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 […]

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 […]