‘Is a certain type of lined, exercise book bought only from a certain stationery shop in Edinburgh essential to the process of composition? Or perhaps yellow legal pads are their surface of choice?’
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‘I remember writing my fifth novel with four children under five, between three-hour breastfeeds, lecturing and marking papers while they slept. ‘
‘When working as an invigilator of public exams, I would gaze around the hall of silent candidates, imagining scenes from my novel-in-progress.’
Menna van Praag reflects on how her desire to please others suppressed her authenticity both on and off the page and how an essay by the poet Mary Oliver finally inspired her to stop.