Hilary Mantel - Quotes

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Imagination only comes when you privilege the subconscious, when you make delay and procrastination work for you.

Imagination only comes when you privilege the subconscious, when you make delay and procrastination work for you.

Once you're labeled as mentally ill, and that's in your medical notes, then anything you say can be discounted as an artefact of your mental illness.

Once you're labeled as mentally ill, and that's in your medical notes, then anything you say can be discounted as an artefact of your mental illness.

Insights don't usually arrive at my desk, but go into notebooks when I'm on the move. Or half-asleep. ---->>>

History offers us vicarious experience. It allows the youngest student to possess the ground equally with his elders; without a knowledge of history to give him a context for present events, he is at the mercy of every social misdiagnosis handed to him. ---->>>

I'm one of these children who grew up at the knee of my grandmother and her elder sister, listening to very old people talk about their memories. ---->>>

If you have a good story idea, don't assume it must form a prose narrative. It may work better as a play, a screenplay or a poem. Be flexible. ---->>>

What really disconcerts commentators, I suspect, is that when they read historical fiction, they feel their own lack of education may be exposed; they panic, because they don't know which bits are true. ---->>>

But an experienced reader is also a self-aware and critical reader. I can't remember ever reading a story without judging it. ---->>>

I am very happy in second-hand bookshops; would a gardener not be happy in a garden? ---->>>

I think I would have been a reasonably good lawyer. I have a faculty for making sense of mountains of information. ---->>>

My first career ambitions involved turning into a boy; I intended to be either a railway guard or a knight errant. ---->>>

'Wolf Hall' attempts to duplicate not the historian's chronology but the way memory works: in leaps, loops, flashes. ---->>>

I think it took me half a page of 'Wolf Hall' to think: 'This is the novel I should have been writing all along.' ---->>>

If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don't just stick there scowling at the problem. But don't make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people's words will pour in where your lost words should be. ---->>>

For myself, the only way I know how to make a book is to construct it like a collage: a bit of dialogue here, a scrap of narrative, an isolated description of a common object, an elaborate running metaphor which threads between the sequences and holds different narrative lines together. ---->>>

Sometimes you buy a book, powerfully drawn to it, but then it just sits on the shelf. Maybe you flick through it, the ghost of your original purpose at your elbow, but it's not so much rereading as re-dusting. Then one day you pick it up, take notice of the contents; your inner life realigns. ---->>>

The experienced writer says to the anguished novice: 'Just do it; get something, anything, on to the screen or page, just establish a flow of words, and criticise them later.' You give this advice but can't always take it. ---->>>

When I was a child, there was very little money, so I've always been concerned for my financial security, which has meant that finding myself as a writer was a bad move. The practical difference the money has made is that I can support myself by fiction. That is what I have been trying to do throughout my life. ---->>>

Write a book you'd like to read. If you wouldn't read it, why would anybody else? Don't write for a perceived audience or market. It may well have vanished by the time your book's ready. ---->>>

Back in my 20s, when I wrote 'A Place of Greater Safety,' the French Revolution novel, I thought, 'I'll always have to write historical novels because I can't do plots.' But in the six years of writing that novel, I actually learned to write, to invent things. ---->>>

Fiction isn't made by scraping the bones of topicality for the last shreds and sinews, to be processed into mechanically recovered prose. Like journalism, it deals in ideas as well as facts, but also in metaphors, symbols and myths. ---->>>

When I wrote about the French Revolution, I didn't choose to write about aristocrats; I chose characters who began their lives in provincial obscurity. ---->>>

I once stole a book. It was really just the once, and at the time I called it borrowing. It was 1970, and the book, I could see by its lack of date stamps, had been lying unappreciated on the shelves of my convent school library since its publication in 1945. ---->>>

Though I have never thought of myself as a book collector, there are shelves in our house browsed so often, on so many rainy winter nights, that the contents have seeped into me as if by osmosis. ---->>>

Writers displace their anxiety on to the tools of the trade. It's better to say that you haven't got the right pencil than to say you can't write, or to blame your computer for losing your chapter than face up to your feeling that it's better lost. ---->>>

History is always changing behind us, and the past changes a little every time we retell it. ---->>>

Hindsight is the historian's necessary vice. ---->>>

Much historical fiction that centers on real people has always been deficient in information, lacking in craft and empty in affect. ---->>>

A novel should be a book of questions, not a book of answers. ---->>>

I dislike pastiche; it attracts attention to the language only. ---->>>

I spend a lot of my time talking to the dead, but since I get paid for it, no one thinks I'm mad. ---->>>

The more history I learnt, the less interested I got in winning arguments and the more interested in establishing the truth. ---->>>

Sometimes people ask, 'Does writing make you happy?' But I think that's beside the point. It makes you agitated, and continually in a state where you're off balance. You seldom feel serene or settled. ---->>>

As a writer, you owe it to yourself not to get stuck in a rut of looking at the world in a certain way. ---->>>

I've got so many ideas, and sometimes the more exhausted my body gets, the more active my mind gets. ---->>>

My thoughts have been the thing I can rely on. ---->>>

Novels teach you that actions have consequences. They help you grow up. ---->>>

Since I was a very small child, I've had a kind of reverence for the past, and I felt a very intimate connection with it. ---->>>

I once dreamed a whole short story. Wrapped in its peculiar atmosphere, as if draped in clouds, I walked entranced to my desk at about 4 A.M. and typed it on to the screen. ---->>>

If you skew the endocrine system, you lose the pathways to self. When endocrine patterns change, it alters the way you think and feel. One shift in the pattern tends to trip another. ---->>>

The novelist has a responsibility to adhere to the facts as closely as possible, and if they are inconvenient, that's where the art comes in. You must work with intractable facts and find the dramatic shape inside them. ---->>>

Concentrate your narrative energy on the point of change. This is especially important for historical fiction. When your character is new to a place, or things alter around them, that's the point to step back and fill in the details of their world. ---->>>

I spend a great deal of time on research, on finding all the available accounts of a scene or incident, finding out all the background details and the biographies of the people involved there, and I try to run up all the accounts side by side to see where the contradictions are, and to look where things have gone missing. ---->>>

The old always think the world is getting worse; it is for the young, equipped with historical facts, to point out that, compared with 1509, or even 1939, life in 2009 is sweet as honey. ---->>>

When you have committed enough words to paper, you feel you have a spine stiff enough to stand up in the wind. But when you stop writing, you find that's all you are - a spine, a row of rattling vertebrae, dried out like an old quill pen. ---->>>

I think if I hadn't become a writer I would just have suppressed that part of my personality. I think I would have put it in a box that I never opened. ---->>>

In my 20s I was in constant pain from undiagnosed endometriosis. With no prospect of a cure, I decided I needed a career - writing - that could accommodate being ill. ---->>>

Novelists, it seems to me, are the very last people who should be asked to comment on the news of the day, and sooner or later, when they have been pilloried for their views, most of them recognise this. ---->>>

Sometimes I fantasize that all my furniture has been destroyed in a cataclysm, and I have to start again with only the stationery catalogue. My entire house would become an office, which would be an overt recognition of the existing state of affairs. ---->>>

You can control and censor a child's reading, but you can't control her interpretations; no one can guess how a message that to adults seems banal or ridiculous or outmoded will alter itself and evolve inside the darkness of a child's heart. ---->>>

I would have been a disaster as a career politician. I would never have toed a party line. ---->>>

When I was thin, I had no notion of what being fat is like. When I worked in a department store, I had sold clothes to women of most sizes, so I should have known; but perhaps you have to experience the state from the inside, to understand what fat is like. ---->>>

Like a historian, I interpret, select, discard, shape, simplify. Unlike a historian, I make up people's thoughts. ---->>>

Fear of commitment lies behind the fear of writing. ---->>>

For many imaginative writers, working for the press is a fact of their life. But it's best not to like it too much. ---->>>

I didn't cry much after I was 35, but staggered stony-faced into middle age, a handkerchief still in my bag just in case. ---->>>

I am usually protective of my work, not showing it to anyone until it has been redrafted and polished. ---->>>

I'm a very organised and rational and linear thinker, and you have to stop all that to write a novel. ---->>>

When you get fat, you get a new personality. You can't help it. Complete strangers ascribe it to you. ---->>>

Like every writer, I'm drawn by unlikely juxtapositions, precisely-dated and once-only collisions between people from different worlds. ---->>>

Like many people, I am addicted to the physical act of reading. ---->>>

Memory isn't a theme; it's part of the human condition. ---->>>

My first two novels were very black comedies. ---->>>

Psychics tap into what is collective: our regret and our sense of time going by; our common repression and anxieties. ---->>>

'Show up at the desk' is one of the first rules of writing, but for 'Wolf Hall' I was about 30 years late. ---->>>

What fascinates me are the turning points where history could have been different. ---->>>

When you write, you are not either sex. But when you're read you are definitely gendered. ---->>>

Writers do not want to think they are less rational than other people, and at the mercy of compulsions, but in their hearts they know they are like those people who are taken for walks by their dogs, towed through hedges and ditches by an untrained sub-human energy. ---->>>

Writing comes from that territory of being invalidated. But I had a sense of purpose, too. I wanted to stop apologising for my health, and I thought I might do some good. ---->>>

Fiction leaves us so much work to do, allows the individual so much input; you have to see, you have to hear, you have to taste the madeleine, and while you are seemingly passive in your chair, you have to travel.

Fiction leaves us so much work to do, allows the individual so much input; you have to see, you have to hear, you have to taste the madeleine, and while you are seemingly passive in your chair, you have to travel.

It follows that if you are not a mother you are not a grandmother. Your life has become unpunctuated, whereas the lives of other women around you have these distinct phases. ---->>>

It is difficult to know how the Tudors actually spoke because we're going back before Shakespeare; much of the drama from that period is courtly, allegorical. ---->>>

Life being so short, and the possible books to write so many, it's good to function by night as well as by day; but would anybody become a writer if they realised at the outset what the working hours were? ---->>>

My childhood gave me a very powerful sense of being spooked. I didn't know whether what I was seeing were sensory images of other people's unhappiness. Perhaps that was just the way the world manifested itself to me. ---->>>

There are plenty of books that tell you how to become a writer, but not one that suggests how, if you want a normal life, you might reverse the process. ---->>>

When narratives fracture, when words fail, I take consolation from the part of my life that always works: the stationery order. The mail-order stationery people supply every need from royal blue Quink to a dazzling variety of portable hard drives. ---->>>

Biography

Nationality: English
Born: 07-06, 1952
Birthplace:
Die:
Occupation: Writer
Website:

Dame Hilary Mary Mantel, DBE FRSL ( man-TEL; born Thompson, 6 July 1952), is an English writer whose work includes personal memoirs, short stories, and historical fiction. She has twice been awarded the Booker Prize, the first for the 2009 novel Wolf Hall, a fictional account of Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in the court of Henry VIII, and the second for the 2012 novel Bring Up the Bodies, the second instalment of the Cromwell trilogy (wikipedia)