04 October, 2013
Quotable Friday (17)
Anyway, her career started nearly 100 years ago and yet she says so many things I can relate to. See if any of these seem familiar to you too...
[Talking of her first Poirot novel]. "I was reasonably satisfied with it. That is to say it was roughly as I had intended it to be. It could be much better, I saw that, but I didn't see just how I could make it better, so I had to leave it as it was. [...] having finally decided I could do no more to it I sent it off to a publisher - Hodder and Stoughton - who returned it. It was a plain refusal with no frills on it."
[Letter from the writer Eden Philpotts advising her on an early attempt to write a book]. "I am afraid it is not easy to get a first novel accepted, so you mustn't be disappointed."
[On being a writer - and sticking to a suitable word count!] "It's no good starting out by thinking one is a heaven-born genius - some people are, but very few. No, one is a tradesman - a tradesman in a good, honest trade. You must learn the technical skills, and then, within that trade, you can apply your own creative ideas; but you must submit to the discipline of form."
[On being asked to review MSS] "I don't think an author is competent to criticise. Your criticism is bound to be that you youself would have written it in such and such a way, but that does not mean that that would be right for another author. We all have our own ways of expressing ourselves. [...] A critic or an editor might have been more perceptive, because it is their profession to notice the germs of what may be. So I don't like criticising and I think it can easily do harm." (I suspect many authors will disagree with this, but I increasingly feel this way and nearly always use readers rather than writers when I want an opinion!)