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"I'm not studying because I want to write stories"

18 October 2021

My teacher said: ‘Stories? How do you at the age of 13, come to me brazen-faced and say, "I'm not studying because I want to write stories?" Explain: how can you be so brazen-faced?... I decided I would start writing again, but I wouldn't tell anyone...

The humiliation got to me and later, in spite of the swagger of youth, I really was very cautious. I didn't believe, for example, in the convention that we have a single face and that face is our identity. We are changeable organisms...

Rather than assail me, that man tried in a cruel, confused way to protect me, and I learnt more from the episode than I'm willing to admit because writing is a game of chance, and it's very rare that you win.'

Elena Ferrante, bestselling author of the Neapolitan quartet, My Brilliant Friend, and The lying life of adults and many other novels, who has steadfastly concealed her or his true identity from the world.