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'That extra magic fairy dust'

28 March 2016

‘The debate about whether you can teach creative writing is a funny one. Nobody ever says to a pianist, "Oh, you don't need a conservatoire, why don't you just practice your piano, then you'll get good." Good creative writing courses provide discipline, advice and criticism... But there is that extra magic fairy dust that good writers have that can't be taught.

Writers who say they don't read their reviews are lying. I'm always curious as to what people think, but I don't sit there crying over a bad review. Online reviews are often the most cutting - people don't pull their punches online, particularly on Amazon or GoodReads, so I always brace myself.

I've written eight novels, and the process never gets easier. I research; write; research some more; tear my hair out; think I'm writing awful stuff; do a lot of editing. And I always hit a point about three-quarters of the way through where I think, "Why on earth did I do this?" The only solution is to pick myself up and push on.'

Tracy Chevalier, author of At the Edge of the Orchard and Girl with a Pearl Earring, in the Sunday Telegraph's Stella.