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'When informed that this cloud hadn’t magically saved all my lost books, I burst into tears and, when the online customer support person told me – brightly – to ‘have a nice day’ it took all the willpower I possessed not to scream expletives in response. '
'My bottom drawer is more of a recycling bin than a bottom drawer. With the knowledge that no writing is ever wasted, my intention is for nothing to stay in it forever. Instead, it serves as a temporary storage space for stories I plan to revise. '
'I score out phrases, draw connecting arrows between ideas, and play around with the position of words on the page. Using a mouse and keyboard would slow me down. I rewrite obsessively. Every few lines I'll start redrafting what I’ve written so far. '
'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.'
Nikki Sheehan recounts how she became a convert to writing by hand and explores some scientific discoveries that might explain our writing preferences.
'Writing fiction is, word by word, a balancing act. What to say and what not to say? How much to focus on detail, while pressing onwards to keep up the momentum of the narrative? And, simply, how close to keep to the real and how much to make up?'
'Poetry provides some unique satisfactions; the epigrammatic click of a word locking a couplet, the exact phrase that nails a sound, texture, colour or movement. A little like completing a crossword. (Actually, I don't do crosswords; I work on a sonnet.)'
'When the time came for audience questions, the late, great Iain Banks got the inevitable one. Without pausing he said there was a secret website called; ‘You just go there and it generates ideas for you’. '
'People will tell you to shrug it off, to develop a thick skin. I’m not sure this is entirely helpful. While it’s true that most writers get better at receiving negative feedback, to have too hard a skin can be synonymous with no longer caring about your work.'
'My desert island discs luxury would be my MacBook, a solar-powered battery and a satellite-based broadband connection. What do you mean, that's cheating? On their own, none of them is more useful on a desert island than a rock.'
'I see writing as a contract between the writer and the reader. I make up stuff that I hope will inform, entertain, scare, thrill or amuse. I spend time reworking the raw material my imagination has provided into something that, I hope, works for you. '
'When I'm in editing mode I almost can't read other writers' work, because everything feels overwritten. I can't stop my internal editor adding imaginary comments in the margins. A lot of published novels really could have done with killing those darlings.'
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