Writing

Blogofear

Well, if I’m going to continue to do this blog thing, I think I need to come clean – I have a bit of a blogophobia. I generally avoid reading other people’s and until fairly recently I’ve tended to think of bloggers as people with far too much time on their hands who suffer under the delusion that...

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The Protocols of the Elders of Creative Writing

We are looking for a name for our writing group. Despite the amount of gossiping and drinking that goes on, the main purpose is mutual criticism. We read each other’s stuff and give detailed feedback. It is all about red wine and red pens. The group was formed over three years ago by fellow blogger...

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All's Well That Ends Well?

I’m on the verge of completing the first draft of my first novel. This may not sound like much of an achievement but I've been working on this novel intermittently for around four years and have always found plenty of reasons not to dig in and get to the last page. In hindsight I’ve spent far too...

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Romantic Appeal

I wonder if the tendency to romanticise is a particularly writery thing? I don’t mean the ‘hearts and flowers’ kind of romanticise – I mean imagining unknown people, places and situations in larger-than-life colour and intensity. When I was younger I was constantly disappointed by the failure of...

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Facing the Dragons

I sat with a page-long extract from one of my stories one morning recently and inserted little upward pointing arrows like this - ↑ -into the text. I was preparing for my appearance that night at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Edinburgh UNESCO City Literature ran Dragon’s Pen, which had...

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On Luck

You need three things to be a writer: talent, hard work, and luck. Writers do not like to talk about this third item as they fear that people will focus on it and forget the first two, but here's a secret: luck is perhaps the most important part. No writer succeeds without little nuggets of luck at...

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I Didn’t Think I was a Poet and Then I Did

One man's journey from novelist and short story writer to published poet

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Reading at Edinburgh International Book Festival

September, and I’m on a bus. Headphones on, music shuffling, leaving the city. August has been fast and lengthy, with all its Edinburgh festivals turned up full volume, its beats-per-minute, its riffs and split-second jumps. A big scrawled mess in my head, with no space for breathing or thinking...

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Reality Bites

There’s been lots of talk about reality at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival. Christos Tsiolkas, best-selling Australian author of The Slap , criticised a collection of European short stories he’d been given, calling them ‘dry and academic’ and complaining that ‘They don’t talk...

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Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty

Reading Billy Letford’s blog entry about roof poetry made me think of the well-known phrase about practicing random kindnesses and senseless acts of beauty. I Googled it and found out from Wikipedia that, “The phrase… may have been coined by peace activist Anne Herbert. Herbert says she wrote it on...

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