And you can take it everywhere

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I think you’re finally on the road to successfully writing — not to be confused with being a successful writer — when you switch from thinking of all the things you need in order to write to realising all the things you don’t need.

Judging by many of the posts on Medium and in other writing forums, many neophyte writers get quickly hung up on everything ranging from types of pen to computer operating systems and whether Scrivener is better than Word. What type of chair to sit in or should they stand? …

Your results may vary

Yup, that’s my old Everyman edition

Working within certain limits — whether self-imposed or not — can often be liberating. This is especially true when it comes to creativity. A specific material, a defined word count, a time limit.

The most famous among modern writers who embrace limits are the members of Oulipo. And possibly the most well-known of their creations is La Disparition (The Void) by Georges Perec. This is a novel written without a single use of the letter ‘e’. That’s hard enough in English; in French a task only a madman (or genius) would attempt. …

Verlyn Klinkenborg’s secret to successful writing

My photo

To write a book about sentences may sound like overkill. Or a symptom of some strange obsession. Anyone reading a book ostensibly about sentences may be forgiven for thinking that the author’s intention was to lure them in with an intriguing idea and then soon enough, disclose his real purpose.

After all, most books, while not exactly about sentences, are at least composed of sentences. Surely, a book about sentences would be like reading a book on the architecture of great buildings and concentrating on the bricks. Or studying great works of art by focusing on the individual brushstrokes.


Three quotations to stir your thinking

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Here are three quotations I copied into my notes today, each pertinent to this moment. Something to ponder over the weekend.

The first is from an article by Paul Street on Counterpunch. The subject of the article is the false assumption that the US is, in any way, a democracy. This obviously challenges the received wisdom that the US is both a shining example of democracy and that the mission of this country that believes in its own exceptionalism is to export democracy into the dark corners of the world. …

… too much guilt and not enough space

Not my real shelves: Photo by Jonathan Singer on Unsplash

Two weeks ago to the day I posted about my resolution to cut back on my book buying. No, I haven’t relapsed and ordered a bucket load of new reads. I have, however, been adding books to my basket in Amazon and Verso. That’s a bit like an alcoholic in the early days sitting in the local pub and watching people ordering drinks. So far, so good, though.

But I have decided to make a change to the rules I established on January 7th. Partly, this is because I have cut back on reading. Work and my own writing are…

A bad pun for the end of the world

Photo by Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

There is relief, of course, that Trump has gone. After Trump, it’s hard to conceive of any president that would actually be worse in all ways presidential — outwardly at least. On the other hand, it’s very easy to conceive of many presidents that would offer more hope for real change than Joe Biden.

When your best feature is that you’re not your predecessor, it’s a good indication that expectations are low. And Biden’s cabinet picks so far appear to indicate that he’s not about to raise expectations any time soon.

The Democrats, after sabotaging Sanders in successive campaigns, have…

Millions to their friends, cuts for the needy: it’s a catchy slogan

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That the Tories are even considering reducing Universal Credit at this time is, perhaps, not shocking. They are Tories, after all. That they are not pushing through pay rises for nurses at a time when not only are health worker hours and commitment stretched beyond imagining is probably par for the course for Tories. This Tory government has now led us to the highest death rate, if not in the world, then at least in Europe. With, I might add, no apology, no acceptance of blame, and certainly no sign of contrition.

And this evening, Tories voted down a move…

…. you don’t have a political party; you have a company department

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I may have left the Labour Party but it continues to fascinate — a bit like watching a driverless train heading quickly towards the buffers at a deserted station.

What has become clear over the last few days is that the party’s funds seem to be in parlous shape. This has forced Sir Keith Strimmer to abandon any struggle to manage the optics around bowing to the wishes of prospective donors.

To be fair to the man, he can afford the gamble at the moment because the media are occupied with other matters and they already know that Labour under…

Greenwald and Poitras both gone…. Not a good look

Snowden, Poitras, and Greenwald were the recipients of the 2014 Carl von Ossietzky medal. Photo: Michael F. Mehnert, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What it does it say when the co-founders of an organisation both leave within months of each other and both write damning accounts of why they are no longer at the organisation?

I first came across the names of Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras because of their part in the breaking of the Edward Snowden files. …

Time does the rest, if you let it

This is purely aspirational, you understand — Photo by Benn McGuinness on Unsplash

I’ve carried the thought that I would like to try yoga for at least twenty years. And, like many of the things I know that I think would be good for me, I have never carried the thought forward into action.

I’m not really one for resolutions — experience has taught me that they are both a waste of time and serve only to make me feel disappointed in myself — but this year I am finally determined to make some changes. One of those changes is to recapture some flexibility, balance, tone, and self-respect. …

Graham Stewart

Writer, husband, father.

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