Sunday, May 12, 2002

Fay Weldon / This much I know / There's a time and a place for everything

Fay Weldon
Fay Weldon

This much I know

There's a time and a place for everything 

Fay Weldon, 70, writer, on the lessons she has learnt in life

Jonathan Heawood
Sunday 12 May 2002 01.57 BST

There's a time and a place for everything - even incest and morris dancing - in fiction.
Therapists say you should learn to live independently after a break-up: not rush into another relationship. Are they mad? Turn your back on God's gift and it may never come again.
Children will call their teacher a fascist because he makes them do things they don't want to, and Hitler called himself a socialist. I'd always prefer a funny fascist to a serious socialist.
When I arrived in London I saw the city as a challenge. I think I've won.
In autobiography you put a kind of shape on to the life. In the first half you set all the questions, and in the second half you answer them.

Which came first, chicken or egg? The egg. You can't go to work on a chicken. Of course I didn't write Go To Work On An Egg. But it's a long and boring story and no one has the patience for it - not even me.
Yesterday's boys are today's girls, guarding their sensibilities and their virtue against predatory attack, demanding commitment, affection and babies.
True creative freedom is these days reserved for children's authors, their editors silenced and their marketing departments struck dumb by the unexpected success of Harry Potter .
The media wears you out, there's so much of it. But it's our only protection against government.
People long for literature to be pure and writers to live in garrets, but someone has to do it, someone has to be morally responsible for society, and the bishops are a bit flaky these days.
Yesterday's truth is today's lie. Ibsen gave the process 20 years and he was right. Feminism started as a revolution, succeeded, and turned into an orthodoxy.
I once killed two friends of the family by putting them in a swimming pool with a diving board but no way out. I could get addicted to playing The Sims, although the game is limited by the imagination of its creators. They have a suburban idea of luxury.

I know that I'm a real writer because sometimes I write a short story just because I want to; not because someone's told me to.
Nothing stops me writing except flu.
A little recognition always goes a long way. Getting my CBE was like a school prizegiving. We stood in a queue with the other great and good, and we chatted a lot and were asked to be quiet by the footmen. (It is possible for the great and the good to become extremely noisy.) The Queen said: 'I believe you write television plays,' and I said: 'I write anything I'm asked, Ma'am.' I have been a royalist ever since.
Women always feel the need to apologise for the weather, as if it was their fault.
I write in short paragraphs because when I began there were always children around, and it was the most I could do to get three lines out between crises.
Learn to write with a computer. I've only recently begun to use a keyboard. It happened because I read one of my own stories in an anthology of mostly American writers, and my handwritten piece seemed gnarled and twisted compared to the easy flow of the other writers who I realised all used computers. So I decided gnarled and twisted was not the path of the future. I've yet to see if it makes much difference to my style.
I would write another sponsored novel [like The Bulgari Connection] if the opportunity came and I could do it with a degree of integrity. A young male Belgian writer has just finished a book sponsored by Harley-Davidson and is getting rave reviews, so it can be done, but not often. Companies have to choose their writer very carefully.
The only historical figure I identify with is Patient Grisel in The Canterbury Tales - a forlorn and self-pitying figure who came to a bad end.
I crave nothing but constant love and attention.


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