On being bossed around by Neil Gaiman

I’ve been outlandishly busy in recent weeks. So much so that I haven’t been able to post anything personal here on my blog. One of the costs of having more freelance writing than you can do is that it squeezes out the personal projects that you love. So here’s a round-up on some of whatContinue reading “On being bossed around by Neil Gaiman”

Can you teach writing?

Is the wrong question. What we should ask is, can you learn writing? To which the answer is an unequivocal YES! All writers teach themselves, through an intense and lifelong process of reading, writing, critiquing, editing, rewriting and rereading. This is how we learn. In this process, a good teacher can save you immense timeContinue reading “Can you teach writing?”

How to work with theory without snuffing out your creative spark

I spent much of the last weekend live-tweeting from Weird Council, an academic convention on the writing of China Mieville. Many clever people were in attendance, many clever things were said. I only understood about half of them but felt quite good about getting that much. As a good friend of mine says, if moreContinue reading “How to work with theory without snuffing out your creative spark”

Why Sense of Wonder sucks

Many writers of fantasy fiction describe their work in terms of its ability to evoke a ‘Sense of Wonder’ in the reader, and go out of their way to find sources of ‘wonder’ to energise their stories. This is self-defeating in the most serious kind of way. Stories that attempt to create a ‘Sense ofContinue reading “Why Sense of Wonder sucks”

Feel THE FEAR…and write it anyway

I did a little whoop of joy, followed by a nod of recognition when I received¬†Gareth L. Powell’s guest post in my email inbox. The first because Mr. Powell is among Britain’s very best science fiction authors. The second because like every writer, I recognise THE FEAR that Gareth describes. You will no doubt recogniseContinue reading “Feel THE FEAR…and write it anyway”

The Unspecified Reader

[pullquote]I felt that the indispensable relationship I should build in my life was not with a specific person, but with an unspecified number of readers. Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I talk About Running [/pullquote] So a captain is married to her ship, and a novelist is married to her readers. Earlier thisContinue reading “The Unspecified Reader”

Workshop : Narrative

The second in a short series of posts accompanying workshops being taught for the Certificate in Creative Writing at Vaughan College. This post is on narrative, and why it is both a simple and deliciously complicated idea. In Reading Like a Writer, novelist Francine Prose says that the true problem with narration is not whoContinue reading “Workshop : Narrative”

Writing is hard, lonely, low paid work

I think we need to spread the following meme as far and wide as possible: “Writing is hard, lonely, low paid work.” It’s a stark message, and perhaps lacking some nuance. But it needs to be to impact the growing legions attracted to writing as a pathway to celebrity, status and wealth. Those people needContinue reading “Writing is hard, lonely, low paid work”

Why a book is not a film

There’s a nice idea in the Ricky Gervais movie The Invention of Lying, where in a world without lies, films are now factual scripts read by their authors directly to a camera. Without lies you can’t have fiction. Or actors. In fact you can’t have films as we know them. Films are treated like books.Continue reading “Why a book is not a film”

Good curation is much more valuable than cash

A good friend has just sold a debut story to an excellent but non-paying market. There are a lot of markets for short fiction. Many of them are bad. Some of them pay. Some of the ones that pay the most are the worst. In the world of short fiction money is a very badContinue reading “Good curation is much more valuable than cash”

Emotions when writing

Don’t underestimate or ignore the emotional and psychological challenge of writing. More writers are defeated in this arena than by lack of skill or imagination. Writing can be joyous and fun. But it can also be strenuous, isolating and, sometimes, downright scary. Every piece of writing is a journey. Some longer or shorter than others.Continue reading “Emotions when writing”

Picking up the threads

As a writer, you have to trust that your work will get better each time you come back to it. Very few writing projects are started and finished in one sitting. Even a short story requires planning, writing, re-writing, editing. Novels can take months and years to go from flash of inspiration to final manuscript.Continue reading “Picking up the threads”