Antonia Fraser’s writing day

Fortunately for writer and historian Lady Antonia Fraser, she was pronounced as “uppity” when she was a girl attending convent school. The nuns, for some reason she doesn’t specify, didn’t like her.

They decided to punish by making her spend her Saturday mornings learning to touch type.

“In consequence,” she writes, “I’m a touch typist – actually the most useful skill I ever acquired; so much for uppishness.”

Fraser walls herself off for three hours in the mornings and writes “ferociously.” Then she stops, has lunch, exercises and does other things in the after. In the late afternoon, she edits and revises what she had done in the morning, but it’s at a much more languid pace.

The reason that this pattern of work-in-the-morning-only is something so deeply ingrained in me, is that I began trying to write history seriously when I had six children born in 10 years. I have actually written all my life, but history was It. So I devised a way of working like a bat out of hell, or anyway a bat out of the nursery, the moment I could cram the children into cradles, kindergartens, schools … with the wild hope they would stay there. (There are wicked stories of notices on my door saying “Only come in if you have broken something”, which I utterly deny.) Under the circumstances, I never ever suffered from writer’s block. Source: Antonia Fraser: ‘I was forced to learn typing as a punishment for being uppish’ | Books | The Guardian

All this comes from a brief and delightful description that Fraser gave of her day to The Guardian a couple of years ago. If you are interested in how a good writer writes, you will want to read this.

Fraser is the author of many tomes of history (Mary Queen of Scots, Cromwell The Lord Protector, Marie Antoinette: The Journey, etc.), a couple of memoirs, and a detective series — among other works. She writes and gives her full powers to it.

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About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.
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