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December 2009

November 2009

Under your skin and into your core

The ever-admirable Litlove, of Tales from the Reading Room, asked me this in the comments on the differently fascinating Dirty Sparkle blog: As a writer you've had a great deal of external validation for your work, more than most writers are fortunate enough to have. How will you feel when you get some really stinking reviews? I mean,I hope it never ever happens, but you're going to have to have some solid core of trust in your own work to withstand that, and it can only be developed (I would think) by committing in the act of writing to doing... Read more →

Twisting the tale in cold blood

A lot of talking about writing ponders and circles around the mysteries of inspiration: the genie, the zone, the muse, the cloud of unknowing, the necessity for darkness or music, the fetishism about notebooks or mascots, the alcohol, the drugs, the digging in the garden, the long country walks, the endless games of patience (Heyer's preferred method, along with 'a little gin and benzedrine'). Some of the best-selling - and best - how-to books, including Brande's Becoming a Writer and Cameron's The Artist's Way, are all about such things, and the hands-down winner in the Most Often Asked Festival Question... Read more →

Not the 'right' book

So, I've got the work-in-progress - let's call it Three - which will absorb me for at least another nine months of revising and editing and contracts and editors and stuff. And Four, which I've told my agent I want to write next (up to and including a half-page pitch and a highly provisional title). Then there's the one which I thought was a short story till I took it for a walk in the park: now it's a novel. So is it Five? Or is it so compelling - so much sparklier and meatier - that it should be... Read more →

The tree of life - and other anecdotes

I've been a tad busy this last few days, so I'm afraid this is a bit of a catch-up post. First, I've actually submitted my PhD! I can't quite believe how happy it's made me, not just because the last stages of a research project are notoriously fiddly and tedious and so I've been dying to get rid of it, but because, finally, I realise that I'm actually really quite proud of it. As well as A Secret Alchemy, which I can enjoy again now that the tooth-pulling process of writing it has faded from my memory, I do think... Read more →