Some books, you actively seek out. Others find you. Some you read on recommendation—just hearing the title, and the way someone says it can be enough. A single adjective. Hell, sometimes even an Amazon algorithm turns out something special.
How I came by this book, I really can’t recall. It just appeared by my bedside one evening. But as soon as I picked it up, I knew that it was one I wouldn’t put down until the very last page. It just had that feel, you know?
Writers and journalists—and in some cases teachers, doctors, and members of the emergency services—will, in the very near future, be paid solely in Facebook likes, it has been revealed.
In the wake of the tragic case of Merritt Tierce, the government has unveiled a plan to work alongside the social media giant and do away with all forms of financial remuneration for anyone providing “creative and/or non-essential public services”, replacing their wages with likes, comments, and—in the case of firefighters and plastic surgeons—shares.
An increasing number of middle-class households are using the so-called “bags for life” from supermarket chain Waitrose in place of bin bags, it has emerged.
In what is seen as a direct snub of the nation’s vote to leave the EU back in June, hundreds of well-to-do Remainers are deliberately dumping their butternut squash peelings and Teapigs tea temples into the green-handled bags—which cost ten pence a time—instead of using the traditional black bin liners.
A man who went to see a film based on one of his favourite novels has complained that it was different to the book, and that the makers of the film “got it completely wrong” because it didn’t match his vision of how it would look on the big screen.
As far as tips for the modern writer go, this is an obvious one—and I’m certainly not the first person to advocate it—but lately it’s been the most helpful piece of advice anyone’s ever given me. The fact that I gave it to myself makes me doubly happy.
My brothers and I, we’re all massive fans of the Thames television adaptation of The Wind in the Willows from the mid-eighties. Do you know the one I mean? The one with David Jason as the voice of Toad and Chief Weasel, and Michael Horden as Badger. Anyway. At the beginning of each episode, the narrator—Ian Carmichael—does a little scene-setting, speaking over a series of real-life stills of the great British countryside, giving the viewer a rich, evocative description of the riverbank in spring… or of the Wild Woods in winter… or the rolling meadows at the height of summer. Granted, it gets a bit cloying after six straight episodes, but it does succeed in lending a timeless quality to the idyllic version of Edwardian England in which these tales are set.
People often ask me how the writing’s going. Right now the answer is: really well, thanks—and for once it’s not a lie. I’m being as productive as I’ve been in a long time, and I’m loving it. The words are flowing like… er, well, something really flowy. Anyway, as I write, things occur to me. So, I write them down. I wouldn’t want to start offering too much in the way of advice on this whole writing thing, but these things seem to be working for me, so I’ve decided to start sharing them…
Here, then, is the first of my daily* writing tips:
“That scene you keep putting off writing, because it’s too raw, or cringey, or because it exposes your protagonist’s vulnerability, or because—hell—it’s just too damn tense… that scene is the one you need to write. It’s the one your readers want the most. It’s those scenes, or passages, or even monologues, that they’ll dig the most. So, write it. Drink some coffee, neck some wine, shoot some smack**—whatever it takes—and just write it. Knock it out, raw and uncensored. And then… breathe. Smile. Close your notepad, or laptop, and leave it for a few days. You will need to come back to it, and probably rewrite it completely, but for today you’re done. Congrats. Go have an ice-cream.”
*The likelihood of me maintaining this on a daily basis is laughably low. Let’s try it, though.
**Do not shoot smack. This is not something I would advocate, under any circumstances.
Millions of millennials are struggling to understand the majority of the irony presented to them today, it has been revealed.
Overloaded with a multitude of memes, pseudo-philosophical bullshit, and motivational quotes created by morons who are unable to use apostrophes, today’s young people—often referred to as Generation Y, or even Generation Wuss—have all but lost the ability to discern most forms of irony, satire, or even straight-up sarcasm.
Yep. It’s that time of year again—the last day of the summer hols. Back to school tomorrow. There’ll be tears, and there’ll be tantrums, and there’ll no doubt be one or two that simply refuse to leave the house come the morning… The kids probably aren’t too happy about going back, either. (Boom-tish.)
The first few days are always a bit fraught, but it doesn’t take long for teachers to get to know the children in their class. However, it’s always more interesting to see how well the children know the teacher by the end of the year. In the last of this mini-series of blog posts, Rob Small shares his list of things the children in his class learned last year… judging by this, his lot seemed to have a pretty good handle on him.
And so we wrote.
Didn’t we, Matty? Yes, indeedy. After all, there was nothing else for it…
We were living abroad, in Spain, and we were hating it. We were hating it so much, for so many reasons. And so we woke up early—we had to, anyway, in order to catch the train, in turn to catch the bus, which got us to work for five to nine. We set our alarm to go off twenty-five minutes before we needed to get up, and we cursed the alarm, and hated ourselves more than we hated anyone else ever, and told ourselves we’d do anything—anything—to stay in bed today. To not go to work. “I’d cut off my right arm for another day off,” we said, on Monday morning. But we didn’t. Instead, we sat up in bed and reached for a pen and a pad of paper and we rubbed the sleep from our eyes and squinted at the page and we wrote. We wrote it out for no-one to read. All the pain and hatred, and love and regret, and all that other clichéd nonsense. All the drivel and detritus, poured out onto the page. Oh, the shit we wrote! We wrote about her, and we wrote about him, and we wrote about them. We wrote about the tiny, trivial things—things that caused us great consternation. We wrote about things that had happened to us, way back when, and we pined for those days. Good times. We wrote about our friends and family, and we saw them now in a different light. We saw them for how important they are, despite their flaws and all the ways in which they drive us mad…