Cue Magazine - Georgios Andritsos / The Joy of Fighting
Journalist – Ivi Vasiliou
When and how did writing come into your life?
If someone told me thirty years ago that I would become a writer one day, I would say, you got to be kidding me. But my woman at the time had a different opinion. From the day she met me, she knew, in a strange way, that one day I would become a writer. And this was because from time to time she saw me writing down words, phrases, idioms, and thoughts in my notebooks.
At school I wasn’t among the best students; neither writing nor reading interested me. I found school boring and the only thing I was interested in was hanging out with my friends, smoking cigarettes, playing pool, going to discos, drinking cocktails, and flirting with girls.
Becoming a writer was in the realm of my fantasy. Then my passions were different. Every time I watched an interesting movie, my passions took different forms, shapes, and colors. For example, when I watched the movie Top Gun, I wanted to be a pilot.
After watching Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, my desire to become a pilot went up in smoke. Now I wanted to be like Travis the taxi driver; to roam the city at night and clean it of all the filth and fraud. A few months later, when I watched American Gigolo... well, you get the picture.
In short, for many years my passions led me astray, breaking my routine and making it more interesting. After a decade and after I had traveled the world, read books, and watched many movies, the idea of writing a story or a novel began to emerge from the darkness.
Along the way, I realized that one of the reasons I wrote and still write is because I love the elegance and the grace of letters. I love their rhythm and music, their geometry and magic. Letters are the building blocks of our emotional, spiritual, mental, and material world. It is a world shrouded in magic and mystery patiently waiting to be discovered.
Whit what criteria was the collection of short stories put together? Why did you choose this particular title?
It had never occurred to me to write this collection of short stories. The idea was suggested to me by the award-winning poet and novelist, Gerald Woodward. He was my main professor in the master’s program in creative writing I studied at Bath Spa University in England in 2013. He wanted to see if I would manage to show through my short stories how the economic and social crisis in Greece had been affecting the individual and collective conscious and subconscious of the Greeks and how they faced and acted toward the harsh and unfair reality they experienced every day.
Is writing the result of inspiration or methodical work?
I can now say with confidence that it is ninety-five percent perspiration and five percent inspiration. Although inspiration plays an important role in writing, methodical work, discipline, and hard work are of paramount importance. Writing is not only a profession, but also one of the most demanding and difficult ones. In an interview, George Orwell said that if he had known how incredibly difficult it is not only to write a good story but to write it as correctly as possible, he would never have picked up a pen.
You see, a lot of people don’t think that writing a book is a serious job, and there are a lot more who don’t consider it a serious profession. I think one of the main reasons -especially nowadays with high-tech laptops, is that they don’t get to see the result of your labor right away. You sit at a desk and pour your heart and soul on an electronic sheet of paper. Then you shut down your laptop and go on doing something else but with the story tracing your every breath you take.
The hours you spent trying to write something good are nowhere to be seen. This is because writing belongs to the realm of emotions, mind, and spirit. Writing is not a brick that you put on top of another or a well-done steak with fries that you serve quickly. Good writing means hard work and for many writers, their books may never get the chance to see the light of day. It takes lots of hard work from the author, editors, proofreaders, and graphic designers to complete and publish a book successfully.
What brings joy to your life?
Sleeping and dreaming. Opening my eyes in the morning. Breathing. The wind in the trees. The barking of dogs in the distance. A cat basking in the morning sun. The first coffee and the first cigarette. Good food. The challenge I am faced with every time I stare at a blank sheet of paper and, in the next few hours, fill it with good prose. Proofreading my writing over and over and over again until the result I want is successfully achieved. A meaningful and honest conversation with a friend. Unfolding an aspect of reality, I didn’t know existed and realized either a meaning or feeling or a situation through it. To be proven wrong. A smile. An affirmative nod. The caress and kiss of a woman and her unique warmth. The sentence, How can I help you? Look, I’m here for you. A long walk by the sea or in the forest. The magic of sunrise and sunset. Traveling by train. Hearing interesting stories. Reading books and watching movies. The spring breeze and the sun on my face. A dog’s ears flapping out the window of some vehicle.
In a world of social and economic hardship, where do your characters find refuge?
Understanding that life is a continuous struggle, where physical and mental endurance, principles, values, and moral attitudes of people are put to the test, my characters usually find refuge in themselves. Despite the adverse conditions, people should never give up. They must hold their heads high and walk hand in hand with patience, perseverance, and optimism for a brighter tomorrow. And finally, we must remember that there is a solution to every problem.
Is there destiny or is everything determined by chance?
Although I have, like all of us, dealt with the above question by reading books, watching movies, talking with friends, and listening to strange stories from traveling and restless souls, it is still difficult to give a satisfactory answer.
In the half-century that I have managed to live so far and travel our magnificent blue marble, and despite the difficulties, setbacks, and adversities that I have experienced, life has not only treated me well but also, I dare say with as much confidence as I can, that she’s protected me as well.
As a child I was saved from drowning, in a club in Sweden I dodged a bullet, in 2004 in Thailand I escaped the tsunami, and a few years ago I came out unscathed from a serious car accident in which I didn’t get a single scratch. And recently I broke a few ribs after a hard fall which sent me to the hospital with pneumothorax for ten days. Maybe, it’s high time I should start watching my back.
I have been told countless times, Georgios, to go to church and light a candle, my boy, you have a guardian angel watching over you. Although I’m not sure if I have a guardian angel who watches over me, I light my candle anyway. And then I sit and think, why should only I have a guardian angel and not all those people who die without any reason or cause?
Not long ago I heard that a man, trying to get on his motorbike, slipped, fell, hit his head on the edge of a sidewalk, and died on the spot. Just like that. In one video, I saw the raging wind drop a palm tree on the only woman walking down the street killing her instantly. She would have been spared if she had walked by a few seconds before. And the craziest thing I’ve read happened years ago in America. A woman misses her flight and the plane crashes killing everyone. The next day, sad but happy and grateful to be alive, she flies to her destination, rents a car, and within half an hour, she gets killed in a car accident.
On the other side of the camp, we find the astrophysicists who, through quantum mechanics, tell us with certainty that the reality we live in is created by us observing it. They also tell us that we can get everything we desire in this short life by thinking positive thoughts and visualizing what we truly desire. And shortly after, what we have asked for and anxiously awaited will successfully be materialized. Anyway, all I can say is, good luck.
Which authors do you love?
I have so many favorite authors. The European poets and novelists are Homer, Cervantes, Lorca, Dostoyevsky, Virginia Woolf, Chekhov, Camus, Kafka, Sartre, Calvino, Papadiamantis, Kazantzakis, Dimitris Nollas, Antonis Sourounis.
I like Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Herman Melville, Flannery O’Connor, Paul Bowels, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Cormac McCarthy, Gillian Flynn, Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, Stephen King, Jorge Luis Borges.
What gives you strength and faith for the future?
Honesty, goodness, humanity, justice, beauty, and truth.