Call For Submissions

Hey everyone. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? How are you? Well, I hope.

So I took a little break from writing Death Of 1000 Cuts because I was feeling overworked and low. I feel a lot less sad now! In fact, if you plotted my mood on a graph over the past decade it would describe a wiggly but undeniably upward-trending line. So that is a Good Thing.

But like the authentic Dutch bulbs now poking up from the flowerbeds in my front garden, I’ve begun to feel a certain yearning, a Springy burst of new growth within me. Also I’ve been poking around for good creative writing articles on the internet and found sod all because PEOPLE ARE IDIOTS*.

I think this means I’m ready to come back.

And how I want to come back is this: I’m going to try a Death Of 1000 Cuts podcast.

Without wanting to poo all over the idea before it has had time to crawl from its chrysalis and shake the moisture from its wings, it does occur to me that audio may be a suboptimal format for analysing work in a written medium. Maybe having a page there in front of you is just better? I don’t know. I know I’ll never know and never have a chance to iron out the wrinkles unless I try. So I’m going to try.

Which means: I’m going to bash out a run of 10 episodes to see how it sounds. I guess this will be a tester, to see how much work it is, how shit they are, how much I enjoy it. Some of you will know I used to do a weekly radio show. I’d love to try shifting to the challenge of podcasting, see if I can sound not like an utter git and maybe pass on something of merit to the world at large.

I’m not really selling this, am I?

Ok. Wait.

GET FUCKING EXCITED, PEOPLE. I’m going to bust out the creative writing podcast all of humankind have literally, consciously been waiting for. Listen while sitting on a toilet, because you will evacuate your bowels the moment the first syllable leaves my lips. It’s going to be shit hot. You will learn so much your sentences will flow from your fingers like shimmering birds of paradise and people will bludgeon one another with tyre irons just for the privilege of being first to thrust bales of cash into your hands, out of sheer gratitude for your contribution to culture.

Better?

I want to talk about writing, I want to talk about practical, not-fucking-useless ways to make your writing better. I want every single episode to contain information which you can immediately apply to your own work, not just glib fist-pumping aphorisms that make you all fired up about writing but improve your skills not one whit. I am, I think it’s fair to say, not shit when it comes to talking about fiction writing, and hopefully I can translate this into a decent podcast that can help people.

So. I need stuff from you. Sozzo. I need submissions. Each episode, I want to look at a different first page. I’ll read it out, post the text on this site, and then look at ways to make it better. I can’t really use submissions for the blog because I didn’t ask for permission to use them in podcast form. So this is a clean slate. I’ll include submission rules in my first recording, but basically, send them to me by clicking the ‘Contact Me’ link on the right.

I want a max 250 word submission of the first page of your novel. Ideally, you will have finished your novel, reread it, and redrafted it several times. I want your best work, please. In return, I’ll do my best to find as many ways as I can to make it better. If you’ve not read Death Of 1000 Cuts before, please look at some to get a sense of my tone. And here are the standard submission guidelines for the blog.

Without submissions, I can’t do the show. They’re the heart of it. So please submit, and please spread the call for subs far and wide. I will do my best to do a really good job of feeding back on the pieces I receive, if I use them in the show, and I’ll expand on what I want in the first recording.

Also – please, please comment below or email me with suggestions of topics you’d like me to talk about, things you’d like covered, small questions you’d like answered, etc. I really, really want to engage people and make the show a discussion and a dialogue. This isn’t about a hierarchical system of handing down teaching, it’s a partnership – I’ll do my best to be honest, but it’s just, like, my opinion man, not gospel. I guess I see it more like a team of writers working together, of which I happen to be one.

Also: suggestions of people to ask to come on the podcast and talk with me? I think it will be much better with two people talking, not just me yammering away on my own. It would be great to have guests on who can help me look at that week’s piece and also chat about writing in general. Please suggest anyone/everyone you think would be good: authors and publishers, maybe writers from other fields like film or video games, whoever really.

I’ll really appreciate any signal-boosting you can give this, and any feedback you provide. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this far. I expect things will start off a little ropey soundwise to begin with, given that I live next to a busy three-lane road, but I’ll do my best to make it listenable and compelling and actually useful. I reckon we could see the first episodes within the next couple o’ weeks.

That’s it. Does it sound good? Let me know. Over to you.

*People aren’t idiots really. I like people.


4 Comments

  1. Rose says:

    Weirdly I was googling Death Of 1000 Cuts today to see if it was back (I love it and have recommended it to tonnes of my writer mates) and I think a podcast version could be even better! I know you’re going to be focussing on 1st pages so this might not work, but I’d love you to talk about plotting. How do you write well…and keep it good for an entire book? And are all those ‘rules’ (about the 3 acts and the protagonist having to get what they need not what they want and being thwarted along the way) really true?
    Really looking forward to the first podcast!
    Rose

  2. Rui says:

    YES!! I’ve been religiously mashing mt f5 key in hopes the hiatus would eventually end, and with a podcast it’s even better!

    As for topics… I’m not sure if I can explain this concept very well, which is the reason why I’d like to see it explained by someone else. You know when a novel is actually well written, the characters feel real and consistent… But it’s just non enjoyable shit that makes you want to kill them all and burn the book? I’d like to hear the reasons for this feeling and how to avoid it in our writing.
    I like to call it the anti-pulp fiction. Where instead of making everything as fun as possible, you make everything as annoying as possible while still making sense. “The protagonist could ride to battle a top a flying steam train, beat a mercenary crew single-handedly to coax the leader for an escort, or just betray his girlfriend to get a ride from another chick…” or “Let’s start with an ensemble cast and proceed to have them separated or mistrusting each other for the entirety of the series while the reader is fully aware they’re just being paranoid assholes”

    Not sure if I can explain this well, but this is a problem I have with many many published and unpublished books and I’d love to see it expanded by someone who actually knows what they’re talking about more than me. Alternatively you could just write about sea fish on the northern coast of Gabon and I’d probably still enjoy it.

  3. Liam says:

    Great news!

    One thing I’d like to hear – I imagine the vast majority who read your blogs are new writers looking to get published (I know I am) and I think it would be really interesting to hear an agent’s thoughts on some of these first pages, as that is about as far as many of them will probably get with all the work sent their way. It’d be really helpful to get tips on how to avoid the instant rejection. Also, though it might be somewhat against the spirit of 1000 cuts, I’d also like to occasionally hear what you think about opening pages that really work, maybe by some of your favourite authors or whatever. We don’t need to get bogged down in a circlejerk or anything like that, but I think it’s important to know what *does* work as well as what doesn’t. Good luck! I can’t wait to hear the first one.

  4. Dan says:

    Great to see you back! I picked up a terrible Robin Hobb book from Horsham train station and have been hearing your voice in my head as I read.