Posts tagged Writing

On showing up

There’s a quote I remember hearing years ago, one of those quotes that really resonated with me and has stuck with me ever since. It was by Woody Allen, I think, and he said something like “90% of life is about just showing up”. I may be misquoting slightly, but that’s the gist of it. Woody Allen said he wasn’t any more talented than a lot of other people, but what made him successful was that he kept showing up when others didn’t. He kept writing even when he was… Read More

Ten years ago: Why I Protest

This post is part of a series of stories and articles I wrote exactly ten years ago, on this day in 2003. Here I talk about my reasons for protesting against the Iraq war, which had just started at that point. For more stories in the series, click here. The dust storm came blasting down Wall Street. Luckily I saw it coming and managed to duck inside before it engulfed our building, blocking out the sun. For several minutes, crouching nervously in the darkened lobby, I tried not to think about… Read More

The endorsements are in!

Wanted to say a big “thank you” to James Miller and Alex Wheatle for being among the first readers of A Virtual Love, and for providing some great feedback. Their words were truncated to fit on the cover, but here are the extended versions: A compelling tale, told from several perspectives, about the identity that people project about themselves in the social media world and the real life identity that we all cannot escape from. A fascinating, modern story that had me gripped. — Alex Wheatle A compelling and very… Read More

What is privilege?

When people hear about my background, they immediately think I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I went to Oxford, you see, and before that to a pretty exclusive private school (pictured), and even before that to a private primary school. Add in some high-flying jobs and a master’s from an Ivy League university in the US, and people form a mental image of something between Prince William and the Great Gatsby. This talk of privilege often makes me defensive. The implication is that I was handed… Read More

Beauty? No, thanks

As a side note to my post last week on the cafes I have killed, I wanted to add one more thing about writing locations. It struck me that in a country with so much beauty, I  have latched onto the ugliest locations in which to do my writing. It seems that beauty doesn’t really work for me, at least while I’m writing. It’s wonderful to look at, wonderful to get inspiration from, but it seems I prefer to get that inspiration before I sit down to write. When I’m… Read More

The cafe killer

I have a confession to make. I’m a natural born killer. Don’t worry – I don’t kill people, or even butterflies. I kill cafes. All I have to do is pick a place to do my writing, go there fairly regularly, and it’ll be closed before the year is out. I’ve even killed a café in Barbados, and I’ve only been here since last December. Here is a partial list of London cafés I have killed: Pick More Daisies (Crouch End) Figo’s Cafe (Crouch End) Messy Mug (Crouch End) Dudley’s Pancake… Read More

Me and Marcel

I was happy to hear that one of my short stories has been translated into Turkish and published in a literary magazine. I was even more tickled to see the list of names on the cover  – amid the Turkish names, a couple of foreigners. Andrew Blackman and Marcel Proust. Don’t worry, I’m not getting delusions of grandeur. I know I’ve got a lot of work to do before I catch up with Proust in terms of literary standing. But it was nice to share a cover with him. The… Read More

The importance of staring out of the window

What does a writing day consist of? The image that comes to mind is of someone pounding away on a typewriter with a fixed, manic expression, surrounded by a mess of coffee and cigarettes and balled up sheets of paper. The reality, in my experience, is somewhat different. First, here’s what Martin Amis had to say about it in a recent interview on Goodreads: Being alone in my study is working, whatever I’m doing, even if I’m just throwing darts into the wall. It’s communing with your conscious mind and hoping… Read More

How not to return from vacation

Coming back from vacation is always hard. If you’re working for someone else, you don’t really have a choice – you just have to turn up to work, and gradually you accustom yourself to the work routine again. But if you’re doing something like writing, which requires motivation from within rather than outside, it’s more complicated. The funny thing is, I know what works. I just don’t always do it. Update: this post has been featured at the Third Sunday Blog Carnival I recently took a month off from writing… Read More