I gather that the number of readers in this country is going down, while the number of people who aspire to write is going up. The best thing you can do as a would-be writer is to read other people’s work — and as an ironclad rule of thumb, never write anything that you wouldn’t want to read yourself.
I am a pedant. I insist that people pronounce ‘flaccid’ as ‘flaksid,’ which is dictionary-correct but defies onomatopoeic instinct and annoys one and all. I never let people get away with using ‘enervated‘ to mean ‘energized,‘ when the word means without energy, thank you very much. Not only am I, apparently, the last remaining American citizen who knows the difference between ‘like’ and ‘as,‘ but I freely alienate everyone in my surround by interrupting, ‘You mean, as I said.’ Or, ‘You mean, you gave it to whom,’ or ‘You mean, that’s just between you and me. ’ I am a lone champion of the accusative case, and so –- obviously — have no friends
Fiction writers don’t write about money enough.
Rituals — fixing cups of coffee, paring fingernails, and all manner of variations on staring blankly out the window — are all forms of delay, and therefore don’t constitute magical evocations of one’s muse, but distraction. Writing is fundamentally dull, and there are no real secrets to it: You sit down, you type something out, most of the time if you have any self-respect you throw it away. My desk? Is usually towering with huge piles of paper. This is not a mountainous topography I can promote. The piles represent everything I am ignoring — finances, magazines I think I should read but don’t really want to, and odious little tasks like filling out this very questionnaire.
Kevin as a phenomenon long ago ceased to have anything to do with me. I’ve published two novels since, and I’m stuck into another; fortunately, many Kevin fans have moved on to other novels of mine as well. Meanwhile, Kevin can continue to suck a lychee sadistically in front of his mother after her daughter has lost an eye without any further help from me. My starkest realisation that this novel has achieved a life of its own was while watching Ramsay’s riveting adaptation of the book.
I am not as nice as I look.
Though raised by Aldai Stevenson Democrats, I have a violent, retrograde right-wing streak that alarms and horrifies my acquaintances in New York. And I have been told more than once that I am ‘extreme’.
Shriver is an American journalist and the author of 12 novels. She is best known for We Need to Talk About Kevin. She lives in London.