Do you have a death-list, a playlist of music or songs to listen to while you die?

I think my choice would be mostly classical for one big reason – to help me stay in the moment, to be in the last moments of life, and to feel dying approach and take me. If I chose my favourite songs, I’m pretty sure I’d be nostalgic, leave the moment and go back to the points of my life where the songs first took root and became so important.

I’m not talking about planning my death or ending my life early. If you are, please please stop now and get help. You don’t need to, and probably shouldn’t. Honestly.

I’m talking about the vague hope that I live to be an old man, and die in bed with some sort of knowledge or warning of it.

My first choice is a bit of a trick – Max Richter’s ‘Sleep’.  Apart from its beauty, it lasts for 8-hours, so hopefully, I’ll encourage myself to live for a bit longer to listen to it right through! It’s slow, repetitive, full of space, and a reflective, emotional sledge-hammer. Listen and breathe here.

I bought the entire download after listening to its broadcast overnight on Radio 3 a couple of years back. I listen to it weekly. It doesn’t remind me of anything, but it does somehow open up the full feeling power of a moment of life. Do you agree or disagree?

Maybe I like the fact it takes so long to make its point. It took me 10 years to write this debut novel a hyperactive, father & son ultra tragedy for lovers of Irvine Welsh, John Niven, Hamlet and Lord of the Flies.  So perhaps I feel an affinity for that reason.

Get in touch and let me know the last music you’d like to listen to.  A strange request, perhaps, but it came out of my journalling, so I’m trying to get into the habit of sharing thoughts and ideas as they come.

Again, please stay alive, live long, read lots and write even more. Nice talking to you, thanks for listening.





I dare you

I dare you. Hug someone longer than you stare at your smartphone.

I dare you two: Find someone who is able to do it back.

What are you utterly attached to?

Ever fumbled with book covers, leaky roofs, a family storm, poverty, learning to tell not sell the incredibly horrible-beautiful lives being lived inside your novel? Put your marketing boat into so many oceans at once that you’re a bit clueless about where and how – tweet, face, e, network (could be renamed hardwork)?

Yesterday, my battered toyota took me on a drive that matched my inside exactly – I had no idea, took random turns (easy in a city) made a decision then back tracked, empty cafes were full, favourite cafes were shuttered, and on.

I found one seat next to a toilet five miles from home, struggled with wifi, then came the anti-flash of un-inspiration. Blank screen, blank day, blank blank. But then I saw this tweet quote –


And it resonated, chimed, sang and danced an opera. Yes. This was me. Is it you? Not just writers, whatever the thing is for you. And so instead of marketing or adding a chapter to my next book, I wrote this blog title on a blank page and asked myself

What am I utterly attached to? 

Here’s what came up – it’s rough, and unedited. It was thinking. Everything that follows I’ve pasted as it was, hopefully as a stir to making yours. Please share when you do.

To create.

To create things that last longer than me or the moment

To live for creativity.

To smash a thousand violins if it makes one symphony

To be myself

To resist culture

To write

To think

To sing

To have peace


To live big picture, not small.  Rather a small home and time to create than have to upkeep and be concerned with up-keeping and cleaning a big one.

I believe in making all the mess required to make a masterpiece. (Yes, I live in hope and hard work that masterpiece will come in my lifetime.) No, that’s not true, it’s not that I believe in making mess. But I accept the mess that making a creative masterpiece makes, I believe in allowing that mess to build up while creating is taking place, then cleaning when the work of the work is done for the moment. I would rather build my life around creating, than build my creating around a non-creating life.

And I’m understanding what I mean by creating, it’s not the same as being creative, like when you invent new ways to use a paper clip. It’s creating artefacts of art, something that lasts, it’s making something that lasts longer than it took to make purely because I have the idea to. It’s creative artefacts. Stories, paragraphs, poems, songs, pieces of art that I make (I’m a lousy artist but I love making it and always will), piano sketches or song sketches that I record, so someone may dig them up. I am utterly attached to a creative life, allowing all drops of creativity out, keeping nothing in. It is, I know, impossible on two levels.

  1. There is never enough create time. I have to work. I have to sleep. I have to pay bills and conform to roles and be in a family that doesn’t live to create. I get that. They don’t have to. I love who they are.
  2. And I will die with one creative idea or a library of them inside me. But those I can get out in the years in between now and then, I am utterly attached to.

I’m even writing this down so it becomes in a tiny skin-thin way one of those artefacts of art, by which I mean the product, the bit that comes at the end of an artistic inquiry into emotion or fact or feeling or an idea that pops into your head, or an imagination that continues to swell, fat with story. I mean meeting life artistically, daring to have or following a gut instinct to make something artistic from life.

What is your artistic manifesto?

I live for time to live. I want no small talk. I would rather silence. I want to live through the creative process.

My question today is a short one – have I created something? Have I  worked on something with at least some of my heart that has made inroads into creating something that will outlast me?

Have I managed my roles so as not be drowned in them or believe that they define me, but to liberate those that steward me to be myself?

Part of me doubts if we need to even make a manifesto for creativity – isn’t it anti-creative?

But if I’m honest, a lot of my life is anti-creative, at least at the level of the time it takes to do everything else, and the way in which everything else multiplies. When was the last time a novel knocked on the door, and you had to say, ‘Please leave me alone, I’m trying to live?’