Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn’t work, throw it away.
A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk.
Finish the day's writing when you still want to continue.
Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn't work, throw it away. It's a nice feeling, and you don't want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.
If the garden of Eden really exists it does so moment by moment, fragmented and tough, cropping up like a fan of buddleia high up in the gutter of a deserted warehouse, or in a heap of frozen cabbages becoming luminous in the reflected light of roadside snow.
The human longing for story is so powerful, so primitive, that it seems like something not learned, but locked into our genes.
For you where never my blood sister so no more shall I call you little sister
I was always influenced by language.
I enjoy research; in fact research is so engaging that it would be easy to go on for years, and never write the novel at all.
I didn't choose Russia but Russia chose me. I had been fascinated from an early age by the culture, the language, the literature and the history to the place.
I have learned so much from working with other poets, travelling and reading with them, spending days discussing poems in progress. There is the sense that we are all, as writers, part of something which is more powerful than any of us.
I concentrate on the lives of individuals whom the reader comes to know and feel with intimately.
I can remember being in my pram: children stayed in their prams much longer then than they do now. A big bouncy pram with black covers and a hood with metal clips that could trap your fingers. I was looking up at my sister who was sitting on the pram seat, with her back to me.
Once one habit peels away the others follow it. You have to hold on, or the next thing you'll find yourself parading down the street in your nightdress. Habit is everything.
We are creatures of story.
A novel, in the end, is a container, a shape which you are trying to pour your story into.
As individuals, we are shaped by story from the time of birth; we are formed by what we are told by our parents, our teachers, our intimates.
However, the difficulties and pleasures of the writing itself are similar for a novel with a historical setting and a novel with a contemporary setting, as far as I'm concerned.
However, I began to submit poems to British magazines, and some were accepted. It was a great moment to see my first poems published. It felt like entering a tradition.
The language has got to be fully alive - I can't bear dull, flaccid writing myself and I don't see why any reader should put up with it.
The poets whom I knew then were all men and all seemed dauntingly sure of themselves - although I am sure that really they were as uncertain as I was.
To try to expunge an individual's history is a terrible violation.
When you are young you don't always realise how full of doubts everybody is.
Writing children's books gives a writer a very strong sense of narrative drive.
Writing poetry makes you intensely conscious of how words sound, both aloud and inside the head of the reader. You learn the weight of words and how they sound to the ear.
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