Friday, June 23, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Michael Marshall Smith


British novelist, screenwriter and short story writer.
Michael Marshall Smith
I'm not a great believer in writing courses, though it must be said I've never been in one. It probably depends on what kind of writer you are. I'm very un-analytical about what I do. I don't plan much for the first draft. I try to let characters come out by themselves, rather than designing them. But other writers work differently, and for them the teaching process - which at least forces you to consider what you're doing, and why - may be very helpful. At the very least a creative writing course mandates someone to spend a period of their life just writing, which can be hard to do otherwise. But beware of thinking too much about what you do.
Smith quotes
I'm not sure I'd want to pick the brain of any author. Some writers have a lot to say about what they write and why they write it. Others don't. I've met a lot of writers who have an awful lot to say in the bar, but whose books seem curiously empty.
Smith
Nobody likes to see a body, but it's better than seeing a ghost. Bodies just make you doubt the world and the people in it. Ghosts make you doubt everything, and to doubt it in a part of the mind that has no words to answer the question, where the comforting promises you make yourself are neither believed nor even really understood.




Smith Michael Marshall quotes
As he drove, he was conscious of the web around him. The web of streets, of people, of places, and of things. The other web, too, the new world. This parallel place, with email address private driveways, it sdotcom marketplaces. You could find out so much there, running reality through your hands likea god's. Everything on the web is information; but everything is on the web, these days; so the world has become information. Everything has become an utterance of this thing, of this bank of words and images: everything is something it is saying, or has said. It's about buying, and looking, about our habits and desires, about contact with others, about voyeurism and aspiration and addiction. It is us boiled down — our essence, for better or worse. It is no longer passive. It is telling the story of us, and sometimes that story needs work.
Smith Michael Marshall
Must be a strange life these days, for toes. A simple twist of fate and they could have been the big boys, the much-feted opposables, spending their days busy carrying things and controlling machinery and touching interesting parts of people's bodies. They don't get to do any of that. Instead they just get pushed into small, dark leather places and forgotten about, and when they're let free they often seem little more than a strange fringe on the ends of your feet.
Michael Marshall Smith quotes
It was dry and cold, not bitter, but with the kind of steady chill that makes it hard to remember being any other way. I tried to imagine people living out here once, and couldn't. It must have been long ago. The land felt like it didn't want anyone bothering it anymore.
Michael Marshall Smith
First time you hear something, it sounds outlandish and broken and like it doesn't make sense. But once it's been in your head awhile it's as if the other thoughts in there wriggle out of the way to give it some room.
Smith Michael Marshall quotes
I've made my best notes sitting outside cafes on busy streets, or in murky bars in foreign cities. I sorted out a big series of problems in the novel I'm just finishing while sitting drinking a long line of solitary beers in a bar in a small coastal town. The hangover was pretty brutal, but I'm not sure I'd have found the solutions any other way. Part of the job of being a writer is learning how your head works - when to push it, when to step back. This kind of self-management is actually far harder, I think, than learning how to write decent prose.
Smith
My limited experience of such things told me that you get closest to the truth by not giving it advance warning that you're coming after it.
Smith Michael Marshall
I realized then why we respond to the sound of the waves, and the falling of rain, and wind in the trees. Because they are meaningless. They are nothing to do with us. They are outside our control. They remind us of a time, very early in our lives, when we did not understand the noises around us but simply accepted them in our ears; and so they provide blessed relief from our continual needy attempts to change our world in magic deed or endless thought. Meaningless sound, which welove against the anxiety of action, of pattern-making, of seeking to comprehend and change. As soon as we picked up someting and used it for a purpose, we were both made and damned. Tool-making gave us the world, and we lost our minds.
Michael Marshall Smith
It had taken me a while to work out what I got from this. You didn't watch in the hope of seeing something exciting. Just the opposite. You watched because the very lack of discernible activity, of presented subject matter, made the view itself seem more real. If you watch something in particular, all you see is that thing happening. You see the moment, the event, and you are distracted from the long, slow tide of eventlessness underlying it. If you watch nothing, then you see everything. You see the thing as it is.




Michael Marshall Smith quotes
Hell is being alive, and being alive is all there is.
Michael Marshall Smith
My favourite memories involve the actual process of writing sketches - just a few guys lounging around in a room talking nonsense, until suddenly an idea would start to coalesce, and you'd start nudging it toward fruition. I've never laughed so much before or since. Also, there were those very, very few nights where you'd be on a stage and some strange contract developed between performers and audience, and everything you did was funny. That was magical - and a direct visceral experience that you never really get from writing prose.
Smith quotes
The curse of the middle-aged man was knowing — or believing — that he'd told all he had to tell. Soon as you suspect that, you started wanting something, anything, to prove it wasn't so: and that's where the mistakes started, when the bad things happened.
Smith Michael Marshall
There's nothing like the waiting room of any office of the governmentor its allies to remind you of how lucky you are. You enter a nonplace, nontime. You sit on battered chairs in murky blues and greens that nobody ever names as their favorite color. You stare at the signs that have no bearing on you, nonspecific communiqués from the land that punctuation forgot. You wait until the waiting loses all sense of direction or purpose, until you become like a stone deposited in a field millenia ago by a careless glacier. You are here. This is all you have ever known. In the meantime you are stripped of any sense of individuality, of the idea that you might be different from anyone else in the room except by virtue of your particular problem; and so you become the problem, defensively, accepting it as identity, until it swells and suppurates and becomes all you are. As a species we'll tolerate being close to others, but not so close, and not in those circumstances and when we feel so small: we become rows of dry, fretting eyes, hating everyone around us and sincerely wishing our neighbor dead so we can move up one place in the line.
Smith Michael Marshall quotes
All the difference in the world are as nothing compared to this: the difference between being you and being me. It makes the chasms between gods and men, between men and women, between dead and alive, seem almost trivial.
Michael Marshall Smith
A pencil is a simple and predictable piece of technology. There's only one way of it working (it will function when it is sharp), and an obvious failure model(too short, too blunt, no lead). With a car, especially the kind of limp-along rust bucket most of us got for our first ride, it's more complex. There's coaxing involved, especially on cold mornings. There's that noise that never amounts to anything but never goes away, random stalls you begin to put down to the cast of the moon. None of it means it's broken, just that it requires friendly attention, that it has needs. Gradually you acquire a ritualized relationship to it, a bond forged by its unpredictability, by the fact it has to be dealt with. Which is how you come to know people, after all: not by things they have in common with everyone else, but through learning your way around their eccentricities, their hard edges and unpredictable softnesses, the things that make them different from everybody else.
Michael Marshall Smith quotes
The United States is different because I've spent a lot of time there since, and so there's more of a continuum. It's definitely the U.S. that has the deepest roots in my soul. I spent my childhood believing I was English, and would one day be going home. But when we came back to live here, I started to realise how much of me was bedded somewhere else. Whenever I walk out of an airport in the U.S. and smell the air, a bit of me feels it's coming home.
Michael Marshall Smith
One of the big things about being a man, she'd noted, was that being good, doing the work, wasn't enough. It had to be generally acknowledged that here you were, damn well seeing to business.
Smith Michael Marshall
Death is real. Death changes things. Everything else is filler, merely a message from our sponsor.


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