Happy Birthday, Zadie Smith, born 27 October 1975
- The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.
- Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.
- A writer’s duty is to register what it is like for him or her to be in the world.
- The secret to editing your work is simple: you need to become its reader instead of its writer.
- Nowadays, I know the true reason I read is to feel less alone, to make a connection with a consciousness other than my own.
- The past is always tense, the future perfect.
- The end is simply the beginning of an even longer story.
Zadie Smith’s 10 Rules For Writing Fiction
- When still a child, make sure you read a lot of books. Spend more time doing this than anything else.
- When an adult, try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.
- Don’t romanticise your “vocation”. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no “writer’s lifestyle”. All that matters is what you leave on the page.
- Avoid your weaknesses. But do this without telling yourself that the things you can’t do aren’t worth doing. Don’t mask self-doubt with contempt.
- Leave a decent space of time between writing something and editing it.
- Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.
- Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet.
- Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.
- Don’t confuse honours with achievement.
- Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never being satisfied.
Zadie Smith is a British novelist, best known for her novel, On Beauty. Other books include The Embassy of Cambodia, White Teeth and Swing Time. She has been nominated for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.
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