Category «Mistakes»

One hat, one home (Mistake #91)

Every bald man (raises hand) needs a hat, and every bald man of a certain age (raises other hand) tends to amass a substantial quantity of them. Here are some of mine, now collected on my new hatstand, bought from a shop fittings supplier, since every other hatstand available from conventional consumer stores bore insufficient …

Pussyfooting (Mistake #90)

Be a bit cool when you pitch. Be a bit chilled. Imagine (imagine only) you’ve had half a glass of wine and you have a smile on your face and that it matters – but doesn’t matter that much. Some writers fret too much. I see their covering or proposal letters and they’re filled with signs …

Random abuse (Mistake #89)

I’ll admit from the off that this is partly fuelled by an irrational pet hate that has been simmering for years, probably due to having a background in mathematics, but I can no longer keep a lid on my feelings for the abuse of the word ‘random’. Random is a terrific word, with a useful …

Christmas breaking (Mistake #87)

We all need a holiday. I am lazy, so probably need one less than you need one, but after a year when I’ve revised one of my books, ran a major award, was heavily involved in two others, kept up a monthly column, wrote regular features for a clutch of websites, dealt with my terrific Writers …

Scratching around in the attic (Mistake #86)

“I can’t think of any ideas!”  “What am I going to write about?”  “I’ve been racking my brains all day!”  Ideas germinate and develop in brains, so you’re not looking in the wrong place when you’re scratching around in your attic trying to find them. But if the search is proving fruitless and you’re getting …

Money, again (Mistake #85)

I’ve been experiencing a flurry of talented students emailing me with news of writing successes. “What fee have you been offered?” is my knee-jerk response to each communication, though I usually manage to check myself and squeeze in a “Congratulations!” before the filthy dosh question invariably spills over. (As an aside, I once went through …

UnAndrewCrofts-likeness (Mistake #84)

Nick Higham’s Meet the Author is always insightful – Higham is always clearly very interested in the people he interviews – and this one with king of ghostwriting Andrew Crofts is particularly pertinent to non-fiction writers. Andrew Crofts is terrific. I couldn’t tell you whether I’ve read one of his books, and that’s one of …

Bitten by the Hand That Feeds (Mistake #83)

It’s not always appropriate to call up an editor. Email is usually fine. But sometimes – say if you have an idea which is topical and brilliant and you need to move quickly – it is perfectly acceptable, even preferable, to do so. Occasionally a student will need cajoling into making the call. “Editors don’t …

Acceptance is publication (Mistake #82)

“Is it definitely going in?” This is the question a student of mine asked me towards the end of last year, after having received an acceptance of a speculatively submitted article. She was thrilled. As she had every right to be. She was soon to become a published writer. Or was she? Quite a lot …

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