Writing

How to be a Writer, Part 1

It begins in childhood, when you don't know any better. You are little, so imagine being bigger. Imagine being smaller, longer, wider, inflatable, amphibian, in outer space. Make your Barbies into assassins. Make your GI Joes into the Loch Ness monster. Make a mess, make a fuss, make towers of...

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Music to Write By

I used to think that I needed total silence to write. Definitely no radio, television or coffee shops. Then one day, I heard Linkin Park 's 'One Step Closer', and it reminded me of a longer than expected walk I once took along Avalon Boulevard in Los Angeles, after having been at an LA Galaxy...

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Please Be Less Fabulous, George Saunders.

In a recent two-week period, I inhaled the entire, tantalisingly small (but only in volume) body of work of the American short story writer George Saunders . In those two weeks, during the times that I wasn’t incapacitated with envy, I found that everything I wrote came out like George Saunders –...

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Revert to Type

Maybe it is because I have such terrible handwriting that I have always had a thing for fonts and typefaces. From a young age my school projects were festooned with Letraset decals. I loved shading away with a pencil to coax them off the milky sheet, then fixing the letters to the page with a rub...

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Pinning Down the Details

In July, my novel The Girl in the Bunker will be published by Cargo Publishing. To say that this has been a long process would be an understatement - right around the time I began working on the novel, I was on a train from Birmingham to Edinburgh, reading in a tabloid that Prince William had split...

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Procrastination

When it comes to writing, I am constantly at war with my own brain. I'm sure many of you will understand. I sit down at my laptop to tinker at a story and before I can catch myself – before I've even noticed it's happening – I've submerged myself in a world of dead-end snippets of mental tat. I...

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The Importance of Sharing

I don’t care what T.S. Eliot says: January is the cruellest month. The first month of the year brings all the freezing cold weather of December with none of the excitement of Christmas. Hatches are battened down; friends go into hibernation. And five weeks is a long time to wait between pay slips...

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Noise Abatement

A few years ago, before I ever really cared about quiet, I heard somewhere that it was Ivor Cutler who had started the Noise Abatement Society. I mentioned this interesting titbit to my aunt, whose household is a musical one, and who Likes A Perty. She said (I paraphrase, but not much): “Doesn’t...

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Writing When Real Life Gets in the Way

We've all heard the one about the writer's brain being like a muscle: if you don't use it, tone it endlessly and give it what it needs, you suffer a sort of flabbiness of the cerebellum and the place you are destined to suffer is on the page. As I run up hills, I prefer to use the analogy of the...

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The Fear

When Thomas Keneally guested on Desert Island Discs in 2007, he described the act of writing as ‘an exercise in controlling fear – the fear is that you are not a writer.’ I recognized the emotion immediately but struggled to match it to the person expressing it. Thomas Keneally has written over...

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