Zen and the art of genius

Have you ever been in the state of “flow”? Everything seems easy and effortless. Problems that would usually stump you for hours you can now solve in minutes. I’ve had those states sometimes in my writing. The words pour out…

Achieve happiness, in three easy steps?

I was in an American-style steak house here in Barbados a few weeks ago, trying to write but being distracted instead by the TVs ┬áin every corner of the room beaming out different cable channels: sport to the left of…

Guardian feature on independent bookshops

I’ve lamented the decline of independent bookshops on this site in the past, so was pleased to see a Guardian special section on independent bookshops last weekend. It’s available online – I was particularly interested in the listing of all…

10 hours to live – please act now!

Troy Davis is almost certainly innocent, but he is still scheduled to be executed at 7pm EST today (midnight UK time). There is no physical evidence against him – he was convicted of murder purely on the testimony of witnesses,…

London rioting

I live in Haringay, the same borough as Tottenham, where the riots started that have since spread across London. If you take the 41 bus from the corner of my street, you’ll be in Tottenham in 15 minutes or so.…

Apocalypse

I like it when fiction writers have something to say about the world. I mean the real world, beyond the world of books. Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, wrote an excellent article in the…

RIP Brian Haw

Was saddened this week to hear of the death of peace activist Brian Haw. There are not too many people in these times who live completely honest lives. We may have our opinions about the way we’d like things to…

Happy Birthday, Amnesty!

This weekend marks the 50th birthday of Amnesty International, an organisation I’ve been a member of since I was a teenager. It started with Peter Benenson being outraged at the imprisonment of a couple of Portuguese students for raising their…

Living like it’s 1972

Read an interesting article by George Marshall in the New Internationalist recently about cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80%, a seemingly impossible task until you realise that this would only mean returning to the levels of 1972. I was quite…