A Room of Our Own

Virginia Woolf was clear: £500 a year and a room of one’s own is what one needs to write. More than a century later, more than a year in, we are still mostly stuck in our rooms, but whether those rooms are solely our own is another question. Unlike many, for me the move toContinue reading “A Room of Our Own”

The Writer’s Map

A beautiful illustrated book from Thames and Hudson is always a delight, but if that was all The Writers Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands was, I wouldn’t be writing about it here. It’s a map to, by, with, from, and for writers. The maps themselves are truly glorious and transport you across space andContinue reading “The Writer’s Map”

The Subversive Copy Editor

Is this the book that will finally get me on Twitter? Do writers need to read a book for editors? Should you judge a book by its title? Why write about this classic now? Carol Fisher Saller answers tricky questions for a living, as editor of the Q&A for the Chicago Manual of Style online.Continue reading “The Subversive Copy Editor”

The Tender Narrator

Czuły narrator is the book Olga Tokarczuk finally had time to write in 2020. When the world slowed down, she could, too (her beautiful picture book The Lost Soul, also illustrated by Joanna Concejo, was ever so prescient about slowing down). Much of her writing in this collection premiered for a different audience, including politicalContinue reading “The Tender Narrator”

The Writer at Work

A lot of writing about writing is about you, the writer. Which is understandable, and done well, incredibly useful, but can shift the focus away from the broader structures that keep you down and hold you up. Who helps you write, and who hinders you? What needs to change, what can you let be, andContinue reading “The Writer at Work”

Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well

Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well (King Lear, Act 1 scene 4) Shakespeare said it first, but it’s worth saying again and it’s probably every editor’s or reviser’s biggest fear. If revisers are like doctors, aiming to make a text better, should they be bound by the Hippocratic oath – or at leastContinue reading “Striving to better, oft we mar what’s well”

Air and Light and Time and Space

A sort of wood between the worlds,* Helen Sword’s book helps you jump in and out of academic writers’ minds, to see if their way of doing things could be yours, and why (not). Sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror – I recognized my own processes and enthusiasms in theirs. Sometimes it’s like browsingContinue reading “Air and Light and Time and Space”

How to grow your own poem

Don’t run away from that title – stay and see what Kate Clanchy has to say. She absolutely knows her stuff. She’s spent decades teaching people how to get their poems into and out of their imaginations, up to standard and down onto paper. And just because she teaches in high school, which is quiteContinue reading “How to grow your own poem”

Unravelling Unconscious Bias

Check your privilege is easy to say, but are you doing it? When you’re a queer immigrant woman like me you can get complacent, until you – I – remember that you’re a white, middle class “native speaker” of the language everyone feels they have to communicate in, which gives you power. To put itContinue reading “Unravelling Unconscious Bias”

Steering the Craft

Lockdown is the time to write your first novel, they say, but I missed the boat. I spent the beginning of it finishing the CIEP Medical Editing Course – and then needed cheering up because I missed the crew I did it with, and though we weren’t locked down anymore, by that point EVERYTHING wasContinue reading “Steering the Craft”