Meg Rosoff is the prize-winning author of How I Live Now, Just In Case, What I Was, The Bride’s Farewell and There Is No Dog. Her new novel, Picture Me Gone, will be published in October.
I spent fifteen miserable years in advertising and when I finally left, had nothing to show for it except a few ads no one remembered — and a flat bought on my meagre salary in 1991.
I was fired a lot, for insubordination and general disgust with the people and the process, though mainly with myself, for not having the courage to quit and do something worthwhile.
“I have advice for people who want to write. I don’t care whether they’re 5 or 500. There are three things that are important: First, if you want to write, you need to keep an honest, unpublishable journal that nobody reads, nobody but you. Where you just put down what you think about life, what you think about things, what you think is fair and what you think is unfair. And second, you need to read. You can’t be a writer if you’re not a reader. It’s the great writers who teach us how to write. The third thing is to write. Just write a little bit every day. Even if it’s for only half an hour — write, write, write.” ― Madeleine L’Engle
1. Read like mad. But try to do it analytically – which can be hard, because the better and more compelling a novel is, the less conscious you will be of its devices. It’s worth trying to figure those devices out, however: they might come in useful in your own work. I find watching films also instructive. Nearly every modern Hollywood blockbuster is hopelessly long and baggy. Trying to visualise the much better films they would have been with a few radical cuts is a great exercise in the art of story-telling. Which leads me on to . . .