Deconstruction of a pop song: One Direction’s Story of My Life

Story of My LifeLike X-Factor runners up One Direction or not… up to now, I’m somewhere in the middle (but I’ve been hooked on this song ever since I heard it), you might find this interesting… has a wonderful deconstruction of the song ‘Story of My Life’ by One Direction and includes the embedded Vevo video – worth a watch for the down-to-earth, and dare I say touching, special effects.

So for anyone who writes songs, other formats, or if you’re just a fan of words, do take a look and let me know what you think.

PS. Harry’s my favourite. 🙂 And is it me, or does One Direction’s Niall Horan look like Westlife’s Kian Egan?


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5a.m. Flash 240812 – Submission info. (mixed genres)

Every now and then at 5a.m. (probably posted by my clone) I will be bringing you a newsflash, update on what I’m doing, invited guest piece, or whatever takes my fancy. Today is the ninth (and final) in a mini-series of submission information (previously children’s & YA / flash fiction / non-fiction / novels / poetry / sci-fi, fantasy, horror /scripts / short stories). To-date I’ve not listed any songwriting and only have two so have listed them here with the mixed formats…


If you do have any more information that could go on this page or find any broken links, old information etc., please email me.

And I’ve added a new sub-page (opportunities on this blog) which details the opportunities on my blog, you just need the questionnaire for your genre. 🙂


You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: ‘Four Tracks and Typewriters’ by author JD Mader

I’m delighted to bring you this guest blog post, today on the topic of music vs writing, by Joe Café novelist and musician (and more) JD Mader.

‘Four Tracks and Typewriters’

When I was very young, I fancied myself a writer.  It was silly.  I was a six year old, weighted down with bird books and half finished ‘novels’ written in colorful spiral notebooks.  It wasn’t until I was fifteen that I truly began to write.  I worked as a sportswriter and columnist for the local paper.  I also played in a punk rock band with my best friend, Pat.  The newspaper fed my ego and gave me money for cigarettes and beer.  The band did the same and gave me an outlet I truly needed and a friendship that has survived many years.  The articles were OK.  Some of the songs were actually pretty ingenious in hindsight, but we were not talented enough musically to make it beyond the local club scene.  I did not start seriously writing fiction until I was in college.  I did not stop sounding like someone doing a seriously bad impression of Kerouac until I was out of college.

Morgen asked me to write this piece comparing my “writing” writing to writing music, and I am glad she did.  As strange as this sounds, I have never really given it much thought before.  Considering I have been writing pretty seriously for over half my lifetime, you’d think I would have tried to analyze it more.  Go figure.

When I was young and first playing in bands, I wrote the lyrics and Pat wrote the music.  (I later played in a few bands without Pat, too, but I still generally wrote the lyrics).  That was the arrangement and it worked pretty well.  I would spend all day at school (and later college / work) writing lyrics and produce a stack of notebook paper at the end of the day from which to pick and choose.  For whatever reason, writing lyrics has always come easily to me.  I stopped playing live a decade ago, but Pat and I still write and record music for fun all the time (‘The Flying Black Hats’ on or bandcamp).  I write some of the music now, and Pat writes some lyrics, but our original arrangement hasn’t changed much.

As I walked to the park with my daughter today, part of my mind was dancing over the similarities and differences between writing prose and writing music (I do not write poetry).  As I said, writing lyrics has always come pretty easily to me.  Writing in general has, I guess.  But the most striking difference is that, when it comes to fiction, I am obsessive about revision and I’ll spend ages on a story.  I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than five minutes writing the lyrics to a song and I never change them.  And I am not sure exactly why this is.

Part of it, I believe, is that I don’t consider writing music to be as ‘serious’ an undertaking.  It is fun.  I have never tried to make legitimate money from it.  I do it because I enjoy it.  I don’t like playing shows… never had stage presence… but I love the act of writing a song.  But it is something I do, record, and then forget about unless I am playing it in my living room.  There is no endless tweaking to get things just right.  I wouldn’t even consider it.

I have written hundreds of songs with Pat and he has always been amazed that the lyrics just come.  Oftentimes, he will have an idea for a song, tell me, and I will sit down for five minutes and then hand him a page of lyrics and wait for him to do the hard part.

When I write fiction….well, there is really nothing I take as seriously as my fiction.  It is the most important non-breathing thing in my life.  My first drafts are generally pretty clean because I “write” in my head before I start with the typing, but I edit and edit, and I ask for help, and then I edit some more.  I would never consider doing this with a song.

Part of it has to do with rhyming.  The rhyme makes it easier.  It limits your choices.  It narrows the playing field.  For example, one of my favorite lyrics is “Feeling like a vacant lot, my cars are up on blocks / I got so sick of sitting there through all your morbid talks / I hear your voice in whispers like a pinball in my brain / I woke up from a nightmare with my lips around your name.”:

I like it.  I feel like it is one of the better chunks of lyricism I have come up with – I like the lyrics to the whole song, but that part especially.  It is interesting metaphorically.  It incorporates some intriguing personification.  I don’t like the last line much, but what are you gonna do…it rhymes.

There is a freedom in that… the restrictions of rhyme.  With prose, everything is open.  I am not stuck with keeping the fourth line because I like the first three so much.  The sentences relate, but they relate like comrades in a common cause, not like inbred cousins.

Maybe if I was a better musician (I can play guitar, harmonica, and bass passably), things would be different.  When I do write music, it is simple, and a vehicle for the lyrics.  Maybe it is because there is music… rhythm is important to me in my fiction, too, but there is no drum track.

Maybe music is the writing I allow myself to play with… to not take too seriously.  But that’s not right either, because there are times, and especially when I was playing in bands as a teenager, that I took it all pretty damn seriously.  Maybe there is no making sense of it.

If I had to guess, however, I would guess this: I don’t consider myself a great musician, so there is not as much ego wrapped up in it.  I have worked damn hard to become a good fiction writer, so I don’t let myself off the hook nearly as easily.  Both extremes are probably unhealthy.  I should strive for the middle ground.  But I don’t, and I won’t.  And I have eight words left.  And I still don’t have a good answer.

As I have been doing for the past 18 years, I sent this to Pat after I pounded out the last sentence.  I think his reply is interesting.  And his ending is better:

Interesting topic. I think the freedom in restriction concept is very true.  That coupled with writing about a certain topic produces good results. I also think when you write lyrics you seem to tap into the subconscious realm more rawly (at the risk of sounding pretentious). I’m sure the same thing happens in prose, but probably less so.  The lyrics just pour out stream-of-consciousness style (and in rhyme) and are more concentrated.

By the way, I’ve also lifted lyrics from your stories before.  “The Trucker Song” was mostly lifted from one of your stories.  Back in the day, I went fumbling through your other lyrics and ended up picking those out. I guess that song was the exception.  One more thing, it’s true that you don’t edit the lyrics much, but it’s also true that you’ve written a shitload over the years and only used about 50% (or less).  So, even though I’m sure you edit the stories / novels much more, there has still been some filter with the lyrics.

For two interviews about music I did, do click the links below (and support Oded, who cares about music enough to track people like me down):

Morgen: Fiction doesn’t breathe? Really? That would be like saying that Santa Clause doesn’t exist. 🙂 Thank you JD! I look forward to reading your next posts. Oh, and the last line from ‘Standing waiting in the rain’ was my favourite of the excerpt – go figure. And how cute is the picture at the top of this page. 🙂

JD Mader is a teacher and writer / musician based in San Francisco.  He has been fortunate enough to encounter many giving and inspiring people in his life.  He hopes to repay the debt.  And to make enough money with his writing to buy a house. Please do visit JD’s website, perhaps ‘like’ his Facebook author page, follow him on Twitter and it would be fantastic if you’d pop along and buy his book. 🙂

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me at with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

Latest writing competitions and other useful information

Every fortnight I produce a handout for my writing group, below are details from the latest.

NB. I can’t personally vouch for these competitions – take a look at the websites or apply for more details from the relevant site before parting with money and submitting your hard work!


  • With Sue Moorcroft’s help we have novelist / editor Katie Fforde as the Head Judge for our Northampton Writers’ Group H.E. Bates Short Story Competition – it ends 1st December so plenty of time: see for full details. I’ll be one of the first-round judges so I may end up reading your story!

Autobiography & biography – competition

  • The Society Of Women Writers & Journalists: International Online ‘Life Writing’ Competition:
’Life Writing’ is a fluid term used to describe the recording of experiences and memories, whether one’s own or another’s. It covers biography, memoir, diaries, letters and personal essays etc., and, more recently, digital forms such as blogs and email. It can also be linked with genealogical study when recording one’s life, it is common to become curious about the lives of others that have affected one over time and, if they have not recorded their own life, to start doing it for them.
3,000 words maximum, open to any writer world-wide of 20 years old and over. There are two categories: one for 20/40 year olds and one for the over 40s. 
Three prizes in each category. 1st £3,000. 2nd £1,000. 3rd £500.
Entry fee is £7 payable with submissions. Submissions by email only.
The judges are Sophie King for 20/40 year olds category and Katie Fforde for over 40s.
Closing date 30th September. Full details at:

Chick-lit, romance and erotica – event and website

Children’s & young adult (ya) – competition opportunities

Crime, thrillers etc – event

  • Sally Spedding (who many of us know) will be holding three crime writing workshops 17/24 September (10am-4pm) in the historic and atmospheric Glynhir Mansion (Carmarthenshire), so come and be inspired. Beginners welcome. £30 per session to include lunch and refreshments. Easy access from the M4 and by rail. For further information please contact Katy Jenkins on 01269 850438. Email: Websites: or

Fantasy, graphic novels, horror & sci-fi – competition and event

Novels – competition

Poetry – news, competitions, events, other stuff

Scriptwriting – news from the BBC Writers’ Room, competition & submission

Short stories – event, news, competition & submission opportunities

Songwriting – competition

Other competitions

Other events, workshops, retreats etc.

  • details The Lyric Lounge events taking place at Northampton’s Fishmarket and Derngate Theatre this Saturday 17th September. I can’t go – I’m on a short story writing course for the day run by local author Helen M Hunt (
  • writing retreat takes place between 16th and 18th September and features short story and scriptwriting tutors.
  • H.E. Bates’ granddaughter actress Victoria Wickes talks about her grandfather at the Rushden Indoor Bowls Club, Northampton Road, Rushden, Northants 28th Sept at 2pm (entry free).
  • Writing and Reading Workshops at Nottingham Contemporary. Curative Writing (a series of workshops that propose site-specific, creative writing exercises, introduced through Jean Genet’s texts): Wednesdays, 5:30-7:30pm 28 September. The Galleries & The Study (capacity 15). Reading Genet – a reading group: Wednesday 5:30-7:30pm 21 Sept. The Study (capacity 15) – see for more information.
  • Weekend writing course at the Ceridwen Centre, Drefelin, Drefach Felindre in Carmarthenshire: 30 Sep-2 Oct. Tutors Marcus Moore and Sara-Jane Arbury The cost for each challenging, stimulating, enjoyable weekend has been held at a remarkably good value £185 all inclusive (accommodation, meals, refreshments and tuition). Contact Marcus on / 01285 640470. Non-residential places available for local students on request.
  • Literature Wales announce a series of new Literary Bus Tours and Walks for 2011
  • The University of East Anglia (UEA) and Guardian Masterclasses have joined forces to offer a series of courses that will be accredited by the UK’s leading university for creative writing. The starting point for this ground-breaking initiative has involved the creation of three distinct course levels – introductory, intermediate and advanced – all of which will be taught by respected, award-winning writers including Bernardine Evaristo, Adam Foulds, Sarah Hall, Gillian Slovo.

Other submissions and opportunities

World Event Young Artists is the very first event of its kind to take place. It is an exciting occasion bringing together and celebrating the talent and artistic excellence of young people from across the globe.

In September 2012 World Event for Young Artists [WEYA] will bring a staggering 1,000 young artists (18 – 30 years) from 120 nations to Nottingham. Over a period of 10 days, these artists will bring the city to life with creative activity across all art forms including visual arts, music and gastronomy. These artists will have the chance to showcase their practice, exchange ideas and build future collaborations. The deadline for receiving applications is the 1st October 2011 at 23.59. Click here for more info..

Other websites

Other stuff

The New Writer magazine recommends:

  • Write To Be Published by Nicola Morgan (Snowbooks). Essential reading for the aspiring writer who wants to be published – review to follow in The New Writer.
  • The English Wordsmith is for anyone who loves finding useful words, for amusement, for learning, for excelling at word games, for enriching everyday language. It is published by The Great Wordsmith LLP and is available in paperback from good bookshops, RRP £12.99.
  • “Short stories at their very finest try Catherine Smith’s The Biting Point from Speechbubble Books.  Pin-sharp writing. Also available from Amazon.

The handout culminated with This Day in History (the same as episode 39 as they were released on the same day (12th September) and five sentence starts.

Transcription of Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast episode 20 (January 2011) – songwriting

The twentieth episode of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released on 3rd January 2011 and the content has never been released other than website links (on my website so I hope you find this information useful. In the first nineteen episodes (see for earlier blog posts), I covered ‘show not tell’, the five senses, repetition, points of view, tenses, dialogue, characters, crime, poetry, short stories, novels, writing for children, scriptwriting, comedy, romance and chick lit, erotica, ‘writing rules’, historical & the classics, name & characters, Christmas and opportunities. This podcast has a focus on songwriting.

Song/lyric writing

  • Wikipedia ( explains that “Lyrics (in singular form Lyric) are a set of words that make up a song, either by speaking or singing. The word ‘lyric’ comes from the Greek word ‘lyricos’ meaning “singing to the lyre”. The word lyric came to be used for the “words of a popular song”; this meaning was recorded in 1830. The common plural predominates contemporary usage. Use of the singular form ‘lyric’ remains acceptable, yet is considered erroneous in referring to a singular song word as a ‘lyric’.”
  • Molly-Ann Lieken says that the concept of popular music as opposed to classical music suggested that it would be a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ fad that chronicled the times and was then to be disposed of: ‘Yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper’ as Elvis Costello once put it. Yet songwriters can find inspiration via current events or even tabloid headlines which are often eye-catchingly snappy, and can make great starting points for songs. When John Lennon read about the heir to the Guinness fortune dying in a car crash, it spurred him on to write ‘A Day In The Life’. And other songs inspired by events, such as German rock group The Scorpions’ ‘Wind of Change’, for example celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall, have proved they can live on, while The Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’ inspired by the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, has since been played on BBC radio, having been banned from the airwaves on release: how times change. Classic songs have stood the test of time, and the work of classic songwriters may be heard performed by singers and groups of several generations. Becoming obsolete does not seem to be an option. New-wave giants The Police and Squeeze re-formed in 2007, doubtless heartened by the fact that The Who’s Pete Townshend was still performing ‘My Generation’ while in his sixties!” (The Rolling Stones would also be worthy of a mention here.)
  • Molly-Ann also explains that all songs have two distinct lyrical and musical sections, called A and B sections, that are repeated at least once. The most common contemporary hit song form is the ABAB form. The other is the AABAB form, along similar lines to writing poetry. There’s an interesting article involving Molly-Ann at and you can buy her book ‘’How to write a hit song’ (which I happen to have) but have yet to read in much detail.

If you write poetry you may find lyrics a fun exercise. ‘How to write great songs’ by Michael Heatley and Alan Brown is a lovely little 384-page spiral-bound book which highlights song-writing essentials (what makes a good song, song structures, music and melody, lyrics, musical styles and song-writing techniques), singer-songwriters (over 100) and biographies, further reading and internet sites. The edition I have is dated 2007 (first print) published by Flame Tree Publishing The lyrics section says “a lyric is not a poem. Make sure that the words work well with the music rather than worrying about whether Shakespeare would approve. Try to establish a context for your song within the first few lines; you may also want to include some original imagery and a character or two within the narrative. Write from the heart: sincerity in the lyrics can make the difference between a mediocre song and a great one. And be careful to keep the tenses, viewpoint and tone of the lyrics the same throughout the song. Ideally the lyric should get better as it progresses through the song. Many inexperienced writers think they’ve cracked it after the first verse and fall down on the second, resorting to clichés to get through. Rewriting may be necessary to solve this. Rhymes are needed to give the song a feeling of completion, while a middle eight after a couple of verses and choruses will pique the listener’s imagination; just as they feel they have a handle on the song, it adds another element, and sets the scene for a dramatic conclusion”. A ‘middle eight’, one of the BBC’s Radio 2 pages ( explains, is so called because it is a section in a song that tends to happen towards the middle of the song, and tends to be eight bars in length).

The next 350 pages of the book are snippets of info / tips from various famous songwriters and with its lovely chunky spiral binding is definitely a shelf-gracer. On Wikipedia’s page, whilst the body of the text itself isn’t particularly helpful, it does have some useful and hopefully interesting reference links at the bottom of the page including an article by Mark Bright entitled ‘How to pitch your songs to industry insiders’.

The Writers & Artists Yearbook lists two song-writing magazines: Founded in 1986 the ‘Song-writing and Composing’ is a quarterly magazine which is free to Songwriters Guild members – ( and ‘The Songwriter’, a monthly magazine founded in 1967 and published by the International Songwriters Association based in Limerick in the Republic of Ireland. Do take a look at their website ( as it’s packed with hints and tips from a variety of songwriters including John Lennon, Joni Mitchell and Ami Winehouse. There’s also the American Songwriter magazine ( which, as the saying goes, is available in all good newsagents.

‘How to write a hit song’ by songwriter Molly-Ann Leikin is “the complete guide to writing and marketing chart-topping lyrics and music”. Sections are ‘Song structure – the lyric’, ‘the melody’, ‘rhyming’, ‘the all important title’, ‘collaborating’, ‘making time to write’, ‘stimulating creativity’, ‘overcoming writers block’ (Molly-Ann claims that writer’s block is caused by fear or anger, or both!), ‘publishing your songs’, ‘making money in the meantime’ and ‘seasons’. Molly-Ann explains that “a hit song is usually less than two and a half minutes long and has a specific structure, a musical and lyrical pattern that repeats. It does however have to have a focus. We need to know what it is about. Each line of lyric in your song has to relate to the title. It should add something to embellish and enhance our understanding of the subject matter. If you were writing a song about shoes you wouldn’t suddenly throw in a line about a lawn mower unless the shoe was mutilated by one. One of the exercises that Molly-Ann offers is to write the words ‘little red schoolhouse’ and list every picture or feeling those words evoke in you; ask yourself 50 to 100 questions like these: “Is the school old or new?; In what county is it located?; Is it in the country or city?; How big is it?; Does it need paint? If so, where?; What season is it?; Is there a weathervane?; Is there a bell? If so, what kind?; Is the school on a hill?; What century is it?; What time of day is it?; Are there any animals nearby? If so, what kind?; Are there any flowers and trees? If so, what kind and what colour?; Are there steps into the school?; Are there children outside?; What are the children doing?; What are the children wearing? Describe every detail of their appearance – from haircuts to frayed collars to shoe laces.; How old are the children?; Are they happy? If not, why not?; What is remarkable about the sky above the school?; What kind of desks are inside? Are they new?; If not, is anything carved on them?; Do you hear anything? Smell anything?; Is the teacher old or young? A man or woman?” It may not make the most interesting song but it does make you think about a seemingly simple object.

Back in 1969 (and reissued many times since) Futura published, under the genre of poetry, a book of Beatles lyrics. It contains almost 200 of their lyrics “to form one volume of poetry”. It continues: “From the ambiguity of ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ to the surrealism of ‘Eleanor Rigby’, from the style songs of John Lennon to the psychedelic brainstormers of Paul McCartney.”

Radio 2 has another great page, this time of song-writing tips ( To the right there are a variety of songwriting related links under the headings of Songwriting Guides, Performing, Working with Other Writers, In The Studio, Publishers, Record Companies, Management and Staying on Track. is a great page. There are tips in a variety of headings including ‘Writing a song’, ‘Working with other writers’, ‘publishers’ and ‘staying on track’ which says “Success won’t happen overnight. Learn to keep your confidence and to take setbacks on the chin.” If you’ve had any rejections yourself then I’m sure you can relate to that.

Music-related publications

‘How to write great songs’ by Michael Heatley and Alan Brown mentioned earlier. Others include ‘Lyrics: Writing better words for your songs’ by Rikky Rooksby, ‘Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure: Tools and Techniques for Writing Better Lyrics’ by Pat Pattison, ‘500 Best-Loved Song Lyrics’ by Herder & Herder and ‘Successful Lyric Writing: A Step by Step Course and Workbook’ by Sheila Davis.

Music-related websites

There are hundreds, probably thousands of lyric websites (within the 309 million results for a ‘lyrics’ search on Google) and the first one is which has lyrics old and new, and is probably the easiest to remember and one I tend to refer to.

  • is ‘an anthology of fiction inspired by music’. It’s an American site run by Matthew Wayne Selznick who has appeared on, and been mentioned in, many podcasts that I’ve listened to. The anthology is available in paper book, electronic book and CD formats.
  • is the London-based British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors’ website.
  • by Peter Franklyn also has tips as well as a 6-min ‘You Tube’ video on writing lyrics (currently Lesson #4 on ‘hooks’) – his approach is to make things simple (sounds good to me). By putting ‘how to write lyrics’ into a Google search brings up many other websites packed with hints and tips.


Here I provide a couple of story ideas or ways to get new ideas then list seven sentence starts which are listed on my ‘sentence starts’ blog page; each one, if you’d like to use them, for a daily writing project.

  • Take a poem or song lyrics that you’ve written, fitting it to a piece of music you like;
  • Words easier to remember when to music. If you ever want, or need, to remember a poem short story off by heart then how about picking a tune that you know well and replacing the original lyrics with yours. 🙂 Alternatively, you can use lyrics as inspiration for your stories. Songs are quite often complete stories and there’s no reason why you can’t use the story (not the actual lyrics obviously) for your own purposes.
  • Have a look at song titles. Titles are not copyright so it’s perfectly fine to use them although you may be limited if you pick something too specific e.g. Wham’s ‘Wake me up before you go go’. Sometimes all it takes is a spark of an idea for a story to start and once you get started…

Other stuff

Looking on the National Association of Writers’ Group’s (NAWG) website ( some months back I came across a hilarious page entitled ‘The Writer’s Ten Commandments’ with a few embellishments from me (apologies in advance to anyone of a devout religious faith):

  • Thou shalt love, honour and respect thy Writing. Thou shalt not heed those who utter evil words or falsehoods about thy Writing but shalt uphold thy Writing by word and deed at all times.
  • Thou shalt abhor the virgin parchment and shall fill it daily with words from the depths of thy mind and thy heart and thy soul that others may marvel at the wisdom and beauty and depth of thy Writing.
  • Thou shalt strive for excellence in thy Writing. Thou shalt watch over thy spelling, punctuation and syntax in thy Writing with the eyes of a hawk. Thou shalt read and reread thy work, fearing errors shall evade thee, and make thee a laughing stock among thy peers.
  • Thy shalt not be envious of thy neighbour’s Writing, but shall devote all thine emotions to thine own Writing.
  • Thou shalt not harbour resentment should good fortune smile upon thy neighbour (when they get an acceptance), rather offer praise, so that praise may be heaped upon thee in thy good fortune (when you do).
  • Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s quill, nor his ink, nor his parchment (or computer), but shall strive diligently with all thy might to gain sufficiency unto thyself.
  • Thou shalt not cast aspersions upon thy neighbour’s Writing (unless asked to do so in a critique group) but remain content that thine own Writing is beyond reproach and imputation (unless in a critique group).
  • Thou shalt remember thy good fortune and be charitable to those less gifted (practiced) than thyself. Thou shalt not hazard thy Writing by being solicitous over others, remembering at all times that thine own Writing shall take precedence over all things.
  • Thou shalt take up thy quill with a good heart, a cheery smile and an eager step, knowing thy good fortune to be thine own master as a Writer.
  • Thou shalt keep thy workplace seemly, knowing that it is as a glass to the byways of thy mind.

The Poet’s 10 commandments are the same (substituting writing/writer for poetry/poet).

The podcast concluded with On This Day in History and a poem by one of my favourites; Shel Silverstein called ‘Snowball’:

I made myself a snowball… As perfect as could be… I thought I’d keep it as a pet… And let it sleep with me. I made it some pyjamas… And a pillow for its head… Then last night it ran away… But first, it wet the bed. You can read this and more of Shel’s poems (my other favourite is ‘It’s dark in here’) at

That’s it. Thanks for visiting – a list of the other episode transcripts and summaries can be found at