Literary Birthday - 5 June - Lauren Beukes

Happy Birthday, Lauren Beukes, born 5 June 1976


  1. Finish the damn book. Nothing else matters. Stop second-guessing yourself and write it through to the end. You don’t know what you have until you’ve finished it. You don’t know how to fix it until it’s all down on the page.
  2. Do a writing course or find a freelance editor who offers pro-manuscript evaluation and editing for reasonable rates. 
  3. I did my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Cape Town and had wonderful lecturers, visiting writers and my supervisor push me and my writing and force me to finish my novel.
  4. In South Africa, we have a great expression, “picking up stompies” (cigarette stubs) which means eavesdropping on snippets of a conversation and jumping to conclusions. I pick up a lot of stompies, from stuff I’ve read or seen or overheard or a news story or an advertising billboard or something half-glanced from the car windows – and I use that as a jumping off point.
  5. The inside of my head looks like a crazy person hoarder house. Full of useless things that sometimes, if I’m lucky, come together in interesting and surprising ways.
  6. I can tell you how I did it, which was 10% talent, 10 % sheer bloody luck and 80% hard work and rolling with the gut punches.
  7. Revise and revise and then polish until that bastard gleams. Then find an agent who suits your work. It’s like dating, you want to pick the person who is right for you and your work.
  8. I believe in writer’s procrastination. The way to get through a block is to chip away at it, a sentence at a time. Or step away, do something else and sneak around it when the block’s not looking.
  9. Ideas develop like polaroids in my head. I always know my beginnings and my endings.
  10. Be cheeky, but nice. Ask for the things you want; the worst anyone can say is no, but if they do, handle rejection with grace and style. This ties in very well with my other life philosophy which is: don’t be an asshat.

Read our interview with Lauren Beukes here

Beukes is a South African novelist, short story writer, journalist and TV scriptwriter. She is the author of The Shining Girls.

Source for Image

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Literary Birthday - 18 October - Terry McMillan

Happy Birthday, Terry McMillan, born 18 October 1951

Seven Quotes

  1. My primary interest is to get parents to read to their kids. That’s about the most you can do, I think.
  2. I try to create characters that I am fascinated by on some level or intrigued by or can’t stand.
  3. Let me put it this way: when I read, I learned the world was not as small as my house. And that everybody in my home town was not representative of the way people in the world were raised. And that was what saved me.
  4. I like to think of what happens to characters in good novels and stories as knots—things keep knotting up. And by the end of the story—readers see an unknotting of sorts. Not what you expect, not the easy answers you get on TV, not wash and wear philosophies, but a reproduction of believable, emotional experiences.
  5. I’m more interested in interpersonal relationships - between lovers families, siblings. That’s why I write about how we treat each other.
  6. There is a price for popularity. Critics look for your weaknesses, your flaws, anything that makes the work seem like a fluke and not seem worthy of all the attention it’s getting.
  7. Few writers are willing to admit writing is autobiographical.

McMillan is an American author. She is best-known for Waiting to Exhale,How Stella Got Her Groove Back, and Disappearing Acts which were all filmed.

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Literary Birthday - 26 September - Mark Haddon

Happy Birthday, Mark Haddon, born 26 September 1962

The main impetus for being a writer is thinking, 'I could invent another world. I'm not terribly keen on this one.' 

Quotes from The Curious Incident

  1. Reading is a conversation. All books talk. But a good book listens as well.
  2. Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.
  3. I think people believe in heaven because they don’t like the idea of dying, because they want to carry on living and they don’t like the idea that other people will move into their house and put their things into the rubbish.
  4. And it occurred to him that there were two parts to being a better person. One part was thinking about other people. The other part was not giving a toss what other people thought.
  5. And then I thought that I had to be like Sherlock Holmes and I had to detach my mind at will to a remarkable degree so that I did not notice how much it was hurting inside my head.
  6. Siobhan said that when you are writing a book you have to include some descriptions of things. I said that I could take photographs and put them in the book. But she said the idea of a book was to describe things using words so that people could read them and make a picture in their own head.
  7. …and I wrote a book and that means I can do anything.

Mark Haddon is an English novelist and poet, best known for his 2003 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

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Literary Birthday - 17 September - Brian Andreas

Happy Birthday, Brian Andreas, born 17 September 1956

Brian Andreas On Telling Stories

  1. You’re telling the story, so make it personal.
  2. I like art that admits to being a part of life. The moments I have with my friends and family are really all that I need. I like to take them and weave them into stories that are filled with laughter and music and lunacy. And they are mostly true, but I’m not telling which parts… 
  3. Why should you know how to tell stories in the first place?  It’s simple. Because stories will forever & ever trump facts
  4. With any story, treat me like a friend. I’ll forgive a lot if you treat me like someone who matters. Then whatever story you tell me is one I want to hear. Another way of saying this is: it’s not about you. It’s about me. Telling a story is a very intimate act. You are asking me to listen with my child self. The self that wants to imagine & play along with you. 
  5. A good manifesto runs circles around a mission statement. That’s because a manifesto is bold & stupidly optimistic. A manifesto is about making the world a better place, righting wrongs, restoring justice when things get too out of balance (as things usually do). A manifesto, unlike a mission statement, isn’t about making a deal with the possible. It’s about imagining the impossible & then setting to work.

StoryPeople Quotes

  1. He loved her for almost everything she was & she decided that was enough to let him stay for a very long time.
  2. She always camouflaged herself as a crowd. I’ve never been lonely, she said, but sometimes it’s hard to think above the noise.
  3. Are you a princess? I said & she said I’m much more than a princess, but you don’t have a name for it yet here on earth. 
  4. In the end, I think that I will like that we were sitting on the bed, talking & wondering where the time had gone.
  5. 'I was waiting for the longest time,' she said. 'I thought you forgot.' 'It is hard to forget,’ I said, ‘when there is such an empty space when you are gone.’
  6. The first time her laughter unfurled its wings in the wind, we knew that the world would never be the same.
  7. We lay there and looked up at the night sky and she told me about stars called blue squares and red swirls and I told her I’d never heard of them. Of course not, she said, the really important stuff they never tell you. You have to imagine it on your own.
  8. Time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life.
  9. I wish you could have been there for the sun & the rain & the long, hard hills. For the sound of a thousand conversations scattered along the road. For the people laughing & crying & remembering at the end. But, mainly, I wish you could have been there.

10. More Fair:

They left me
with your shadow,
saying things like
Life is not fair

& I believed them
for a long time.

But today,
I remembered
the way you laughed
& the heat
of your hand
in mine

& I knew that
life is more fair
than we can
ever imagine
we are there to live it

Andreas is an American writer, painter, sculptor and publisher known for an ongoing series of works - StoryPeople. The Storypeople collection now includes nine books incorporating drawings and writings; colour prints of his drawings and short stories; and mixed-media sculptures  In 2012 he founded, a collaborative digital storytelling platform.

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 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter.  


Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate