Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.
The summer I got to Pittsburgh for graduate school, I house-sat for a Ph.D. student who had a lot of books. One of the books that I found was ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov. That was eye opening. I’ve probably read it every other year since my 20s.
I tell people I never got to hear Dylan Thomas read because my husband wouldn’t let me, because he thought it would be a sort of bad influence. People say, ‘And you didn’t go?’ They’re so surprised because the me they know would have gone. And I say I was very much a ‘yes, dear’ wife.
I worked hard at my four-year M.A., but got a 2.1. That was a big disappointment, as I wanted to write about history and thought I needed a First.
Many years ago, I think I got my first insight on how an incredibly diverse team can work together and do astonishing things, and not just misunderstand each other and fight.
Every device there is in language is there to be used, if you will. Poets have got to enjoy themselves sometimes, and the twistings and convolutions of words, the inventions and contrivances, are all part of the joy that is part of the painful, voluntary work.
Yet if a woman never lets herself go, how will she ever know how far she might have got? If she never takes off her high-heeled shoes, how will she ever know how far she could walk or how fast she could run?
I have a Ph.D. in philosophy and sports science. At 14, I went through this really tough Soviet training system. A lot of my roommates got psychologically broken or physically injured. Either you came through, or you were out. I made my Ph.D. work in the field of young athletes aged 14-19 because at this age any human is changing.
The language has got to be fully alive – I can’t bear dull, flaccid writing myself and I don’t see why any reader should put up with it.
If I could only give three words of advice, they would be, ‘Tell the truth.’ If I got three more words, I’d add, ‘All the time.’