who looked at me, read a bit of it, and said: “Who did you copy this from?” And I said: “No one, it’s mine.” And he said: “Did you translate it?” And I said: “No.” And he said: “Then I’ll publish it.” That’s how it went at the beginning.
Which publications were those?
I don’t remember. Newspapers, magazines.
Clarice, when did you actually decide to become a professional writer?
I never did. I never did. I’m not a professional.
I only write when I want to. I’m an amateur and insist on staying that way. A professional has a personal commitment to writing. Or a commitment to someone else to write. As for me… I insist on not being a professional. To keep my freedom.
Do you write frequently, or do you have periods in which you produce intensively?
I have periods in which I produce intensively and periods—hiatuses—in which life becomes intolerable.
Translated from the Portuguese by Benjamin Moser
To read the entirety of Clarice Lispector's last interview, purchase your copy of Music & Literature no. 4 . . .