“Once I heard a famous Afro-American writer say that from the time she was a little girl she felt like a stranger in her family and her hometown. She added that nearly all writers have experienced that feeling, even if they have never left their native city. It’s a condition inherent in that profession, she suggested; without the anxiety of feeling different she wouldn’t have been driven to write. Writing, when all is said and done, is an attempt to understand one’s own circumstance and to clarify the confusion of existence, including insecurities that do not torment normal people, only chronic nonconformists, many of whom end up as writers after having failed in other undertakings. This theory lifted a burden from my shoulders. I am not a monster; there are others like me.
I never fit in anywhere: not into my family, social class, or the religion fate bestowed on me. I didn’t belong to the neighbourhood gangs that rode their bikes in the street, my cousins didn’t include me in their games, I was the least popular girl in my school, and for a long time I was the last one to be invited to dance at parties – a torment, I like to think, due more to shyness than to looks. I clocked myself in my pride, pretending it didn’t matter to me, but I would have sold my soul to the devil to be part of a group had Satan presented me with such an attractive proposition. The source of my difficulties has always been the same: an inability to accept what to others seem natural, and an irresistible tendency to voice opinions no one wants to hear, trait that frightened more than one potential suitor (I don’t want to give a false impression, there weren’t many). Later, during my years as a journalist, curiosity and boldness had their advantages. For the first time I was part of a community, I had absolute liberty to ask indiscreete questions and divulge my ideas […].”
– Isabel Allende, My Invented Country