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shed at the bottom of the garden and pick the implement that you need to garden with. And in writing you go down and you go, okay if I’m going to tell this story I need this voice, this vocabulary and this way of telling the story. So Stardust, stylistically, bares no resemblance to Neverwhere, which bares no resemblance to Good Omens, and very few of the stories in Smoke and Mirrors read like each other. SB: Now when I explain to people why I became a writer as opposed to something stable like an accountant I say that there are two types of people, those that want to write and those that have to write. Is that your experience? Do you meet a lot of people who want to be writers and could you see yourself doing anything else? NG: I admire the people who want to be writers, the ones who go to writers groups and classes and do writing exercises. I’ve met lots of bad writers, unpublished writers who are much more the writer than I will ever be. These are the people who come home at the end of every day and they write their ten pages. They finish a novel and the next morning they start the next one. I have nothing but enormous admiration for that. I’m not one of those people. I’m the kind of writer who loves having written. In the grand scheme of things having written something is my favorite position to be in. I quite like being about to write something. The actual sitting there and writing is mostly work. Occasionally it’s a joy. Sometimes you’ll just get on a roll and something really cool will happen. Occasionally I have to explain this to young writers; the actual process of writing is not glamorous. You’re off on your own somewhere and you have to write the next scene, you have to write the next page, you have to keep going. It’s about as much fun as ditch digging. You just have to keep digging because one day you’ll get to the end of the field. 100

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SB: I know what you are talking about. Right now I’m in the process of writing my first novel and I’m at a point where I want to get on with it but I have to work my way through this point right now. NG: It’s ditch digging. You’re going to have to get through that part because if you don’t it doesn’t get written. A lot of writing is like that. The only thing you have to console yourself is that a year later or when the novel’s actually printed you can go back and read it and you’ll have no idea which bits of it were written at white heat with words dripping like jewels from your pen and which bits of it you were sitting there writing going “Oh, this is such appalling hack work, I don’t know how I’m going to get to the end of this sentence.” SB: Do you often go back and look at your work? NG: You have to. You wind up having to proofread and check edit. I don’t often read my stuff for pleasure because I know what happens. But I do have to read my stuff to make sure there aren’t any typos and to fix it. Sometimes you wind up really enjoying it. If ever I actually get to the point where I start reading it as if I’m reading it for the first time I know I’ve probably done something clever. Or I’m suffering from short-term memory loss. SB: Do you get a lot of time for reading? NG: You don’t get a lot of time for reading but you make time for reading. It depends on how obsessed you are and what’s obsessing you. I always like to have one fiction book on the go and probably three or four non-fiction books. But it’s just sort of things I’m vaguely interested in. Because I figure the process of writing is a lot like, to use another gardening analogy, it’s like making compost. You’re throwing all of this stuff down on there and you’re letting it rot and then a year later or two years later or five years later you

Profile for Katya Cummins

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

Niche Magazine No. 1  

Niche is an online literary magazine that was designed to be limitless. It aims to provide a place where an array of voices, from experimen...

Profile for nichelit