Happy Birthday, Helen Dunmore, born 12 December 1952
- As individuals, we are shaped by story from the time of birth; we are formed by what we are told by our parents, our teachers, our intimates.
- I would like people to come into my Dreamworld and then choose to stay.
- A novel, in the end, is a container, a shape which you are trying to pour your story into.
- Writing poetry makes you intensely conscious of how words sound, both aloud and inside the head of the reader. You learn the weight of words and how they sound to the ear.
- I concentrate on the lives of individuals whom the reader comes to know and feel with intimately.
Helen Dunmore: Nine Writing Tips
- Finish the day’s writing when you still want to continue.
- Listen to what you have written. A dud rhythm in a passage of dialogue may show that you don’t yet understand the characters well enough to write in their voices.
- Read Keats’s letters.
- Reread, rewrite, reread, rewrite. If it still doesn’t work, throw it away. It’s a nice feeling, and you don’t want to be cluttered with the corpses of poems and stories which have everything in them except the life they need.
- Learn poems by heart.
- Join professional organisations which advance the collective rights of authors.
- A problem with a piece of writing often clarifies itself if you go for a long walk.
- If you fear that taking care of your children and household will damage your writing, think of JG Ballard.
- Don’t worry about posterity – as Larkin (no sentimentalist) observed ‘What will survive of us is love’.
Helen Dunmore is a British poet, novelist and children’s writer. She has won the Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize and the Orange Prize for fiction, and various prizes for her poetry. Dunmore is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Source for Advice
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