Think of writing = a palimpsest, a parchment where earlier layers of writing of whatever nature were scraped off and replaced by whatever scribes of the time thought more important. Again and again…
For me, layers equal a stratigraphy of time – and, especially, of the layering of memories.
“Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.”
This is the first sentence of Scum Manifesto. If there is a more exhilarating start to any political tract, I’m damned if I know it. I won’t pretend to talk about Scum Manifesto with much objectivity. As far as I can see, the only reason that I might ever deign to go on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs (an imminent possibility, obviously) would be so that I could ask Sue Lawley if I could take Scum Manifesto to the island, to make me realize what I was missing - precisely zilch. The thing is, you either happen to think this is a work of unadulterated genius, or you dismiss it as the ravings of a loony psycho-bitch, not understanding that this is exactly what makes it so compelling and so charged with insight.
First paragraphs can often be struck out. Are you performing a haka, or just shuffling your feet?
My minimum is 1,000 words a day – which is sometimes easy to achieve, and is sometimes, frankly, like shitting a brick …
I think of my novels as being something like fairground rides: my job is to strap the reader into their car at the start of chapter one, then trundle and whizz them through scenes and surprises, on a carefully planned route, and at a finely engineered pace.
Prayer might work. Or reading something else. Or a constant visualisation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.
Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.
… remember how much time people spend watching TV. If you’re writing a novel with a contemporary setting there need to be long passages where nothing happens save for TV watching: “Later, George watched Grand Designs while eating HobNobs. Later still he watched the shopping channel for a while …”