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 (#NaNoWriMo2018 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

1. Don’t Bore Yourself When I’m starting a writing class, I usually emphasise that the most important thing in a first draft isn’t the idea, it isn’t the atmosphere, and it certainly isn’t the individual sentences. The most important thing in the first draft is excitement. If you write what you know are in-between bits, they will read as in-between […]

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. […]

Sport – or, What Can Writers Learn From Athletes and Coaches?

This talk was first delivered to students of the Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck on May 3rd 2016. Leicester City won the Premier League, and since then a great deal of the national conversation – online, in newspapers, in corridors – has been, ‘How did they do it?’ The next thing after that, of course, is, […]

W.G.Sebald

    ‘Because I cannot hope to turn again Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something Upon which to rejoice.’ T.S.Eliot. ‘Ash Wednesday’   With W.G.Sebald’s death his books changed essentially. At the time (the 11th of December 2001) I had read only two of them: The Rings of Saturn and Vertigo. I was intending […]