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November 2012
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December 2012

But can you teach Creative Writing?

I get asked this amazingly often, considering that no one ever asks if you can teach the doing of other arts, but, just as I took ages to get on to that other old chestnut, "What is literary fiction?" and my own personal Ancestral Elephant, it's taken me till now to sort out what I think clearly enough to answer the question. My answer, mind you, depends on how long I've got, but it comes from someone who wrote for fifteen years before being taught, (and my thoughts on the pros and cons of writing courses are here) but now... Read more →


Forgiveness, chocolate, and why enough is ... satisfactory

If you're a writer, then you're never really happy just to experience something in its moment: there's always a restlessness, a frustration-in-waiting, until you can get it out of your self and onto paper. And you know the phenomenon I was talking about in Opening the Doors, where you've been reading or listening to something and it seems to skin you - or tenderise you, as Alan Bennet's Queen has it? For a while you're extra-alive to the world round you: all six senses, words, images, things strangers say, ideas for stories, and bits of your own memory, and it's... Read more →


From candyfloss to flesh-eating monsters

A friend - let's call her Peta - who writes successfully at the lighter end of women's fiction, including short stories for the womags, has just had one of the more baffling rejections: that her characters lack emotional depth. Her natural writing voice is light and lively, as she is herself, and she doesn't write or read heavily-charged emotional novels. But, as she says The irony is, I am a very emotional, sensitive person in real life! But yes, I do have a very jokey, lightweight side which is what most people who meet me see, and which comes across... Read more →