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September 2010
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November 2010

October 2010

Waste not, write not

In Jerusha Cowless's most recent missive from the South Seas, she came close to telling a writer what to do. (Clearly Jerusha is not me: I try never to tell anyone what to do, only to unpick the possiblities as clearly as I can. Honest.) Jerusha hinted that a poetry course might be the best way to go beyond the edges of that writer's own commercial-mum-lit-writing nature. And, having read Jerusha's answer, I'm working on a theory that the thing to do when you need/want a break or have got stuck with your writing, is the absolute opposite of what... Read more →


Published, unpublished and taking your proof to bed

Over on Sally Quiller's excellent blog, she's been asking why unpublished writers sometimes seem to resent published writers so, when being published, after all, is what they're all trying for. And that set me wondering more widely about the often uncomfortable relationship between those who haven't ever had their name on something that appears in editorially-controlled print or electronica, and those who have. Sally's talking about the feeling that published writers "don't deserve", for example, to be allowed to enter competitions which appear to be chiefly intended for unpublished writers to get a toe on the ladder. (And "published-only" competitions... Read more →


Bedroom eyes

The perennial question came up: “I'm 30,000 words in, and it stinks. I've a nasty feeling the central idea is no good and the writing's rubbish. Should I keep going? I've got a completely different idea, which is much more promising and likely to work.” I've ruminated before about writerly adultery, and the third-of-the-way-in mark seems to be the writerly equivalent of the seven year itch. When you're cohabiting with a novel, sharing the washing up, mortgage, tricky family stuff and leak in the roof, the Other Idea is so very delightful. It smiles at you in the candlelight of... Read more →


Peering at the horizon

I've known authors who can't concentrate for more than 15 minutes without pulling their head out of their fictional world to click through to their fix, even when they have scary contractual deadlines to meet. I've known some who spent days writing macros so the hit could happen automatically. I've known some whose struggle to withdraw had them staring at the screen, sweating with the effort of Not Going There. Even case-hardened Harry Bingham, novelist, non-fictioneer and director of Writers Workshop, who knows more about the book trade than most of us ever will, has confessed to being ever so... Read more →


Fight, flight and pouring that glass of water

It's amazingly hard, before you're published, to think beyond that glorious moment. But one thing that many aspiring writers know about and are horrified by is how "these days" (Dickens of course being "these days") authors must do all sorts of events, appearances and readings. Since writing has an unsurprising habit of attracting people who are very happy to spend large amounts of time on their own, and who find themselves more eloquent on the page than in person, many of them are terrified. Performance nerves are entirely natural: it's a mild case of fight-or-flight. Actors, musicians and dancers feel... Read more →