Happy Birthday, Robin McKinley, born 16 November 1952
- Read as much as you can and write as much as you can. Reading feeds your own story-telling, and writing, like anything worth doing well, needs practice. It needs practice practice practice PRACTICE. You don’t have to be organised about it, either the reading or the writing, unless you’re an organised sort of person.
- When you write your first novel you don’t really know what you’re doing. There may be writers out there who are brilliant, incisive and in control from their first ‘Once upon a time’. I’m not one of them. Every once upon a time for me is another experience of white-water rafting in a leaky inner tube.
- The great thing about fantasy is that you can drag dreams and longings and hopes and fears and strivings out of your subconscious and call them ‘magic’ or ‘dragons’ or ‘faeries’ and get to know them better.
- Follow your nose through the library or the bookshop shelves or your friends’ recommendations or intriguing reviews on and off line; read what you can feel feeds you, that you can feel yourself sitting up straighter to pay better attention to, that excites you and makes you want to learn more, or want to go to that place again, or think more about something you’ve only just realised, or only just seen a new angle on.
- Write what you want to read. The person you know best in this world is you. Listen to yourself. If you are excited by what you are writing, you have a much better chance of putting that excitement over to a reader.
- One of the biggest, and possibly the biggest, obstacle to becoming a writer is learning to live with the fact that the wonderful story in your head is infinitely better, truer, more moving, more fascinating, more perceptive, than anything you’re going to manage to get down on paper.
- Just keep writing. Keep reading. If you are meant to be a writer, a storyteller, it’ll work itself out. You just keep feeding it your best energy, and giving it that crucial chance to work itself out. By reading and writing.
- My books happen. They tend to blast in from nowhere, seize me by the throat, and howl ‘Write me! Write me now!’ But they rarely stand still long enough for me to see what and who they are, before they hurtle away again. And so I spend a lot of time running after them, like a thrown rider after an escaped horse, saying ‘Wait for me! Wait for me!’ and waving my notebook in the air.
- If you come to the end of a story or any piece of writing you’ve sweated and bled over, and you can look at it and say, I’ve done the best I know how to do, and really, it’s not at all bad — then you’ve done very well indeed. Give yourself a pat on the back — and then get on with the next story, the next thing.
- I advise those who want to become writers to study veterinary medicine, which is easier. You don’t want to be a writer unless you have no choice - and if you have no choice, good luck to you.
(Some advice from Robin McKinley’s Website)
McKinley is an American author of fantasy and children’s books. Her 1984 novelThe Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal as the year’s best new American children’s book. McKinley has written or contributed to more than 20 books.
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