This is a page for writers and would-be writers.
The short articles on it were originally written for those who make their living from their pen, and appeared in The Author, the quarterly magazine published by writers’ own professional body, the Society of Authors.
They cover subjects not normally mentioned at creative writing classes or in meetings with a literary agent – for example, on writing and marriage, literary snobbery, attending the right parties, or surviving rejection.
In other words, they are about the realities of being a writer, rather than the fantasy.
Writing these columns, I wanted to cheer up people like me – those who live through the highs and lows, the kicks, humiliations and occasional little victories of the writing life.
The tone is not entirely serious but, behind the jokes, is some hard-won practical and emotional advice based on my experience as a bookseller (briefly), a publisher (for a little longer) and an author (for ever).
The BBC bigwig was shouting at me. Every time I started to speak in the...
At a reading given by Ian McEwan and Richard Ford, the question-and-answer session with the...
A writers’ organization recently conducted an online survey. Is there anyone out there, it asked,...
It was the usual highly-charged last day at a creative writing course. Some students wanted...
... The Seven Rules of Rejection
... The Seven Ages of Authorhood
... There’s no snob quite like a book snob
... Writing v. Living: a conversation with myself
... An ill-fated journey into the world of TV writers (contains sex and violence)
... Sex, children, friendship, health – by the experts (Tolstoy, Amis, Dickens, Mantel, Larkin and a few others)
... From InstaNovel to NervousBreakdown: the next generation of apps for the busy modern writer
... On being a careerist or a purist
... On discovering whether you are really, truly an author
... On the seven great questions of an author’s life.
... On not writing at all
... On being a genius, a talker or a one-book wonder
... On keeping yourself pure
... On authors and housework
... On publishing your own work
... On being Harvey Porlock
... On being the wife of an author
... On suffering from life block
... On what you want, what you’d settle for, and what you get
... On the tricks of the trade
... On establishing a relationship with a publisher
... On discovering whether one is worth knowing
... On discouraging the young from becoming a writer
... On caring for your publisher
... On becoming part of the creative arts industry
... On attending the right literary events
... On writing bad sex
... On etiquette for a writer
... On interpreting a royalty statement
... On understanding your publisher’s speech at a launch party
... On developing your public image
... On solving the practical problems of an author’s life
... On being promoted by a pair of underpants
... On being a dinner-party novelist
... On the illnesses of authors
... On teaching a creative writing course
... On the unexplained mysteries of the writing life
... On meeting a grand old bookman
... On some useful attributes for a writer
... On writers who prefer to rest
... On the boom in ghost-writing
... On humiliation in a classroom
... On understanding book trade slang
... On being read for libel
... On the different species of publishing wildlife
... On writing a newspaper column
... On playing the publicity game
... On writing for money
... On the democratisation of writing
... On the importance of parties
... On good and bad literary agents
... On setting up a website
... On becoming a respectable author
... On writing the same character for 21 years
... On things going wrong for a writer
... On the need for a writers’ revolution
... On surviving literary festivals