First draft: let it run. Turn all the knobs up to 11. Second draft: hell. Cut it down and cut it into shape. Third draft: comb its nose and blow its hair. I usually find that most of the book will have handed itself to me on that first draft.
Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.
A good argument, like a good dialogue, is always a proof of life, but I’d much rather go and read a book.
—Ali Smith at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
She was the most beautiful boy I had seen in my life.
She had the swagger of a girl.
She blushed like a boy.
She had a girl’s toughness.
She had a boy’s gentleness.
She was as meaty as a girl.
She was as graceful as a boy.
She was as brave and handsome and rough as a girl.
She was as pretty and dainty and delicate as a boy.
She turned boys’ heads like a girl.
She turned girls’ heads like a boy.
She was so boyish it was girly, so girly it was boyish,
she made me want to rove the world writing our names in every tree.
Support, and Partners, and Writing
I write, my husband used to, but rarely has time to delve into what I create. I understand this! But some folk in my life seem to think that, unless a partner is telling me 24/7 that my work is brilliant, I am not being supported. I think this is so much malarkey, the day -anyone- says everything I do is perfect is the day I stop asking their opinion. I’m curious to hear your thoughts though, as you’re married to someone creative. How does the feedback run?
I really like some of her songs and decisions and don’t like others. We talk. She really likes some of my stories and decisions and doesn’t like others. We talk. I love Amanda’s opinion but she’s one among dozens of people whose opinions I value. And neither of us is going to change the other one’s mind about anything (unless we do).
And (with the exception of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE, which I kind of did write for her) Amanda doesn’t get to see things until they’re done, and she mostly doesn’t play me songs until they’re done. (And she won’t play me songs she thinks I won’t like.)
I’m not writing my stories for her (unless I’m actually writing a story or poem for her) and she’s not writing her songs for me (unless she writes a song or a poem for me). We’re writing for ourselves and for the people who might like what we make.
Writing feedback is a good thing, but it’s not what I have a partner for, or what Amanda has me for. There are lots of people who can give us that. There’s nobody else who can love and entertain and delight me like Amanda.
Writers imagine that they cull stories from the world. I’m beginning to believe that vanity makes them think so. That it’s actually the other way around. Stories cull writers from the world. Stories reveal themselves to us. The public narrative, the private narrative - they colonize us. They commission us. They insist on being told. Fiction and nonfiction are only different techniques of story telling. For reasons that I don’t fully understand, fiction dances out of me, and nonfiction is wrenched out by the aching, broken world I wake up to every morning.
(Tazzy: Either with joy or terror, that’s your call!
But oh my God they’re adapting the Chaos Walking trilogy into films. I am dying of joyful anticipation)
If stone-sober people can fuck like they’re out of their minds - can actually be out of their minds while caught in that throe - why shouldn’t writers be able to go bonkers and still say sane?
In a distant forest a wolf howled, felt embarrassed when no one joined in, and stopped.
—Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic. (via hulksmashes
If stone sober people can fuck like they’re out of their minds … why shouldn’t writers be able to go bonkers and still stay sane?
Let grammar, punctuation, and spelling into your life! Even the most energetic and wonderful mess has to be turned into sentences.
This is the life of all who embark on such creative endeavors.