Thursday, November 10, 2011

Slowing Down With Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith might just be the reigning queen of author readings. Last night at NYU, she read selections from the novel that she's been writing over the last eight years. I've always admired her amazing dialogue, but hearing her act out different characters totally blew me away. She wasn't being overly theatrical or anything, but I could see how she pictured each voice in her mind, and how she took great care to capture it just so on paper. Her pacing and word choice are thought out entirely, and the result was beautiful.

Here's something she said that hit home in the frenzy of my goals and being done, done, done already:
"It's not the typing that takes time. To type a novel would take six weeks, or not even that.  It's the mental blocks and those kind of horrors. But say you even wrote 500 words a day, which is nothing, you would have several novels completed in a year. But no one does that, because it's actually tough to find 500 words that you like. That's all the trouble."

Definitely an interesting thought to hear in the middle of National Novel Writing Month. The energy of NaNoWriMo is absolutely captivating. And we all don't have the luxury of working on a novel for years and years. But it was also refreshing to listen to her talk about her process, and how getting 500 words down isn't just difficult, it's almost painful. I'm inspired to take a little more time getting moods and attitudes right, to read my work aloud in different voices, and to obsess a little bit more over stringing together beautiful sentences.


  1. I love the idea of slowing down to get the write words. I think a lot of writers (me included) feel pressured to finish their books quickly, so they can get published ASAP. As if the chance to be published will be gone if you take your time to write your book. It makes more sense to take your time and write the best book possible.

  2. I definitely feel that pressure! And it comes from a great, energetic place, but I honestly love this reminder to slow down sometimes. Maybe we need a slow writing month :)