From the Huffington Post:
Cindy Huyser: When did you first start thinking of yourself as a writer? What drew you to writing?
Anis Shivani: Although I’ve answered versions of this question many times before, it’s almost an impossible question to answer. I was always a reader, a reader not in the sense that people today like to claim they’re readers, but a reader in a sense that’s almost extinct. And that went back to earliest childhood, and has continued throughout life. One is a reader before one is a writer, one cannot be a writer without being a certain kind of persistent reader. When one reads so persistently it is not unreasonable to start thinking of oneself at some point along the line as someone who wants to write as well. In retrospect, a real reader is just learning to be a writer, even if the intention isn’t stated as such.
I became a writer because every other occupation seemed compromised and unsuitable to my character. Whatever job one takes on in the modern United States, besides creating art, only serves capitalism—and in fact most of writing and art only serves capitalism too. With writing there is at least the possibility that it allows one to develop one’s character to the fullest extent possible, that one can discover oneself through and in writing, so in fact deciding to become a writer takes enormous daring because that’s how one finds out what one is all about—if there’s any there there. Formal education, on the other hand, usually takes a person in the other direction, even if the education is in literature or the arts, it seeks to distance the art from real discovery.