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Rowling along: truth in writing

Flicking through my old clippings, I came upon an interview which J.K. Rowling gave to a British newspaper some while back.

For anyone unfamiliar with the name, Ms Rowling is an English writer of popular children’s books, which have achieved considerable success.
HP

You may say what you like about Ms. Rowling’s prose (and many people have — Stephen King, while giving a generallly positive review of one of her books, commented that Rowling “never met an adverb she didn’t like”) but she developed the ability to know when she was writing stuff that was worthwhile.

In her early writing career, Rowling said of herself: “I’d never tried to get anything published because I just knew when I would reread it that it wasn’t good enough.

Then she hit upon a new story idea, allegedly on a train from Manchester to London, which gives passengers plenty of time to think. The idea, about a kid called Harry Potter who goes to a school for wizards, felt absolutely right to Rowling: “It was the first time I really, really believed in something I’d written,” she said.

How true. To write anything believable, we have to believe in it ourselves. Stephen King said: “If you begin to lie about what you know and feel while you’re down there, everything falls down.

The ability to know when we’re writing insipid crap is invaluable, and so we must always be aware of that nagging voice that tells us we could be doing better.

I write as much crap as anybody else,” said one author (I’ve forgotten exactly who). “The difference is, my crap ends up in the waste-paper basket.

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Categories: Attitude, Technique Tags: ,