Germany | 2001
Kerstin Pistorius was born in 1978 in Heidelberg, Germany. State prize for German Language and Literature (Baden-Würtemberg 1998), fellow of Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes since 1998, participant of “Manuskriptum” since 1999, student of German and American literature and drama at LMU Munich.
I came to Santa Maddalena in March 2001 by a scholarship given by Bertelsmann Buch AG. The scholarship is given yearly to one participant of the LMU Munich Creative Writing Class “Manuskriptum” and aims at helping young writers to work on their first novels or story collections.
Having written only short stories so far, I seized my time at Santa Maddalena to work on a longer text. As I have never before had the possibility and time to set my working priorities on writing, I sometimes had a little trouble getting used to this new freedom during the first week of my stay, and figured it wasn’t all that easy to stick with the story for so many hours, to think it all through and write it all down without distracting myself or giving up. And I was lucky that there aren’t many things to distract you at Santa Maddalena, except for the beautiful nature that surrounds you, the great three course meals that drag you out of your room two time a day, and the very inspiring and encouraging conversations with the guests and other writers at dinner or during walks. For a young (and still rather inexperienced) writer like me it was a great and very special experience to have so much time to write, to be able to share the good and bad moments of writing with other, more experience d authors and to enjoy this nice and productive mixture of company and solitude that makes Santa Maddalena a perfect place to work.
During the four weeks of my stay, I wrote a short story and the beginning of a novel. I doubt that I would have found the space and discipline to devote my time entirely to writing anywhere else, and I am glad and thankful for the possibilities provided by the Foundation and for the helping advice given by the other writers, for my stay at Santa Maddalena got me started on a project that I consider the most important for my development as a fiction writer so far. It was a lot of fun and a great challenge to me to begin writing a novel, and thanks to one month of being spoiled and encouraged and concentrated here, the manuscript I wrote in the Gregor von Rezzori and Beatrice Monti della Corte Retreat is currently short-listed for a literary award given by the Kulturreferat München (the final decision will be in August) and has gotten me an invitation to this year’s annual meeting of textwerk, a workshop for authors of all genres and generations organized by the Literaturhaus München.
Aside from working possibilities that have helped me to take further steps in this field, I would like to mention that I have found very valuable friendships at Santa Maddalena and that I am thankful to have met so many great and interesting people from all over the world that I could learn from, who have influenced me in a very positive way ad given me many new ideas and perspectives.
As I kept saying to Beatrice, the time at the foundation was like a great and luxurious present to me, and I hope that it will be passed on to many other students of Manuskriptum who will get the chance to work on the first of their novels or short-story collections, to worry about nothing but writing for a whole month and to meet so many interesting personalities to share their experiences with.
I would like to thank Beatrice, Jeff, Colin, Vendela, Allesandro, Raffaello and everybody who was here at the time for their encouragement and wonderful company, and I would like to thank the Bertelsmann Buch AG for providing a great opportunity for young writers to work on their first manuscripts.