RIP Jonah Lomu. I watched the 1995 Rugby World Cup semi-final in the Cock Inn in Hatfield Broad Oak. The barman, Sam, was so confident that England would win that he said he’d streak round the village if we lost.
If memory serves me, he was naked and running by half-time.
How to help your editor.
[H]ow do writers achieve… excellence?
Certainly not by following another piece of writing advice: Just keep writing, you’ll get better. Really? Can you imagine a hitting coach saying to a kid who wants to be a professional baseball player, Just keep swinging the bat, you’ll get better?
…When you’re working on a draft or a revision, does your mind give you the words, the sentence structures, you need to accomplish this? And, if not, why not? The default answer to this last question is “talent”: Some people have it; others, less fortunate, do not.
But the default answer, happily, is not true. Researchers have discovered that innate talent has very little, if anything, to do with expertise. Instead [it is down to] practice.
This approach requires (among other things) breaking down a complex skill – like writing – into its component sub-skills, then practicing each skill separately until it’s mastered, then putting them all together.
I’ve just finished reading David Nobbs‘ memoir I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today. David was a comic novelist and screenwriter whose most famous creation was Reginald Perrin (the title is taken from the catchphrase of Reggie’s boss, CJ). I tend not to talk about books unless I can be really positive, because I know how it feels to both authors and publishers, but David is now dead and Random House are doing okay so I’ll admit that I found it slightly disappointing. In the ‘con’ column, it’s often rambling – at nearly 500pp in the paperback edition, it could have been hacked back – and in places it feels like a series of discrete and not enormously interesting anecdotes. Often he simply admits that he can’t remember relevant details, though I suspect that he kept back some very good stories for reasons of propriety or good manners. In the ‘pro’ column he’s interesting on early showbiz – writing for That Was The Week That Was and The Two Ronnies and others – and on the business of writing for TV, albeit some years ago. There are lots of places where his slightly surreal, gentle humour shines through. He had a great ear for dialogue, and some lovely one-liners, but if you haven’t read his stuff before (and you should) I’d start with Henry Pratt and Reggie Perrin.