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You are a brilliant writer.
But not everyone realises it yet.
What to do?
One of the great truths of writing is that however brilliant you may be, getting someone to read and appreciate your work requires contact with other human beings. I don’t mean publishers and agents, important as they are; but writers; editors; critics; and other, often annoying, people who give you advice on how to improve, polish and market your fiction.
George Orwell: another inspirational author (see below)
Here are two sources of such contacts.
First, I recently had the good fortune to hear the writer Paul McVeigh reading from his debut novel The Good Son in Izmir (the link goes to a goodreads site with rave reviews). He was inspiring and entertaining, and mentioned his blog, which gets a staggering 40,000+ hits a month. (more…)
I had the good fortune recently to attend two events at which the famous Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk was present.
Orhan Pamuk with British film director Grant Gee (Photo: Robert Pimm)
The second was an event to mark the closing of the rather terrific !f Istanbul Film Festival.
I am enjoying Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale in the Folio edition, a welcome Christmas gift. Bond certainly is a dated, post-war creation. But he does have magnificent attributes, many associated with his lifestyle. Take this description of the Martini he orders:
“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?”
I checked Kina Lillet – it’s a defunct aperitif whose main ingredient, quinine, was removed in 1985.
As Felix Leiter says: “Gosh, that’s certainly a drink.”
But I’m inspired to go into print by Bond’s comment to Jesper Lynd (after whom he decides to name his previously un-named Martini recipe, which I have been drinking regularly since reading the book) at dinner, after she has ordered caviar as a starter. Bond asks the waiter for extra toast.
“The trouble always is,’ he explained to Vesper, “not how to get enough caviar, but how to get enough toast with it.”
So true, so true.
My father died on 29 November 2013.
He left behind many wonderful memories and made many people’s lives better.
But this blog isn’t about him; I’d need a book for that.
This blog is about a list he left written on a tiny scrap of paper:
In his later years my father, a biblio- and logophile, occasionally left the odd piece of paper unfiled or perhaps in a place that was not obviously logical.
So it was my mother, as she sorted through his countless documents, who – rather astonishingly – discovered the scrap of paper; and brought it to my attention recently, thinking I might be interested.
I was fascinated. People love lists.
This one is headed “How to work better” and reads as follows:
- Do one thing at a time
- Know the problem
- Learn to listen
- Learn to ask questions
- Distinguish sense from nonsense
- Accept change as inevitable
- Admit mistakes
- Say it simple (sic)
- Be calm
I wrote a blog a while back called “how to write“. It was one of my most popular blogs.
Here are two lists of tips from famous authors about “how to write”.
The first list, by George Orwell, is good for style:
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
The Sky Over Nine Columns – Heinz Mack (with Bosphorus behind)
The Zero art movement, based mostly in Germany in the years 1957-69, sounds like a candidate for Private Eye’s “Pseud’s corner”. Take this, from Otto Piene’s Paths to Paradise:
I go to darkness itself, I pierce it with light, I make it transparent, I take its terror from it, I turn it into a volume of power with the breath of life like my own body, and I take smoke so that it can fly.
Maybe that is magnificent. Maybe it’s meaningless. I’m not sure.
So when I was invited to visit the exhibition ZERO. Countdown to the Future at the generally excellent Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul, I tried to keep an open mind; but feared for the worst. (more…)
Wonderful news for the hundreds (yes, I have counted) of fans of the ‘wonderful, feminist and dark’ Hotel Stories.
A fifth story in the series, Ask for Scarlett, is coming soon.
Many readers have asked – please can we see what is going on inside Ms N’s head?
Others have said – surely there must be a few more sympathetic male customers in these five star hotels?
One or two have said – the hotels you’re depicting aren’t luxurious enough. What about some real luxury? (Actually, I made that up. No-one could possibly doubt the luxury of the establishments in Hotel Stories 1-4.)
So watch this space for news of Ask for Scarlett – out soon on Amazon for your delectation.
It will address all the queries and alleged deficiencies mentioned above. Well, some of them.
Incidentally, analysis shows that my most popular post about the Hotel Stories is 5 Ways the “Hotel Stories” can improve your life, featuring beer, fish and chips, the picturesque hamlet of Stow cum Quy and “Don’t get mad, get even”. Check it out.
It’s true. The Hotel Stories can improve your life.