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February 2010

January 2010

The thorny bog and the human whole

One of the boggiest areas of literary, writerly, teacherly and studently debate is this thorny business of subjective and objective judgement. (Is there such a plant as a bog-thorn? If it's not in Cold Comfort Farm, at least, it jolly well ought to be). On one hand, it's often the worst writers who cling to the notion that 'it's all subjective' and 'anyone's view is as good as anyone else's', in the face of a slew of feedback which all points the same way: towards the fact that just about everyone of experienced judgement thinks their writing isn't good enough.... Read more →


Just a quick post to say that at my viva examination this morning, my PhD in Creative Writing was awarded a pass I have a couple of typos to correct, and that's pretty much it. (There are no grades with PhDs. You either pass, or fail). The day had a certain extra spice because one of my examiners was poet and novelist Philip Gross, who the evening before was awarded the T S Eliot prize for his collection The Water Table, and much in demand by the BBC and others. The other examiner, Julia Boffey, is a specialist in medieval... Read more →

As if we'd been there

In A New Use for an Old Christmas Tree I was thinking of how I'd explain, to someone who doesn't understand, how I can be celebrating that the work-in-progress is finished, when it isn't finished. And the more I thought about the image of having built a house, the more I found that the 'snag-list' metaphor fits beautifully. I have two friends who routinely use the phrase: one is an architect, and as I said before, I realise that what I've done is build the house. It exists, standing four-square on the ground, with walls and roof, foundations and floors,... Read more →

Writing courses: the pros and cons

Just a quick post to alert you to a new page in my rapidly-fattening Resources section, on the pros and cons of writing courses. Look over to the sidebar on the right (I'd put a link here, but TypePad's having a small wobble with its text editing tools...) And a very happy first birthday to Help! I Need a Publisher, the one-and-only crabbit old bat Nicola Morgan's remarkable compendium of everything to help the aspiring writer. I'll post a link when I can, but meanwhile, look over to the right, again, where she's in the section called The Writing Life. Read more →

A new use for an old Christmas tree

So, at 3.30 on Monday morning I reached the end of the story of my new novel: I finished it. I went to bed on a high, slept till nearly noon, did ten useful things around the house and then pranced off into a shiny afternoon of sun and frost to do some pleasurable shopping. But it isn't finished. In fact, there's a lot to do yet: it needs a bit at the beginning and a bit at the end, a full line-edit, and working through thirty or so pages of what an inspired writing friend has called the snag-list,... Read more →