Posts tagged writing
The Spirit Of Billy Shears

In 1967, The Beetles presented to the world a fictional character called Billy Shears. This drummer with limited vocal range stood up to the microphone and humbly declared that he got by ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’.

It was a simple tune with obvious shortcomings but surprisingly became a fan favourite. Shears and his shaky voice defied the odds stacked towards slick perfection, singing a different tune into the airwaves - Vulnerability. We need each other.

And now this is my moment to step up to that same microphone and say that “I need your help.”

How can we review books differently? ...How could my book be reviewed differently?

Since the launch of Paradox, I’ve kept away from asking for reviews. There’s a reason for that. The review game is just that — a game. The typical approach is to encourage snappy comments before and during the launch. These will then get funnelled through a well-known online store. If the author does their job right, it will present a robust and successful image for their product. Foster enough 5 Star reviews early on and it should encourage others to follow suit. Finally, the strategic code hidden within the purchase link should help that ranking system kick in.

This game has a few apparent champions. Occasionally a wobbly voice defies the odds. But it’s hard.

Every part of the Paradox Hardback, from design, production and promotion, is my attempt at trying to do something different within the publishing world. The same goes for reviews. Over the last few months, the conversations I’ve had about the book, and the emails received, have been rich. Special. Which strengthens my resolve that I want to engage with reviews where honesty, authenticity and conversation take place. Away from the game of manipulation.

Except I don’t know how.

And that’s why I need a little help from my friends.

Can we review Paradox in a different way? Is there a site or service (other than Amazon and Goodreads which share the same owner and stacked digital system) which taps into the heartbeat of what I’ve been talking about? If you have ideas, please email me at or comment the usual ways.

Billy figured it out. And I’m confident ‘we’ will figure it out.

It’s what friends are for.

Twins Stamp.jpeg
Writing another book


Sporadic blog posts on my website could mean many things. Exotic travels, daring adventures or even plain boredom. In this case, the simplest of statements - I am writing a new book. I will reveal more over the coming months, but suffice to say, it involves two loves. Dickens and activism.

60,000 words into the project, with the end still not in sight, I am reminded of a few words from John Steinbeck in The Exonian.


A man who writes a story is forced to put into it the best of his knowledge and the best of his feeling. The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator...
A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn't telling or teaching or ordering. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing...
Of course a writer rearranges life, shortens time intervals, sharpens events, and devises beginnings, middles and ends. We do have curtains—in a day, morning, noon and night, in a man, birth, growth and death. These are curtain rise and curtain fall, but the story goes on and nothing finishes.
To finish is sadness to a writer—a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn't really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.
When the sentence no longer seems mine but speaks back to me


Always ask the student writer, “What do you want to say?” Every sentence that answers that question is part of the essay or story. Every sentence that does not needs to go. 

Stephen King speaking to Atlantic's Jessica Lahey


Reminds me of another interview, this time David Michael speaking with Richard Rodriguez


Aquinas described writing as a form of prayer. Writing is for me dishearteningly hermetic. Revision is writing. Revision is humiliation—Tuesday saying something less well than Monday. Revision is open to noticing connections. Revision is joy at precisely that moment when the sentence no longer seems mine but speaks back to me and haughtily resists further revision.


Andy Smithymanquotes, writing