Selling novels: What it takes

I’m probably over-reacting, but it’s already getting harder these days to take pride in thinking of yourself as a writer, since so can anybody with the price of a computer and an Internet connection. You aren’t even permitted to die penniless and hungry in proper romantic style, since everyone will merely ask why you did that. Why didn’t you just take steps to flog your stuff?

Even if you decide you are going to flog your stuff, you aren’t permitted … Read more

Japanieces & tilefish & things

What have tilefish and superyacht owners got in common?

Collin posed this question at the end of his last post, “Pharaonic fish and flash fatcats.” And now he has invited me, Jack Shackaway, who remains unbound by considerations of political correctness, to explain.

The following passages are from a novel in progress starring yours truly — even written by yours truly though Collin will no doubt try to claim otherwise. The book is a work of … Read more

Writerly occupational hazards: Plagiarism

Plagiarism has become more tempting and easier, perhaps, in this digital age. The danger of being found out may also be greater.

Here’s a copy of the letter I e-mailed a week ago to The Tribune, New Delhi (I’ve yet to hear from either the newspaper or the writer):

Dear Editors,

I must inform you that more than half of Uma Vasudeva’s review of C.Y. Gopinath’s The Books of Answers (The Tribune, New Delhi, 7 August 2011) 

Read more

Freeing the teabags

“Tedium is my medium, and boredom is my game.” (original coinage, Mr Jack Shackaway, Esq.)

Currently I’m producing most of my adrenaline at night. And this morning I awoke tired and anxious, haunted by a dream wherein a gang of Irish writers threatened me with terrible things, the details of which I can’t remember. I do know groupies played a role in developments, which maybe explains why my personal timecock was pointing insistently to noon or thereabouts, even though it … Read more

Writerly occupational hazards: Ersatz creativity (boozing)

Inebriation is a false Muse. As seductive as they may be, chemical substitutes for true creative intoxication don’t work.

Maybe there are exceptions that prove this rule. Malcolm Lowry, e.g., did much field research for his brilliant novel Under the Volcano, which included a main protagonist who was drinking himself to death. (Lowry, unfortunately, perhaps in his quest for verisimilitude, was himself to go all the way at an early age.) Emulating his own hard-boiled detective protagonists, writer … Read more

Flu season in Bangkok

Jack here.

The fever’s gone. I’m still sick, though. Never mind I’m sitting here like a fool—more like a two-bit hooker, actually—editing a massive, near-sadistically impenetrable document for money, not enough of it.

But let me tell you about my blissful, antihistamine-enhanced sleep last night. A serial dream—it bridged multiple pee breaks—had me much excited at a book idea. I’d decided the combination of the world’s longest palindrome (several long paragraphs) and a brand-new concept of time I’d come up … Read more

‘Whatever’ rools, OK!

Jack Shackaway not only accuses me of plagiarism, never mind he’s a squatter on this site, he has asked whether I’d post the following item for him.

Thirteen years ago, South Park writers saw clearly into the future

Check out the 20 August 1997 episode where Cartman crosses Emerson’s name off a copy of Walden, substitutes his own, submits it to a “Save Our Fragile Planet” essay contest, and wins. The reactions of everyone from Cartman himself to … Read more

Needed: iPhone “creativity meter” app

Here’s one more way modern digital technology is making our lives worse.

In times past, I’d never leave the house without a little notebook in my pocket. The plastic jacket provided handy pockets for business cards. More importantly, meanwhile, the front of the diary served as a day planner, where I’d enter appointments and other reminders from front to back as far ahead as the future boded. The back of the book was where notes for posterity went—where in idle … Read more

‘Mobs’: Cacophony in C major and A minor

S. Tsow, whom we all recognize as a canny businessman, says the vuvuzela craze will end with this year’s World Cup series.

Ms. Mu (“Pig”), on the other hand, who knows more about “biznet” than Rockefeller and Trump combined, says that is not so. Mainstream support for her claim is to be found in news reports (e.g. this one, and this one) regarding Chinese vuvuzela manufacturers, who are moving millions of these

items, and who plan, before they Read more

“Sky gravid with precipitate disaster”: Finances and the freelancer

Sky gravid with precipitate disaster.” My, my. Our man Collin certainly has a way with words, hasn’t he? Nevertheless, he’s still starving right along with the rest of us wordsmiths, though not as successfully as some.

But he does understand the kind of lifestyle where the sky is always falling and so what? That’s just the way things are.

We have a buddy, a felllow scrivener, who shall remain nameless, who fled Bangkok’s gravid skies to earn actual money Read more