She constantly read aloud

August 6, 2017

Her discipline as a writer was intense. Each novel emerged from a few months in which she wrote through the nights, smoked a lot, slept and ate little. She constantly read aloud what she had produced, to get “the music of the prose” right, and in an alchemical process of cutting and perfecting, she would distil every dozen or so draft pages into one sheet without a single wasted word.

The books that survived this surgery were short. In case anyone called them slight, she would quote Voltaire’s apology when he wrote a long letter: “I didn’t have time to make it shorter.”

Guardian obituary for Beryl Bainbridge

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