Monk-Cohen (My Leonard Cohen Short Story Tribute)

[This is fiction.]   I feel old. My daughters are – of course of course – a different generation, and things young-me couldn’t help but find new and exciting (the first Compact Disk in its display cabinet on the record store counter – slice of silvery, rainbowy future) are relics that, to them, might as […]

9 Things You Need to Write a Novel (#NaNoWriMo2016 repost)

  The first thing you need to write a novel is… Time. The second thing you need to write a novel is… More Time. And the third thing you need to write a novel is… Even More Time. This perhaps seems a bit obvious. But let me explain. Time, More Time and Even More Time are all necessary. […]

9 Things Not to Do in NaNoWriMo

It’s NaNoWriMo 2016, so I’ve quickly put together these 9 Things Not to Do in NaNoWriMo, along with reposting my 9 Things You Need to Write a Novel. I hope you find them useful. They’re based on the bits of advice I most often find myself giving students. Any comments, or additional don’ts, welcomed.   1. Don’t Bore […]

Against “Show, Don’t Tell” (With Walter Scott)

‘Show, Don’t Tell’ (like ‘Less is More’) has become a cliché of creative writing teaching. It’s usually associated – to my mind at least – with American minimalist writing. Not just the more recent instances, such as Lydia Davis and Mary Robison. And not the middle distance of Ann Beattie, Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff. […]

Music Sounds Better With You

Sometimes someone says something you’ve been trying to say (to yourself as much as anyone) for years. In a recent issue of Wire magazine (well, November 2015), Bridget Hayden supplied the copy for their Inner Sleeve column. This feature allows a musician or producer to talk about the cover art, usually to an L.P., that has meant the […]

Politics

I find Politics dangerously embarrassing.   Dangerously, because my embarrassment about it makes me quietly leave the debate (any debate) to others. Dangerously, because everyone should involve themselves in politics (because politics has always already involved itself in them, not least in the formation of them as them (and, somewhere, as part of many bigger […]

The President of the Union – Michael Gove

In 1988, I was an ambitious student journalist at Oxford University. Having missed out on the editorship of Isis magazine, I went for that of DEBATE: The Oxford Union Review – along with my co-editor, Samira Ahmed, now of the BBC. At that time, the President of the Oxford Union was Michael Gove, now of the […]