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Posts tagged writing

Inside the Swedish Writers’ Union
September 20, 2014 | 10:22 am

While at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, I met with the vice chair of the Swedish Writers' Union (Sveriges Författarförbund), Sweden's formal and officially sanctioned support institution for writers, in the context of discussions on official support for writers. The Swedish Writers' Union is "the central professional organisation for writers and literary translators in Sweden," as their materials state. "We safeguard the economic and moral interests of our members by defending freedom of expression and of the press, and keeping up to date with copyright stipulations and the laws regulating copyright." This is the feedback they gave me on how their body operates. "To become a...

Styluses in the cheap seats
September 17, 2014 | 10:25 am

IMG_20140916_180514As I reported a while ago, premium brand pen manufacturers are at last catching on to the message that styluses are an increasingly popular, and stylish, commodity. Luckily for those of us not in the One Percent, though, they also seem to be improving at the bottom end of the market, with increasingly cheaper and better choices available for the normal user. I'm not getting paid anything for endorsing these, because who would do that for such cheap items? Rather, they're just stylus options that I found outclassed the opposition as anything other than status symbols. One option is the Bic...

The 2014 Forbes sick list – or, why shit pays
September 15, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Let's kick this off with one comment from a writer - a fairly successful and well-respected one. As H.L. Mencken said: "No one in this world, so far as I know ... has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people." And if you needed proof, here it is: The 2014 Forbes list of the World's Top-Earning Authors. "The top-earning authors list is perhaps the world’s most exclusive book club, with very few paths to entry," writes Forbes staffer Natalie Robehmed. Oops, silly me: There was I thinking the Nobel Prize in Literature was...

Pen brands starting to get their stylus act together
September 9, 2014 | 10:25 am

Remember a while ago I ranted about the premium pen brands who had so far shunned the stylus market? Well, looks like manufacturers are lining up to make me eat my words - or drink my own ink. Cross, for one, is coming out with a range of styluses, the Tech Stylus Collection, at prices from an economical $10, for the stylus-only Tech1, up to $55, for the all-in-one two-color-ink-plus-pencil-plus-stylus Tech3. But those kinds of price points are just scratching at the surface of the gold-plated aspirational bling lust that Apple learned so well to capitalize off, with its own premium...

Irvine Welsh on Scottish independence
September 7, 2014 | 2:25 pm

At this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival to speak and to promote his latest book, The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins, iconic modern Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, who has probably done more to push contemporary Scottish society into public awareness than any other writer, diverted from the American theme of his new book to address the whole Scottish independence referendum debate - in terms that cast a spotlight on the entire UK as a whole. Asked simply "Yes or No, and why?" Welsh replied: I can't vote so I'm not telling anybody how they should vote, just  giving what I believe, but...

Will you use the Evernote/Moleskine double act?
September 6, 2014 | 5:33 pm

Notebook and stationery brand Moleskine, as everybody probably now knows, has built its current rise to fashionable ubiquity on its creative and literary pedigree. "The Moleskine notebook is, in fact, the heir and successor to the legendary notebook used by artists and thinkers over the past two centuries: among them Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Bruce Chatwin ... produced for over a century by a small French bookbinder that supplied the stationery shops of Paris, where the artistic and literary avant-gardes of the world browsed and bought them," reads the company's introductory blurb. Since its revival in...

Eleanor Catton uses NZ Post Book Award to fund Kiwi writers reading
September 4, 2014 | 10:25 am

eleanor cattonNew Zealand author Eleanor Catton, youngest ever winner of the UK's Man Booker Prize with her novel The Luminaries, has also won two of the top prizes in the New Zealand Post Book Awards. And in her acceptance speech, Catton announced that she would be using the prize money and her other income from writing to support a new, as yet unnamed, grant to give New Zealand writers more time to read. Although denied the most prestigious prize in the Awards, the New Zealand Post Book of the Year Award, by Jill Trevelyan's Peter McLeavey: The life and times of a...

Will Self envies George Orwell’s mediocrity
September 3, 2014 | 4:25 pm

George Orwell Why I Write Penguin BooksOh the woes of being Will Self. No one is going to shoot at you across a barren stretch of contested Spanish earth in a great faceoff between rival ideologies. No one is going to hunt you through the streets of Barcelona for "rabid Trotskyism." No one is going to drop a flying bomb on your flat and demolish your library. No one is going to refuse to publish one of your masterworks for fear of upsetting wartime allies. No one is going to make special requests to the Minister of Health to import the drugs needed to keep you...

Grant Snider’s guide to the perfect writer’s paradise
September 1, 2014 | 4:25 pm

Grant Snider is a comic genius with an insight into the writerly life and the writer's process that would put many practising writers to shame. And this is his all-in-one guide to the ... um ... architecture of how it should be done. I have no idea how inspiring Inspiration Overlook may be, or how useful the Emergency Idea Generator could be, but I suspect they will be for some. And as awful warnings if nothing else, you do not want to spend too much time on Procrastination Patio, let alone Desperation Drop. You can find this work, along with all Grant...

xkcd explains why texting is good for writing skills
August 29, 2014 | 7:18 am

Origin 8292014 70958 AM.bmpRandall Munroe, Hugo-winning webcomic artist of xkcd, has hit the nail on the head with another keen observation about our mobile lifestyle. The xkcd character Cueball is not surprised when his friend observes that SMS texting is actually good for spelling and grammar. Practice, he explains in the rest of the strip, makes perfect. (The text does contain an F-bomb, but it’s an F-bomb that was dropped by James Joyce.) Be sure and pay attention to the alt-text that comes up when you mouse over the comic. In an odd juxtaposition, this came just a few minutes after I...

11 Publishing Shakers to follow, besides us
August 13, 2014 | 8:28 pm

shakerI’ll admit this is blowing my own horn a little, but today I was alerted to an article on The Independent Publishing Magazine listing “The 12 Publishing Shakers You Should Be Following.” After a bit of puzzlement—are the Shakers even still around, and didn’t they make furniture rather than publish?—I noticed that our very own Paul St. John Mackintosh comes in at number one on the list. (And they happen to mention a certain other TeleRead writer in the comments after that…) Another TeleRead-related writer, Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader, came in at #7. While posting about it...

Hugh MacDiarmid: A blessing or a curse on modern Scottish nationalism?
August 11, 2014 | 10:25 am

Today, August 11th, marks the birth of Christopher Murray Grieve, otherwise known as Hugh MacDiarmid, one of the greatest Scottish writers of modern times. He was also one of the most fervent and articulate advocates of an unique Scottish identity, and practically the instigator of the modern Scottish Renaissance in Caledonian literature and art. And in this year of the Scottish referendum on independence from the United Kingdom, it's worth looking at MacDiarmid's influence on modern Scottish nationalism, and how much he did to help - or hinder - the movement. Politically as well as poetically engaged, MacDiarmid was an early...