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My erudition

Is not deference

Let me show you

My teeth

The fur upon my chest

My thick thighs 

Broad back

To sweep you

Into my embrace

There is earth not dirt

On my soul

And you cannot wash it off

Once you surrender

Some small part

Of you remains

I clean you with my tongue

Words that speak

A fine, deep knowledge of you

And all your secrets are toys

For me to enjoy

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Two Pages (06/10/16)


  • My throat is healing well. I ended up writing another two pages of Lawful Evil last night, and I find that when I get into it, the focus provides a lovely and effective distraction from my discomfort.  It also helps that these scenes are dynamic, carrying a lot of plot and narrative weight which demanded some focus. I take pleasure in the work itself and I can only hope that subsequent drafts refine what I’ve done so far.
  • I am gearing back up to go into Until She Sings, ahead of the next batch of notes from my agent. I have said before that the quality of the work is the only thing I can control, which is why I am happy to go over work again until I cannot see where it can be improved. That is not to say that I am arrogant about my talents, but different perspectives see things that I will miss. What I can do, which is a manifestation of self-appointment, is to go over it until I am happy with it. If you can answer the questions before they are asked, then it shows you’re someone who takes the work seriously. I do.
  • I finished The Night’s Watch by Sarah Waters this morning, and that was after reading Fingersmith by the same author yesterday. She’s fantastic, and reading a few of her works one after the other, allows me to see her approach, the things that she talks about in the work. We all have our obsessions, our themes and the things that occupy our writing lives. Recognising that is not formula, but focus. Knowing yourself is key to knowing others, same with acceptance and writing is a fantastic method of doing it.
  • So much of what I do, comes from trying a bunch of different things, and seeing what makes me productive. I’m part of a writing group and we set ourselves exercises which challenge us in different ways. I am not fond of the seam of writing exercises which feel like frippery and distraction, a slightly jejune approach that doesn’t feel like anything other than an indirect call for attention. You can choke creativity with hashtags, and the whole industry of ‘writing about writing’ and smattering it with an air of ‘woo’ doesn’t appeal to me. I can talk about the inherent magic and power of the process, but I cannot convince you to feel it. I prefer to talk about the work in pragmatic terms because that’s what works for me. Sweep the floor, wash the plates and put them, write the pages. No one cares about your feelings, they may care about the work. However, if you enjoy it, then enjoy it without concern for the feelings of others, especially me.
  • A general rule of thumb is that I discount anyone who has done more writing about writing than actual writing. It’s still a book, but it’s theoretical to me. I will not deny the expertise or diminish someone’s subjective experience but you can successfully avoid doing any actual writing with a good prescription of conflicting, unwieldy writing advice.
  • Blogging can offer immediate gratification in a way that the traditional process cannot, but to me, the latter is where the true purpose lies. I don’t talk about marketing or SEO because it’s oftentimes an attempt to define the undefinable and it bores me, feels mechanical and rote. It’s all well and good getting people to your blog but what have you got to say when they’re there. I write about what I know, and what I feel. There are no mission statements here, just my talking about what I am doing and thinking about.
  • Westworld was promising. Some interesting concepts, anchored in lovely performances and the leading lady, Evan Rachel Wood is mesmerising, holding her own alongside the likes of Antony Hopkins and Ed Harris. It raised questions and hinted at some disturbing plotlines going forward. I really enjoyed it.

Thank you for reading. Please leave comments, questions and missives below.


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Two Pages (03/10/16)


Yesterday was a major sprint in times of development of my writing projects. I had not intended to finish the notes on Until She Sings, but between Saturday night and Sunday morning, I had gotten ahead of myself and completed the work. Lawful Evil gets worked on daily, and even that warranted three pages. I just did two this morning, and put together some notes for a short story that I plan on submitting to an anthology. I’m waiting on whether one of my stories has been accepted for a charitable anthology at the moment but I keep putting work out there, because to me, that’s how you improve and develop.

So, to counter the slight malaise that comes from having finished something (yes I do get them because I know that if I gave into the impulse to keep writing all the time, then the work gets thin and inconstant. Know when to walk away hungry) I spent the afternoon reading. Marcus Aurelius, which is chockful of wisdom but not an immediate read. I find a degree of comfort and solace in stoicism, it’s a useful way to approach things in life. I then watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, purely for Alan Rickman, who managed to steal every scene he was in. I also dipped into a novella that I am reading for a review on Goodreads.

The time spent, although not actual writing, was still writing. I thought through the next couple of pages of Lawful Evil, the scene structure and how I could tackle the next challenges. I understand myself enough to know that when I can’t write, I can work. I am productive, focused and conscientious about the writing. I perhaps, don’t know how to market myself all that well, but that’s okay. DaVinci couldn’t tap dance, Prince couldn’t direct. There are all things we should be doing but don’t because we lack confidence or experience.  I want the focus to be on the work, rather than me and until I have paid work to show, it would be. Unless I do hashtag choked articles about finding your characters out and twee, little missives which imply I am vastly more experienced than I am. Encouragement is like cake, which most people love but too much of it makes you ill and incapable of doing anything with any degree of achievement or clarity.

General rule of thumb, if someone presents themselves as an authority on something – check to see if they’ve done it or talked about it. The difference is telling. I include Robert McKee in that, and I regularly return to Story for advice on structure and storytelling.

Lawful Evil has been a challenge simply due to my adherence to a project that has conventional scenes and challenges that I haven’t written before. My sucking at it is par for the course, but I’ve failed on similar challenges, learned lessons from them and applied those to the current project with varying degrees of success. It isn’t to say that I am unhappy with the work, just a vague sense of not nailing it. Then, I tell myself that this is an exploratory draft and I can fix what I fail at later.

Ah, the relief of process.

Until She Sings – well I am going to continue combing through that, ahead of any suggestions by my agent, because it shows due diligence on my part and also it stops me getting irritated with little faux pas that I see online, and probably annoy me out of all proportion to the effort made in the first place.

Fuck it.

I loathe the following practices of mainly self published authors –

Auto Direct Messages. I guarantee if you do this, I won’t read your book. If it’s good, I will on point of principle, avoid it. You could email me to ask me instead, tweet and ask for someone to read it and review, those are perfectly acceptable. It’s rude and ugly marketing, it shows a failure to understand that although we are all sold to, and selling to one another, don’t make it obvious.

I had a DM once that read:

I’d drink bleach to get you to check out the free sample of my book. Don’t make me do it! Click it:

No, I’m not providing the click. I even asked if, in return, they’d consider RTing a blog post, after all you’re turning up uninvited and I don’t see why I shouldn’t ask for something in return, seeing as you think it’s perfectly acceptable to put that image in my head.

No response.

Good marketing, if you really need it, offers something interesting.

Even Chuck Palahniuk did it when raising money for Lullaby. That knocked me for six, because I would have thought he wouldn’t have needed to. It’s a fart in a can, when you open it, it stinks and you don’t want to open anything else by that brand. It’s an automatic unfollow.

If your twitter feed is nothing but promotional tweets for your book, scabs of hashtags and Follow Friday then you’re getting muted at best. I like Twitter when it’s interesting opinions, amusing memes and one liners but there’s a set of tools self published authors are using that feel desperate and tone deaf. I feel bad for saying this, because I’ve been there, I did it.

It doesn’t work for me. I consider other people’s feelings too much. I like people to be interesting, who have opinions and feelings about things. I follow a guy called Troy Blackford who posts ordinary tweets – books he’s read, films he’s into, sharing things he’s excited about. I downloaded the anthology he edits, Robbed of Sleep and even submitted to it.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Thank you for reading. Please leave comments, thoughts and questions below.




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Two Pages (14/09/16)

I’m into a scene that brings back the external plot which was a relief. When you’re threading these things together, I often struggle with where to end something and start something else but not to do so in a way that cheats the reader out of closure. I like to end a scene as soon as possible, starting as late into it as I can and making sure there’s a change of value inherent within that. It can be artificial, but oftentimes I work on faith and instinct that there’s a point where you risk exhaustion but can slip evocatively into the next scene.

If not, editing fixes most things.

The writing is stronger, not simply due to working to a grid, because I often delve into moments between characters, have to review it and give myself the problem of moving things back into line but it’s also a lot of reading, contemplation and experience. You get better by doing it consciously. If you do the same thing over and over, if you put up work that’s not edited or ready simply for the hit of recognition and validation then you’re storing up problems in private. News flash, snowflake, not everything I do is gold and it’s the same for all of you too. What you can do is make sure that you’re present with your work, not faux agonies or pretension, but looking to improve without it being a fool’s errand. My latest manuscript is better than my first one, it took thousands of pages to get there but I can see the difference and so can others.

I believe in allowing things to simmer, to develop and retain before throwing it all out there for people. As cheerful amateurs, some of us take it too far, and I speak from experience but as much as it stung, it was a valuable tool by which to gauge my future work. On the other side of that, there’s the paralysis/procrastination element but you find a balance between the two that suits your level.

Keep going is a refrain that sounds like a verbal tic, but I say it because it works and I spent a long time procrastinating about writing before I learned to finish anything. Sometimes I wonder if that was for the best, in having lived and been hurt, and able to write about things that I have experienced or know those who have, that gave me a body of material to draw from. If I had been writing at eighteen? Who knows, we only have the moment that we are in and those moments for me are opportunities to write and live and love.

As it should be.

I’m also, spurred by rejection, writing short stories. There are some on here but these ones are being worked on with a view to collecting rejections, I am aiming for 100.


Please leave questions, comments and insults below.


Don’t leave insults, the world is awash with that and I don’t really want to contribute.


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Two Pages (12/09/16)

A little bit of place setting this morning, nothing spectacular and it was a bit forced but it still got done. An exploratory draft should be an arena where you can perform badly once in a while, whilst understanding that there will always be good days, bad days and indifferent ones. What I do, though, is keep going. There have been days where I’ve been sick, sad, tired, happy, unsettled and aggrieved but there were still pages written that day. Entire books speak to periods of my life, and the inspiration for them is there to me, but the pages get done in order to allow myself to get back and reshape or cut them.

I seldom get precious about it anymore, my commitment is to the truth of the project and within that, I offer up a consistency of work, and a promise that the work will receive my energy and attention. I’m not chasing trends, merely writing the best possible book with what tools and energy I have available to me. I work on my craft and although I am more beset by rejection than by success, these times are important to me. I’m learning all the time, finding joy in the process rather than the outcome and not letting rejection define or limit me.

It’s never personal, they don’t know me as a person, they only see the story and if it doesn’t fit their aesthetic, if it’s not to their standard, then they should reject it. No one owes me anything, no one wants to read my stuff unless there is a compelling reason to do so. It does not stop me writing, and it motivates me to improve. Usually this takes the form of new stories, because perfection is like chasing the horizon, you abandon the work as is, and apply the mistakes to new work instead. I work fast, and when motivated to do so, especially fast indeed. I post less scraps than I used to because when the work is out there, I want it to be presented with the cachet and approval, the quality control of a publisher behind it, in whatever form that takes. An audience deserves the best possible version of my work and if they’re willing to pay for it, that matters. I know that my work will never be as immediate as a viral video or a tweet, but that serves as part of the appeal for me, in the construction to make it worthwhile. I don’t want to change the world, I want to entertain, to make people feel, even if it passes a lunchbreak or makes a dull commute bearable. I want to talk about things and tell stories. I always have but now there is an import behind each day’s writing that drives it onwards.

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Project Laughter 15/09/2015

It was harsh this morning,  I’ve got deep into the pain of the story and I’m showing that through reactions and actions.  There’s also some elements of a history and a world beyond the immediate narrative.  It wasn’t pleasant to write but it was to have written it.

You don’t need to be feeling exactly what you are writing about.  Memory,  anecdote,  experience all play their part but craft allows me to see them as tools to create a scene sourced in emotions and experiences that I’ve not directly experienced but as long as I find the truth of the scene then I just colour inside the lines.

The main thing is to get the work done, then you can refine and develop.  I’m never going to fellate myself for my work because I’m constantly looking forward to improve by my own standards but there’s a quiet pleasure in that.

Writing isn’t glamorous.  Even the worst rock star or actor gets more attention than the best writer but it’s substance that sustains you and it’s emotional alchemy.  I love it. 

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Project Laughter 11/09/2015

Today’s pages were much better. I spent some time editing NKMA last night and this morning was clearer and sharper for it.

I’m gearing up for something exciting with this book. It might be a mess but you’ve got to reach, to lean into your fears and push yourself if you’re going to grow.  Also I learn things about myself and the book which enhance and inform later drafts.
A competent book looks effortless but you seldom see the dead ends and missteps that get discarded. I’m not saying that I am competent but I have a process that makes me feel better about my work.  I love what I do and it repays me for the investment every day. 
To think something up, to give it a voice and a structure,  that’s a gift to myself.

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Project Laughter 08/09/2015

Hospital scenes are tricky for me.  I use them to show character beats and feed the tension.  You’re developing the notes that don’t necessarily propel things but they’re liminal spaces so it’s a chance to take a breath,  review the stakes and yet not lose momentum.
It’s also the first time that Evelyn meets Tom’s mum and it was amusing to have that peculiar juxtaposition between the immediate crisis and also the way that people behave irrespective of the immediate situation. 
I don’t have Tom explain anything.  He observes and you fill in the gaps which is always where I feel the most writerly. 
I’ve left it on a note which means that I have a difficult sequence to overcome tomorrow but I will bully through it.

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Project Laughter 07/09/2015

The first pages of the week were dense and compact. Little to no dialogue but lots of physical gestures and reactions. I’m being vague because here I am into the worst parts and I might be presuming you will read the book so I won’t spoil it.
You can use panic and fear to paper over details that you don’t immediately know. Technical sequences get a pass during the first draft because I am about motion rather than detail.
There are notes to the side when i write longhand and these will be useful later.  I’m into the penultimate phase now,  having discarded the seance I had planned in favour of something more immediate. 
There isn’t a big palate of textures here and it’s something that I intend to play with in future projects.  Here it’s pure voice and recollection which suits me fine but i want to tell other stories which will challenge me in different ways. 

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Project Laughter 04/09/2015

The pages were good this morning. At this point I can afford to show the characters speaking their truth to in one another and have it sting.
We say painful things to one another and call it love. These aren’t said in anger all the time but they hurt more because of it. People isolate themselves from love and obligation because it also invites pain and suffering, all the more so because the ammunition you give someone,  was given in candour and intimacy. 
When you run out of cheeks to turn, you offer your throat because one good cut ends the pain.
These things haunt the book and fuel the engine of it. Ghosts, like any supernatural creation are metaphors that get mistaken for surface.