Monday, June 30, 2008


Never mind Spain winning the Euros, Manny Pacqiao whipping the ass of David Diaz or Andy Murray reaching the Wimbledon quarters... I just threw two darts at a board in succession - the second landing IN THE TAIL OF THE FIRST. You know that tiny crosshair where the flight goes? That's where No. 2 went! And stayed. It didn't do that crosshair much good, but hey - this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things. But this is a serious post, and I have a serious question...

What happens in a competitive game when that happens? Has it ever happened?

Am I unique?

Did anyone notice any strange lights in the sky, around 21:10 BST? Maybe some rumblings, like thunder?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Novel writing tip

If you're in the midst of writing a novel, or any other kind of prose, be wary of what you read. Or watch. Books, films and quality TV shows with a strong, distinctive voice can influence your own style. Sometimes in a bad way, but other times for the better. But even if it improves your piece, tread carefully. Plagiarism is a dirty word. Only yesterday, after watching an old DVD, I blanched in horror, ran to the keyboard and opened up my work in progress, CHARLIE WILLIAMS'S OBSCURE LOCATION. Sure enough, there was that line:

"As I rounded the corner I felt muscular and compact. Like corned beef."
It broke my heart to cut such an inspired simile, but imagine if I had noticed it AFTER publication, with the book on millions of shelves around the world and heading for a big Hollywood adaptation starring Benicio del Toro? No, the line had to go. Or at least undergo some changes. So I changed it to:

"As I went round the corner I felt compact and muscular. Like Spam."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Platform games

I was reading this post about screenwriters crossing over to novels on English Dave's excellent telly-writing blog, and it got me thinking. I totally agree, by the way. Stories are stories. If you've got the instinct you can tell them in any format. The only obstacles are technical ones, and you can get over those. Nuff said.

But it was something else (and coffee) that got the brain cells moving. The idea that you get more respect as a novelist than you do as a screenwriter. I would say that, yes, you get some semblance of respect as a novelist. Your name gets printed a lot more and you actually get the public and critical credit for the work you've done. In a weird, slightly anaemic way, you even get some celebrity. Invitations to parties, VIP treatment at festivals, interviews in the papers, foreign travel etc.... I've had all that. But


No fucking money. Or not much anyway.

Oh yeah, you get paid for everything. And the figures even look good on paper sometimes. But making an actual LIVING out of it? Forget that.

Which makes you look at that "respect" you've been getting and wonder if it is that after all.

Don't get me wrong - I am far from having a go at the paymasters. Mr Market-Forces is right there outside the window. He's a big bad wolf and he'll get you if you're weak. This is not a socialist republic and you can't expect a penny unless that wolf says you're worth it.

But still, writing is work.

If you're one of the few, you'll make a good living from it. I don't count myself in that number yet but I have friends who do. And when I say make a living I mean a sustainable one. Many apparent "successes" get paid a shitload for a first two-book-deal and fuck all thereafter, because the sales weren't up to it. There's a big red number where there should be a big black one.

Game over.

Writing is a bitch, no matter what the platform.

But still we pursue her, running after her with flowers and fine perfumes and rhyming couplets. Because she's captivating and beautiful. And we're tough motherfuckers. Or saps.

Or both.