Here, with Madeleine L’Engle: I know my best work is unself-conscious. When I�m really writing, I�m listening, and I�m not in control. That�s when I finish and look back and say, �I wrote that?�
Lloyd Alexander, in an interview with some students: First, read as much as humanly possible. Read everything – fiction, nonfiction, history, biography, poetry, science, everything possible. You can’t read everything that’s been written, but you can try. Second, write as much as you possibly can. Write stories or poems. Keep a journal, keep a diary. Write notes to yourself, or whatever comes into your mind. It doesn’t matter what it is. Don’t even worry whether it’s any good or not. If it’s bad, throw it away. Nobody will ever know. It’s a matter of practice, writing, the same way that a pianist practices the scales, or a ballet dancer who constantly exercises. Simply do it continually. It really does help. It’s a matter of getting fluency, of not being scared of blank paper. It starts a good habit pattern. Writing every day, even if you have to throw out what you’ve written, is marvelous practice. It builds up the kind of discipline you need to keep on working no matter what else happens. Third, be as alive as possible. By that I mean be open to all your experiences. Look at things carefully, listen to things, look at the world around you. And be sensitive and responsive to it. Oh, and there’s one more thing. Hardest of all. Be patient. If you’re patient, you can finally do everything you want to do. This applies to everything. But that’s hardest of all.
Peter Dickinson and writing: If your imagination is really on song, you feed into it four or five elements which are connected with the real world, and they form fixed triangulation points. Anything that you invent has to fit into that landscape somehow or other. Because these elements exist both in your imaginary landscape and in the real world, your imaginary landscape will, to a great extent, map the real world if your imagination is on song. Your imagination is there to build coherent worlds.
Next up, Robin McKinley: Good fantasy talks about our deepest inner selves, about the dreams and longings and hopes and fears and strivings that make us human. The great thing about fantasy is that you can drag dreams and longings and hopes and fears and strivings out of your subconscious and call them “magic” or “dragons” or “fairies” and get to know them better. But then I write the stuff. Obviously I’m prejudiced. Ask anybody on the other side of this chasm that I’ve tried to talk to about it.
And last, but not least, a delightful conversation with Alice Hoffman: The narrative voice springs from a subconscious place so deep I could not tell you where it is. Often I find, I believe, what my characters already know. The author is always the last to know. But I suppose, yes. I have to believe there is a reason for what is bitter. It’s human nature to believe this, isn’t it? The way we survive.