Posts tagged Writing

See What I Did There?

Has anyone else noticed an annoying trend in contemporary writing? OK, there are probably several that spring to mind (“I was sat?”), but the one I’m thinking about today is “See what I did there?” You’re likely to encounter this phrase any time the writer has used a rather obvious pun, but it could appear after any piece of wordplay. Here’s an example from the Washington Post: “The Chargers, on the other hand, have an electrifying offense (see what I did there?).” You see, he’s talking about the Los Angeles… Read More

Parkinson’s Law and the Pull of a Deadline

It was like a nightmare. I was entering a $100,000 essay contest, and it was deadline day, with plenty of work still to do. Then I noticed with horror that the deadline was not midnight, as I’d thought, but midday. My first draft was written, but it still needed a lot of work. I’d planned to spend all day polishing it—a nice, leisurely 14 hours or so. I now had two hours. Deadline 1, Caffeine 0 Here’s the thing, though. When I thought I had until midnight, my mind felt… Read More

A Story From a “What If?” Moment

One evening in Crete, a couple of years ago, I saw something that made a lasting impression on me. A small boy, maybe eight or nine years old, sitting in front of a large green rubbish bin, with an accordion in his hands and a mournful-looking dog by his side. He wasn’t playing the accordion, but just holding it and gazing at nothing in particular. I felt compassion, of course. But I also felt that the scene had been highly orchestrated to produce exactly that response. I felt sorry for the… Read More

Creative block? It’s not about the time

It can be hard to find the time for things we want to do, whether it’s writing a book, completing artwork, learning to speak Russian, or anything else. Life is busy, we say. I don’t have time. The thing is, that’s not strictly true. In even the busiest lives, there are pockets of time in which extra things could be accomplished. But these are times when we’re either too stressed or too tired to do anything worthwhile. What’s missing is not the time, but the mental energy. For example, I… Read More

New Bitmead Bursary Winner Announced

Winning the Luke Bitmead Bursary back in 2008 changed my life in many ways, some of which I’ve detailed on the blog before. One thing I haven’t written about so much is the wonderful people it introduced me to, most notably Luke’s mother Elaine Hanson. Losing a son is one of the hardest things for a human being to experience, and losing that son to suicide at a young age must be even harder. Elaine has had the strength to create something wonderful from the wreckage: an annual prize that gives money and a… Read More

I’m back!

It’s been a great couple of weeks. Total silence really did me some good. I realised how much noise I have in my life, even though I live in quite a peaceful, rural location in Crete. Not talking or communicating in any way for ten days was fascinating. On the first day, my mind was all over the place, and I couldn’t meditate for more than a minute without following some ridiculous train of thought. But gradually, day by day, hour by hour, my mind cleared, and it became natural… Read More

Generalities are the enemy of good writing

That was quite a general statement, so let me explain. Good writing involves seeing something in a fresh way, and that means seeing it for itself, not for its category. I was sitting here writing this morning, and saw a fly land on my desk. I was about to swat it away, but then I stopped seeing it as a fly, and started to see it as an individual creature. I watched it closely. I watched it reach up and clean its wings with its back legs. I watched it… Read More