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Monthly Archives: September 2016


Ultimately, it’s all about the document.



While I’m jotting down lists, here’s what I might say to my children/grandchildren, when on my deathbed:

  • Be honest.
  • Be kind.
  • Do the thing you love.
  • Be healthy.
  • Engage.

Not sure I manage any of them on any particular day, but I aspire toward all five. (And it had to be five, by the way).

If I want to make it a list of seven, I’d add:

  • Pay the rent.
  • Keep your word.

And for a list of ten, I’d add:

  • Mostly, it isn’t about you.
  • You’ve got much more time than you think, to do the things you love.

I know that’s only nine. But life isn’t perfect. Get used to it.


Things I like doing, in no particular order:

  • Walking
  • Drinking wine
  • Making love
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Thinking
  • Playing music

But if I had to choose only three, I know which ones I’d chose.


Time just gets away from us

I read True Grit by Charles Portis when I was fifteen. Last night I listened to a radio version on the BBC. I’d forgotten how good it was.

The two movie versions are great, whether you prefer John Wayne’s bombastic Rooster Cogburn or Jeff Bridges more gnarly version of the same. In fact, all the major characters work well in both movies (I even like Glen Campbell as Le Boeuf) and both movies are totally enjoyable.

But the book. I remember it being described back then as a ‘potboiler’ – now it’s being hailed as an American Classic. I think it’s a fine book. The way the people speak is so chewable, so infused with the language and cadence St. James bible, but authentically American, and Mattie Ross is one of the great American characters – a fourteen year-old with the manner of an irascible spinster.

As with Breakfast at Tiffany’s, I’m not sure which ending I prefer – the real, darker ending, or the 1969 movie ending. Both are life-affirming, both are tinged with sadness.


Completed a redraft of DN1. Now I have to go back and do a structural redraft, try and get everything tied in nice and tight.

I’m not sure whether to leave it for a week or two to simmer, maybe work on something else for a while.

It’s good being a privateer, doing the whole thing online, but sometimes I miss having an editor, having someone to give advice.



Where do you go when the fair arrives and steals the beach?




In the groove now, editing Dealer No. 1.

Scratching through every printed-out page and tweaking or deleting words, sentences, paragraphs.

In On Writing – the best book on writing available in my opinion, Stephen King says he edits out about 15% of the original text. The way I write, I don’t lose so much, sometimes I end up with more, it’s just different to the original. And I play with structure a lot, switching things around until it makes sense.

I’m very happy with this morning’s work. Whether or not the book will be any good is another thing entirely, but I’m quietly hopeful.


Need to print it out the draft of Dealer No. 1 again and do another edit. It’s almost 300 pages and I want to reduce it to closer to 200. That’s probably the wrong idea for a YA novel, industry standard is closer to 400 pages, but hey, it’s my book. I know how I want it.

Writing is a laborious process with no guarantee of success, I’ve written some lovely stuff and I’ve written some clunkers and I can never tell in advance which it’s going to be – they say it’s lonely business too, writing, but I enjoy the solitude, working in my head, spooning this stuff onto the page.

Editing is nearer to doing yoga, painful and slow, but with a great feeling at the end. Or maybe it’s like being lost, just traveling, trying to find the route home.

Anyhow, I’m sitting editing in MaccyDs, prevaricating, putting off going home to print it out and start again.


I thought it was cool because I’m not on FB or twitter or instagram any other social media – then I thought, well, apart from this website and email, and dozens of other people’s websites, and Amazon, the list goes on…

I’d really like to walk away from it all. Stop writing. Print out a single copy of everything I’ve done, or do, and then close everything down.

And just live.

But I can’t not write. It’s a chronic condition. So I’m going to explore putting stuff out in print, check the indy bookstores, maybe send them a demo of some stuff. See what happens.