Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Don't look here, look somewhere else

I've realised I do very little blogging these days. I get precious little time to write so any time I do get I spend writing (not blogging about writing).

So, here are a few links to the writing I've been doing while I haven't been blogging about writing.


Short stories of mine you can read (free) online

  • Ogre Beans - 'Beautifully observed and haunting - it creeps up and surprises. Brilliant' - Chris Cleave
  • The Same Old Song of Plenty  - 'A thoughtful, bittersweet tale' - Scott Pack (also shortlisted for the Doire Press International Fiction Competition)
  • Bottled - 100 word story published online and in print in Boston Literary Magazine



Other music

General bits

You can follow me on Twitter for updates/ramblings/book related chat and so on

Friday, 9 November 2012

The quiet joys of first publication

This week saw a little milestone for me as a writer - my first published piece of work. To be more accurate, my first published piece of fiction (I wrote a non-fiction book for work a couple of years ago).

My short story 'The Same Old Song of Plenty' was published in a new online literary journal The Bohemyth on Wednesday. I learned two simple lessons as a result.

Lesson #1 Social media is a good thing for new authors

I first heard about Bohemyth via Twitter - MJ Hyland tweeted a link saying a new literary journal was looking for submissions so I checked it out and emailed my story off to them. A couple of days later I got a response saying they were going to publish it in their second issue. I'd never have heard about it in the first place if I wasn't using Twitter. Tweeting links round after the story was published was also a great way to get the word out - as a result Bohemyth had it's highest traffic day since launching.

You don't need to have bucketloads to say to make the most of Twitter - in fact, at first it's probably best if you don't. Just get on there, follow some people who like the things you like and start participating in a few conversations. I spend most of my time on Twitter involving myself in whatever conversations I have an interest in. My followers (and the people I follow) include prize-winning authors, friends, librarians and people who just like books.

The point is this - Twitter breaks down the lines between speaker and audience and makes everyone a mixture of both. It's your tin can and string to an almost endless community of people who love the same things you do. Use it.

#2 Having your story published makes people read it differently

This is an interesting one. In theory I could have emailed the story to everyone I know and they'd probably have read it. Having someone else select your story as worthwhile and make it available on a platform that has nothing to do with you, however, alters perceptions.

Once your story has a barrier between author and reader behind it (in this case publication by a third party), it allows people to read it in a different way. Someone has chosen your work and said 'this is worth reading'. The word 'barrier' may sound negative in this context but that detachment makes all the difference.

Feedback on the story started coming in (from people I know as well as people I don't) and the nicest surprise was their responses. People told me they like the story (which was wonderful) but they also told me which lines or phrases they particularly loved. Several chose different bits and one person highlighted a line I almost left out of the final draft. My favourite bit of feedback came from someone on Twitter who said she'd like to sit quietly on a park bench with the main character.

I guess what I'm saying is that having your work read by friends and other writers is great. Friends tell you they like it because they like you; other writers tell you what's wrong with it as they're reading with a critical eye. Having the story published, however, allows people to read it free of either of these roles. It also allows more people to read it.

Wednesday was a great day for me as a writer in the early stages of his career. It was, of course, great to be told people liked the story but, more importantly, it gave me the confidence to think this is something I can do. Something that, with plenty more hard work, I can be good at.

So, a good day, a couple of useful lessons and now time to move on to the next story.

If you'd like to read 'The Same Old Song of Plenty' it's here -

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

My first published story

So, they day has finally arrived - a story of mine has been published for the first time.

It's called 'The Same Old Song of Plenty' and is in the second issue of The Bohemyth.

This is the first piece of fiction of mine that's been published anywhere so is a little landmark for me.

A good day all round.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Great writing - Charles Dickens

"Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself."
- Great Expectations

Monday, 25 June 2012

I Watch the Line

A short poem about tennis (by me) for the start of Wimbledon...

I Watch the Line

I watch the line.
The thin strip of white
Between green and green,
In and out,
Champion and forgotten.

Not for my eyes the exquisite lob,
The soft-handed drop shot,
The searing ace.
My eyes seek only mistakes,
The wide and the long.
Everything else is merely 'in'.

Break point, match point,
Championship point -
All hold equal merit.
I don't take sides,
Or fear the rain.

While spectators, cameras
and the world watch the game,
I watch the line.

Matt Hutchinson - June 2012

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Great writing advice from Richard Ford

OK, it's not actually from him as such (the words come from a character in his new novel Canada) but they might as well.

Not to hunt too hard for hidden or opposite meanings but to look as much as possible straight at the things you can see in broad daylight.

Sage advice, whoever it comes from

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

John irving on not finishing books (and why reviewers are angry)

"Grown-ups shouldn't finish books they're not enjoying. When you're no longer a child, and you no longer live at home, you don't have to finish everything on your plate. One reward of leaving school is that you don't have to finish books you don't like. You know, if I were a critic, I'd be angry and vicious too; it makes poor critics angry and vicious - to have to finish all those books they're not enjoying. What a silly job criticism is! What unnatural work it is! It is certainly not work for a grown-up."

From The Paris Review - The Art of Fiction no. 93 (1986)