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A Horrified Reaction to an Unspeakable Suggestion

There's a suggestion I often make when I'm teaching, and the reaction varies from stunned silence to sheer horror. 

Before I get to what it is (classic storytelling I know, but then I'm a writer; what do you expect?), a few words of build up. 

I was in London this week, at the excellent Civil Service College, talking about how to deal with pressure. 

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As you may have guessed that's not the college, but a near neighbour, which is one of the pleasures of working in the capital - 

The chance to be a tourist and... Read more

The Pleasures of Problems

Problems are much bemoaned, but they also have wonderful upsides. 

I'm teaching a course on dealing with pressure this week, and was struggling to find a visual way to demonstrate the effects of stress. 

Then I remembered a fascinating article I'd read about Richard Nixon, and how his signature had changed from the days when he was elected President to the final hours of the Watergate scandal.

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Seldom has the old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words been more justified.

I felt uplifted about finding the solution to my problem.

On a professional... Read more

Hemingway's Revenge

He was a great writer, who taught his fellow authors a huge amount, but I have one big beef (he would probably prefer the word bull) with Ernest Hemingway. 

He left an inescapable legacy to the scribblers who came after him. 

I'm in the fortunate position of being able to do a mix of work, from the well paid to the pro bono. 

I consider it part of the duty of anyone who's been lucky enough to do well in the world, to give something back, and so I teach writing and media careers at schools and colleges gratis. 

But... Read more

Originality and Optimism

Wow, what a week of weather. 

Across the nation, I can sense writers everywhere blogging about the snow, ice and freezing conditions. 

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So I won't be doing that (although please excuse the indulgence of just one of my Tundra in the UK pictures.)

It's no weather blog for me, because originality is a big part of a writer's job. 

It often pays to be a contrarian in this game. Wherever the rest of the herd heads, you set course due elsewhere. 

I've never forgotten the writing festivals I've taught at in the wake of the latest... Read more