The challenge for anybody working with words is entirely the challenge of language. It’s a problem that language for us is the speech of the everyday. It’s our shopping list, our laundry list as well as our poetic expression. No other art form suffers from this so particularly. When you give people a book, or when they think about writing a book—which is one reason why so many people write and do it so badly—they don’t know how to make the distinction between the language of the everyday and a poetic language. This is absolutely necessary for the stuff of fiction. Unless you are prepared to heighten your language, to intensify it to such an extent that it absolutely leaves behind the commonplace vernacular that we all use in order to get by, then you cannot really say you’re a writer. All you’re doing is using what’s available, and using what’s available with no work isn’t art.

Jeanette Winterson

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