I began my course in shorthand a few weeks ago and today I started a new job so I’m finding that I have less and less time to work through the items on my to-write list.  That’s why I thought I would cheat a little today and give you some quotes from talks and author events that I’ve been to recently that didn’t make it into other blog posts. Just for a bit of light relief, you understand!

“Dickens couldn’t write about sex for toffee.” – Joanna Trollope

“You have separate eggs to make the omelette but once it’s made you can’t treat it as separate eggs.” – Jenny Joseph (on combining meaning and form in poetry)

“I am not a fan of Sayers. I find her writing overblown and I find Lord Peter Wimsey insufferable. He’s a man whose face you’d never grow tired of slapping.” – Val McDermid

“From the Chalet School books I learned that there were three institutions of higher learning: The Sorbonne, Oxford, and the Kensington School of Needlework.” – Val McDermid

“I didn’t want to write ever again. I wrote too much too quickly after Behind the Scenes – that’s why I wrote the short stories. I felt it was very important to write short stories to train myself not to finish everything.” – Kate Atkinson

“If you’re an author of a series of novels and you tell your editor you’ve come up with a radical new idea, their sphincter tends to tighten a bit.” – Ian Rankin, turning to stare intently at the sign language signer.

“Georgian houses are very rational, very square. They’re big and they’ve got lots of light – and I like red brick.” – Sarah Waters on why she chose to model Hundreds Hall on Georgian mansions.

The Little Stranger is my first novel that doesn’t have a gay element. I was apologising to lesbian audiences months in advance of publication.” – Sarah Waters

“I’ve just never done an event in Cambridge because I’m so worried people will come out and say, ‘why did you write that about my town?'” – Kate Atkinson, on Case Histories.


Pep Talk

How exciting! This morning I had an e-mail in my inbox from Philip Pullman! Not addressed to me personally, though. It was a motivational e-mail sent to everyone taking part in NaNoWriMo to encourage us with our writing. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post on point of view, to write well you  need to read. In his e-mail Philip Pullman wrote much the same thing: “Every novelist I know—every novelist I’ve ever heard of—is, or was, a passionate reader.” He also wrote that when people ask him where he gets his ideas from he replies “I don’t know where they come from, but I know where they come to: they come to my desk, and if I’m not there, they go away again.” This is the gist of the Picasso quote I have stuck above my desk.

Despite receiving this affirming e-mail this morning, I was rather slow to get started with the writing today. The sun is shining again in Andalucia again so I spent a large part of the day on the terrace plugged into my iPod. It wasn’t until 6pm when the sun was beginning to set that I got back to my laptop and tried to get another 2 000 words hammered out.  There was a moment there when I thought I wasn’t going to make it but the feeling of disappointment that overwhelmed me was so unbearable that I forced myself to carry on.  I am so pleased I did because I reached the 20 000 word mark in my novel and can now go to bed knowing that I have achieved something wonderful. Perseverance is the key.


I have this great quote stuck to the wall above my desk.  It’s from Pablo Picasso:

Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.

That’s why I’m getting my nose straight back to that grindstone (tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep).