Nermin Yildirim’s first letter

Dear Jenn,

Last winter in Barcelona, I followed a project in which directors sent videos they had filmed to one another as letters. I had watched the videos, I mean letters, with great interest, enjoying being a guest in their personal and creative worlds. Now, writing letters to you, something I am more knowledgeable about than filming videos, will be a pleasant and interesting experience.

There’s something else that makes this experience even more interesting for me… For a while, I have been busy writing my third novel. The novel basically consists of letters that two sisters living in different countries write to one another. Therefore, for months I have been writing letters night and day! And now, isn’t writing a letter in real life to a sister in another country (after all, literature makes us members of a family) just like in my novel a trick of fate? They say that from time to time, writers inject a piece of their own world into their writings. For me, the situation is a bit different. It may seem strange to you, but instead of writing about things I’ve experienced, I am most likely to find myself experiencing the things I write. Thus, rather than my characters imitating me, I somehow imitate them without even realising it. This is what happened. First, I started writing about two women in two countries corresponding, then I began corresponding like they were… Fate or coincidence? I guess it’s just one of those miraculous peculiarities of life itself.

I agree with you about the interest writers have for one another’s writing process. Whenever talk becomes a little serious, it is the question which we ask with true curiosity. And each time, it turns out that everyone has their own style. While writing, some drown themselves in cups of coffee, some don’t even have a bite to eat. Some can’t do without music, some can’t even stand the sound of the wind, never mind the music, so they have to shut the windows. Some write when everyone goes to sleep, some when everyone wakes up… All this variety of process that changes from one writer to the next obviously piques our interest.
(To be honest, I would love to talk/write about the period when you were working in a prison and you wrote in your car during lunch break, and about the effect that period had on your writings. It’s strange how meeting someone makes us realise how little we know about them!)

As for my personal adventure… There were times when I wrote at night like you. When I suffered from sleeplessness, a long while ago. I would sit down to write when the whole city would let itself to the warm and caring bosom of sleep. Then I began to have a friendlier relation with the sleep fairies so I was able to sleep at night and join those living during the day. But because I spent most of my time in an office, I was only able to write in the evenings while my brain was already worn out. I was troubled by this restriction and was looking for a solution using any time I could pry away from work obligations. Just like you writing in the car, I tried my luck in every little spot I could find where I was able to find refuge and be alone. Being someone who is easily disturbed by any kind of noise, I preferred quiet places whenever possible. For example, I have never been someone who is able to write in a café or something. Because when my main character was about to throw himself off a balcony on the umpteenth floor, to hear laughter or the sound of chewing gum made me want to jump off a balcony as well. In short, if writing a novel is an effort towards creating a brand new reality, I was never quite able to write in environments that bear traces of the reality that already surrounds me which would intervene with the new reality in the making. After having organized my daily life and obligations to orbit around my writing activities, my working system changed a lot. If you ask me how I work now, my preferred hours are the ones in the morning when my mind is clear. But I can actually write at any time of the day. Even if I’m not sitting in front of my computer, my mind is always there. If I’m in a period when I’m really into the script, whether I’m walking, eating, even sleeping, my mind is constantly going back to the novel. I keep writing down notes in the notebooks in my bag, the small pieces of paper in my pockets, the empty corners of newspapers, then transfer them to my computer as soon as I get to it. I generally write at home, in a room of my own, as once advised by Virginia Woolf. I keep my door closed to the noises outside, and to other responsibilities as much as I can manage. You know, though the metaphor of having a room of your own seems like a simple need in the physical and emotional sense, it can turn into an unattainable luxury for a woman who is determined to write among the practicalities of life. Maybe we could discuss this in our future letters. What do you think?

I write using a computer, like you. When I was a teenager, there was a time when I lost my heart to typewriters, but after discovering the practicality of computers I quickly denied my passionate love for that romantic writing machine. I should confess that when I write I could be really selfish. I don’t just resign from my responsibilities; I also give up some of my luxuries and affectionate relations. This selfishness is not for my own comfort. At that moment, I’m thinking not about my inner peace, but about the welfare of the script. I think what is important for me is not being happy while writing, it’s just writing. I don’t write to get pleasure from life, I get pleasure from writing.

Speaking of pleasure, I know you are working on your new novel, Friday Gospels. How is it going? Which stage are you at? Could you give me a couple of hints or is it a surprise?

I await your news.



Born in Bursa in 1980. Became interested in literature at a young age. Wrote her first poems and stories during her years in primary school, won awards. When her uncle typed these writings, reproduced them by photocopy and bound them as books she had her first unofficial book at the age of nine. In 2002, she graduated from Eskisehir Anatolian University Faculty of Communication Sciences Department of Press. Then she worked as journalist, editor and columnist for various newspapers and magazines, and as copywriter for advertisement agencies. In 2010, she moved to Barcelona. Her first novel The Forget-Me-Not Building was published in 2011 by Doğan Kitap, one of the most important publishing houses in Turkey. The same year, the book garnered much acclaim in literature circles and was awarded “Novel of the Year” award by the French high schools in Istanbul and Izmir. Yıldırım’s second novel “Dreams Are Untold” was published once again by Doğan Kitap in 2012, on March 7th which is also the author’s birthday.
1980 yılında Bursa’da doğdu. Edebiyata ilgisi küçük yaşlarda başladı. İlk şiir ve hikayelerini ilkokul yıllarında yazdı, yarışmalarda ödüller aldı. Bu yazılar amcası tarafından daktiloya çekilip fotokopiyle çoğaltılarak kitap formuna sokulunca, gayri resmi ilk kitabını 9 yaşında iken eline almış oldu. 2002 yılında Eskişehir Anadolu Üniversitesi İletişim Bilimleri Fakültesi Basın Yayın Bölümü’nden mezun oldu. Sonrasında İstanbul’da çeşitli gazete ve dergilerde muhabir, editör ve köşe yazarı olarak çalıştı; reklam ajanslarında metin yazarlığı yaptı. 2010 senesinde Barselona’ya yerleşti. İlk romanı Unutma Beni Apartmanı, 2011 senesinde Türkiye’nin en önemli yayınevlerinden Doğan Kitap tarafından yayınlandı. Edebiyat çevrelerinde büyük ilgiyle karşılanan eser, aynı yıl İstanbul ve İzmir’deki Fransız Liseleri’nden “Yılın Romanı” ödülünü aldı. Yıldırım’ın yine Doğan Kitap tarafından yayımlanan ikinci romanı “Rüyalar Anlatılmaz” ise 2012 yılında, yazarın doğum gününe denk gelen 7 Mart günü kitap raflarına çıktı.

Read an extract of The Forget-Me-Not Building – English | Turkish

Posted in Letters
4 comments on “Nermin Yildirim’s first letter
  1. Hilal Demir says:

    looking forward to read more! It feels like you are giving me a chance to observe writers’ way of thinking and working and their secrets which I was very curious to learn more about. Thanks!

  2. Tina Marita says:

    Dear sister.

    I will follow your letters, I look forward to read more.

  3. Jaume Timoner says:

    Such an interesting project, I’m glad I found it. Will keep an eye on these letters, thanks for sharing your source of inspiration.

  4. Ashley says:

    I’m finding this conversation fascinating. I love to write letters, to my friends & to my family. May be because I have spent a lot of my life in different locations (sorry I’m not a globetrotter but I’ve moved around the UK a good deal). Now I have my study, my own room, with all my books, my friends, surrounding me. Writing & creating is such a vital activity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


About Manchester Letters

Manchester Letters features an online correspondence between UK author Jenn Ashworth and Turkish writer Nermin Yildirim. Over the course of the next few months, they will be sharing insights into their working lives; discussing current works in progress, sources of inspiration and how their social and political environments impacts on their creativity.

Read more