Digital Lives and writing

This morning the first thing I did on waking was to grab my phone to check my twitter and facebook feeds. I did not pick up a pen, my journal or the masses of books that I want to read.

On the train to work I, like others, barely register the world outside as we are sucked into the world of the screen on our phones. Outside we pass through the rounded hills around Bath, through Somerset and Wiltshire countryside and can see sunsets, deer, a bird of prey, a flush of blossom, secret lives of travellers and homeless living in shacks and shelters by the railway tracks out of view of everyone else. At first I made a game of it, I tweeted about my journey every day through the frame of the train window:

But, after two years of this journey I barely register, I am sucked into tweeting to others, telling them about the Novel Nights I organise, promoting other writers at the event I’ve organised. Nikesh Shukla’s Meatspace is all about the hold that digital has on our lives, our obsessions and paranoia with being noticed

As a writer it’s all pernicious – we should be creating, not endlessly consuming other content, unless we can use the content creatively, like

On the other hand I still have a sense of wonder that this medium exists where our thoughts and words can be discovered by complete strangers. I’m a child of the 60’s and grew up pre-computer when getting into print had a completely different cache.

cuckooAs always the issue is quality, but, as writers we owe it to ourselves to concentrate on our work, to write, edit, rewrite and then send things out.

Like the cuckoo in the nest we need to protect our own creativity and not mindlessly feed our cuckoo phones.





Novel Nights talk on Self-Publishing

Self-Publishing talk & Open Mic : 8pm, Thursday July 3rd, The Lansdown Pub,8 Clifton Road, Bristol BS8 1AF. 

With the massive shifts in the publishing industry and the rise of e-books writers have more choice than ever before. Self-publishing is one of the options, find out if it’s for you.

Helen Hart, Silverwood Books

Helen Hart, Silverwood Books

Guest speaker, Helen Hart of Silverwood Books, will talk about the self-publishing  industry followed by a Q and A session. Publishing Director, Helen, is the author of nine novels (Harper Collins, OUP, Scholastic,) and Indie Reviewer for the Historical Novel Society. Read more at Silverwood Books.

Lily Forbes, recently published by Silverwood, will read from her novel about her childhood,  ‘Growing up Under the Mango Tree’ and talk briefly about her experiences of self-publishing. Lily’s book launched on June 3rd and her book is currently ranked 15,300 in the Amazon charts out of 6 million books.

Open Mic or novelists and writers – please contact . in advance for details. We’d love to hear your work.  Five minute slot.

SilverWood Logotype WHITE on GREEN 2 (1)SilverWood Books is an author services company that supports self-funding writers to produce high quality professionally-designed books and ebooks.


Tickets – £4 on the door. 8pm  July 3rd, The Lansdown Pub, 8 Clifton Road, Bristol BS8 1AF. 8pm

Novel Nights with Alan Snow

Guest speaker, Alan Snow, will give tips on working with publishers, and talk about having his trilogy, The Ratbridge Chronicles,  made into a feature film. The film (The Boxtrolls),is due to be released in September 2014. and stars Simon Pegg and Ben Kingsley.


Novel Nights takes place on the 1st May at the Lansdown, 8.00 pm. Tickets £4 on the door. 


Here Be Monsters! the first in the trilogy is set in—and below—the fictional town of Ratbridge (based upon Trowbridge ) .  Ratbridge is located in northeast Bumbleshire, on the banks of the River Rat. 

The plot stars Arthur  who flies with the help of mechanical wings and who lives in a complex network of tunnels beneath Ratbridge. It features illegal cheese hunts and fantastical creatures including Fish, a Boxtroll, cabbage heads and freshwater sea cows 

NB: Boxtrolls are a sub-species of the common troll, are extremely shy and live in cardboard boxes. Simon Pegg plays a Boxtroll in the film.

Alan has written and illustrated over 160 books for children including How Pirates really work, and The Truth About Cats. Other projects include creating an app of A Christmas Carol,the design of a children’s science museum in Japan, and the design of project robot. 

How pirates really work

Some tickets available in advance here:

or buy tickets on the door at £4 each.