On reading other people's poems
"Every reader brings their own background into the poem. But poets are bridge-builders and readers must decide whether or not to cross."
John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.
Next up, a reference to an interview with Markus Zusak in The Guardian, with thanks to Tanita at Finding Wonderland for pointing it out to me on Friday.
Advice for new writers
Don't be afraid to fail. I fail every day. I failed thousands of times writing The Book Thief, and that book now means everything to me. Of course, I have many doubts and fears about that book, too, but some of what I feel are the best ideas in it came to me when I was working away for apparently no result. Failure has been my best friend as a writer. It tests you, to see if you have what it takes to see it through.
Markus Zusak (Don't miss the full interview, which really offers some interesting insights for folks who've already published as well as newbies.)
On reading and writing history
Two quotes from Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, which I re-read this week. Both are from the main character, Catherine Morland. I am sorry to say that as to one of her objections to the reading of it, little has changed in 200 years, and there are still "hardly any women at all" in our children's history books. (See my Women's History Month rant earlier this month.) As to the second (on the writing of histories), I find amusement in it as I continue to work on the Jane project, essentially a sort of history meant "for the torment of little boys and girls".
I read it a little as a duty, but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences, in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all — it is very tiresome: and yet I often think it odd that it should be so dull, for a great deal of it must be invention.
At this rate, I shall not pity the writers of history any longer. If people like to read their books, it is all very well, but to be at so much trouble in filling great volumes, which, as I used to think, nobody would willingly ever look into, to be labouring only for the torment of little boys and girls, always struck me as a hard fate; and though I know it is all very right and necessary, I have often wondered at the person's courage that could sit down on purpose to do it.
Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood with Dan Stevens as Edward Ferrars
Speaking of Jane Austen (kind of), don't forget that the first half of the new BBC production of Sense and Sensibility begins tonight on most PBS stations at 9 p.m.