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Leila Slimani

People often ask me why I write. Why do I devote my life to this strange profession that consists of sitting for hours and days on end in front of a blank page? Gabriel García Marquez, when asked, would laugh and say: "I write so that people will love me more. But the great Gabo was facetious and you shouldn't believe what he says. In reality, you can't write to be loved. One writes to tell the truth; truths so raw, so harsh, that they sometimes displease. Once you are at your desk, pen in hand, you are no longer lying or afraid. You are free to say whatever you want, free to reveal your bad thoughts, to be rude, insolent, unkind. Yes, I think I started writing, really writing, the day I gave up on being loved and understood. It is not the love of others that I seek through my books, it is not the affection of the crowd. No, what I want is to ask questions, to raise stones, to break silences. 

When I left social networks, people asked me if it was because of the hate messages I received. And I said: "no, it's the opposite". It was because of the love that I left. Because of the hearts, the likes, the applause. I don't want to be liked. It's in total contradiction with my life and my work as a writer. I don't want to seek assent, to be consensual, to please everyone, to live in fear of one word too many, of bad buzz... This Leïla who existed on Instagram I had to kill her like Virginia Woolf says she killed the angel of the house. I had to eliminate this kind and wise Leïla who was so afraid of not being loved. And I tell you, you have to resist. To be a free woman, to fulfil your destiny, you have to fight against this angel who encourages you to always want to please, to be kind and conciliatory, to experience disappointment as a terrible failure. Yes, we are not always loved, but we are ourselves and we are free. I don't want to please the crowd and I stay away from them. Nothing frightens me more than the crowd. 

For love, no, that's something else. And there is, of course, something to do with love in writing. I write to talk about those I loved, to bring them back to life, to resurrect my ghosts. I write because I believe that every being is a mystery, an island whose shores you can land on but which you can never fully know. To love is to recognise this, to be fascinated by the beauty and depth of the other person's secret. Of course, I believe in love at first sight, in passion, but that's not what interests me. No, I look at love as a chemist and I remain amazed at the extraordinary reactions that love provokes between two people. Love is patience. It is a block of metal that is certainly not gold or silver, but which resists everything. To little secrets and betrayals, to what is not said and to everyday life. Time passes and erodes the metal and in the end there is only a block, sublime and indestructible. Love is silence. It does not seek to alter the other, to possess it, to empty it of its secrets. We all die unknown, but if we have loved, if we have devoted our heart to another, even for a moment, our life has counted. It is not my books that will bear witness for me when I am gone. It is those, a few, who have loved me. They will lower their eyes, they may say nothing, and a glint of metal will shine in their eyes. 

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