My capacity for spare time writing has been rather on the low side this month, but on the plus side, there’s been lots of reading and a lot of analysing what I’ve written. It’s been a really busy month.

Writing

The major thing this month was attending the Guardian Masterclass. Seriously, don’t do the advanced writing course unless you want your synapses to fry.

I’ve been doing a vast amount of writing for work, and not a lot of work on the book. But there should be more time in April.

Reading

March was crime fiction month in my personal reading challenge.

I think Rage Against the Dying was the one I liked best out of the three books I chose. It had just the right amount of suspense and action for me, and I loved the writer’s use of description.

No Time for Goodbye was an interesting book. It took a while to get into, but the second half of the book was fantastic. The character creation was brilliant.

J K Rowling’s, The Cuckoo’s Calling, was a bit patchy I thought. I loved the main character, but the way Rowling wrote some of the bit part character’s accents was off-putting. I felt she could have told the tale with far fewer words.

Next month, the reading challenge gets serious, as I veer off the genre path and try out some esteemed works of literary fiction (wish me luck!).

Links of the month

  • Author, and creative writing teacher, Hanif Kureishi said that he wouldn’t do a creative writing MA himself. (I’m of the view that you should teach yourself with practice and books, and only go to a course for refinement – I wouldn’t want to be guided through writing a novel.) This is now one of my favourite quotes ever:

(on students) “They worry about the writing and the prose and you think: ‘Fuck the prose, no one’s going to read your book for the writing, all they want to do is find out what happens in the story next.'”

  • Here’s another Guardian article where authors, and creative writing teachers, give advice to new writers. I think my favourite bit has to be Jeanette Winterson saying:

“I don’t give a shit what’s in your head. By which I mean if it isn’t on the page it doesn’t exist. The connection between your mind and the reader’s mind is language. Reading is not telepathy.”

This is the eternal writers struggle summed up in four sentences.

  • Leo Babauta wrote a great post about what he has learned as a writer. The idea that nearly everything can be shortened is something that I’m starting to focus on.
  • This is a good summary of Stephen King’s rules for writers. I like the one that says first drafts shouldn’t take more than three months. I agree, you should write them in a frenzy of creativity. Now I just need to find a rule about the redrafts!