Happy Birthday, Lauren Beukes, born 5 June 1976
- 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.
- Do a writing course or find a freelance editor who offers pro-manuscript evaluation and editing for reasonable rates.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ideas develop like polaroids in my head. I always know my beginnings and my endings.
- 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.
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