Writing Well and Writing to Get Well: A series of events on Creative Writing and Mental Health

Along with my colleagues at Birkbeck College, Richard Hamblyn and Lily Dunn, I have been organising a big series of events to deal with this question – What can writers and teachers of Creative Writing learn from psychiatry, neuroscience, and other medical disciplines about the links between creativity and mental illness? We are delighted to announce […]

Howard Hodgkin

I interviewed Howard Hodgkin for Modern Painters in April 2006. He was, although charming, about the most difficult interviewee I’d ever faced. He was also a gift of a painter – one who made painting seem a delight, although he found it an agony.   The interview went very well, after we’d abandoned it. Forced […]

Meeting People Is Easy – Get Published in a Great Anthology

  I wrote this little essay on fame, bands, Jack Nicholson and new writing as the introduction to Birkbeck’s annual short-story anthology MIR13 (The Mechanics’ Institute REVIEW).     A new issue of this, MIR14, is being compiled right now. It is taking UK wide submissions until Friday 10 February 2017. Details on how to submit here. So, […]

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 […]