February 24, 2017 @ 7:54 AM

Seven sensible steps to success as a writer.

Step 2 (continued):

Christopher Robin

Speaking of influences, not long ago I bought a copy of the Christopher Robin poems by A.A. Milne for my grand-daughter.

I loved them as a child and would recite them to anyone who’d listen. ’The King’s Breakfast’ … ‘Rice Pudding’. Surely eveybody knows them...!

Well, I hadn’t looked at the poems for these past sixty years or more (which I can tell you is a shock to write down). But reading them over again for Em, I was amazed to realise how influential they’d been on me as a writer.

It wasn't the subjects so much. But the structure of the phrases – the rhythms of the words – .........


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February 17, 2017 @ 7:25 PM

Seven sensible steps to success as a writer: Step 2 (cont):

Influence V Plagiarism…

It’s true, of course, that writers always have to be on guard against the dangers of plagiarism: of copying too closely somebody else’s ideas and forms of expression.

In centuries past it was not uncommon for artists to adapt pretty freely from other people's work. Shakespeare's history plays, for instance, were mostly drawn from Holinshed's Chronicles; and musicians would happily recast other composers' themes.

Today, however, it is regarded as a serious offence if done consciously – though sometimes it may happen quite unconsciously and you only notice it afterwards.

Which is why I rarely read .........


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February 11, 2017 @ 5:57 PM

Seven sensible steps to success as an author:

Step 2 (continued): Giants of the past…


One of the most important lessons we learn from reading widely is the knowledge that there is very little that’s original in even our most profound ideas about the human condition.

Someone, somewhere, has probably expressed much the same notion before: and the most we can usually do is to add some variation and nuance to it drawn from personal experience.

Which doesn’t mean that it’s not worth saying: merely to acknowledge that, like a palaeontologist, we’re on the upper layer of a literary stratum that descends deep into the past.

Joyce … Dickens … Gibbon … Milton … .........


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February 3, 2017 @ 6:49 PM

Seven sensible steps to success as a writer...


Step 2. Read widely and learn from the wisdom of other writers...

It may be apocryphal, but I once heard of a celebrity who’s supposed to have said that she wouldn’t want to read a book she hadn’t written.

True or not, it says something about the vacuity at the heart of much popular culture.

It’s also self-evidently absurd.

Unless one had seen a book – and read that book – and understood something about the power of words to express ideas and story, and to move the emotions of the reader – you wouldn’t know what a book could do, let alone be able to write one.

The books of other writers, past and present, are the .........


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February 2, 2017 @ 7:22 PM

Seven sensible steps to success as a writer:

Step 1 (continued) … Perspiration.


We writers might all wish that our books came in a flash of inspired intuition. But alas they don't. Most of my military history books have taken years to complete, and gallons of perspiration.

The Story of Billy Young, for instance, was seven years in development from the first idea to the finished publication in 2012.

For Love of Country took five years.

I first went to see the family it concerns in March 2011, where I discovered the very rich archive of letters, diaries, photographs and memorabilia stored in boxes – and Pam Yonge’s generosity in making it available to me.

Half a decade later, in March 2016, Pam .........


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