Reading & Writing

Ten Day Book Challenge: The Final Run

It looks nice outside. I wish I was there. While I’ve been entombed in the flat, locked away like a lighthouse keeper, summer has kicked in, late this year but welcome. London is hotter, bizarrely, but here there is silence. I live in the old town where there are no cars, so the only sounds […]

10 Day Book Challenge: Everyone’s A Critic

I set out to write the final draft of my latest novel in ten days. Now read on: Everybody’s a critic. Yesterday while I was working on the balcony, a parrot flew past and delivered a review. Thank god it missed the keyboard. I’m halfway through my self-imposed time limit on the new book and […]

10 Day Book Challenge: Day 3

So I’m up there, Piso 2, in the dark, at the laptop. It’s lower on the desk than my London screen so I hunch over. I have to lie on my back twice a day and push back my shoulders to prevent my old RSI from returning. You train for these big finishes like an […]

10 Day Book Challenge: Day 2

7:00am This is the 19th century building in which I live, a great stone dungeon that’s ice-cold even in summer (modern architects take note; if you build it properly nobody needs air conditioning). I’m clearly being tested, as today is hot and sunny, skylarks soaring about in the blue. My flat is so dark you […]

Ten Day Book Challenge: Day One

I’ve vowed to write an entire draft of a novel in ten days. Now read on; 6:00am I’m already off to whatever the opposite of a flying start is. I just checked my tickets to find I’m leaving the UK for a week, not ten days, so the word count has to rise dramatically if […]

The Ten Day Book Challenge Starts Tomorrow

This year, for the first time, I slipped behind in my writing schedule. An eye operation forced me to to leave the desk, and while I was incredibly thankful to not lose my sight, my work timetable fell apart. In one way it proved useful because I rethought the next book and changed my plans […]

Should Books Be Shorter?

A story is a journey you undertake to see what happens. The long Victorian novel was a box-set binge; episodes appeared in magazines like The Strand, and had built-in cliffhangers. Crime novels weren’t constructed around hooks; most old Penguin paperbacks didn’t even put a plot synopsis or description of any kind on their jackets. The […]

Careers In Word-Smashing 3: Pleasing Yourself

I don’t know of many writers who admit to being happy. The good ones are deeply critical of their own material; Alan Bennett seems perpetually amazed that anyone would want to read him, and many writers I know are looking to the next work to properly correct the mistakes they see in their last one. […]

Careers In Word Smashing Part II

I tend to look at all writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, novel, TV series, film and stage play, as stories. For me, a story must have enough structure and linearity to provide the reader/viewer with satisfaction. After that anything else can be added; thematic power, surreality, musical numbers, I don’t mind. You had me at […]

Careers In Word-Smashing

What follows is my personal take on how writing as a career choice works; your experience may be different. Beware of the child who says they want to do ‘something creative’ when they enter the workforce. Creativity can appear in any job, but too often it’s used as shorthand for ‘I want to be around […]