Ashleigh Young

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The rest is easy

I like a lot of talk in a book
     and I don’t like to have nobody tell me
what the guy that’s talking looks like
I want to figure out what he looks like
     from the way he talks.
Never say ‘suddenly’ or ‘all hell broke loose’.
     The reader will just leaf ahead
          looking for people.
               When an idea comes, spend silent time with it.
          Good ideas are often murdered
     by better ones. Afterwards
     it won’t matter to you that the kitchen’s a mess.
The rest is easy.
     Perfectly formed and spelt words emerge
          from a few brief keystrokes.
     On the page they flare
          into desire. A lot of men still think that women
     lack imagination of the fiery kind.
I once noticed Mary McCarthy
     ending a line of dialogue with
‘she asseverated’
     and I had to stop reading.
If it was bad when it went in the drawer
     it will be worse when it comes out.
          Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
     Jean Plaidy managed 5,000 before lunch
then spent the afternoon answering fan mail.
     No amount of black pullovers or being
          publicly obnoxious
               will ever add up to your being a writer.
          Your own life will never have
Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House 
     before he started writing it.
          But if you’re writing a novel with a contemporary setting
     there need to be long passages where nothing happens
save for TV watching.
     Don’t write in public places.
     Don’t make telephone calls or go to a party.
     No going to London.
     No going anywhere else either.
          The first twelve years are the worst.
     If nobody will put your play on
          put it on yourself. No one cares.
     Don’t write letters
to the editor. No one cares.
          Read Keats’s letters.
     In my 30s I used to go to the gym
          even though I hated it. Was I performing a haka,
     or just shuffling my feet?
          But it is the gestation time
     which counts. Writers
write. On you go.

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