Thursday, 28 August 2014

De-isolating the writer



The isolated writer

Writers certainly need solitude and we have to resign ourselves to being alone quite often. In addition we have to have a unique voice and contribute something to our world something that no one else can. Inevitably we work alone.
I’m also an academic and there is an echo of this there. I’m working in my office alone today. None of my immediate colleagues are in the building and even if they were we may not see each other.
Daily I spend between six and ten hours working alone.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The very best type of feedback



Writers should be proactive when sharing their work and ask questions of their readers. They should also be passive and let the reader make their own mind up about a text. These two statements might seem to contradict but if we focus on one very important question, they actually make a lot of sense. We should ask of our readers “What do you understand from this text?”

Friday, 1 August 2014

Newsletter July 2014



I’m back at work now, and extremely busy at the university, getting ready for next academic year. I’m also dealing with students facing resits and new students applying through Clearing, though the real push comes after A-Level day – 14 August.
Today, though, I have a day off because I’ve a demanding dress and technical rehearsal this evening with a choir I’ve joined. This is something extra and over and above the choir I normally sing with. We’re involved with a special project, Honour, that remembers the Great War. Do take a look. It is going to be spectacular. Come along if you live in the Greater Manchester area.    
And if you’re a writer who feels a little isolated, I can really recommend joining a choir. You work with people and singing is good for both your physical and mental health. Find a choir in your local area here.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Paid author visits



Writers should be paid for visits – of course they should. A day in a school, for instance, isn’t just a day in a school. There is all the preparation beforehand, plus several phone-calls and emails to sort everything out, and travel to and from the venue, let alone all those years of apprenticeship in your craft. Hence, I rate such a day at £350 but only get that rarely.
It isn’t all that clear cut anyway.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Pace- getting it right



I don’t mean here the pace in a story though that is of course important. I’m talking here more about pace in the writer’s life.

The difference between selling and not selling and between being published and not being published

We all probably recognise that that has little to do with the quality of the work. Given that the writing is good, it won’t be published unless it gets to the right publisher at the right time and once published it won’t sell unless both writer and publisher make the right sort of marketing moves. We have to be proactive both in sending out to publishers, in marketing our work and creating helpful publicity around it.

Monday, 16 June 2014

One writer’s take on social media


I actually thought I was quite connected. I went to a talk last week and learnt that I was  actually quite disconnected. There are times, you see, when I deliberately don’t plug myself into the net. I’m not one of these people who is constantly trying to keep up with Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and my email even when I’m out and about. I’ll look if I’m expecting something or I find myself idle or bored. I only like on Facebook and retweet on Twitter what I genuinely like.
But if I’m disconnected, some people are totally isolated. And for a writer and an academic who works a lot of the time in isolation, social media is a real gift.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Building Characters



I’ve written about this before and I’ll probably write about it many times again. In my day job as a lecture in Creative Writing at the University of Salford I have just been marking the first attempts of many of my students at writing fiction. Okay, so they’ve probably been doing it since infant school but have had a huge break since then. Now, anyway, we’re looking at it in a more critical way. We’re trying to unpick what the tools are and get a better grip on them.