Literature is one of the most powerful forms of expression. Reading a book can be educational, entertaining and so much more. But have you ever wondered how is the life of a writer, the person on the other side of those pages? Thinking about that, Her Campus Cásper Líbero interviewed Aline Bei, a 33-year-old Brazilian writer, author of “O Peso do Pássaro Morto”, winner of the São Paulo Prize of Literature, to talk about the routine of a female writer and her experience with the editorial market.
The journey as a writer
Aline published her first book in 2017, but she wasn’t always a writer, as she explains: “I started writing during university. Before that, I was an actress and I had studied theater since I was fourteen. This desire to be an artist was born with me, but it was really complicated to work with that, because it’s a challenging and expensive profession. So, my parents said that I should go to college to get a better income.” Since she always loved to read, Aline decided to study Language and Literature, thinking that she could become a teacher. “I think that there may be a lack of representativeness in writing. I had never seen a female writer with my age, there were always men, white men, dead men and foreign men. However, when I got to university, there were many people in there that used to write and this encouraged me to do the same, and since then I never stopped”, Bei says.
Ten years later, Aline decided to write her first book “O Peso do Pássaro Morto'' after meeting Marcelino Freire, a Brazilian writer, and taking his workshop. According to her, “in 2016, I decided to write the book and I was able to publish it due to the contest that this workshop promoted and that was how my career as a published author started. Nonetheless, I believe that this journey that I had before in university, including events and writing without the intention of publishing made a big difference as I was finding my narrative voice. It was really important to me”. The context that Aline refers to is the Prêmio TOCA, which allows the winner to publish his or her book.
The process of writing “O PESO DO PÁSSARO MORTO”
Aline has described her book as being about losses. “I realized that it was a central topic in my literature, so I decided to write the story of a woman who would lose without truce until she could handle it. It really is a study of the verb “to lose” occupying this female body”, the young writer explains. For her, writing about cumbersome matters was difficult, however, having people around her was important: “I wrote it in this workshop process with Marcelino Freire and other colleagues. So, it was a very open process, because I would write a chapter and share it with them the next week. Literature, for a period of time, seems like something very lonely. You are writing your book not knowing if the story will come through, if you will be able to publish it. Having people around helped me to keep going because it is a very challenging process, especially if you are a beginner”, Bei confesses.
An author’s income
Nowadays, Aline is no longer an actress and makes most of her income from her book and promoting it. “I am able to have a ‘base salary’ from selling my book, but also with the events that I participate in SESC [a Brazilian cultural and educational institution] and giving workshops”, she adds.
According to her, living from literature is a challenge: “Books need to have an accessible price. But we know that Brazil is a very big and complex country and a huge parcel of the population does not have access to them. I am able to sell my books on the internet, and since I buy them with my publishing company, I can have a better income then when the sale is in a bookstore. When I make a direct sale, my percentage doubles”. Aline also won the São Paulo Prize of Literature, which gives an amount of money to the winner.
The routine as a writer
According to Aline, she likes to take the morning to write, because she has a fresher mind: “I like to put on a song that has to do with my creative process and to have a book that I love by my side, so that every time I feel like I’m losing my focus, I can read a little and get that creative energy back”. Then, she uses the afternoon to sell her books and promote it on social media, answering readers and giving interviews
Publishing a book
Aline wrote “O Peso do Pássaro Morto” in verses, a different and unusual style of writing a novel. Due to that, she faced adversities when trying to get the book published. “I started having meetings with some publishing companies and they used to say that they liked what was there, but that my style was too exotic or experimental. It wasn’t poetry but it also wasn’t prose. Therefore, it was very difficult and that’s why when I found Marcelino’s contest, I thought it was my chance and that if I won it, it was going to be due to me and what I have”, Bei recalls.
According to her, she was also lucky that the editor of the Editora Nós, the publishing company that sells her book, was at the contest and loved the works so much that she wanted to be a part of it. Because of that, “O Peso do Pássaro Morto” was published in a partnership between Edith, the Marcelino Freire’s publishing company, and Nós, which enabled Aline to have a first circulation of a thousand books.
The difficulties of being a female writer
Aline believes that being a female writer is very challenging, however, the recent movements have been able to raise awareness and promote books written by women. “I think that nowadays we are living in a very interesting moment for female writers. The reading clubs, like Leia Mulheres, came with a lot of strength. We have a lot of readers, so these types of policies are really important”, she adds. The young writer also explains that educating those readers actively by going to events in bookstores and schools can make a big difference: “It is challenging, but I believe that it is a scenario that, if we know how to fight and be in the front line, it can be really worth it. There are many book clubs and feminist groups that are helping this fight and bringing women to a protagonist spot in literature, because women have always written and written really well, but the patriarchal system ends up erasing a lot of it”, Bei comments.
What’s to come for her?
Aline has a new book on the way, which she described as “a book about beginnings”. She has been writing it for three years now and despite saying that she doesn’t like to say much about it before it gets published, the writer told Her Campus Cásper Líbero a little bit about it: “It has a female protagonist, a young girl. In this book, I am investigating her beginnings during two ages of her: first when she is a preteen, no longer a kid but also not a grown woman, and then when she is twenty-something and is not a teenager anymore but is still becoming an adult”, Aline concludes.
If you got interested, you can follow Aline Bei on her Instagram and buy her book in the link below.
Text edited by Yasmin Altaras
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