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'The advice that the editor gave, that the readers want to know more about the kestrel flying above the rainbow that you see from the mountain pass in Wales and less about what it’s like to change a tyre in the rain? They’re not wrong.'
'Air Mail letter to my student self which has taken two months in transit: OK, so you hate being in Russia, the Soviet Union isn't what you imagined, you haven't got a clue what's going on or what anyone is saying and haven't seen a piece of fruit in months.'
'You're doing the right thing by reading everything you can. All the words you've consumed so far, and will do, have infused into the brain I have now. So, thank you! You've flavoured it like gin, with the best botanicals. And you'll like gin, later, as well.'
'I have no advice, only a practical warning. Make a note in your diary. On the seventh of July 2005, just after 9 a.m., do not catch that westbound Piccadilly Line tube into central London. Turn back. As I did. Your best writing will still be ahead of you.'
'If only you could have the friendship of fellow-poets, the respect of your peers! But all that’s some years in the future. Your life so far hasn’t given you much social confidence, and your parents, supportive as they try to be, don’t really understand.'
'On Saturday nights, you put on a miniskirt and drink (and often throw up) vodka orange in south London living rooms. You kiss boys. You stay up whispering to girl friends about kissing boys. You do not think that you are thinking about kissing girls. '
'What you’ll discover is that one of your (our) greatest failings is actually destined to become the catalyst for great personal change. I’m speaking about your seething, confrontational angst towards, and quiet disregard for, formal education.'
'Your newly chosen philosophy degree gradually morphs into a literature one and with a dose of Sartrean self-creativity (life being malleable, existence rather than essence) you edit the university’s poetry magazine, write stories, plays, even act...'
'You baulk at the term ‘networking’ and think it’s somehow shabby. It’s about getting to know people. If you were a producer or director, wouldn’t you want to work with someone you’ve already met and hopefully liked? Collaboration and trust are key. '
'Eventually, you’ll forgive the person who thought it would be character building to bang you up in a convent school run mainly by dysfunctional nuns. Here you will be forced to take elocution lessons to rid you of your rather peculiar accent. '
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