Criticism: The Writer’s Friend


Receiving criticism on your own creative writing has to be one of the hardest things in the world. It’s roughly equivalent to someone using their red pen all over a love letter you’ve written – or someone ransacking a beautiful apartment that you’ve spent so much time on perfecting. They run inside with a hammer, knock down a few walls, rearrange everything, and come out with a broad grin, saying:
“Isn’t that so much better?”
Great. Just great.

People do say: “No pain, no gain.” And unfortunately, that’s very true – when it comes to writing anyway. You have to receive the criticism – you have to feel the pain (and the rage!) – and then pick yourself up and improve the book anyway, using the critic’s hateful words as your guide. If you are impervious to criticism, and you’re able to brush it off easily enough, perhaps you’re not writing as well as you should be.

Here’s a few tips on how to deal with criticism:

1. Check the person’s history.
2. Check if a few people are saying the same thing.
3. Listen to yourself when you respond. Are you endlessly justifying yourself?

And here’s a handy link with a full explanation of each of those points.

Season’s greetings.

Christmas Paean


When shops go crazy
And malls heave and churn;
When parking is scarce
And there’s no cash to burn;
When shiny things hang off
Trees of terrifying size;
When the sunshine is brilliant
Out of brilliant blue skies …

When we’re all consumed
With appetite and need;
And we spend so much money
On an exceptional feed;
When police fill the streets
And flashing lights blaze;
When kids drink too much
To worry about their days -

All my conviction returns in a flash;
And every prophesy rings true
Like a great cymbal crash.

Quietude and prayer and the sweet sound of singing
Float on the air like albatrosses winging.
Christmas is about one Person – just one.
The greatest story of all time has begun.

Writing a Book: Being Realistic About Time and Effort


When I started writing my first book, I had rather unrealistic expectations of how much work and effort it was going to take. I thought everything would be wrapped up within a year. Boy, was I wrong. There was a lot of heartache when I discovered how much work I still had ahead of me, and I nearly gave up numerous times.

It’s important to know what we’re up for, so that we do a good job, and so that we don’t throw our hands up in despair. We have to steel ourselves for the task.

When writing your first book, expect to struggle finishing the first draft.

Expect people to dislike your first draft. Expect a possible rewrite. And definitely factor in editing.

These are four things that take many first-time book-writers by surprise. Don’t be a victim.

Here’s a dose of honesty:

The Silver Birds


Tread softly
And do not disturb my thoughts.
They are like silver birds
In a thicket.
They speak their secrets behind leaves
Before flying away.

Someone came along.
Someone disturbed my thoughts.
The birds squawked in
They were ruffled
Into a dust grey.
Leaves were shed.

When you left,
Feathers became smooth and soft
Shining like gossamer
Richer than money.
Music began again.
Flight was possible.

I did not need another
To make my music.

Querying an Agent: Three Things to Check Before Sending the Letter


It’s the time of year when people start looking at the books they’ve finished during NaNoWriMo, and they start to think about where they’re going to take their writing dream next. It’s a huge achievement to finish a book. It’s a huge achievement to get through the editing process too. But what now?

For some of you, the idea of contacting literary agents will have flitted across your mind. But perhaps something is stopping you. Perhaps you’re not sure how to go about selecting a literary agency to apply to. Perhaps you’re confused about your query letter – you keep looking at it and feeling like somehow you’ve failed. You keep screwing it up or deleting it.

There are a few practical things you can use as a check list when preparing a query letter for a literary agency.

1. Research your agency.
2. Be straight to the point.
3. Include the important details.

To see these simple guidelines addressed in more detail, visit the link below.



When all reality is confused
When colours run and blur,
I throw myself into my writing.

When I fail at everything else
And indeed fail in this too
I throw myself into my writing.

When others turn against me
(The trustworthy sharpening their knives)
I throw myself into my writing.

When my heart is full
And I cannot empty it on anyone
I throw myself into my writing.

When I am lonely for no reason at all,
And must say goodbye to companions,
I throw myself into my writing.

This my comfort,
This my creed,
This my God-given solace
In need:
I throw myself into my writing.