Curious questions

An entertaining question has arrived in my inbox.  I sense a certain incredulity to it, but be that as it may, the issue raised is this - Where do I get the ideas for these bizarre Tweets that I post?

Literally speaking, the answer is anywhere.  I always keep a notebook, or at least a piece of paper and pen with me, ready to jot down any gems which may suddenly arrive in brainworld, and the ideas for Tweets can strike at any place, any time.  They can sometimes be triggered by an event or situation - I had one... Read more

Looks, appearances etc.

I've been working on characters for a new book, which has set me musing about the subject of appearance and how to describe it.

How can words capture something so distinct and esoteric as a person?  I suppose the question answers itself.

A few writers rather better than I have wrestled with the problem of the inadequacy of the language. I remember Eliot talking about words slipping and cracking, never staying in place, and Orwell putting it more simply but still elegantly - as was his wonderful way - when reflecting on a love letter, and asking when in life... Read more

The practising of the preaching

I'm suffering a nasty bout of hypocrisy to go with my writer's block.  It must be the time of year, more germs in the air etc.

Regular sufferers of my ramblings will know about the attack of the dreaded block which has been bothering me.  Those with longer memories will also recall that on a couple of occasions I've happily served up hearty portions of advice about what to do for those similarly afflicted.

Don't get too wound up, says I.  That only makes it worse. Walk away, ignore it, rise above it, don't let it goad or get to... Read more

The spice of writing

If variety is the spice of life, I've just come to the thought it can also be the catalyst of writing.

I suppose I'd best explain, or you'll be lost in my commonly puzzling thought processes without a map.

That rather opaque opener for this blog comes from a very specific question which has been posed of me, which is this - how do I write? And my interrogator is keen to point out she doesn't want some wafty artistic answer, but a solid and grounded description of where and when.

The easy part, the when, is usually I... Read more

Easy ideas and hard work

My little tweet of earlier in the week has attracted a few comments and questions. For those - difficult though I find it to believe that there may be many - who aren't following my e-musings with a rabid hunger, and even keener delight, what I said (in fewer than 140 characters) was this -

In my mind, the hunk of stone and the chisel. Afar, far afar, the sculpture.  Time to be brave and begin...

The question of where do my ideas for books, bits of writing, teaching etc. come from is one of the most common I'm asked,... Read more

A chucklesome review

This business of reviews is a sticky subject with we writing folk. Fine ones are flown like the brightest and most boisterous kites from the highest peaks, less flattering ones can spark feuds which endure for lifetimes.

I've heard a few scribblers say they either don't read, or don't bother about, reviews; claims which I believe not at all, not in the slightest.  There's not a writer who isn't proud of what he or she has come up with, who doesn't feel some sort of bond, or need to protect it. 

In some ways it's like being a parent. ... Read more

A nasty blockage

I'm trying to work on the outline for a new book, and making less progress than poor Sisyphus.

In fact, I might even cast him an envious look. At least he got somewhere with that boulder.  Mine currently feels like it's stuck fast to the bottom of the hill.

A few years ago, when first I started trying to write, this sort of situation would be the cue for much wailing and anguish.  It's true, I was very young when I first learnt the meaning of melodrama, and I've cherished the word ever since.

These days, life has taught... Read more

My greatest pleasures

Having just written that title, I've immediately got the feeling some of you - the suspicious, cynical ones - or maybe just the ones who know me? - will be expecting an e-outpouring on the subject of beer, curry etc.


No, this is a response to a very fine question I was asked last week at the Chudleigh Book Fair (hello to anyone who went along, and thanks for such a fine evening - never before have I given a talk from what felt like a pulpit, another new experience).  It went thus - which of my activities do... Read more

Reading and regressing

One of my favourite parts of doing a talk about the tvdetective books is when it comes time to read a sample to the audience.  I've been wondering a little why this may be, and hence today's musings.

The first thought that came to my chaotic mind was that it's a kind of regression thing, a draw back through the years to childhood, and memories of those safe and carefree days of laying in bed, being read to. 

Reading aloud to a group of people, you often see them relax in a manner which is rare in this pressured... Read more