Monday, October 15, 2012

Writing inspiration: Hilary Mantel

From The New Yorker: 

When she wakes in the morning, she likes to start writing right away, before she speaks, because whatever remnants sleep has left are the gift her brain has given her for the day. Her dream life is important to the balance of her mind: it’s the place where she experiences disorder. Her dreams are archetypal, mythological, enormous, full of pageantry—there are knights and monsters. She has been to the crusades in her dreams more than once. 
When she’s starting a new book, she needs to feel her way inside the characters, to know what it’s like to be them. There is a trick she uses sometimes, which another writer taught her. Sit quietly and withdraw your attention from the room you’re in until you’re focussed inside your mind. Imagine a chair and invite your character to come and sit in it; once he is comfortable, you may ask him questions. She tried this for the first time when she was writing “The Giant, O’Brien”: the giant came in, but, before sitting down in the chair, he bent down and tested it, to see if it would take his weight. On that occasion, she never got any further, because she was so excited that she punched the air and shouted “Yes!” But from then on she could imagine herself in the giant’s body.
In the last months of writing a book, as the end comes in sight, she becomes possessed. She doesn’t go anywhere, or talk about anything other than the book. She stops only to eat. Her sleep and work hours become erratic: often she will wake up at three in the morning, write for several hours, and then go back to bed. She becomes more and more anxious: it feels to her like stage fright, unnaturally and intolerably prolonged, as though at last she were spinning all her plates at once, darting about from one to the other and terrified of making a mistake because she knows that if one plate spins off balance they will all come crashing down.
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