Writer’s Quote…Thursday? // Zadie Smith

I’m a day late but I didn’t forget, it’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday! A weekly event hosted by Colleen at Silver Threading where bloggers share their favorite quotes to inspire and motivate one another to keep working and writing. My contribution is from the English novelist, essayist, and short story writer, Zadie Smith.

Zadie Smith was born Sadie Smith, on October 27, 1975, in the north-west London borough of Brent. Her mother, Yvonne Bailey, is Jamaican, and her father, Harvey Smith, is English. As a child she was fond of tap dancing; as a teenager she considered a career as an actress in musical theater; and as a university student she earned money as a jazz singer and wanted to become a journalist.

At Cambridge she published a number of short stories in a collection of new student writing called The Mays Anthology. These attracted the attention of a publisher, who offered her a contract for her first novel.

Smith has written four novels to date.The first, White Teeth was published in 200 and became a best-seller immediately. The success of it gave her, by her own admission, a bit of writer’s block, Her second novel, The Autograph Man, was published in 2002 and was a success but not as much as her first had been. On Beauty was published in September 2005 and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. Her latest novel, NW, was published in 2012 and  nominated for the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

There have also been a few novellas, collections of essays, and some short stories.

Smith is widely regarded as one of England’s most talented young authors; in 2003, she was included on Granta‘s list of 20 best young authors.

Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.

— Zadie Smith

This quote came from a list of Zadie’s 10 rules for writing. The entire list is worth a read but this rule, number eight on the list I believe, is my favorite. See I have been doing this from the beginning, at it isn’t as easy as it seems. When I started writing here my friends got a little hurt that I wasn’t spending as much time with them. I had to explain that I just needed time to write and I needed that time everyday. Even after I explain they all took it pretty personally that I would rather write than talk to them.

I felt bad at first and I would allow interruptions because of it. Then I resented them and finally had to be a little harsh. I told them that this was very important to me. Even though it may just be a little blog, one day I hope it will be more and I can’t do that without dedicated, daily practice. I told them to get on board or to go away. It may sound harsh but as my friends they should be supporting me, not holding me back.

That was over a year ago and now I have found a balance between them and this. They understand that someday I may need more time to myself, but other days I will be there to have fun with them too. It also helps that I have gotten a bit more comfortable talking about writing and what I’d like to do in the future. I think they appreciate me opening up and they can give me ideas, they want to be supportive.

I think that if I had never been strong enough to protect my time and space I would be so much further behind then I am today. I might have just quit since I probably never would have made writing a habit. I am glad I did it, and I am grateful my friends understood.

People who don’t write generally don’t understand the need to do it. They won’t understand why you would rather type stupid words than be with them. They won’t understand that this is just something you have to do. They won’t understand that it isn’t about them at all. You have to be strong. Explain it as many times as you must, or don’t explain at all if you don’t want to. You are a writer and you are entitled to time and space to write goddammit!

Never stop protecting that.

Biographical information via Wikipedia and Goodreads


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