Finished - but not finished!

Draft Cover Design
You may have noticed I've been a bit quiet recently - that's because I've been working like a demon to meet deadlines.  But, yesterday afternoon I finished the final paragraphs of the biography I've been working on for 2 years, with a great big sigh of relief.  Everyone knows that biographies don't usually have happy endings - the hero/ine always dies, but its nice to get the deathbed scene over and done with and be able to give the reader an ending that's not too final - creating the sense of something going forward rather than coming to an abrupt stop!

It isn't the end for me, of course - I'm only a third of the way through.  One third of a biography is the research - libraries and archives, books, talking to people - the detective aspect of it.  One third is the actual writing - shaping the narrative onto the page - making a story out of a life.  And the final third is the editing and re-writing, the endless letters asking for permission to quote things,sourcing illustrations, and creating bibliographies and indexes.  I still have a couple of people to talk to, but anything new that turns up now can be slotted into its place in the book without too much juggling.

So, now I'm free to clean my house - which has the kind of dust you only see in horror movies - and reply to about 2,000 emails (I kid you not!) which are languishing in my mail box.  My family might actually get to see something of me too - if they still recognise my face!  and I might manage to blog occasionally as well.

From August 12th I'm running a free life-writing course online at the Edinburgh E-book Festival.  Every afternoon there will be a workshop, with helpful handouts and information on turning your own life, or someone else's, into literature.  There are free books too.  I've created a 'sampler' of lifewriting, fiction, poetry and non-fiction, which is free to download, called 'Other People's Lives' - and there are free books from other authors taking part too.

Anyone can participate in the workshops - the materials and tuition are FREE - but only the first 12 to register online will get feedback from me.

If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part, email us on


  1. You must have a fine sense of achievement finishing your first draft.
    2,000 messages in the inbox? Gah, how painful!.

    Your workshop sounds fab, if only I had time...

  2. Your course looks fascinating. I'll download your book. I'm sure you'll get so many takers. Everyone will learn something. In the end we all draw from our lives for our fiction. As you know I reflected on this in The Romancer. I love you summary about the timeline of writing an autobiography. It makes it sound much easier and more straightforward that I am sure it really is. wxx

  3. PS I think your cover is super. Very atmospheric.
    Just wish your name were bigger on there.x


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