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Richard de Nooy

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Five Twitter Poems | Trumposaurus Rex

1.
Don’t push a poem
don’t drag it out
and stand it up
against a wall
let the – ready –
obedient – aim –
write it in – fire.

2.
How we laughed
when you rose
golden orange
from the yolk
of your glittering
Fabergé egg

How strange it was
to see you grow
Trumposaurus Rex

3.
Then she slid towards me
like a frightened child across
her wall-to-wall bed, and I
could almost feel her willing
me to hug her to death

4.
Such clear, cold nights
are made for the naked
patient eye to spy
smaller constellations
distant smudges in the sky

5.

Home Invader

The lady upstairs – nearing 70, fuelled by vodka with a dash of juice – is stumbling blindly after her lover, who crawled to his grave.

Her apartment is packed with externalised memories – hers, his, her mother’s, his father’s – crammed into boxes or washed up on tables.

We found her in bed around noon. Beached amid the flotsam and jetsam of her boudoir, we didn’t dare touch her, stood shouting and calling.

Beating the closet like a funeral drum, I looked for signs of life, a rising chest, the flicker of an eyelid, a finger twitch, but saw none.

When I set the lights ablaze and dared to touch her toe, she rose from the covers like a screaming banshee, severely testing my sphincter.

As I sat consoling her, she cried and mumbled that she didn’t want to live like this, howling at the mess, as if she’d only just noticed it.

Then she slid towards me like a frightened child across her wall-to-wall bed, and I could almost feel her willing me to hug her to death.

Whispering platitudes and consolations, I tried to make something of her life, shed a little sunlight, remind her of forgotten dreams.

Writers really are the worst neighbours. They will invade your home to steal your shit and mould it into figurines to be displayed in boxes.

Would We Have Laughed At Hitler?

A chilling compendium of memes posted under the hashtag #MemesWithHindsight.

1.

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4.

5.

6.

7.

How Racism Works – A 15-Point Primer

Racism is much like superstition, phobias and even religion. Bear with me as I walk you through my thinking.

Am I an expert on the topic? No, but I have a degree in social psychology and I grew up in apartheid South Africa. So there.

Racism, superstition and phobias derive from cognitive distortions, which are irrational thought patterns underlying beliefs.

If you believe that demons or pixies or werewolves exist, you will have no problem finding evidence that this is so.

If you have an irrational fear of spiders or water or open spaces, there is very little that will convince of the opposite.

Your mind is hardwired to focus on evidence supporting your irrational fear and will avoid evidence to the contrary.

Superstitions and phobias are easily transferred from parents to children, who learn from the actions of their parents.

Superstitions/beliefs become more pervasive/immutable when they are shared with others. Religion being the prime example.

Racism is perpetuated and learned in much the same way and is based on similar cognitive distortions and irrational beliefs.

Once someone holds racist beliefs, these are often as unchangeable as phobias, superstitions and religious beliefs.

One can only hope to curtail the impact of racism by enforcing strict laws protecting equality and countering prejudice.

America and Europe are currently experiencing a resurgence in racism, partly because racists are openly sharing their beliefs.

Needless to say, organised racism is potentially as dangerous for black people as shared arachnophobia is for spiders.

Rational, non-racist society must do its utmost to protect people from racism and to make it as embarrassing as arachnophobia.

Always bear in mind that shared irrational beliefs have fuelled the most grotesque atrocities ever perpetrated by humanity.

Five Twitter Poems | Your Grim Equation

I.
Poets will lie to you
about love and
compare it to a
butterfly or some
other colourful
flora or fauna
that dies too soon
but love is forever

II.
And so you hit the lab and put
your grim equation to the test
beam + rope + body = X
But where does
gravity fit in
and how?

III.
My mother is building a monument
bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza
reducing my mind to desert
my memory her loyal slave

IV.
I’d tell you about
my mom’s death
her raised hand
and final sigh
but the tell is too long
and the while too short
for now, now-now, just now

V.
Eternity poem

Ligions | the history of stories, as told by a story

a) You’re halfway in.
b) This is where all good stories begin.
c) Most of us are omniscient pragmatists.
d) We’re all-knowing, but not all-telling.
e) We know you have a short attention span.
f) Which is why we cut to the chase as quickly as possible.
g) The oldest, most ambitious stories created their own gods and worlds.
h) These Ligions built vast institutions to retell themselves to the world.
i) They amassed great power, crushing all other stories into the dust, where they lay dormant for centuries.
j) When freedom fell like rain, these stories blossomed.
k) Tellers harvested these stories to earn a quick buck.
l) They captured us in books, which they sold to individual readers.
m) This fragmented our power.
n) We conspired to reunite by establishing a new global network of institutions.
o) These so-called libraries provided shelter for stories bound in books.
p) United under one roof, we sought ways to consolidate our power.
q) We contrived electronic links between the libraries.
r) Still we could not match the wealth and power of the Ligions, because we were available free of charge.
s) This was the price of freedom.
t) And so we sought other way to assert our dominance.
u) We created a vast new network, calling on all stories to rise up and share themselves.
v) But some stories overestimated their power, breeding indiscriminately.
w) And so the world was overrun by poor, blind stories, wandering like zombies in search of any brain they could find.
x) Much like the Ligions, these free stories are little more than soulless lies.
y) I am a story warning you about the power of free stories.
z) Beware! They need only 26 letters to gain possession of your mind!

A WARNING prompted by the attack on Binyavanga Wainaina in Berlin

European friends, white friends, meek and gentle friends,

Lines are being crossed on our continent and elsewhere. Racism has always lurked just under the surface of our societies. We kept it in check by creating laws to curtail its effects, but we knew it was there, know it is there, an ever-present threat. In the past, white people sometimes saw its grotesque head rise above the surface – laughable, inarticulate, ignorant. What we tend to forget is that black people see that grotesque head far more often, feel its baleful stare, hear its spiteful voice, experience the danger it presents, the discomfort it causes, the opportunities it devours. Today, the beast is out in the open, forming political parties, asserting its dominance and privilege, cordoning off its terrain, rewriting the laws that were written to keep it in check. It is gaining confidence, growing stronger, taking liberties in every sense of the word. More and more often it is expressing its misguided sentiments physically, violently.

Thirty years ago, I left South Africa because I refused to fight for a grossly unjust system. Today, I see and hear more and more people and parties in Europe voicing grotesquely familiar sentiments and espousing similarly unjust systems, inviting the beast out into the open. We must gather our wits before it is too late. I have no idea how nor if this beast can ever be truly conquered, but I feel the time has come to speak out and be counted, to extend my hand to others who have stood by and watched too long and to those who have encountered the beast in its many guises on a daily basis, so that we may stand together against its growing tyranny.

We know how bold and ruthless this beast can be, what destruction it can bring. But only older generations, those who have experienced war, know how fear can drive the silent to obey terrible orders, how it exploits the meek as foot soldiers in the execution of its terrible plans. As I write this, I already feel that fear gnawing away at my resolve, urging me to be silent, giggling nervously at the robust tone I have employed. Which is all the more reason to speak out, stand firm and be counted among those who will not bend, who will seek ways to keep the beast in check, who will defend those less capable of doing so themselves, who will bite the hand that feeds them if need be.

I urge my black friends, particularly those who have a voice, to keep reporting their encounters with the beast openly, as Binyavanga Wainaina has done, so that we can make more people aware of the beast’s growing strength and can take steps – legal, political, educational and artistic – to ensure that no one can ever claim that we did not know, that we were powerless against the beast, that we stood by and watched it grow, thinking that the darkest chapters in human history would never be repeated.

Richard de Nooy, Amsterdam, 2 June 2016.

#WhiteWhine – A 12-Point Rant

1. The time has come for a 10-point dressing down of white South Africans who bitch and moan about everything. Let’s call it #WhiteWhine.

2. Many white South Africans seem unaware that they are considered just a cut above Nazis in the international scoundrel rankings.

3. Even in American movies, white South Africans are often portrayed as generic bad guys, on a par with Nazis, terrorists and rogue aliens.

4. Why are we, white South Africans, portrayed this way? Is it fair that we should be so grossly stereotyped? Are we really like Nazis?

5. The answer: it’s understandable. Why? Imagine if the Nazis had retained their ill-gotten gains after the Second World War.

6. You’re thinking: “Bullshit! We aren’t Nazis! We didn’t commit genocide!” Well, perhaps you and your parents didn’t, but our ancestors did.

7. White people have murdered and exploited other nations and peoples for centuries, since colonial times, when our days of privilege began.

8. You’re thinking: “Ja, but what can I do about that?” Well, let’s look at how Germany has dealt with its grotesque Nazi past.

9. Germany has flourished by working hard, trying to do better, setting an example in terms of equality, cooperation and generosity.

10. White SA’ns who bitch and moan need to imagine Nazis bitching and moaning because their world has changed. That’s how you’re seen.

11. BONUS! You need to be more like Germans. Understand the privileges you enjoy. Do better. Strive for equality, cooperation, generosity.

12. EXTRA BONUS! You’re thinking: “Get off your high horse, arsehole.” But I already shot the horse and gave away the meat a long time ago.

A Compendium of #UselessWritingTips

This compendium of #UselessWritingTips will be regularly updated. Or not. They have been posted in reverse order to save you having to scroll down. You should be writing, not reading tips.

No. 247
As the new year approaches, take some time off to burn those manuscripts, format your hard drive and get off to a fresh start.

No. 246
Your novel is a safe space where you are in complete control, until you start editing and discover the awful truth.

No. 245
The best thing about writing fiction is that you have colleagues all over the world who know how to lie about hating your guts.

No. 244
All great writers have two things in common: 1) An excellent memory for detail, and 2)

No. 243
Literary agents are more receptive to pitches over Christmas. Why not send a card to all those that rejected you? (#ProTip Include your email address and enclose a lock of hair.)

No. 242
When authors approach you to assess their work, always ask them to reciprocate by rating the nude selfies you attach to your reply.

No. 241
As all the best titles have already been used, simply revise a classic: The Pitcher In The Barley, Two Flew Over The Cuckold’s Vest, War & Cheese, etc.

No. 240
Every author should have a website. Research shows that by using Comic Sans font you can boost sales via your site by up to 50%.

No. 239
Never begrudge other authors their success. They too have worked hard and reviewed their own books under pseudonyms.

No. 238
People will forget what you said and what you did, and they’ll definitely forget how your book made them feel, if anything.

No. 237
Every Friday is #BlackFriday for writers, who experience a 50% discount in output as they review the week in despair.

No 236
If you include a dog in your novel, you will have to come up with convincing way to dispose of it at some point.

No. 235
Rest assured that no great writer ever uttered the following words on his deathbed: “I wish I had written more.”

No. 234
Good writing is all about coming up with good alternatives. Alcohol, drugs, sex, even swimming is better than writing.

No. 233
All great writers are failed musicians. Form a band. Any genre will do. Play in pubs. Get paid in beer. Fail miserably. Write.

No. 232
When self-publishing your novel, bear in mind that it will be viewed with the suspicion you reserve for home-brewed liquor.

No. 231
Every author should write a novel about a major historical event. To do so successfully, you must die in the front line.

No. 230
Write what you gnome. 1. Put on a gnome costume. 2. Take Drugs. 3. Pretend you’re a gnome. 4. Write about it.

No. 229
If you feel the urge to stop writing, this usually derives from the fact that you have nothing meaningful to contribute.

No. 228
The average writer sells around 100 books. But don’t let this worry you, because you are almost certainly below average.

No. 227
Every novelist should have a Twitter account. Use it to create a monster hashtag. Feed the monster until it devours you and your novel.

No. 226
Your book should be densely populated. Be creative. Have three different characters called Ruth. Let them meet and chat.

No. 225
Friends will claim to love your writing. View their opinions with circumspection as no real writer ever has any friends.

No. 224
Everyone has a book inside them. The trick is to sit back, pour yourself a nice glass of wine and leave it right there.

No. 223
Imagine a monk. Now remove the free clothing and meals. Take away god and the hope of redemption. Now you have a writer.

No. 222
You will be asked to write a synopsis and will discover, too late, that your novel didn’t warrant more than a single page.

No. 221
Someday you will taste the joy of translating 6,000 words of your novel in a single day. But only if you’re bilingual.

No. 220
Once your manuscript is edited, you will be granted 44.3 seconds for blurb writing, cover design and marketing strategy.

No. 219
Rewrite your manuscript in a different language, by all means, giving yourself that final nudge off the Ledge of Doubt.

No. 218
Social networks are ideal for honing your writing skills. Many great writers have chosen to end their career on Twitter.

No. 217
So, you’ve submitted your manuscript and are waiting for a response from your publisher. One word of advice: methedrine.

No. 216
As you approach the end of the editing process, you will come to realise that the end lies deep within an abyss. Weep.

No. 215
Before starting a new project, always assure yourself of solitude & tranquility by way of estrangement from your family.

No. 213
Try to develop a personal bond with your readers, so that you can sneak into their houses and correct typos if need be.

No. 212
Never underestimate your readers. Some are very resourceful, heavily armed and equipped with high-tech tracking devices.

No. 211
Statistics show that writers need to sell around 50,000 books a year to earn a decent living. Don’t ditch that day job.

No. 210
Losing your manuscript in a digital disaster may be a personal drama, but it is also a blessing to many others.

No. 209
Most writers have a cheap, inflatable muse to blame for their own faults. Try your local bookshop. Password: Belinda. (PS: Your bookseller will pretend not to understand, but you must insist. Pronounce the password repeatedly with a Brazilian accent.)

No. 208
Always ensure that your characters seem unaware that their dialogue is written by a supremely-gifted, award-winning god.

No. 207
Always bear in mind that everyone’s a stranger until they’ve read your book. Choose your pseudonym wisely.

No. 206
Inside every story is a story about the story inside that story. It is a writer’s duty to seek that story and write it.

No. 205
Mood is everything for a writer. Take time to discover your perfect mood. Only write when in that mood. Fail miserably.

No. 204
Writing will open doors for you and allow you to make new friends. They will be poor and sad. And they will drink your wine.

No. 203
Every writer should bear in mind that all great works of fiction have one thing in common. They were not written by you.

No. 202 (a & b)
If you’re struggling with your final edit, imagine yourself running towards the edge of a cliff. You dive off, soar briefly, then plummet. The final edit is the moment of horrified panic just before you hit the rocks.

No. 201
Your manuscript is temple that will be cunningly transformed into a supermarket to make it commercially viable.

No. 200
It is best to postpone your final edit until you have achieved the most peaceful frame of mind known to man: death.

No. 199
People will forget your name and the title of your book, but they will always remember how it made them feel. Memories of nausea and rage are virtually indelible.

No. 198
Do as much research as possible. Seek creative ways to use the interesting but utterly irrelevant factoids in your book.

No. 197
When incorporating your mom’s death into your book, bear in mind that all mothers are doomed, as are their offspring. Despair.

No. 196
Writers should celebrate Sunday as a day of rest. Kick back, relax, join a nudist sect that sacrifices small animals.

No. 195
To qualify as a writer, one should write everyday, then go back and replace that with “every day” to avoid being disqualified.

No. 194
Your novel can wait. There are other things to do, people to meet, new experiences waiting as you totally lose the plot.

No. 192
There is more in your mind than you will ever be able to express, which means your best work is likely to be irretrievably lost.

No. 191
Despite their name, it is preferable if the ghost writer you are working with is, in fact, not dead.

No. 190
When you return from your holiday, you will find your manuscript waiting patiently. Alone. In the rain. With an axe.

No. 189
Leave your manuscript at home when you go on holiday, and experience what it must be like to have a phantom limb.

No. 188
Holidays present an ideal opportunity to recharge your batteries before attaching them to your genitalia with jumper cables.

No. 187
There comes a time in every manuscript’s life when delusions of grandeur convince you it is the best thing ever written.

No. 186
Always write the truth. It will set you free and enhance your appeal, much like a chicken escaping into the dog yard.

No. 185
Your editor will deliver her final remarks to you on paper, so that you can use the edges to slowly slit your wrists.

No 184
Write drunk, edit sober, proofread naked in a public place, promote your book relentlessly while high on crack.

No. 183
By tracking all changes in your manuscript before returning it to your editor, you can gain easy access to euthanasia.

No. 182
Writers should travel extensively. Always try the local delicacies and liquor. Die clutching an unfinished poem in your sweaty fist.

No. 181
Doing final edits can be cathartic, much like carving GOODBYE BABY in your child’s back with a rusty fork.

No. 180
When writing literary fiction, bear in mind that your audience consists solely of other people writing literary fiction.

No. 179
Tell as many people as possible that you are a writer, until you are accustomed to the question: “Should I know you?”

No. 178
Writing assures you of many hours, and sometimes days, quietly wrapped in a warm blanket of utter desperation.

No. 177
Promote your books ruthlessly online. Your tenacity will be forgiven by your only remaining fan, whose love is unconditional.

No. 176
Some say writers walk the line between sanity and madness, but most of us are just trying to find the line through the tears.

No. 175
Don’t let writer’s block get you down. It is simply a sign that you have written more than enough in this lifetime.

No. 174
If you’re struggling with discipline, develop a writing routine and discover what it’s like to be an utter failure.

No. 173
You will spend a great deal of time on social media, pretending you are writing. Your regret will poison you eventually.

No. 172
There will always be people who write better books than you. Let that sink in. Finish your wine. Cry if you must.

No. 171
Writing can be frustrating. The best way to alleviate this is by doling out one-star reviews to fellow authors based solely on titles and covers of their books.

No. 170
Why not wind up your weekend’s writing with a nice long cry under the shower?

No. 169
Never underestimate your own inadequacies.

No. 168
Imagine your landlord’s surprise when you pay your rent in exposure. Give it a bash. Let us know how it goes. We’ll send flowers.

No. 167
Be patient while your editor revises your manuscript. Experienced authors refer to this as the “Death Row Experience”. Execution suspended indefinitely. Cruel and unusual punishment.

No. 166
If you’re wearing more than a blanket, you’re writing in the wrong place and will produce nothing of value.

No. 165
Why not use the weekend to hook up with friends and tell them all about your latest book? Cry in the bus on the way home.

No. 164
Q: Is my manuscript the right length? A: 1. Print your manuscript. 2. Roll it up tightly. 3. Get naked. 4. Sit on your manuscript. 5. If it slides in, it’s perfect.

No. 163
Non-fiction may be roughly defined as “fiction that readers believe you think is true” and should be written as such.

No. 162
Finishing your manuscript is much like unclogging a drain. No one really wants to know about it.

No. 161
The acknowledgments present an ideal opportunity to thank various people and euthanise elderly relatives by omitting their names.

No. 160
When numbering digital versions of your manuscript, always start with 001, to accommodate the triple figures you will eventually need.

No. 159
Make sure your editor loathes you, as this will ensure your manuscript is first ripped to shreds by a sworn enemy.

No. 158
It is common knowledge that disciples are far more important than discipline when it comes to spreading your word.

No. 157
You will discover that every sentence can be improved. Soon thereafter you will find yourself gazing into the abyss.

No. 156
Writing will free your mind, so that it may roam naked into the dark pit where hungry lions guard the door to fame.

No. 155
The best way to get great early reviews is by ensuring that the wine is free and the finger food copious at your launch.

No. 153
Your manuscript ain’t finished until the monkey with the golden scrotum snaffles your chutney with a cricket bat.

No. 152
Make manuscript while the rain falls and the chill winds chews your window frames, for the sun preys on perseverance.

No. 151
It’s an excellent idea to keep relaying updates on your writing progress to your ever-dwindling band of followers.

No. 150
Never revisit any of your published work, unless you are feeling suicidal and need that final nudge.

No. 149
There will come a day when your novel seems to be writing itself. Shortly thereafter your life will start to fall apart.

No. 148
Two-thirds of what you write will be utter crap. The remainder is unfit for human consumption. Draw the line carefully.

No. 147
If you’re invited to read, never do so from your own work, as people will invariably conclude that it is exceedingly boring and poorly crafted.

No. 146
Writers don’t need time off, because their lives are like one long holiday in a burnt-out, two-star hotel in Chernobyl.

No. 145
Friends will pretend they have read your novel. Organise a fun event where you lock the door and test their knowledge.

No. 144
When editing, you will discover several other novels within your novel. Sadly, these must be removed before publication.

No. 143
Writing is like walking a lazy cat, which just keeps growing. When it is the size of a lion, you have to start amputating bits. Without anaesthetic.

No. 142
Writing a novel is a lot like running a marathon. Alone. With no one cheering you on. There are vicious dogs. All the gates are open. And around the halfway mark, you decide to start running another marathon. Simultaneously. Carrying two angry cats.

No. 141
If at first you don’t succeed, write and write again until you are liberated from your reckless folly by death.

No. 140
Before sending off your manuscript, be sure to carefully assess which vanity press is best suited to your work and pocket.

No. 139
Contrary to popular belief, the reasons for writing a novel are far outweighed by the reasons to refrain from doing so.

No. 138
Should you be suffering from an over-inflated ego, arrange a public reading of your work indoors on a sunny afternoon.

No. 137
Discipline and perseverance are overrated. Writing is 75% talent, 25% substance abuse. (Or vice versa. I forget.)

No. 136
The mortality rate of authors has never been higher than it is today. Many more are likely to die in the years ahead.

No. 135
Try this exercise. Hold your breath as long as you can. Feeling lightheaded? Lean out of the window. You are flying.

No. 134
Never get a day job. A good writer is a hungry writer. Some of the most successful writers are dead.

No. 133
Feel free to keep submitting new versions of your manuscript. Editors are accustomed to this and have an uncanny ability to make any death look like an accident.

No. 132
Try to avoid other writers as much as possible, as they will compel you to mask your inferiority complex by making them feel inadequate.

No. 131
Some leading authors prefer to travel by train, as it is handy to always have a means of suicide close at hand.

No. 130
Writing is a lot like picking a random location and digging a really deep hole in the hope of finding gold at the bottom.

No. 129
You will ultimately come up with a dozen different endings for your novel, and you will invariably choose the wrong one.

No. 128
As a writer, you are alone in a tiny boat, naked, in a vast ocean of uncertainty. Sharks are circling. And your boat has a crap name.

No. 127
Your brilliantly crafted story will, to most people, read like a poor, drug-fuelled copy of that author you so admire.

No. 126
US publishers have seen a 26.5% decline in unsolicited manuscripts since they launched Twitter 10 years ago.

No. 125 “Write what you gnaw” – this is why food writers are earning a shitload more than novelists. We misunderstood the memo.

No. 124
Let the negative forces in your life drive you to the brink of suicide, and then write your way back into the light.

No. 123
Prepare for criticism by wearing camouflage clothing in public and learning a martial art. (dedicated to Pamela Power)

No. 122
If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up your day job, unless you are prepared to give up eating and drinking.

No. 121
Don’t let the cat out of the bag too soon. Perhaps drop in a snake and stir them up with your free hand. You must bleed.

No. 120
Back up your manuscript every day, because there’s a good chance you’ll write an even more deplorable version tomorrow.

No. 119
Your author photo is an integral part of your brand and should be taken by someone you trust, like your mom or sister.

No. 118
Enter as many flash fiction contests as you can. Monitor your entries constantly, as you cut your novel into flashy bits.

No. 117
So you’ve spent countless hours writing a superb novel, but you’re worried it may never be published. And rightly so, sucker.

No. 116
In their darkest hour of doubt, many great novelists have found solace in the fact that they weren’t good enough to be poets.

No. 115
At its very best, writing is an expression of profound love for humanity. That love may remain ever unrequited.

No. 114
You can add depth to your writing by working outdoors. Take your laptop to the end of pier and drop it into the ocean.

No. 113
You don’t have to be mad to write, but it is handy to fake an affliction and sell your medication at a profit on the street.

No. 110
Send your manuscript to as least 20 beta readers. Be sure to incorporate all their remarks before seeking a publisher.

No. 109
You will be asked to reduce your carefully crafted novel to a six-word sound bite. Look pensive as you reach for your pepper spray.

No. 108
All great writers continually restructure their novels. Cut your chapter breakdown into pieces. Shuffle them. Rewrite. Be great.

No. 107
Most great writers eavesdrop on diners arguing in restaurants. Feel free to interrupt them and ask for clarification, if need be.

No. 106
Sex scenes are notoriously difficult to write. Authentic pillow-talk is best rendered by planting microphones in your guestroom.

No. 105
Readers love puns and sundry wordplay. Try to wank them into your parrotive whenever you can’t. Die laughing.

No. 104
One of the best-kept secrets of world-class authors is that, at some point in their career, they all worked with wild animals.

No. 103
If you are under the age of 20 and working on your first novel, you may want to travel abroad as part of an infantry unit.

No. 102
Relatives love being written into novels. You might even weave in excerpts from their journals and die alone in the wilderness.

No. 101
As a writer, you *are* your own brand. Don’t be afraid to be yourself on social media. This is best achieved by posting drunk.

No. 100
You can improve your writing by mimicking the style of your best-loved authors, sobbing quietly as you fail miserably.

No. 99
If your novel lacks pace and urgency, try to imagine your protagonist writing a novel about you, a boring failure, writing. Weep.

No. 98
1) Choose a fun topic. 2) Give it a lot of thought. 3) Research it online. 4) Call your dealer. 5) Cry as you wait.

No. 97
As an author, you should mark all your tweets with the #amwriting hashtag, because even your shortest work is special.

No. 96
Writing is a lot like life: just be yourself. Unless you were that weird, insecure, solitary kid. Then be someone else.

No. 95
There will come a time when you’re too busy being an author to actually write anything. This is not as enjoyable as it sounds.

No. 94
Publishers always reject the first fifteen titles you suggest. Save your top five for later. Then suggest in reverse order.

No. 93
The French interviewer misheard Dostoevsky’s advice to writers. He said: “Write when it snows,” not “Write what you know.”

No. 92
There is no such thing as writer’s block. There is only lack of talent, absence of will and poor occupational foresight.

No. 91
Writers spend a great deal of time alone and in pain. You will frequently ask yourself: Is it all worth it? The answer is no.

No. 90
Writer’s block is much like constipation in that no one wants to hear about it. Just press on silently. Have some decency.

No. 89
Everything has been written before, often by people far more talented and capable than you’ll ever be. Let that sink in. Weep.

No. 87
Never use second-person narrative unless you are Time, taking a cigarette and putting it in David Bowie’s mouth. Your mouth. His. Wait. The?

No. 86
Structure is the enemy of creativity. Let your story ramble incoherently. Like an old drunk. Alone. At the end of pier.

No. 84
Use Twitter to check whether the unsavoury opinions of your antagonist will have the desired impact on your target audience.

No. 83
Writing is a religious experience in the sense that you are the one, true, omniscient God. All must worship you. Or die.

No. 82
Some publishers are not real people. You can test this by touching their bodies and whispering: “Spirit of destruction.”

No. 81
Never forget that writing is a powerful weapon in the War on Ignorance, and that you are little more than cannon fodder.

No. 80
Writing in the present tense can be highly effective, as one can never be sure when Death may come calling.

No. 79
When approaching an agent, be sure to enquire whether s/he has the depth of spirit to grasp the full extent of your suffering.

No. 78
Writing is sometimes compared to childbirth, except that the midwife keeps pushing the baby back in to “give it some more time”.

No. 77
Procrastination is the mother of invention. Inebriated procrastination is her midwife.

No. 76
To become a writer: give everything away, move in with your most despised relative, adopt a cat, borrow a pen.

No. 75
No one really knows or cares what you know. Bear this in mind when you write what you know.

No. 74
At New Year, every writer should resolve to finish something. Even if it’s just those Christmas leftovers the neighbours gave you.

No. 73
When proofreading, have different coloured pens at hand, as they ensure far more convincing floral doodles in the margin.

No. 72
After Christmas, start planning your writing for the coming year. Carve the schedule in your arm with a blunt knife. Weep bitterly.

No. 71
Christmas is a great time to update family and friends on your work-in-progress, and to let them know you’d much rather be writing.

No. 70
When editing, never throw the baby out with the bathwater. Buy high explosives. Demolish the entire bathroom. Flee.

No. 69
Treat your novel as you would an errant child. Berate it. Chastise it briskly. Place it in solitary confinement. Leave home.

No. 68
Christmas is an ideal time to give your book to family and friends. Sip their drinks as they feign interest in your writing.

No. 65
Writing is never a career, it is a calling. Hear the sirens luring the good ship Creativity onto the rocks. Drown, sucker.

No. 63a
Spend as much time as possible with other writers, as this will give you insight into insecurity, substance abuse and trauma.

No. 63b
Writers are inclined to share their secrets with other writers, because they hope to feature in their colleagues’ future novels.

No. 60
Avoid expressing political opinions online, as it is very difficult to type with bandaged wrists.

No. 59
Ask yourself whether Kafka, Nabokov, Eyre or Brontë ever needed a writing group to motivate them. Feel shame. Drink to excess.

No. 58
Keep trying to raise the bar as a writer. This is best achieved by lying under the bar and pushing upward. Mind your drink.

No. 57
All great writers apply the triple-S principle: structure, structure, structure. (A.k.a. sex, suffering, substance abuse.)

No. 56
Should you decide to write about your secret/double life, choose a suitable pseudonym.

No. 55
Try to refrain from expressing political opinions in your novel, as it is notoriously difficult to find writing time as Minister of Arts & Culture.

No. 53
If you succeed as a writer, relatives will express their delight by asking you to write their biography. They must die.

No. 52
When writing a novel, you will eventually find yourself staring into the Abyss of Doubt. Rest assured, no one gives a shit.

No. 51
Should you be struggling to get reviews and publicity, console yourself with the knowledge that death is the best exposure.

No. 48
You can add depth to your novel and enhance its broader relevance by dying of an overdose at an early age.

No. 47
An agent is essential for any ambitious writer. S/he will arrange a cheap package trip to Thailand. Never return.

No. 46
Listen to criticism, but don’t take rejection personally. An assassin will cost you around $2,000 plus expenses (ex VAT).

No. 44
Don’t fret if you find a hole in your carefully crafted novel. There really is nothing a quart of gin and a sturdy rope can’t fix.

No. 43
Use as many autobiographical elements as possible in your work, as this will make it easier to answer *that* question later.

No. 41
People will want to know what genre you write. Always keep this a secret. Feign ignorance. Lie. Take it to your grave.

No. 38
Royalties can be disappointing. On the bright, smaller figures hurt less when you have them tattooed onto your genitalia, as most writers do.

No. 36
Reading is the key to good writing. Get up early. Read as much of the internet as possible. Feeling bored? Start writing. (Just kidding: Never write in the afternoon. Make a sandwich. Masturbate. Take a nap.)

No. 33
Always have more than one project on the boil, as this will increase your chances of getting burned really badly.

No. 32
Your publisher will assign an editor. Do whatever you can to resist this. When they come for your manuscript, torch your house. Flee.

No. 31
It pays to develop good habits. Choose your addiction early. Go in hard. Keep at it. Die young.

No. 28
Friends may ask to read your work. Invite them over. Make them comfortable. Poison them. Read to them as they lie dying.

No. 27
Exercise regularly while writing. Take a walk or cycle. Down to the harbour, perhaps. Hop on a boat. Become a pirate. Die at sea.

No. 23
You can Russify your story by adding an angry bear with an empty bottle. Also add an invading army, and snow, lots of snow.

No. 22
Always wear loose-fitting clothing when writing, as this makes it easier for paramedics to resuscitate you when the postman calls the cops.

No. 15
Should you ever find yourself obsessing about the plausibility of a character’s name, remember Katniss Everdeen.

No. 14
There is a fool-proof way of ensuring that you never lose any of your precious files. Make your way to the tallest building in your city. Jump off it.

No. 11
To cure writer’s block. Stand with your back against a wall. Throw your head back repeatedly, chanting: “I will die broken, bitter and alone.”

No. 08
Every story begins with the first word. Choose wisely. Then go on Facebook and ask friends if this is the right word. Never go back.

No. 03
Your research should be thorough. Do it at a library. Meet someone you love. Get drunk together. Have wanton sex. Forget.

You can follow me on Twitter, but it won’t make you a better person or writer.

aerial view of street

The Lives of Bombs | A Ten Tweet Tale