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Comment from the book world in January 2019

2019

"Why am I writing this?"

11 February 2019

‘I never planned to be a writer. It is a very odd way to make a living. Just telling lies...

I do have a visceral sense of breaking through the shell of something when I walk into my study in the morning. Now I just go and do it. Sometimes it doesn't go well, but most often, I'll look up and it's time for lunch and I don't know what happened...

All books have moments when I say. "Why am I writing this?" But now I have written so many I just sort of trust and let it happen. The other nice thing to getting to this age is that I think, well, what if I never finish it? The world will go on without another of my books.'

Anne Tyler, author of 22 novels, including Clock Dance, The Accidental Tourist, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and Back When We Were Grownups in The Times.

 

My Writing Space

4 February 2019

'I've wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember, and along with that came a very clear vision of where I'd write. Though I read many books in which people wrote in secret, magical places -nooks in elderly oak trees, in wardrobes, while stowed away at sea - my own vision was rather more grand.

As a child, I would write in exercise books, at the kitchen table, and sometimes I'd dream of being a proper writer, and how, when I was, I would write where a proper writer would. I would write in a big house, set high over parkland (I was reading a lot of Jane Austen), and would pick out my words on a kick-ass, hefty typewriter (they hadn't invented computers yet, of course) which would sit in the centre of an enormous mahogany desk.

This, in turn, would be situated on a suitably thick carpet, in the centre of an elegant high-ceilinged room, which looked out - via French doors, where gauzy floor-length panels billowed, obviously - onto a wide expanse of perfect emerald lawn. Beyond the lawn would stand conifers, pointing skywards, like pencils, and the only sounds, bar my tapping, would be birdsong and bees.

And in my imaginings, I would be quite, quite alone. Bar an elderly gardener who‘d rumble past on a ride-on lawnmower from time to time, it would simply be me; me and my imagination, the contents of it constantly bubbling over...'

Lynne Barrrett-Lee, author of 8 novels, including Julia Gets a Life and Barefoot in the Dark
http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/2016/11/09/my-writing-space-by-lynne-barrett-lee

 

 

Book to film - Meg Wolitzer on The Wife

28 January 2019

‘I go through a very intense process when I'm writing a book, so the idea of repeating that for a film seems exhausting. You want to have a point where you are really done with something, you know? Much better to let other people do it and then occasionally you show up and eat their food on set or come to their gala premieres and, you know, excitedly meet everyone. For me, that's a good role...

I wrote it (The Wife) four years ago when feminism was definitely a moving thing that had a lot of people talking about it but by the time the book came out we were in a very different moment and feminism was front and centre. But a novel isn't just tracking what's happening in the moment. It's trying to peek around the bend and also look backwards, at why we got to this point and why we think and feel the way we do. An up-to-date novel almost seems like an oxymoron to me. You want a book to be able to last and to be reflective. As Mary Gordon said to me once, the novel is the opposite of a tweet.'

Meg Wolitzer, author of The Wife, The Uncoupling and The Female Persuasion, in the Observer

How best to present yourself to an agent

21 January 2019

'Your book is special to you and may one day be to other people but at the moment it is just another submission. Authors need to remember that agents are inundated with submissions. Most have full lists already and need to concentrate on their existing clients. Of course we are looking for new talent but the chances of selling books from the slush pile are small.

Some agents claim they have never sold anything from the slush pile though I take it very seriously, and personally look at almost twenty thousand submissions each year . Given each submission may be over forty pages long, that is a lot of reading to fit around the reading of my existing clients' work, such as the fifty delivered manuscripts each year, and the normal work of the agency...'

Andrew Lownie of his eponymous agency on how best to present yourself to an agent http://www.andrewlownie.co.uk/fifteen_tips

'Be ruthless about protecting writing days.'

14 January 2019

'Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have "essential" and "long overdue" meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.'

J K Rowling, author of the hugely bestselling Harry Potter books and the Cormoran Strike books written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. https://www.jkrowling.com/