Give everything away

Show your work in action

Do you know about Jacob Collier?

He's a 25-year old British singer, arranger, producer and multi-instrumentalist. Pitch perfect. Encyclopaedic on music. Ridiculously talented.

I discovered him through the brilliant Tiny Desk Concert he did last year. Honestly, I'm not entirely fussed about a lot of his album material, but I could watch him play live and talk about music for hours. And he talks about music a lot.

Many artists – musicians, filmmakers, writers – prefer to keep themselves to themselves and let the art do the talking. But Collier is of the 'Show Your Work' school of thought. Just do a quick YouTube search and you'll find video after video of him explaining what he does and talking about the craft.

Anyway. He won two Grammys this week, the first for his arrangement of Moon River and the second for his arrangement of Lionel Ritchie's All Night Long.

YouTube's algorithm rightly suggested I might want to watch his acceptance speeches. He is typically Tiggerish. Apart from being musically gifted, he appears to be a very happy, optimistic, genuinely gracious person – the absolute bastard.

Anyway, he ends his second speech with four sentences that made me pause and play them again so I could write them down. Here's a link to that part of the speech.

This is what he said.

Do things on your own terms. Do things in your own time. Do things for yourself. Give everything away.

I love all of that. Sort of perfect.

The last of those instructions – give everything away – can be difficult in practice if you're a writer. It feels easier to share a demo tape or quick sketch than an unfinished story or novel extract.

But it's an excellent notion to have in the back of your mind. That the why and how you create something might be just as interesting as the what.

Here is 90 minutes of Collier going through the largest Logic session I've ever seen (video embedded above too) to explain in minute detail how he put his arrangement of Moon River together. He gives everything away.


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Links of the week

Every issue I collect and share the best advice, apps and other shenanigans that I find on my internet travels. Find something useful? Subscribe for free

Raindrop.io — All in One Bookmarks Manager

I don't know about you, but I feel like I have my favourite internet things saved and bookmarked in more places than ever. Pinboard. Twitter. Feedbin. Pocket. Notion. I've got it all going on. If you're the same, you might like to give Raindrop a go, as it comes highly recommended and is great if you like to save all different sorts of media.


Eunoia: Words that Don't Translate

Eunoia contains more than 500 untranslatable words – the sort that describe a very specific thing in one language for which there is no equivalent in another. The whole list is fascinating, but I picked out three words that might feel familiar to my fellow novelists.

Weltschmerz: A feeling of melancholy and world-weariness

Verschlimmbesserung: An attempt at improvement that makes things worse than they already were

Fucha: To use company time and resources for one's own purposes


How To Run Your Life Inside of Notion

I mentioned last week that I am trying to move a lot of my work-related stuff into Notion. As such, I'm basically using up all of my procrastination time on researching how other people use the app to keep themselves organised. This Notion set up by Marie Poulin is wonderful. And kind of terrifying.


(Some) Writing Advice

Author Catherine Ryan Howard has a long page on her website that is absolutely packed with useful writing nuggets.

This bit on planning your book before you start writing caught my eye:

Sometimes I hear writers complain that plotting in advance stifles creativity. For me, it enables it. When I start on my first draft, I know my story structure is sound so it frees me up to focus on everything else: characters, prose, suspense, complexity, etc. Think of it as building a house. The plotting is the construction phase. Once it’s done, you get to go in and do the fun bit: the interior design. Personally I cannot hang the wallpaper while building the wall at the same time.

Makes sense, right?


Get your work recognized: write a brag document

This post is by developer and zine-maker extraordinaire, Julia Evans, who creates a brag document every year to keep track of all the good stuff she's done. It's not necessarily about completing huge projects, more being aware of and making a note of all the small wins that are easy to forget.


The StoryGraph Beta

Struggling to find your next book to read? Then why not leave it all down to a fancy search engine that picks something for you based on the mood you're in. This is good fun and you can also filter by genre, pace and my personal favourite – page length.

(One trophy to reader Kalbir for sending me the link. 🏆)


Your 2020 Literary Events Calendar

Here is your complete list of important literary happenings in 2020. Complete apart from one glaring omission: the eight-year anniversary of the publication of A is for Angelica. Unbelievable.


Bombay Bicycle Club - Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)

More music! I've always rather liked Bombay Bicycle Club without ever really – you know – loving them. But their first album in a few years just came out and I have it on heavy rotation in the shed. This is the song that first piqued my interest over Christmas. You can watch the official video for it too.


Tweets of the week

Tweets are but mothballs in a cupboard of bad fashion choices. But some of them are quite good. You can follow @iainbroome and @unslush on Twitter.


First-time reader?

If you are new to me and this newsletter, please feel free to join hundreds of other fine folk and subscribe to get future emails right in your inbox. You can read a short bio on my website, where you can also find out more about my debut novel.