Monday, September 7, 2009

Zesty Zadie

I am totally chuffed that the brilliantly clever Zadie Smith has a collection of essays due out in November. This will sate my appetite while I await her next novel.
"When you finish a novel, if money is not a desperate priority, if you do not need to sell it at once or be published that very second - put it in a drawer. For as long as you can manage. A year or more is ideal - but even three months will do. Step away from the vehicle. The secret to editing your work is simple: you need to become its reader instead of its writer...

"...You need a certain head on your shoulders to edit a novel, and it's not the head of a writer in the thick of it, nor the head of a professorial editor who's read it in twelve different versions. It's the head of a smart stranger who picks it off a bookshelf and begins to read. You need to get the head of that smart stranger somehow. You need to forget you ever wrote that book.

"...After I read Alan Hollinghurst's magnificent novel The Line of Beauty, I met him at a dinner, and drunkenly I think I asked him how he got his novel to be so magnificenty. He said: "Oh; I left it for a long while. And then I tinkered with it. Five years, actually."

"That's the best piece of writing advice I ever had."
From a lecture given by Smith to students at Columbia University in March 2008. The full lecture may be read in Believer magazine.

1 comment:

yu said...

that is so true. The line of beauty is really well written!

Just goes to show you that even the best of writers feel like they could improve somehow