Funny, isn’t it, how a phrase suddenly becomes topical? “February heatwave” was hardly a common Google search term a week ago, but here we are, digging out our tennis rackets and dusting off our surfboards, exactly a year on from the Siberian horrors of the Beast from the East. Is this the latest evidence of global warming, or just a random fluctuation in our notoriously fickle weather? For most of us, the answer is not especially important. But I have talked to three people in the last year who wanted help to write books about various aspects of climate change.
This week I dropped in for a drink with a friend to discuss our latest collaboration. Sue is an artist who has collaborated with me on three previous books of poems, all written about a beautiful place that we have both known and loved for decades. We’ve decided on a final hurrah, which is both daunting and exciting. It’s a serious commitment, involving a lot of work for both of us. But there is strength in that ‘us’, and we will support and encourage each other as we go along. We like and respect each other’s work, and we know
There’s an old New Yorker cartoon that shows a writer typing at his desk as a conveyor belt delivers him inexorably to a large meat-grinding drum. A sign above the drum reads ‘DEADLINE’. I’ve always liked the cartoon. And – confession time – I love a deadline. I’m less enthusiastic when that meat grinder starts to stalk my dreams, but a deadline gives me structure and allows me to plan my work. More importantly, though, meeting a deadline reassures me that I’ve given my book the best possible start on its way through the production process to publication. I know this from having
When I worked on news desks, we had a rule to live by: if you’re struggling hard to make the headline and top of the story sound exciting, give it up, go out and get a better story. The most compelling narratives don’t require fancy editorial footwork. The clearest language will simply take your readers along, sometimes involuntarily, if they had been planning to do something other than read your story. Another thing I learned from being a journalist was that many people who say they ‘can’t write’, articulate themselves perfectly well in interview. I became accomplished at shorthand and
So you are thinking of working with a ghost? If you are trawling through the blogs on this site, it is quite possible that you are weighing up which of the highly capable ghosts featured here will be able to do justice to your story. It’s likely that this is something you have been thinking about for a while and, now you’ve almost made up your mind, you’ll be keen to get some words down on the page. One question that could be uppermost in your mind is: whose book will it be? In other words, if you work with