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That Coming Alive Moment

Posted by Simon on 20th, May 2017 at 16:30:27

I was asked a very good question at a book talk this week - 

Why do so many journalists go on to become authors? 

There are many theories and thoughts, but here's mine, and I wonder if it holds an important lesson for writers.

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Why a picture of pipes and wires? Because this, the wisdom of the internet tells me, is a conduit. 

And when you become a conduit as an author, that's a big moment. 

You spend months planning the book and the characters, the settings, the twists and turns, and then you start to write. 

And, if it's working well, one day a beautiful and breathtaking moment comes. 

Instead of referring to your notes, and thinking about what happens next, the story and the people in it start to live for themselves. 

You're not writing a book any more. You're merely describing what's happening in front of your eyes. 

Just like a journalist does with a real life event. 

Which maybe helps to explain why lots of us journo types go on to become authors. 

We're used to being conduits. 

And that's a very handy helper in this wonderful writing life. 

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The Fraudster Factor

Posted by Simon on 13th, May 2017 at 18:18:25

There's an unpleasant feeling which can sometimes come calling for a writer, and it paid me a visit this week. 

I think of it as the fraudster factor. 

I've had a great few days. I've done a couple of events talking about the new book, Justice Mirror, and also some teaching (thanks to everyone who came along for our Novel Writing weekend in Herne Bay) - 

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(Some lovely smiles, and I don't think they're all faked.) 

Anyhow, despite everything going well, I've still had this nagging voice whispering slyly in my ear - 

Who are you to teach writing? What do you know about it? And who are you to talk about books, characters, settings and stories? Why do you think you've got a clue what you're on about?

I suppose it's the voice of doubt and a part of being human. 

It's stalked me before and I used to hate it, let it put me off, slow me down, make me fret. 

But these days, a few novels and teaching sessions on, it doesn't worry me so much any more. In fact, I kind of welcome it. 

Why? 

Well, imagine the alternative. Someone so cocksure they weren't prepared to learn any more, reflect honestly on how they were doing, not try to push on and keep improving. 

The voice of doubt is often an irritating and deflating one. 

But like so many such tones, the best way is to smile and embrace it - keep learning, keep enjoying and most of all...

Keep going, despite the doubt. 

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That Reading Aloud Moment

Posted by Simon on 4th, May 2017 at 10:24:37

I've heard some authors say they get the most nervous when reading aloud from their books. 

Not me. I love it. In fact, it's one of my favourite parts of giving a talk. 

I suspect that even shows in this picture from the launch of my new book, The Justice Mirror - 

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On a practical level, I like giving a reading because it's one of the few parts of a talk when I know exactly what's coming next. 

But from the mandatory more arty, wafty, writerly creative type angle, it's also about the only time you actually get a sense of how your scribblings are working. 

This writing lark isn't like the theatre, when the actors can sense the impact of their work on the audience. Or art, when a creator can lurk around a gallery to see what people make of their efforts.

(And let's face it - who would want me next to them in bed, or looking over their shoulder on a train, watching while they read my book?!)

So a reading is a great gauge for an author of whether their words are enertaining/amusing/intriguing/scaring an audience. 

Which makes it a very big moment in a talk. And yes, it involves putting yourself out there, testing yourself, taking a risk. 

But for me, that's what this strange but wonderful thing called life is all about. 

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Many Many Happy Returns

Posted by Simon on 30th, April 2017 at 09:53:56

You'll often hear writers talking about how much work goes into a book. 

But you may not so often hear them talking about the amazing, repeating rewards. 

Ok, so it does usually take a minimum of two years to get a novel published. And it can sometimes feel a never ending journey. 

But then comes the giddy-skippy-heady-happy joy of publication day (can you tell how much I enjoyed it?!)

And after that, you have many more delights...

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Like here, the official launch of Justice Mirror - many thanks to everyone who came along for making it such a great night. 

And also that event was the first time I'd read from the book in public, which was a real thrill. All those closed eyes and imaginations at work, prompted by my words... wow. 

Following the launch, if you're lucky, an author can get booked for more talks and festivals to tell readers about the book. 

And that tends to go on for a year or more, at least until your next novel comes out. 

But even then, the memory of the old book won't fade. Because with each new novel that's published, new readers will try your backlist, and so an old book gets a new lease of life. 

And if you're very lucky, that can go on for years and years. And with this new fangled online internet ebook thing, a novel may never be out of print. 

So yes, it's a lot of work to write a book. 

But there are a lot of rewards, too.

In fact, you might say there are many, many happy returns. 

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Kindness, Christmases, and Heart Surgery

Posted by Simon on 23rd, April 2017 at 10:17:16

You hear plenty in the press about social media and how trolls use it to be unpleasant. 

What you don't hear so much of is how the vast majority of people use it to be kind, warming and uplifting. 

I'll do my bit here to redress the balance a little, by saying how touched I was by everyone who got in touch to congratulate me on the publication of Justice Mirror this week. 

Every single message brought a big smile and a delightful buzz.

All the months of work, the planning, writing and editing were made real, and I felt as though it had all been appreciated. 

So publication day for me was like a series of Christmases.

First the book came out, then I received so many lovely messages of support... it was wonderful. 

And (another of the great things about being a writer...) there are more Christmases to come.

This week is the formal launch of the book, then there are more events after that. 

So, thank you one and all for your wonderful support. I'm enjoying the ride enormously. 

And let me just mention one particular Tweet, which managed to leave me touched, honoured, flattered and humbled, all at once - 

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How about that?

Taking time to send a kind and thoughtful message when you're in hospital awaiting major surgery. Wow. 

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