Ten things I have learnt writing a novel

I’m giving my manuscript a final proofread before submitting it to a potential publisher later this month. It’s been years in the making, this novel. It has sat, untouched, for months at a time. Life has gotten in the way, including setting up my own editing business, raising my daughter, becoming single, rebuilding a life, […]

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I’ve put this post off for weeks: A new way of looking at procrastination

I may be mediocre at many things, but one thing I am brilliant at is procrastination. I seem to make a lot of well-intentioned plans and set myself what I think are realistic writing goals, and I still find myself wandering round the house picking up and putting down ornaments when I should be working on my […]

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Wrestling the Octopus: how to avoid writing a novel

At a certain point, a novel-in-progress starts to get a tad unwieldy. When you begin, you have a blank screen and the boundless enthusiasm of a puppy. After a few months you have a mountain of scrap paper scrawled with half-finished paragraphs and synopsis drafts, screeds of ideas jotted down and pinned all over the walls in your office, […]

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Endings

Today I’d like to say a brief word about endings. We hear a lot about beginnings, and how difficult/important they are. “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” (Lao Tzu) “The beginning is the most important part of the work.” (Plato) “Every moment is a fresh beginning.” (T.S. Eliot) “For fucksake […]

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Never Too Late

After a difficult year during which I felt no creative impulses whatsoever, I have started work on my novel again, rewriting and editing my way through a second draft. It had been sitting in a drawer for over two years. I’m excited, if a little rusty. I feel very out of practice and I have […]

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Choosing a Title

A short thought today on titles – specifically, choosing one for your story or novel or poem. Each time I start a new post here I am invited to fill in the “Title” section at the top. I used to struggle with this. I tried to come up with something creative and intriguing and clever, […]

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The Book Exchange

I’ve achieved some rather major literary goals this year, and last night I celebrated with two lovely women. There’s me in the middle. (Those holes in my top are a design feature, not a result of drunken undressing in the dark. I wish.) On the right is Joanna, and to the left is Sara: the […]

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A Festival-Goer Field Guide #2

It’s that time again. The leaves are turning to flame and falling. Darkness is suddenly flicking the switch at 5.30pm like a grumpy boarding school matron. Beaches sigh, wistful but resigned, as we pack up our picnics and head indoors. And across New Zealand, book lovers are dusting off their lanyards and jotter pads and […]

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The Story Thief

My six-year-old daughter made up a story for me before going to bed tonight. Here it is, as close to her exact words as I can remember: The Story Thief [NB – not to be confused with Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief – although possibly just as riveting.] Once upon a time, before the dinosaurs […]

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The Luminaries: Art or Heart?

*Don’t worry, this review contains no spoilers. Yes, I have actually read it. I ploughed my way through during a  two-week break at the beach over Christmas / New Year. For those of you who have been leading a hermit-like existence recently (and the hermit reference, as those of you who have read the book will know, […]

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