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TAIYE SELASI: “When I was 4 I told my mum I wanted to be a writer, and for the next 25 years not a day went by when I did not think about ‘my first book.’

One day I would write my first book so finally just before I turned thirty I thought it was kind of ridiculous that I had managed to get two rather fancy degrees, and have all these jobs, and love affairs, and by this point I hd been to probably 25 different countries, and still I hd written no book.

So I really put my foot down – for myself – and quit my job and I’d been saving money for this moment, when I would just fling myself off the cliff.

Because I was never one who was able to walk into the pool, you know I can’t like, dip my toe. This is what I think of – people say well why don’t you just keep your job and write on the side, but I have a very jealous muse, it’s all or nothing.

So I had to save and quit everything and fling myself into this work and writing the first 100 pages was just magical, because finally I was waking up in the morning and doing this thing that I’d wanted to do my whole life and I’d promised myself that I would do for all of my twenties, now here I was and I was doing it.

Then I got an agent and I signed the book deal and I was afflicted by almost half a year of writer’s block – which I don’t think has anything to do with enjoying writing prose any less but rather with this sudden fear that came with the realization that someone’s actually gonna read my book.

It had always been…all of these years more or less for me, and then, [s0] that I can live off this work it has to be for [laughs] you too.

The realization came one hundred pages into the novel which just happened to be when I found my agent and signed the book deal and it took me the better part of six months to work up the nerve to keep going and then once I did, and I’d also sort of suffered this really spectacular heartbreak and

[laughs]

it all happened at the same time but I’m glad that it did, because then, the clouds parted, the rain cleared and then I wrote the next 200 pages with as much joy and momentum as I had the first hundred – just six months later!

So it took two years altogether but really it was more a year and a half of actual work, and edit, and this that and the other.”

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An excerpt from a lovely interview recently conducted by R. Teresa O’Connell and posted on her blog RTOC. Read the full interview HERE

Post Image from Taiye Selasi’s instragram HERE.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

One Response to “Taiye Selasi on Having a Jealous Muse” Subscribe

  1. Theresa Doghor 2014/10/08 at 09:32 #

    You sound just like me
    Except I have not finished my book yet

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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