Five writing tips:
- Better to read books prompting the thought ‘what makes them so good?’ rather than books that make you think ‘I can do better than this’.
- Readers are artists, too, and the writer depends on a good reader completing the world the writer began. It is a more honourable thing to be a good reader than a bad writer.
- Ask yourself if you’re trying to be a good writer or a (commercially) successful writer. You can be both! But you can be the second without being the first. A good writer is concerned with language, but there are many commercially successful writers who are only concerned with pageturnability – which doesn’t mean that’s easy.
- If it seems much harder than you thought, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong, or you can’t do it. It’s just very hard.
- When a reader tells you they don’t like your work, and explains why, it is important to bear in mind that they cannot be wrong about not liking it, but that they are very likely to be wrong about why.
- The Heart Broke In (2012).
- We Are Now Beginning Our Descent (2008).
- The People’s Act of Love (2005).
- The Museum of Doubt (2000).
- Drivetime (1995).
- Last Orders (1992).
- McFarlane Boils The Sea (1989).
James Meek was born in London and grew up in Scotland. His fifth novel, The Heart Broke In, was published in 2013 and shortlisted for the Costa prize. His novel The People’s Act of Love won the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, the SAC Book of the Year Award, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and has been published in more than thirty countries. His novel We Are Now Beginning Our Descent won the Prince Maurice Prize. He is the author of two books of short stories, Last Orders and The Museum Of Doubt. During the 1990s he lived in Kiev and Moscow. His journalism has won a number of British and international awards, including Foreign Correspondent of the Year at the British Press Awards. He is a contributing editor to the London Review of Books. He lives in Bethnal Green, East London.