Happy Birthday, Hilary Mantel, born 6 July 1952
- The word ‘however’ is like an imp coiled beneath your chair. It induces ink to form words you have not yet seen, and lines to march across the page and overshoot the margin. There are no endings. If you think so you are deceived as to their nature. They are all beginnings. Here is one.
- Concentrate on sharpening your memory and peeling your sensibility. Cut every page you write by at least one third. Stop constructing those piffling little similes of yours. Work out what it is you want to say. Then say it in the most direct and vigorous way you can.
- Feminism hasn’t failed, it’s just never been tried.
- It is the absence of facts that frightens people: the gap you open, into which they pour their fears, fantasies, desires.
- 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.
- You can have a silence full of words.
- I once dreamed a whole short story. Wrapped in its peculiar atmosphere, as if draped in clouds, I walked entranced to my desk at about 4 A.M. and typed it on to the screen.
- For myself, the only way I know how to make a book is to construct it like a collage: a bit of dialogue here, a scrap of narrative, an isolated description of a common object, an elaborate running metaphor which threads between the sequences and holds different narrative lines together.
- History is always changing behind us, and the past changes a little every time we retell it.
- When you are writing laws you are testing words to find their utmost power. Like spells, they have to make things happen in the real world, and like spells, they only work if people believe in them.
- I am very happy in second-hand bookshops; would a gardener not be happy in a garden?
- When you turn and look back down the years, you glimpse the ghosts of other lives you might have led; all houses are haunted. The wraiths and phantoms creep under your carpets and between the warp and weft of fabric, they lurk in wardrobes and lie flat under drawer-liners. You think of the children you might have had but didn’t. When the midwife says, ‘It’s a boy,’ where does the girl go? When you think you’re pregnant, and you’re not, what happens to the child that has already formed in your mind? You keep it filed in a drawer of your consciousness, like a short story that never worked after the opening lines.
Read: Hilary Mantel’s 10 Rules For Writing Fiction, which include: ‘If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.’
Hilary Mantel is an English novelist, short story writer, memoirist, and critic. The best-selling author has twice won the Man Booker Prize for her novels Bring Up the Bodies and Wolf Hall. Click here to find out where Hilary Mantel writes.
Source for photograph
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