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Comment from the book world in January 2022

January 2022

'Don't make it up any more'

24 January 2022

‘There's a whole debate about... whether we're just constrained to write about ourselves. But it's always seemed to me to be an absolute base fundamental that imagining my way into somebody's else's consciousness and what makes them yearn, what makes them happy, what makes them anxious - this kind of projection into another soul's being and, in many cases, into people's consciousness who are very unlike me, a different gender, a different age - has always been what writing has been about. Supposing Dickens had only written about himself?...

It's not just me, it's thousands of us around the world. My (husband) Richard is rather more optimistic than me. He's a biographer and I think it's affected the fiction writers much more. People are saying "Don't make it up any more. We need the real thing." His view is that it may or may not pass, but I'm getting so old now that I think, "Will it pass in my time?"'

Rose Tremain, author of 15 books, including Restoration, Sacred Country, Music and Silence and The Gustav Sonata

'Writing is work'

13 January 2022

‘If there is anything I believe to be foundational to the business of writing then it is this: writing is work. To frame it in this way is to acknowledge that good writing doesn't come out, fully formed, at two in the morning; and nor does it require anything extraordinary in the way of genius or education, although of course it's possible to have an aptitude for it, and reading helps.

Instead, good writing happens, in increments, between everything else that needs to be done. To believe otherwise feels, to me, like a form of exclusion, keeping out anyone who might have parts of their lives which must take precedence: bills to be paid or people to be cared for, appointments which can't be missed, worries, aches; whereas to define writing as work is to believe both that it can be learned, and that it can be put aside. It is to delineate it as part of the ordinary. It is to state that, far from being esoteric, like gold leaf on a halo, writing requires in the main what all things require if one wants to make a decent fist of them: learning, practice, repetition.'

Jessie Greengrass, author of Sight and The High House: A Novel in an article entitled Learning, Practice, and Repetition: Why the Act of Writing Is Work in Lit Hub