08 April, 2016

#SpecialFeature :: #GuestPost - Why Literature has to hurt… by Ivan Sivec

*** Special Feature - April 2016 ***

About the Book
It takes three mistakes to be swallowed up and spat out by the fashion industry. You trust the wrong people. You think you know everything there is to know about life. You take drugs. Maja started off as a regular 17-year-old high-school kid, fighting her inner insecurities while dreaming to become an actress like Marilyn Monroe. At a party her boyfriend Klemen introduces her to a renowned modelling agent. He sees a special X Factor hidden insight her. And a great business opportunity for himself... Fast forward a few weeks later. Maja's charm and talent land her a modelling contract in the trendy and exciting fashion capital of Milan. She's completely enchanted and determined to make it in the fashion world. But things don't turn out the way she had planned. Exhausting long photo shoots, stressful fashion shows, strict dieting and wild parties start taking their toll on her soon enough. In desperate search for help Maja reaches out to her agent and other false friends from the fashion industry that emotionally and physically exploit her to the point where 'Maja the Great' is merely a shadow of her former self. She starts battling drug addiction that ends up in a tragic event. Maja has been finally swallowed up and spit out by the fashion industry with its endless traps. What price will the girl with the X Factor have to pay for her naivety?

Why Literature has to hurt…

Funny how many, many years ago it was a spring evening in April, just like tonight. I was a young aspiring writer, preoccupied with studying and trying to make an impression on my – now – wife. 
My best friend had married the weekend before, was soon to become a dad and had a wonderfully creative job he enjoyed. Life seemed perfect for him. He had found his mission in life. 

And me? Who was I? I asked myself, starting to think about who I would want to become in life. The answer was simple – I wanted to become an artist, a writer! Was is that simple though? Namely, the answer opened up only new questions – what kind of writer do I want to become? What do I want to write about? How do I want to differentiate myself from other writers at the path of their careers? The answers to those questions I did not know. I remembered what politicians do when they are asked a question they do not know how to answer – they reply with another question! So, the next question addressed from me to myself on that warm spring evening was very straightforward:

What kind of books do I like to read? 

I had to stop and take another sip of the coffee that was sitting on my desk since morning. Something did not feel right. I did not want to become just another author people ‘like’ to read. The question was wrong. The answer to this question was not what I was looking for that evening.

I needed to go for a walk. Thoughts were screaming in my mind. Back then I did not know that the secret of life is patience. I wanted to know the answer to my existence as an artist right away! Right now! 

As I was walking around the quiet city streets, I noticed something has changed around me. The air was softer. Winter has said goodbye and spring will bring a new beginning for me. My thoughts kept on wondering back to my original question. How can I, as a writer, change the world? How will people remember me for a long, long time after I am gone? 

So, what kind of moments, things or people do we remember long after they have disappeared out of our lives? Nice? Likeable? Conformable? Maybe. 

What kinds of things leave a footprint in our lives? 

I stopped walking. In that moment I knew this was the question that would give me the answers I was craving for. And then finally, in the middle of the street on that warm autumn evening I started to understand! 

It is not the pleasant things in life that make an impact on us. It is the things that evoke us, that challenge us to think about who we are and how we perceive the world we live in. That is the kind of books we do not like, but love. Books that make us a better person. Books that keep us pondering at night. Books that open our eyes to unknown spheres of our spiritual, but also everyday life. 
That evening I realized what Literature means to me and what I wanted to say to the world as an artist: 

Literature is not always meant to evoke positive, pleasant feelings in us. It is the pleasant that makes us safely nap in our caves throughout our lives. But is that what we want and truly makes us happy? It is the unpleasant that causes tension, but makes us think about life at the same time. It makes us think about the world and love and relationships and society and life goals and... 

Literature is stimulating us to reconsider mistakes we have made in the past, the life we are leading right now and how we can improve ourselves in the future. It combines our past, present and future personality.

So that is the kind of writer I have essentially become. My literature is sometimes making my readers uncomfortable. It is telling the reader that life and society need us to be active and help change the world. It teaches – especially the young vigorous reader who wants to conquer the world in the same way I used to – to think with his or her own head and try to make the world a better place.
So yes, Literature has to hurt a bit sometimes. But waking up is never a pleasant thing. Is it? 

About the Author
Ivan Sivec is a writer, poet and publicist from Slovenia, Europe. People say he is ‘a man with a hundred stories’ and he has been sharing them with his audience, both young and mature, for over four decades now. He is listed under the top five Slovenian bestselling authors.

In his rich and thriving career he has written in many genres. As a poet he has written more than 2,500 lyrics for ethnic and entertaining music for which he received several awards. His broad prosaic ‘repertoire’ includes biographies, historical, psychological and adventure novels, travelogues, youth book series, picture books as well as humorous stories. To this date he published over 130 books and is considered to be one of the most popular Slovenian authors.

His particular interest goes to psychological novels on issues teenagers face today, especially topics like suicide, drug addiction, adoption, AIDS...  He shares true stories to let the young reader know they’re not alone.

Sivec devotes his free time to his wife of 44 years, their two children and three grandchildren. Since his retirement a decade ago he enjoys his days hiking the Alpine peaks (he is especially proud to have conquered the tallest mountain in Europe, the French Mont Blanc (4,810 m/ 15,771 ft), together with his daughter-in-law Tina). When he is not gathering inspiration from the mountains he is soaking in the tranquility of the Mediterranean Sea with his wife.  Nature is his source of creativity. It allows Ivan to gather his thoughts and pour them onto paper.

5 e-books of The X Factor