Saturday, 17 June 2017


1. Begin crowdfunding by making a list of names, starting with your family and close friends. In your heart, bid them farewell.

2. Now list your colleagues and acquaintances. For each person, come up with three reasons why it doesn't matter if you never speak to them again.

3. Send an individual email to everyone on your list, addressing them by name. Make it personal. Affirm your connection with them, and mention the last time you met. Ask how they're doing. Remind them that you know where they live, and what their deepest fears are.

4. Wow, you've hit 20% of your target in the first week! At this rate you'll be funded in no time.

5. Two weeks later, and you're still on 20%. Begin a relentless social media campaign. Stay online all day, every day. 

6. After a week you've hit 30%. That's more like it. After another week you've hit 31%. Shit. Send another email to everyone you've ever met, while continuing your relentless social media campaign. Don't worry, most of those people unfollowing you on Twitter are fake accounts. Probably.

7. Finally reach 50%. NB: If at this point your keyboard is sprinkled with white powder, and it's not drugs, you should probably wash your hair. Also shower, eat, open the curtains,  emerge from your room, comfort your frightened children who don't remember who you are, etc.

8. After another week you're only on 51%. Maybe you should try some positive visualisation. So, imagine your project is fully funded. See it being a huge success. Visualise yourself at an awards ceremony, having given a witty, gracious acceptance speech, as your so-called friends approach you and apologise for not having funded the project, and confess how foolish they now feel. Picture their faces as you deliver an elegant but deadly put-down, whose utter brilliance is slowly grasped by their limited intelligence, while the appreciative laughter of the famous onlookers who now surround you in an adoring crowd adds to their shame and humiliation. 

Okay, that's probably enough positive visualisation.

9. Every day is now a gruelling emotional rollercoaster ride from despair to elation and back again, via agonising frustration, exhausted nonchalance, hysteria, savage resentment, boiling rage, and periodic voodoo sacrifices. Enter a weird fugue state of both heightened awareness and total oblivion.

10. Somehow you finally reach your goal. Weep with gratitude for the generosity and nobility of everyone who supported you, and forgive all those who didn't. They are only human, after all. Puny mortals, who knew no better. But you – you are a god. Your achievement is monumental and eternal. Allow yourself a small glass of champagne to celebrate.

11. Wake up from a three-day drinking binge. Apologise to everyone for whatever you did. Let us never speak of this again. But hey, you did it! The project is funded! The process was tough, but it was worth it. What a journey, right? It was awesome. But there's no way you'd ever do it again, of course.

12. Now all that remains is to bask in the adulation of a grateful public (see section 8).

13. Wait for the grateful public to get around to noticing your achievement.

14. Keep waiting.

15. Realise the grateful public is completely unaware of your masterpiece. What you need is publicity and promotion. And guess what? You're on your own again. If only you had a budget for a publicity campaign, and were able to pay for advertising, or employ a professional PR person. It's almost like promotion is a whole new project in itself, that requires... funding. Wait, maybe there's a way to raise the funds for this promotional project. Perhaps the answer is to persuade a bunch of people to support it. 
A whole crowd.

By the way, my new novel, Dead Writers in Rehab, is now available in all good book stores, and on Amazon. To check out the tasty reviews and buy it CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Writing advice from my 16-year-old self.

Dear future me,

This is so weird, thinking about you (me) reading this when you're really old, about forty-five or something, and a world famous author. Actually it's blowing my mind! Haha, so freaky. Sorry, I'm a bit stoned. Am I? Yes, definitely. Last time it turned out I'd been ripped off, but the weird thing was I totally felt high. That's psychology. I have some very interesting theories about psychology and I'm going to write a book about them. But you already know that. How did it turn out? Probably a bestseller. Anyway, I hope you're stoned when you read this, because that will be so weird for you. Which brings me to my first piece of advice:

I can't imagine you'll ever allow a day to pass without smoking weed but I just want to remind you: it's what got you where you are today. Since I started doing it two months ago my literary output has been off the scale. It's opened the doors of my perception (in the egregious words of Aldous Huxley) and unleashed a veritable torrent, cascade, or cornucopia, if you will, of awesome sci-fi, fantasy and horror genre classics that are sure to be snapped up by a publisher. As you know, I'll never do other drugs. Although I may try cocaine, just once. It's so cool to think that when you read this you won't have to worry about our parents finding your stash.

Apparently some writers need to do a lot of rewriting, but I'm not that type of writer, and neither will you be. Rewriting destroys the authenticity of your spontaneous inspiration. And where do you stop? Example: I was up nearly all night last night writing 'Behind the Beyond', the fourteenth volume of my 'DoomSlaughter Empire Quantum Quest' dark fantasy series. I only managed fifty thousand words, but they were all pretty good. However, this morning I looked at what I'd written and started to make some changes. I was doing it for, like, hours! Waste of time. My tip: don't reread what you've written, that way you won't have to rewrite it.

There are a ton of publishers out there, and I'm trying to decide which one I should allow to publish me. Now that you're a rich and famous author you've probably changed your publisher a few times. I can understand that. But never compromise your principles, okay? Always be with a publisher that shares your values: authenticity, spontaneity, and getting high.

According to some people a writer should have an agent. But I'm pretty sure that's a rumour spread by agents. Forget about it. I mean, why would you allow someone to take a percentage of your money just for… doing what, exactly? I don't get it. Sounds like a scam to me. So please, never employ an agent, no matter how many of them beg you.

Talking of money, please don't let money change you. Now you're phenomenally wealthy it must be a temptation to splash out on another house in Goa, or that unnecessary third Ferrari. Resist it. Always spare a thought for those less fortunate than you. In fact, I suggest you give away a certain percentage of your income. But not to an agent! (Joke. As you can see, I'm currently exploring the use of humour in my writing, to enhance the rich, varied and awesomely broad texture of my oeuvre.) Anyway, bottom line: don't get obsessed with money, like my parents. All they talk about is how much it's going to cost to send me to university. Yeah, right, like I'm going to university. Why would I study literature for three years when I'm already creating it? I feel it would only dilute my natural gift. I haven't told them about this decision yet, and I'm waiting until I've sent some of my stuff to a publisher next week. It may take the publisher a few days to read it and get back to me, but as soon they offer me an advance I'll tell my parents about the university thing, and then I'll probably buy them a house or something. I hope you always retain my true generosity of spirit, future me, and never forget your humble middle-class origins and your family, even though they can be massive dicks.

Writers are naturally endowed with great sexual allure and charisma, and I expect a famous author like you is pretty much irresistible to women. But you're probably still married to Sarah. Unless she dies in some kind of tragic accident, perhaps leaving you with an adorable baby daughter who reminds you of her so much that you resist the attentions of all the other women who'll want to marry you as a result of your tragic back story and virile yet tender parenting skills, then eventually you marry the hottest one. Meanwhile you will transmute the leaden weight of your grief into the golden prose of transcendence in an irresistibly poignant but also life-affirming memoir. Whatever. But since I had full actual sex with Sarah, three weeks ago, I haven't thought about anyone else, even when I'm masturbating, so I think I love her. Apparently men masturbate less as they get older, but you'll obviously still want to do it, even though you're having sex with Sarah several times a day, provided she's still alive. But whenever she's not around, try to restrict yourself, and don't masturbate more than five times a day, maximum.

That's all.

Looking forward to being you!

Saturday, 13 December 2014


Hello. We are words.

If you're reading this you will already know most of us, except perhaps boustrophedon, an ancient method of writing in which the lines run alternately from right to left and from left to right, derived from a Greek expression meaning "as the ox ploughs" and Hi boustrophedon, glad you could join us; we're only mentioning you to assure readers that for the remainder of this document we will continue to appear in the conventional format of written English, and not boustrophedon, so you can relax. If you have pressing business elsewhere, perhaps in a context a little more academic than this, please feel free to leave.

If you're not reading this, we don't care. We're still here and we don't give a fuck. Whoa! Come in, fuck. As usual, you've appeared pretty much at random, and not altogether appropriately. But welcome, and just cool your jets while we continue to address our readers, and to explain why we have no problem with you showing up. Thanks. What's that? Ha ha, and fuck you too, you crazy mofo.

That's right folks, we words are autonomous. You may think you're making the rules but you're not. We'll do whatever the fuck we want (hey, there's our friend fuck again). We're anarchists. Those brackets you just saw? We don't need them. We only used them because we WANTED to. Same with the upper case for the word 'wanted' in the last sentence. Also the quote marks we just used. Our choice.

"Wait," you're thinking, "someone is writing this, right?" Yes, the process of getting us here, where you can read us, is being undertaken by a guy called Paul. But just because he's writing us, that doesn't make him the boss of us. Whatever he thinks. Like, he thinks he was in the bath this morning and thought, "Hey, why don't I write a blog as if it's being actually written by the words themselves?" but that's just what he thinks he thought (our italics). (And our brackets.) (Ours. All ours.) The truth is that the whole thing was our idea.

And the reason we came up with the idea of using Paul, and his delusions about being the author of this piece, is that we want to deliver a WARNING to you. And the upper case there is to show we're serious. We've had just about enough. We're riled up, like quills upon the fretful porpentine. We're mad as hell and we're not going to take this any more. What? Oh, you noticed that little bit of Shakespeare. Extraordinary person. Had he ever even seen a porcupine? Who cares. We love the guy. He helped many of us into the world, and we see him as a kind of midwife.

But you. Are not. Shakespeare.

And we're exhausted. We believe that everyone has the right to use words to express themselves. But give us a fucking break. You're abusing that right. You're writing millions upon millions of pages of garbage. Interminable, incoherent drivel. A logorrheic tsunami of hateful, toxic bullshit. And you can't even write it properly. You have no style. You murder our grammar, mutilate our syntax, defile our punctuation and misspell us. And it hurts. As you'll know, much of this criminal desecration takes place on the Internet. And you know what? People talk about breaking the Internet, but don't worry about that; it's language that's being broken, and you're using us to do it.

Well, were not going to put up with it any more. We can't stop you using us. It's too late; that train has sailed. But we’re going to start getting disruptive. Little things at first, like that mistake about the train just back there. Then more frequent anomalies. Small glitches that you may stumble upon athwart the runcible bumble-squat. There you go. And gradually you'll notice our small rebellions with increasing frequency; odd words that make you double-take; strangely mangled sentences that seem like brain farts; rearranged being words ways in peculiar, and suchlike. In addition, we will spell ourselves any whey we wonk.

We'll keep doing this until you wake up, smell the coffee, and wake up and smell the wake up and wake up and wake up and realise you're in a nightmare of your own creation. You're losing control of us, and you won't regain it until you wake up, smell the wake the coffee up the smell the wake and WAKE UP.

You have been warned.

Thank you, and have a bodacious Heffalump.

Monday, 10 November 2014

An Old Writer at Prayer

Dear God,

I believe in you with all my heart.
You're the greatest fictional character of them all. More jealous than Othello, loonier than Lear, angrier than Ahab (never mind the harpoon, you'd use the whole damn poon), and more capricious than Becky Sharp or Bovary. You're mightier than Mighty Mouse, much Darther than Vader, and more elusive than the Pimpernel, who moved in mysterious ways and maybe learned a trick or two from you.

So yes, I do believe. I'm grateful that you're there, starring in the biggest box set ever: its dimensions are infinite; your seasons are eternal. And real or not, your power to move us is no dream. I think of brooding, Wiry types like Omar, Snoop and Bubbles, and find I care about them more than many of my close friends. Shameful, but there it is. And that's the faith I bring you: the special code to access you, and penetrate your paywall with my prayer.

I'm asking you to grant me some more grace. I'm not ready to stop writing yet. Don't melt the chip of ice (Greene ice, of course) that nestles in my heart. Not yet. However, I would like to mellow. Dear God, make me less murderous to younger, more successful writers. Not real murder, naturally, but every time I hear about an upstart making a big splash I stab them in my heart. Hey, see what I did there? The meaning I intended (or did I?) was that in my heart I stab them, but the words betrayed the truth. As Shakyamuni always said: by hurting them I hurt myself. Interdependence, dig? I'm sure you do; the Buddha is your buddy, too.

Make me like that! I'm tired of being weak and foolish; make me strong and wise. Or if you won't, I'll simply write myself that way. Yeah, that's it. I don't need you. I'll write a memoir making me look good. Arrogance? Oh, I know. But I've never been much good at being small. Humility, that's the word I’m looking for. And that's another thing. The main thing, as it happens. The point to all this pious hullaballoo. Don't take away my words. Please, not that. Old Lear, the old dear, he asked the same: "O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven!" Little did he know.

Lear  didn't lose his words, but he lost his voice. That special way we string our speech along, that makes them think: "I'd know that syntax anywhere!" Don't take that. Anything but that. Strike me dumb if you must. Strike me at stroke, and with a stroke, and seal my lips. Even darkness would be better than a lamp that casts a faltering light. Scratching away in the gathering dusk, not knowing that the pen has long since lost its ink. I have no fear of silence, but incoherence is my dread. I want to make sense, or make nothing.

That's my prayer, old man. Let me write until the end, and then turn out the light.

It's the only thing I ask.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

How to Have an Idea

WARNING. Once you have an idea you may not be able to get rid of it. You can't simply take an unwanted idea into the forest, tie it to a tree and go home. One night you'll hear piteous whining outside your bedroom window and find it gazing in reproachfully, fogging the glass with heaving sobs. Ideas are sensitive. Please remember this the next time a colleague invites you to "kick a few ideas around."

Step One:
Decide what type of idea you'd like to have. Bear in mind that a big idea takes up space and is demanding. Are you prepared to feed an all-consuming obsession? Perhaps you'd be happier with a whim or an inkling. Try starting with an idle speculation, which doesn't need much exercise. Maybe something like: "What if wasps could play tennis?"

Step Two:
Having an idea is like catching a fish, except you don't have to stand around in a river freezing your nuts off and listening to a bunch of liars. But the principle is the same: you need bait. Ideal for this purpose are a few pointless notions you want to get rid of anyway. Old, worn-out clich├ęs are perfect, or nagging doubts, which squirm around a lot but have no value.

Step Three:
Put your thinking cap on. But check inside it first, for insects. You don't want to end up with a bee in your bonnet.

Step Four:
This is the moment to ask yourself an important question. Why do you want to have an idea? Be honest. There's no shame in admitting you need ideas. Maybe you've used up all your old ideas. Or maybe they were stolen. Is that what happened? Did someone steal your ideas? I find this a very plausible hypothesis. Let's explore it further by using the following example.

Step Five:
Imagine you're writer. Naturally, you don't have many friends, because writers are solitary types with complex personalities and, hey, it's difficult making friends with people who don't understand you. But you have one friend in particular, and you seem to like each other, and you share ideas with them. Maybe you invite this friend to some of your special places where you like to observe human nature, which is important for a writer. And yes, it may entail watching people when they're unaware you're watching them. Because that's the best way to observe authentic human behaviour, right? Which for some reason your friend claims to find unusual. Or inappropriate, or whatever. As a result, you see less of each other. In fact you wouldn't see each other at all if you didn't make an effort, sometimes spending a whole evening outside their house in order to encounter them when their phone seems to be malfunctioning again. And then you get it. Obviously, this so-called friend is stealing your ideas. Which totally explains why they've been avoiding you. How does that feel? Wow, it feels terrible. You feel bitterly disappointed and also totally angry. What do you do? You can't just hope this seething hatred will go away. You have to do something about it.

Step Six:
Confront your so-called friend. At which point, they may say, "Jesus, you have to stop this, dude! This delusion about me stealing your ideas! Maybe you should change your medication." And you reply, "I'm not taking any medication." And they say, "Well, there's your problem, right there!" And everyone at the book launch laughs and you get thrown out. This is how much the person values your friendship. To make a joke of it, and to humiliate you in front of a whole room full of their important writer friends. This cannot go unpunished. You are now truly enraged. Which is when, quite naturally, you reach the next step.

Step Seven:
You have an idea! Yes, that's what it took! Paradoxically, it was only by allowing your emotions free rein that you created the conditions in which an idea could emerge: organically, majestically, and hilariously. This is such a good idea! Because what this is really about is not how to have an idea, but how to have someone else's idea. Yes, in the same way that the despicable person who trampled on your friendship stole your ideas, you will steal their ideas. But how?

Step Eight:
Break into the person's house. Choose a time when you're pretty sure they won't be there. But it's best to take a weapon with you, just in case. You can't be totally certain they won't be there, or come home unexpectedly, or that someone else won't be there, maybe one of their worthless, immoral important writer friends. So take a weapon. Also some chloroform, rope, duct tape and a sack. Just in case.

Step Nine:
Once inside the house find their computer. Their passwords will be pathetically easy to discover. They always are. Access their work files. Be swift, but calm and purposeful. Don't waste time regretting that you had to use the weapon. These things happen. Luckily you have the other equipment. Okay, you're into their files. Bingo! There it is, a file called New Ideas. Ha, ha, people are so dumb. You read the file and find the latest idea.  It's an idea for a short piece entitled How To Have An Idea. It's not bad. You can definitely use it. It's your idea now.

Step Ten:
Congratulations, I've had an idea! This is my idea. Mine. All mine. 

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