There's no such thing as a life that is not normal, or, there's no such thing as a life that is not abnormal. We all have amazing lives; we all have very dull lives.
Recently I read the stories I wrote in my early 20s, to put in a volume. And here is this brittle young woman, writing about marriage as, not the worst thing, but the most boring thing that could happen to a person. Now I think I was wrong. I like to be proven wrong.
Ireland is a series of stories that have been told to us, starting with the Irish Celtic national revival. I never believed in 'Old Ireland.' It has been made all of kitsch by the diaspora, looking back and deciding what Ireland is. Yes, it is green. Yes, it is friendly. I can't think of anything else for definite.
There often is a dark secret in books... There is often a gathering sense of dread; there's a gap sometimes in the text from which all kinds of monsters can emerge.
There are certain books that should be taken away from young writers; that should be prised out of their clutching fingers and locked away until they are all grown up and ready to read them without being smitten.
It is very hard to trace the effect of words on a life.
The writing day can be, in some ways, too short, but it's actually a long series of hours, for months at a time, and there is a stillness there.
To be able to have the space to sit down and write has always been my central policy.
When I'm working, I'm not so much disciplined as obsessive. I have this feeling that I need to clear everything away and get this down.
Naming is nice. It took me days before I was able to speak a name for my first child (what if people did not like it?), and I suspect we gave her a secret, second name as well, to keep her safe.
People think motherhood involves a lot of domestic labor, and it doesn't. It involves being nice to your children as often as possible. That's part of my trick. I don't have that anxiety about meeting their needs.
I do wish I could write like some of the American women, who can be clever and heartfelt and hopeful; people like Lorrie Moore and Jennifer Egan. But Ireland messed me up too much, I think, so I can't.
If your life just falls apart early on, you can put it together again. Its the people who are always on the brink of crisis who dont hit bottom who are in trouble.
I have a small room to write in. One wall is completely covered in books. And I face the window with the curtain closed to stop the light hitting the computer.
I think young children in the Western middle classes are objects of incredible anxiety.
I write anywhere - when I have an idea, it's hard not to write. I used to be kind of precious about where I wrote. Everything had to be quiet and I couldn't be disturbed; it really filled my day.
God, I hate my family, these people I never chose to love, but love all the same.
The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful, typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.
My kids are supposed to live till they are one hundred. You don't have to have a perfect house or a perfect relationship with your child or a perfect child, and you yourself do not have to be perfect.
Only bad writers think that their work is really good.
Write whatever way you like. Fiction is made of words on a page; reality is made of something else. It doesn't matter how "real" your story is, or how "made up": what matters is its necessity.
There are men who would do anything, asleep, and I'm not sure what stops them when they wake. I do not know how they draw the line.
People whose lives are upside down often read fiction. When you're not sure where you'll end up or how you are going to be, and you're looking for some way forward, fiction is a great friend.
Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about the world. Find a place to stand.
Try to be accurate about stuff.
I have no place left to live but in my own heart.
Sometimes I will spend two or three days not speaking to anyone outside of the immediate family when they come home, and then I find that I've been emailing like fury. Once you give in to that silence, it's quite nice.
I am interested in levels of brain discourse. How articulate are the voices in your head? You know, there's a different voice for the phone, and a different voice if you're talking in bed. When you're starting off with a narrator, it's interesting to think, where is their voice coming from, what part of their brain?
Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.
People do not change, they are merely revealed.
We do not always like the people we love- we do not always have that choice.
I do not think we remember our family in any real sense. We live in them instead
There are so few people given us to love. I want to tell my daughters this, that each time you fall in love it is important, even at nineteen. Especially at nineteen. And if you can, at nineteen, count the people you love on one hand, you will not, at forty, have run out of fingers on the other. There are so few people given us to love and they all stick.
I was raised in a very old fashioned Ireland where women were reared to be lovely.
When you find yourself alone, or in a transition, you dream more. These are also the times when you read books.
I'm quite interested in the absolute roots of narrative, why we tell stories at all: where the monsters come from.
If you can just actually let the character be for a bit, then you get the right sense.
I'm very keenly aware that there aren't very many women writing literary fiction in Ireland and so that gives me a sense that what I say matters, in some small way.
If you try to control it too much, the book is dead. You have to let it fall apart quite early on and let it start doing its own thing. And that takes nerve, not to panic that the book you were going to write is not the book you will have at the end of the day.
Remember, if you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day, not counting weekends, it changes you. It just does. It may not improve your temper, but it fixes something else. It makes you more free.