Wrestling the Octopus: how to avoid writing a novel

At a certain point, a novel-in-progress starts to get a tad unwieldy. When you begin, you have a blank screen and the boundless enthusiasm of a puppy. After a few months you have a mountain of scrap paper scrawled with half-finished paragraphs and synopsis drafts, screeds of ideas jotted down and pinned all over the walls in your office, […]

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Endings

Today I’d like to say a brief word about endings. We hear a lot about beginnings, and how difficult/important they are. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” (Lao Tzu) “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” (Plato) “Every moment is a fresh beginning.” (T.S. Eliot) “For fucksake […]

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Never Too Late

After a difficult year during which I felt no creative impulses whatsoever, I have started work on my novel again, rewriting and editing my way through a second draft. It had been sitting in a drawer for over two years. I’m excited, if a little rusty. I feel very out of practice and I have […]

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Choosing a Title

A short thought today on titles – specifically, choosing one for your story or novel or poem. Each time I start a new post here I am invited to fill in the “Title” section at the top. I used to struggle with this. I tried to come up with something creative and intriguing and clever, […]

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The Book Exchange

I’ve achieved some rather major literary goals this year, and last night I celebrated with two lovely women. There’s me in the middle. (Those holes in my top are a design feature, not a result of drunken undressing in the dark. I wish.) On the right is Joanna, and to the left is Sara: the […]

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That “Aha!” Moment

I’ve just had an “Aha!” moment. It was one of those moments we writers live for, when a sudden flash of elucidation sets your writing morning on fire, reminding you why you’re sitting at your desk sweating blood, struggling to get your story down on the page. This particularly sweet “Aha!” moment came as a […]

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Music to Write By

If I’m lucky, every week I spend a number of happy hours by myself, writing. Music is often my only companion. If I’m really concentrating – trying to craft a particularly tricky sentence, or juggling a complicated plot sequence, I turn it off, but most of the time it is the perfect accompaniment. I’m like Pavlov’s dogs: the minute […]

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The Hurty Bottom and other stories

The most gorgeous 5-yr-old in the universe (aka my daughter, Miss B.) was awarded a certificate at her school assembly this morning. The certificate read: “For writing some awesome stories so far this year. You are trying so hard with your writing!” Miss B. is turning into quite a storyteller. Every morning after mat time the […]

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The Duck Huggle

OMG, my daughter (Miss B.) has beaten me to it. She’s written a book. And it’s good. Gripping, even. She disappeared to her writing corner the other day with paper, a pen and a determined look. More than an hour later she emerged, ink stains on her fingers and that slightly wild look on her face that […]

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Divine Inspiration

So I’m watching my daughter’s swimming lesson at the local pool today. When I say “watching”, I mean periodically glancing up from my writing notebook, where I am frantically scribbling random ideas and brainstorm notes about my novel-in-progress as I try to work out a tricky plot conundrum. Near the end of the lesson the […]

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