Category Archives: Getting stuck in

“Writers don’t need tricks or gimmicks.”

Couldn’t agree more. Leave the tricks to the magicians. Okay, that was a bit hokey in itself. But clean writing, a strong story, and engaging characters doesn’t need gimmicks.

The Daily Post

If you write for an audience — be it millions of strangers or your mom — you inevitably think about how your words appear to others. Very often, this self-consciousness results in overstuffed prose and too-clever storytelling. Here to remind us of the virtue of simplicity in writing is Raymond Carver, a master of narrative and linguistic economy:

“I hate tricks. At the first sign of a trick or gimmick in a piece of fiction, a cheap trick or even an elaborate trick, I tend to look for cover. Tricks are ultimately boring, and I get bored easily, which may go along with my not having much of an attention span. But extremely clever chi-chi writing, or just plain tomfoolery writing, puts me to sleep. Writers don’t need tricks or gimmicks or even necessarily need to be the smartest fellows on the block. At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer…

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Missing Glasgow

Too beautiful outside and too much happening in Glasgow today to be stuck indoors in Dundee. May have to do a bunk and get on a train. George Square here I come.

The Money Behind Literary Festivals

Interesting article from the Financial Times for all you lit fest fans: The Economics of Books Festivals.

Take note of this statement: ‘in the view of another event organiser, the real issue is that publishers have yet to grasp the marketing opportunities offered by book festivals. The same organiser said that no publisher had ever asked him to capture data from an event.’

Publishers may not do this, but I do. Agents rule.



Willing your uterus, and keeping distracted

I did not sleep well last night. I got it into my head that I could will my period to start. If I thought about it really hard and contracted what I imagined to be my uterus, I could make the lining sluff off and my period would start. All that happened was that I didn’t sleep much and I nearly shit my pants. Continue reading


I’ve started something that may gain momentum, and I won’t know how to stop it. Continue reading

Mummy and daddy are fighting

Yesterday Paris worked from the conservatory/house office. She and I got loads done, and it was great working with her, but it felt totally weird being in the house. I could hear Philip and Loraine on the other side of the wall, and I felt like we were intruding. It was almost like when I first started working there and I wasn’t used to being in a home/office/conservatory. Continue reading

Put in my place

Today I was proven wrong…a lot.

First, Knotrune sent over some really good links to discussions about self-published authors. After I’d spent all this time downplaying the whole self-publishing thing, she’s put together some good counter-argument articles.

On this same topic, an article in the Guardian also shut down my theory that self-published authors won’t sell. This guy, Kerry Wilkinson, not only had never written a novel before his first manuscript, but he just willy-nilly uploaded it to Kindle AND made a fortune off of it. (Although, in my favour, do read the article. He wrote the novel for the fun of it — not to make a fortune — and he wrote it based on what he likes to read. Plus, he wasn’t thinking, ‘No this is my novel, no one understands me, I’ll publish it and show the world who’s the master of literature.’ Nope, he wrote the novel based on what readers would want to read. A simple concept, but one not always followed. So in this case, he kind of proves my point.)

Then bloddy R pointed out that I’m a massive hypocrit.

I should probably provide you with a bit of backstory regarding my hypocrisy. I won’t go into too much detail, because that in itself is an entire blog. But in a confessional tone, I should point out why I have no reason to be mad at Pete for relying on me financially for a short time.

I left Pete in Australia (after an extended jaunt to New Zealand) in August and took a flight to Los Angeles, but unfortunately I didn’t know a soul in California.

My original plan was to meet R and M out in LA, then roadtrip it to New Orleans. But things changed when 1) by the time I made it to California, R was back in classes, 2) M had long since left the US 3) I’d run out of money.

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just go back to the UK from Australia? The reason is because I was on a round-the-world ticket. Originally, I had planned stops that went around the world from April to July. But because the job got pushed back and because I was having such a good time, I decided to extend my stay. I had the option to rearrange my flights for later dates, but each time I did this it cost me. By the time August came around, I had a flight booked for LA and then the UK in November, and I didn’t have the cash to change the tickets again.

I had two options: 1) go to the US and stay there until my scheduled flight to the UK 2) pay for a flight back to the UK from Australia. Since I was totally low on funds I picked option number one.

Luckily, my good pal R, who is living in New Orleans, paid for me to fly out from LA when I got there, and then subsequently live with him for a couple of months in New Orleans. Not only did this save my bacon financially, but I really wanted to spend time in the US. It had been my plan all along.

I kept a handwritten diary of my entire gap summer, and one day when I’ve got nothing else to do (ie when I’m jobless or retired) I want to transfer it to the blog. But for now, you’ll have to get the factual uninteresting version.

Essentially, living with Rich was a blast. I hooked up with a few of my bloggy followers in the area (hey Em!), and I met loads and loads of other people (hey T-Beau, hey Jay, hey Frances). New Orleans must be one of the friendliest places on earth. Everyone was so kind, and everyone was so interested in England and Glasgow — to the point of it actually being annoying at times. More than once I’d be chatting with someone, and a stranger would lean over, interpupt my conversation, and ask if I was English. Then when I said ‘yes’, they’d want to have a twenty-minute conversation about it. Kind of too friendly at times. Anyway, people fed me, provided me with (loads) of booze, people offered to let me crash on their sofa, and someone even offered to let me borrow their car. I don’t even have a driver’s license (not in the UK or the US), and they said it didn’t matter.

Being there sincerely changed my life. I’m a little less skeptical than I used to be. (Although, I know my mates would disagree with this as they always say I’m the most trusting gullable person they know. But anyway, I MNM made me more hardened and while the US made me more trusting. So, I guess they balance out and I’m not that different. Anyway…)

When I first got there, I was quite worried about not having any money, so a friend of Rich’s owned a bar/restaurant type thing, and he said I could work their for tips only. Quite illegal, but who was going to notice.

Well, this worked great for about a month, and it’s where I met a lot of my New Orleans friends. Plus, I made great tips — everyone loved my hideous accent. (They think I sound like Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones. I most certainly don’t. For all you Americans out there, the accent Renee is putting on is quite posh. My accent is much less rounded than that. It’s taken moving to Scotland to stop saying ‘Idn’t it’ and ‘Yallright.’)

Unfortunately, Americans are a curious bunch and a few of the regular customers started asking me general questions like ‘How long are you in the US for?’ and ‘What did you do in the UK?’ (They were also gobsmacked that I could take time off and travel for a few months. Evidently they don’t do that there. Not even after Uni or anything. You just work. That’s it. I’ve never met people that worked so hard AND played so hard. Anyway, digressing again…)

So, some of the regulars started asking me about my visa status, and at the time the whole illegal immagrant issue was a big politcal thing. I was never sure what to say, and I had a hard time lying, because if I said I had a visa, they’d just ask me more questions. Eventually, the guy who owned the bar started getting nervous and said that I couldn’t work there anymore. He couldn’t risk getting shut down by immigration.

I’d raised enough money at this point so that I wouldn’t be completely reliant on others, but without these lovely New Orleans people (which I now consider Rich to be one of) I don’t know what I would have done.

So, you can see how I’ve been put in my place. I can’t get angry with Pete for relying on me for a little while. He’s just doing what he needs to do, and he’s doing it for our relationship. I’m sure he could go back to Canada, but he’s trying to sort things out so we can be together.

Oh, and the last way I was put in my place today? Pete went out and got a job. He’s working at a coffee shop and he starts this weekend. He and PoshPhD are out picking up a celebratory Indian takeaway. Looks like I paniced about Pete’s job situation for nothing. That’s right I’m a panicking hypocrit, but at least I can admit it.