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In my 20s I was in constant pain from undiagnosed endometriosis. With no prospect of a cure, I decided I needed a career writing that could accommodate being ill.
When you have committed enough words to paper, you feel you have a spine stiff enough to stand up in the wind. But when you stop writing, you find that's all you are a spine, a row of rattling vertebrae, dried out like an old quill pen.
Write a book you'd like to read. If you wouldn't read it, why would anybody else? Don't write for a perceived audience or market. It may well have vanished by the time your book's ready.
The old always think the world is getting worse; it is for the young, equipped with historical facts, to point out that, compared with 1509, or even 1939, life in 2009 is sweet as honey.
Sometimes I fantasize that all my furniture has been destroyed in a cataclysm, and I have to start again with only the stationery catalogue. My entire house would become an office, which would be an overt recognition of the existing state of affairs.
You can control and censor a child's reading, but you can't control her interpretations; no one can guess how a message that to adults seems banal or ridiculous or outmoded will alter itself and evolve inside the darkness of a child's heart.
Novelists, it seems to me, are the very last people who should be asked to comment on the news of the day, and sooner or later, when they have been pilloried for their views, most of them recognise this.
I think if I hadn't become a writer I would just have suppressed that part of my personality. I think I would have put it in a box that I never opened.
If you skew the endocrine system, you lose the pathways to self. When endocrine patterns change, it alters the way you think and feel. One shift in the pattern tends to trip another.
When I was thin, I had no notion of what being fat is like. When I worked in a department store, I had sold clothes to women of most sizes, so I should have known; but perhaps you have to experience the state from the inside, to understand what fat is like.
Writers do not want to think they are less rational than other people, and at the mercy of compulsions, but in their hearts they know they are like those people who are taken for walks by their dogs, towed through hedges and ditches by an untrained sub human energy.
When narratives fracture, when words fail, I take consolation from the part of my life that always works: the stationery order. The mail order stationery people supply every need from royal blue Quink to a dazzling variety of portable hard drives.
It is difficult to know how the Tudors actually spoke because we're going back before Shakespeare; much of the drama from that period is courtly, allegorical.
Writing comes from that territory of being invalidated. But I had a sense of purpose, too. I wanted to stop apologising for my health, and I thought I might do some good.
Fiction leaves us so much work to do, allows the individual so much input; you have to see, you have to hear, you have to taste the madeleine, and while you are seemingly passive in your chair, you have to travel.
It follows that if you are not a mother you are not a grandmother. Your life has become unpunctuated, whereas the lives of other women around you have these distinct phases.