Photo: Outi Järvinen
Written by Minna Lindgren, Kaija Hartikainen (ed.)
Translated by John Calton
Plenty of work, if you’re up for it
Humanists are generally not offered exciting work assignments on a silver platter. I have put together many different kinds of radio programmes for different editorial offices, produced and edited TV programmes, live and heavily produced, written columns, articles, sketches, a libretto, radio plays, non-fiction books and novels, talked and lectured about music, death, happy old age, cultural funding, the meaning of life and nearly anything that has been asked of me. A job description this wide has been very much the product of my own doing. I have been excited and interested, I have asked, suggested, given ideas, offered to do things or simply just got on with it. Procrastination is not my thing. If no one else is interested in my ideas, I abandon them and move onto the next ones. Being a child-like optimist I don’t dwell on the things that never happened but prefer to take time to enjoy each dream that did come true.
People often become humanists through their passions, following something that’s important to them, which leads them to the university. Immersing yourself in a given field inevitably generates contacts and work opportunities. A job well done is noticed and another opportunity is offered.
For me the most important part of my job has been the contents. What would I write or talk about if I was a theoretically qualified journalist and didn’t have my own special field and my own passions? This is how it is with my identity as an author, too. I was probably the only person for whom the publication of my debut novel at the age of 50 didn’t come as a surprise. Many people asked me how I had come to make such a career change. But the switch from journalist to author was not a career change, more like widening a path I had already started out on. And I always somehow knew that I would write fiction. I just needed the right subject.
When I felt I had said all there was to say about the ageing and death of my own parents over many articles on the care of the elderly, it dawned on me that I had completed the background research required for my novel series. I had in my hands the topic, which had to be presented through fiction: when you want to tell the truth, you have to do it through fiction.
Written by Minna Lindgren. Translated by Kaisla Kajava. Revised by John Calton.
Minna Liisa Gabriela Lindgren
Born 1963, Helsinki
Master of Arts (Musicology), 1994, University of Helsinki
Journalist, Head of Programmes, Finnish Broadcasting Company, 1986-2008