Professional writer and press manager

The Importance of Being Earnest (In Your Copy)

So since it’s my job to create engaging and readable copy for both myself and clients, does it not display some arrogance to assume I can write good copy and what’s more tell you about it? Maybe. But then it’s not as if I just woke up one day and decided to be a copywriter. Writing is a skill I have honed through years of hard work and practice.

And editing? Editing is a skill I still hone daily. Thankfully my MA taught me the importance of editing, right after my BA taught me to just write until the page has enough on it to motivate you to carry on. At least, that’s how I write. I know this is not the same for everyone.

Anyway, back to the topic in hand: the importance of great copy.

I’ve worked with scores of small businesses, and OK I’m maybe a bit more eagle eyed than some ‘normal’ visitors to your website, but if I see typos, misplaced apostrophes or random capitalisation, I really might go and look elsewhere for my product. It implies a lack of professionalism: not checking things through.

copywriting is an acquired skill

Well crafted copy should invite you to look deeper

For me, though, the spelling and punctuation is merely the tip of an ever approaching iceberg. I love to be entertained. We all do. So if I land on your website, of course I want to see some pictures explaining what you do, but I also need to read about it.

But I don’t just want to read like a manual. I want to hear a story. I want to care enough about the characters, feel connected enough with the vision to actually buy into the ideas of your company.

But for some reason loads of companies still think it’s ok to write boring copy.

For what it’s worth, when I’m writing copy for clients these are the factor I consider, and advise you to do the same.

Make a relevant, snappy headline.

OK, articles about writing always bleat on about this. And I have got it wrong heaps of times myself. So I am definitely qualified to tell you: choose your words carefully! Whether this is the headlines of news items or actual page sections: make it clear what the customer will read.

Be funny.

Don't be afraid to be funny in your copy

When I write for Tasting Britain, I reveal funny facts about my life

Don’t be afraid to make jokes, puns and be funny. It makes people like you and trust you and feel comfortable. Even bad jokes are OK, so long you as you acknowledge that they’re bad. So, more importantly write to potential customers the way you would talk to them.

Just be yourself.

I know this isn’t a dating advice column, and even if it was that is so tired and clichéd, but seriously: just be natural. Speak to potential clients through written words the way you would face to face. Client relationships, after all should be about longevity and trust. Who trusts someone who says ‘utilise’ instead of use just because it sounds bigger? Not me!

Don’t dumb down

That said, don’t dumb down what you’re trying to say either. If it’s appropriate, people can handle technical terms or big words; hopefully using context to help understand. There is definitely no need for pretention – it won’t make you seem any more trustworthy.

Be personal

Address the customer as ‘you’, use personal pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘we’ or even mention names. This all helps engender trust and build relationships, which is your primary goal once you have got people on your website.

For more about how to raise your online profile, please read other blog posts. To have a chat about how I can help you, please call 07729263818 or email me laura[at]palavermaven.co.uk

Professional writer and press manager

Copywriters in Cornwall need a change of scene too!

OK, I am lucky enough to live on the most southerly and most diverse peninsula in England. The incredible landscape of Cornwall is woven through my prose, and in addition to its inky threads tangling into branding; it provides quirky, memorable copy from the many creative types spanning Land’s end to Launceston and Boscastle to Barripper. Indubitably, the place I call home is one of the most beautiful I’ve been to in the world.  And I’ve been to a few places. In fact, I’m in one now. Surrounded by gently flitting hummingbirds and amazing variations of butterflies, I’m in a cloud forest in Ecuador as I type.

An expert in communication, I absorb the sounds; feeding my imagination

The sights and sounds of Mindo are inspiration for any writer

When I first heard the name cloud forest I think I imagined something like you’d find at the top of the faraway tree. In many ways, Mindo is like that. It’s a paradise: toucans, quetzals and the aforementioned hummingbirds call, chirp and play amazing games in flight as dense foggy clouds hug the tops of mountains; lined with banana trees, palms and other exotic flora. The night-time chorus of crickets, cicadas, birds, geese, frogs and untold other wildlife is relaxing, bizarre and comical all rolled into one.

What does all this have to do with business? Well, it has to do with the essential properties of taking a break. I properly started Palaver Maven this year. And, as most entrepreneurs or new business owners will tell you, this meant I worked tirelessly to get it off the ground. I worked every single day. Many days for sixteen hours. Many days these didn’t seem enough. I pissed off my partner replying to work emails on romantic meals, I neglected birthdays, forgot parties and generally dedicated to my work in a commitment I had never given to anything before.

valuable content comes from being relaxed enough to strategise efficicently

Like all copywriters in Cornwall, Devon or the Outer Hebrides, I love my typewriter

I still do, of course. But the telephone ringing, and emails pinging, and the several different charity projects I had on the go eventually began to consume me. One of the reasons I’d chosen to be self employed was because I’d previously struggled with the pressures of teaching. And it all made me realise I needed to take a step back, be somewhere else and evaluate what’s important.

Time off, even the smallest amount of it, allows you to look at things with fresh eyes, and it’s allowed me to let go of control. I love words: playing around with them, reshaping somebody else’s, and creating my own. I’ve been fully immersed in speaking Spanish since I got here, and it’s made decision making for the new year all the easier. Having a distance from using English: the language I love so dearly, and shape so frequently, has blistered a new approach to it.

Whilst not all small business managers, or copywriters, can fly to Ecuador to work in the rainforest; everyone can take a step back and use the time to evaluate their goals. Everyone can find some inspiration to increase their creative output, and if you can’t: look for it. Have even 20 minutes to entirely step away from work tasks and just let your mind wander elsewhere. Listen to the video above and the gentle sounds of the forest.

If you have any marketing, writing,branding or social media related questions, please use my contact page or call 07729263818 and we can chat about what I know will work for you.

Professional writer and press manager

How content changes can help you get noticed

Whoosh! How on earth did it get to be November? And an unseasonably mild mid November at that?

It’s not you: it’s me

Content has really changed over the last few years.

What used to be a mandatory part of a website; reserved for keyword stuffing and announcing tidbits of company news, has suddenly become the game changer that can propel your company forward into the homes of the masses. Better yet, like a garden, a relationship and, theoretically a bank account; the more you put in, the more you will get out.

Content is a sure-fire way to grow. And the way that it’s changed means there has never been a better time to release bits of content throughout the many digital channels; building your brand’s online presence. The most exciting by-product of this is engaging with people who have a genuine interest in your product, service or company.

I recently posted about the ubiquity of content. It is everywhere and in everything your brand creates and sends out. From a photo of the prototype, or the methods and processes used along the way; to the finished product and everything you communicate about it afterwards.

Making waves via social media make content accessible

Effective content marketing starts with ripples

Testing the waters

As you intrepidly dip your toes into the creative waters, beginning to experiment with what’s out there and what works; you might make mistakes. The same way that rockpools can hide tiny crabs, the internet can hide theses pitfalls. But it never stops rockpooling from being fun! Advice columns throughout the business and entrepreneurship communities implore you to be specific with content, but this takes time, and experimentation, and a little bit of magic. Facebook, twitter and other social media platforms have their own in-built analytics, which allow you to track response and engagement with followers.

This way you can identify trends in popularity and respond with more of the same. This post by B2B explains what to look for and how to look for it in greater detail; but, put simply, whatever generates the most engagement and the most sales, leads and meetings is your bread and butter.

When ripples become waves

Honing this down to a strategy for getting noticed involves tenacity, sagacity and diversity in digital methods. It involves being open. It involves being social. The power of twitter is demonstrable by the recent successes we have seen with client work. As Christmas approaches, sales have increased at an astonishing rate for two of our most treasured clients: authentic artisan bean-to-bar chocolatiers from Penryn, Chocolarder and sustainable, ethical seaweed harvesters The Cornish Seaweed company. Where having articles in certain publications may have created ripples; passing these around through social media will make waves.

creating waves in the social media indusrty

After the storm comes focus and strategy

The way content has changed recently only serves to make it easier for brands to produce and distribute it; building relationships, building trust and building impact.

If you’d like to discuss how a strategy could be implemented  to help raise your exposure, and therefore sales, please get in touch to discuss your needs. From general copy to press releases and bespoke packages: no undertaking is too big or small and you are under no obligation.

Professional writer and press manager

Developing character: the multiple personalities of a content writer

This post may debunk the magic. Read on at your discretion…

“you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.”

Excellent branding, as I’ve often said before, starts with excellent planning, and also entering into and maintaining a dialogue with your audience. We’ve always been told, in any industry, that customer service is the most important factor. Which it always will be. Essentially, great customer service is about communication. All good relationships are about communication, and excellent branding is making a commitment to a long relationship.

What it also involves is an element of magic. And what I mean by that is not some terrifying display á la The Great Danton or Houdini. It’s the element of magic that Michael Caine, aka Cutter, in the film The Prestige refers to when he says “you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.” And creating amazing stories across all brand communication channels is much the same kind of magic.

People must realise there is a lot more to a brand than the lovely pictures that get shown on social media and the crafted stories spun to engage and inspire readers. Behind every business is accounts and finances; admin; bills; payroll; training; outsourcing; and whole host of less-than-exciting menial tasks that a small business simply cannot function without. And yet, what they buy into are the snippets of stories, the development of character: the suspension of disbelief.

we know it's not really magic, but we don't want to know the truth

Storytelling in branding is like magic

Coming up with a strong and believable branding story requires creativity and strategy and excellent storytelling. It also requires the attributes of a professional writer. You need to sound like the protagonist. Your brand is leading the story, by becoming an authority voice. Kathi Kruse wrote an excellent post about the techniques used within a good content strategy, and essentially boiled hem down to the literacy points I would have taught my kids when I was teaching: show don’t tell, build drama, write about the stuff you like. All of this is advice that excellent writers such as Marquez, Atwood and Murukami would give.

It’s no surprise that with this level of detail, professionalism, strategy and time, many people choose to employ a professional writer to create tone of voice.

Part of my job as a content writer and branding consultant is to help craft these stories for my clients.  And to do this well, first I need to spend some time with them, really getting to know their character, the character of their brand and start to shape a direction for the story of this character to go in. The peaks and troughs. Ups and downs. How would they react to current affairs?

In any one week, I might be an American business man imparting his marketing secrets; a food expert reviewing restaurants and products, a young fashionista describing the newest makeup on the market; or a yoga expert evaluating the effectiveness of different anyasas. I also have my regular posts, where I review food and drink products and restaurants, write for The National Curriculum.com website and give marketing and content writing advice right here.

I imagine long running soap stars must have the same problem!

At times, I  have focused so sharply on this array of characters that I almost feel I have multiple personalities. I write only for brands I care about, and so immersing myself in their worlds is no hardship. But once a project is complete; which can happen for any number of reasons; I find myself missing hanging out with my friends. I imagine long running soap stars must have the same problem!

Just as we do for a good story, a movie or book; we need to suspend disbelief when ‘buying into’ (in the psychological, time investment sense) a brand. And if you can ignite that same sense of curiosity, excitement and empathy, you will build a successful brand and see sales increase.

To find out more about my services, stay tuned via my e newsletter once a month. Sign up by popping your email in the box below, but please feel free to contact me by phone or email too.

 

Professional writer and press manager

Why business owners should stay true to themselves

Excellent leaders know their ambitions and harness their desires to fulfil them.

As a teacher, my life often felt satisfactory. In a place where the very language used contradicted its etymology, where satisfactory meant anything but, and unsatisfactory was pretty much a death sentence; there were times when semantics shot me down. I dare say, in turn, my students too. I loved the job: seeing students become empowered by understanding, listening to their unfolding creativity; developing and nurturing a love of language. Yet, like many teachers, I spent many hours battling with marking and hierarchy and homogenisation until I realised mainstream schooling was just not where my talents lay.

Navigating what was uncharted territory of business management for me; I started a business. To be more precise, I started freelancing as a writer. I was motivated by finding a way to play around with words all day and be the boss of my own schedule. To start with those were my business goals. Pretty simple.

Of course, they didn’t get me masses of work, and so I started then obsessively reading small business publications; searching for marketing techniques and trying to understand how to be a writer in a professional capacity. I did social media posting and scribed scores of list-style blogs for myself and clients. It was all too easy; playing down the very thing I love the most about language: its playfulness, agility, flexibility; duplicity. And I started falling out of love with words.

 

It was time to rethink things.

What are your values?

You need to truly understand your personal values to build a set of business values. What do you stand for and what does your brand stand for? What actually motivates you to set up a business in the first place?

What I loved most about teaching was seeing young people realise their potential; offering them new opportunities. Cornwall is still an area of extremes: the Hockney blues of sky and sea, the bleak moors; mist seeping into your bones. The sharp divide of wealth and poverty. These things helped me to shape a business motivation with more focus, more ambition, more drive.

To discover what your values are, you need to have an internal conversation and really think long and hard about what you want your business to represent. What needs do you want to meet: of your own and of your consumer market? Matching your values to those of a potential client creates an audience for your brand, and actually help you to deliver a better, well honed product. If possible, converse with a selection of previous clients to softly test how your new image appears in their eyes?

Feeling let down by the lack of support for teachers, and understanding the financial disparity in my area, drove me to want two things for my business that were outside of personal financial and creative growth and development. These were to provide opportunities for young people in disadvantaged situations and to provide support for local businesses. One of my key focuses in life is independence. It’s woven through everything I do. Encouraging and fostering that in other people sends me a-shiver.

What do you love?

Create communications people love

Find what you love in business

Your personal passions will drive your idea, your business forward. You’re going to need them to. With the sleepless nights, endless monologuing and fears about its growth and development; a business really is like having a baby. It can be mentally and physically exhausting in a way you had never perceived. You’ll find yourself sneaking looks at twitter and reading emails even when you should be out relaxing and stepping away from it all.

Some of my very early client work was highly corporate in an area of little interest to me. Whilst I was able to garner reasonable results from it, it wasn’t the type of work I was passionate about enough to sing from the rooftops and post all over social media channels with reckless abandon. Adding press release creation and distribution to my skills meant I began to connect with some small local businesses and real people. Developing these relationships, understanding these brands meant I finally understood what mattered to me: making a difference in my community. I work best when I can see results and when I know that what I do makes a difference to people’s lives.

Through working with local business owners and getting intimate with branding, I can create content I am really proud of; content that is original, targeted and speaks to people. Ultimately, communications within brands mean developing relationships and this is what converts visitors into buyers and holds them there..

What do customers want?

Customers want something that adds value to their lives. The world of consumerism and business is constantly evolving, but how you learn to embrace and respond to those changes will affect your success. You need to stick to what you love, even if this needs to be balanced with some of what you love less. I still write corporate copy; reams of it in fact. I’m still creative with language. Luckily, through forging relationships with small businesses, I can use the sounds of the sea and our beautiful landscape to inspire my corporate writing, as much as my own.

Here, the things that drive me and the clients’ needs meet together and this is what makes successful branding. The very things that language itself was created for: communication and cooperation.

To speak to me about consulting for your brand’s voice, or for any writing job big or small, please send me an email or call on 07729263818

 

 

Why your small business needs a writer who believes in you

When I say small businesses are bankrupting me, I know it comes across as a negative. The majority of my clients are small, independent businesses and they’re who I love working with. And they’re certainly not bankrupting me because they drive a hard bargain or aren’t finding me enough work. Things are busy at Palaver Towers and they’ll soon be getting a lot busier. But I’ll tell you about that nearer to the time. (Wouldn’t want to jinx it!)

So no; it’s not a negative.

What I mean is that you guys (SMEs) are so good at what you do that you make me spend loads of my hard earned cash on your products and services.

How does that happen?

Particularly when you send me briefs which make me research around your business; what you do day to day. And what you do, the products you make: I already love them. I’ll only work with clients whose work I believe in. This is because I know it makes my writing better. So you’re bankrupting me because once I’ve given your words a spin through the storymaker (my own head); ultimately we’ve created something beautiful together and the power of it makes me convert. So I often end up buying your product or investing in your service.

How do people hear about it?

I’m a social media addict, so I spend much of my time craving clever creations people are offering on twitter or padding through pictures on pinterest. Sometimes for work and sometimes for play. Essentially, these tools help you to get your carefully crafted stories out there.  I can guarantee that if your products are written up with enough finesse and your About Us uses storytelling, many other people landing on your site will feel just like me and be motivated to get a slice of that!

Impassioned

Hiring a writer who loves your stuff as much as you do will show through in their passion. Please spend a moment looking through previous projects and my excitement is tangible. This is exactly what then drives me to want to make a purchase! And if it works on me; it’ll work on other people too.

Many clients know so much about their products that it can be difficult to describe them creatively. Many of you are too busy with the other stuff that hogs the hours in a heavy day and you haven’t hewn a space for writing. As algorithms change and content gets ever-refined, driving its purity; spending a little on content marketing will pay dividends when it comes to encouraging customers to have an emotional attachment to your company. This is the stuff that increases sales an, therefore, ultimately profits too.

To discuss an idea for any written project: print or digital; long or short: please contact me today. It makes words work for you.

 

Press Release photos: the great debate

Often when writing your own press release, you’ll seek advice and follow guidance you find online, which can produce great results. I mean, that’s one of the great things about the internet, isn’t it?! However, conventions are different across the globe and in the UK press journalists will not wish to open emails with attachments, since a) it’s more time consuming and b) they can contain viruses.

So begins the great debate about images in your press release.

Indubitably, you should always include an image with text. It helps to break text up; shows your brand identity; is usually more eye catching than simply words on a page; and is often the very first point of contact between you and your prospects.

So what are the rules for including images and how do you go about getting this right?

Plain and simple

Despite creating a beautiful press release with your logo at the top and all of the stylistic conventions recommended for writing a good press release, the actual email you send to your press list should be simple. This means it should contain no html, no embedded images and no attachments. It will look plain, but it will also bypass any filters those clever editors, journalists and bloggers have put on to minimise the risk of spam.

So how can you get your images to journalists?

#1 set up a dropbox for press images

Dropbox provides a free and easy place to store the relevant images to accompany your press release. Highlight the link to this at the beginning or within the actual pitch of the email, to ensure your readers know they are easily accessible.

#2 include a pictures section of your website

Creating a section of your website that contains a selection of relevant images means that any interested parties can simply access (and preferably download) images to accompany any text they may decide to run on you. Keeping things nice and easy will increase your chances of being published, so include a high resolution image in an easy access format, such as JPG.

#3 have a supply of pictures ready to send to journalists

The truth is that if the story itself is newsworthy enough and the article well written, the journalists for the most specific publications will write to ask you for pictures. Be sure to have them stored neatly, named aptly and in JPG format and this way they’ll be ready to go. It’s also important to respond as quickly as possible. Many journalists work to tight deadlines and really appreciate swift responses.

#4 Submit your story to a PR site or blog

If there is an online version of your news story available, journalists may collect the images from this site if they wish. This makes the process easier, whilst also contributing to your site’s SEO. My Cision news page means your images can be accessed immediately and downloaded.

For advice or assistance with creating a perfect press release or any written task for your business, please use the contact form to email me or feel free to call for a chat any time. My number is 07729 263818

6 tips for captivating Content Marketing

OK. So you’re not a top-notch copywriter but you love a challenge and you’ve read somewhere that marketing through good content can help raise your business profile. An experienced creative, with the conceptual capacity to deliver cut-through campaigns will hold a grasp of grammar that would make Garcia Marquez proud. If you’re not convinced you measure up: fear not.

Bring passion, bring enthusiasm and your thorough in-depth knowledge of your product, service or offer and you will be on the right path. An excellent writer knows their audience and how to keep that person reading.

#1 Gen up on grammar

OK, so I’ve kind of covered this above, but you understand what I’m saying. If you’re still getting your ‘then’ and ‘than’ confused or are using misplaces apostrophes on your copy, the secret will be out that a professional’s eyes have not glided over your copy. The internet boasts many resources such as dictionaries and grammar checkers that if you’re not entirely sure if ‘its’ or ‘it’s’ is correct: have a look!

#2 Vary your sentences

When I was a teacher, this was the number one exercise to reinforce to students. Always. Using sentences of different length can create impact. Sometimes a one word sentence has a subtext of many more words than a lengthy explanation. Be concise occasionally. Rearranging the word order can also create a more interesting starter. (e.g. The cat sat on the mat becomes As it approached the mat, the cat stretched and sat on it.) Words create pictures.

#3 Be personal

You are writing this to be read by humans, and as well as good advice; humans really like a good story. It’s OK to inject a bit of personality into even the most ‘dry’ of subject areas. It shows you’re human. Of course, nobody is likely to want an entire life story, but some personal details such as your teams in the work World Cup syndicate give a little bit of yourself away in your copy.

#4 Avoid jargon

Again, you’re writing for people. You do want to create an authority voice, so prospective clients will see your expertise shine through. However, overcomplicating posts with too much technical jargon will cause readers to switch off and then you’ve lost a lead. Again, as a teacher my advise to learners is imagine explaining it to a friend/ your grandmother. It helps to visualise a reader.

#5 Don’t be too sales-y

Ideally every single time somebody visited your website: be it a blog entry, an accidental stumbling or a sought out through a directory; they would make a purchase or file your details for future purchases. However, it can take time to build up a relationship with visitors and ultimately people prefer to be in conrol of their own decisions. So, being pushy and constantly referring to sales and packages could put people off.

#6 Add credible sources

But the main focus is to make you seem an expert, right? Yes and no! Of course, you want to demonstrate your knowledge and professionalism, but using a credible source only backs this up further. For example: ‘duck eggs reduce cancer’ could be a statement from anywhere. Whereas ‘Fantastic for fighting cancer, duck eggs are alkaline, which means they leave the body alkaline after consumption.’ adds a link to a credible source. It shows that you have done your research.

For help with creating content packages or to discuss your content strategy, please give me a call 07729263818.

Startup 15: The Social of Media

As a startup business myself, I have enjoyed providing a service to support other start-upss in gaining exposure through Press Releases and social Media  and maintaining it through well crafted content. Fortunately the nature of my work allows me to encounter people from a far reaching variety of industries: from cutting canvases to marketing mangoes; labouring over language to pushing pixels.

It’s very rewarding meeting so many people for whom starting a business has moved from a dream or an idea to a reality and empowering to share successes and lessons with such people.

Maplace.co is an example of just that. Below is the Maplace Press Release I have sent to organisations today. This is a truly social media: empowering other startups and existing businesses by offering a low cost platform for their advertising and outreach.

Passion will drive you forward: Maplace for Startup 2015
Two Czech citizens became so disillusioned with menial work in the UK, they decided to make a new map. Passion and perseverance pushed them to achieve this nomination.

In the days of digital ownership becoming a household name, Maplace.co has launched an innovative platform for businesses to gain online exposure. Essentially an innovative map application designed to allow consumers to purchase a piece of our planet, people have been snapping up their maplace for just £1 GBP.

In a time when physical property ownership is a controversial issue, following the global recession, Maplace.co encourages users to make their mark on places of significance to them. Registering to use the app is free, with normal rectangular ‘plots’ commanding a token payment of £1. Own your street, your first school, somewhere you went on holiday for just £1.

Partly like a global Monopoly game, partly a multi location social media; the app was born out of the dream of self employment, and breaking free from the mundane. Winning the nomination for Startup15 would see popularity in the innovative platform rise exponentially: raising the online profile of thousands of companies across the globe.

The journey so far has not been easy. Co-founder Rose Nekudova said, “We came to the UK to try and start the business and we knew it was going to be tough. The long hours in low wage jobs made us miss our families and we were almost ready to return to the Czech Republic. Instead, we managed to use our feeling as motivation to succeed. We want to empower other startups around the world by providing a platform for them to advertise and interact with the public”

Maplace.co is the first ever social platform allowing people to own their place on the world map. By uploading logos, businesses can get their brand noticed anywhere in the world: the more recognised, the better. Like owning houses on Mayfair in Monopoly, recognised spaces will be more lucrative for participant businesses. Own Big Ben and advertise from there. Buy up big buildings to capitalise on their notoriety.

True innovation and perseverance created Maplace.co: a revolution in technology, limited only by the imagination. This innovative concept winning the startup15 award would mean enabling other startups to gain exposure through a cheap solution to advertising: making it put the social into social media.

To find out more about Maplace.co, visit Maplace.co

About the founders:

From humble beginnings, we were spurred on by a true belief in our product. Our hope is that people will use Maplace.co to connect with others and create a unique online community. We hope to inspire others with our story.

Insomniac rain: Why Gabo’s death keeps me alive

It was, of course, with heavy heart that I learned this weekend of the death of an amazing novelist. I first noticed Marquez’s work in my teenage years with thanks to the line “‘Scuse me mam for bein’ so rude; feels like a hundred years of solitude” on the Levellers’ self titled album. I had begun to write my own naive and florid form of magic realism, without really knowing what it was. Luckily, this became more refined later.

Having lived a life of teenage drug abuse and mental illness, writing was often my escape but more in the form of a self-counselling diary. It was something I used to order my thoughts but I’d lost confidence that any of it could be considered good.

For me One Hundred Years of Solitude was quite life changing in its style. We shared a birthday: Gabriel and I. But along with the likes of Ernesto Guevara and Frida Kahlo, Garcia Marquez inspired my visit to Latin America and subsequently, my late entrance to University to study creative writing and begin my convoluted journey to writing today.

Uncovering a desire that had always been there, his ‘insomniac rain’ was as much an influence within my poetics as the windswept words of Basil Bunting or the ‘rosy fingers’ of dawn that transformed Dylan Thomas’ sky.

Later, in Japan, I usually worked 2 jobs, having only one day a week off. It offered an opportunity to visit Saitama; a province just north of Tokyo. Preparing myself for a few hours of train journey, I selected Memories of my Melancholy Whores as my accompaniment, notably for its size. Reading the novella took the exact time of my train journey there and back. Like Yukio Mishima and Haruki Murukami, whose work I was reading much of at the time; Marquez’s writing conflated dreams and reality: a concept I find fascinating within life and art. It’s not his best piece of work, but perhaps his most honest.

It was following reading this short and indulgent work that I learned more about the man Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Having started life as a copywriter and journalist, his writing always invokes emotion and offers hope.

I’ve recently vowed to get back into writing for pleasure. And so to salute ‘Gabo’, I’ve dusted off his books and hope his death will inspire my magic realism renaissance.