Who is your reader?

I have a ton of books I want to read. When I was a teenager, I would obsessively read everything by a favourite author. Nowadays I recognise it’s just not possible to read everything. There is not enough time. Knowing this, what is it that we want for our readers? Our readers are strangers, yet [...]

Writing Backwards

In 1842 Charles Dickens, in correspondence with Edgar Allan Poe, noted that when the author William Godwin wrote ‘Caleb Williams’ that he wrote backwards. He started by 'first involving his hero in a web of difficulties and then casting about for some mode of accounting for what had been done.' (The Philosophy of Composition 1846) [...]

An evening with Tim Dowling

Tim Dowling stood at the lectern. There was an easy manner about him as if he was enjoying this moment, talking to a hundred strangers at the Guardian Masterclass. Tim writes a humorous column for the Guardian which he describes as ‘observational writing, a lifestyle sub-genre otherwise known as ‘wonky trolley’ columns, and by ‘wonky [...]

Sometimes we need to ‘pretend’

The word 'pretend' has a bad press. We worry about doctors who aren’t doctors, builders who can’t build, teachers who aren’t qualified to teach. But the word ‘pretend’ comes from the Latin “praetendo” meaning to stretch forth, reach out, extend. Pretending allows us to believe we can do something new and different. Pretending allows us [...]