Margaret Atwood

On whether there is an evolution in Atwood’s work toward a larger focus on the world:

I think the focus has become wider, but surely that happens with every writer. What you do first is learn your craft. That can take years. In order to do that, you have to pick subjects that are small enough for you to handle. You learn how to do a good job with that. Of course, in the larger sense, every novel is—at the beginning—the same opening of a door onto a completely unknown space. I mean, it’s just as terrifying every time. But nevertheless, having made the journey a few times, you have little guideposts, little signposts in the back of your mind. One of the most salutary things is writing a novel that fails, doesn’t work, or that you can’t finish, because what you learn from these failures is often as important as what you learn from doing something that succeeds. The prospect of having it happen again isn’t so terrifying because you know you got through it.

~the PARIS REVIEW, Issue 117, Winter 1990

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