Matt in conversation with Nikesh

Matt in conversation with Nikesh
Posted 21 May 2013 by Nikesh Shukla

On 7 May 2013, to launch Matt Haig's excellent book The Humans, Book Trust threw him a launch party. Author Nikesh Shukla was in conversation with him. They talked about writing, about 'The Humans', about rejection, depression, earnestness and they talked about lists. They had fun times. Listen to an extract of the conversation, featuring an introduction from Matt's editor Francis Bickmore at Canongate.

 

Matt also reads extracts from The Humans.

 

The audio was recorded at Free Word Centre.

 

Comments

Write because it's your life, it's your purpose!!!!!!!!!!

Linda
20 July 2013

I thought this was hilarious and very true. Well said Matt, well said.

Rox
6 July 2013

Uh oh. I'm a writer who loves Radiohead.

Marianne Su
26 June 2013

Spot on, mate. 23 years making a living at it 14 novels, everything you say here is true.

Christopher Moore
22 June 2013

Yes, but I like it........and I'm going to get rich and famous..........yeah, right!

Steve Corley
22 June 2013

This is so spot on that it's almost frightening... But it made me laugh, all the same!

Squaresparrow@gmail.com
12 June 2013

Love this! Thanks for the great post.

Sylvie W. Farmer
11 June 2013

Excellent post. When you're only social interactions are retweeting and arguing with your own characters you know you need to get a life somewhere where 'flurb' isn't a real word.

Catl Hackman
10 June 2013

Wait a minute...writers make MONEY?

Sandy Cooper
7 June 2013

I laughed I cried I laughed
good stuff.

Lisa
7 June 2013

The world does not need cynics like this one to further scare potentially good writers from learning the challenging craft of good writing. Yes, it requires ferocious effort and it's a very steep learning curve. And at best, a very slow way to get rich -- a feat attained by 1% of all writers, at best. But to throw logs into the path of newcomers to the field is both cruel and mean. Writers need education, training, and the support of those around them. Not nay-sayers and boat anchors. Aspiring writers need to take charge of their goals, study and learn the craft, subject the work to qualified critics, rewrite as necessary, and then work like a man/woman on fire to get published. And avoid like the plague negative thinking "advisors" like Max Haig, who try to deter the ambitious and snuff out the spark of the next generation of great writers. Richard N. Côté, Editor-in-Chief, Corinthian Books

Richard N. Côté
7 June 2013

Very amusing. A friend shared this blog with me knowing I am an "aspiring writer". I wish to take my verification word as a possible positive sign - "fiction", although I may have to face the fact that it may actually be referencing my aspirations. LOL!

Stacy Geiger
7 June 2013

And typos. (There's a typo in your post. Sorry to add to your misery. And just to torture you more, I'm not going to tell you what it is.)

Carolyn
7 June 2013

omg this is hilarious and so true. In fact, I am so moved by this post that at the moment I am falling into a pit of depression and sad, fat tears are eeking out of my eyes, falling onto my keyboard-

Seriously, good post. Made me laugh quite so much that the people who pass my desk are probably thinking I'm having a seizure. : )

So True
6 June 2013

Speaking as a future author, every single one of these things is so NOT true that I am TOTALLY offended.

Okay that was fiction. Did you believe me? If so, then maybe I actually WILL become a writer sometime in the next millennium (especially if you tell your publishing friends about how I fooled you!).

Actually I AM a writer, just not a published one. I just wanted to say that this was spot on except for the sarcasm. You needs LOTS more witty sarcasm. And near-death experiences. And chocolate. Other than that it was awesome!

Beth Brubaker
5 June 2013

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I am only laughing because I know it's true!

My book is on healing from chidlhood sexual abuse and I am so relating to all of this! ;)

Sally Napthali
5 June 2013

• Now that is almost true for me, I of course write because it keeps me busy and out of trouble. I do not care about making money. If I did I would have stopped after the first book, it came on in 2007 and I just put out book five last month. well I have to get back to my research on my next book. have a great day

TJ Boyer
5 June 2013

Painfully true. I feel like I just looked at my complexion in the mirror way, way too close.

Max Allan Collins
1 June 2013

I love this one from friends and family; "You havent finished it yet? it cant take THAT long..."

D.B. Dean
30 May 2013

You stop speaking candidly with family and neighbors; or more accurately, they stop speaking candidly with you, expecting that any comment will eventually turn up in print!

Richard Sutton
30 May 2013

Awesome! Writing a short story about suicide. Don't think I'll finish it.
Kidding!
KP

Kevin B Parsons
30 May 2013

You spill your guts, practically bleed onto the pages, bare your soul and innermost thoughts, and then a "friend" tells you she thought your memoir was "pretty good."

Paula Mack Smith
30 May 2013

And then some bugger from the Punctuation Police comes along and points out that "So yes, this weeks tip...." is missing an apostrophe.....
Great article. Thanks for the smiles Matt.

Angi Holden
29 May 2013

"Paid to be a misery guts." If only...the getting paid part of course.

Carmen Jenner
29 May 2013

Thanks Matt, you're brightened by morning. I'm starting to reply on your posts to lift me from the mire of writerly depression.

Thankfully (do I mean thankfully? Did we mention the self doubt) , the day job means that I can at least reduce points 3 and 4.

Perhaps an 11th point 'people are always telling you it must be easy and they would write a book too, if they could only be bothered'.

Rhoda Baxter
29 May 2013

I am with you all the way... God knows why I've been doing this for the past 30 or 40 odd years. Could you add masochist to the list?

Elizabeth Bailey
29 May 2013

After reading this, I realized I'm more of a writer than I thought I was. I'm well on my way to representing all ten of these things.

Timothy Snyder
28 May 2013

haha omg true. And I can barely walk from a bad back, no joke, though that started before I was writing full-time. :P

Laura K. Cowan
27 May 2013

"we are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes the leader" - Hemingway

Maryama
27 May 2013

i've been at the bottom of Amazon from the moment i put my books on their site, never sold a thing so far. am i depressed. no i am not. never expected to sell anything, the pond is too big. finding the pin in the haystack comes to mind. my little jewels can't outsmart the likes of Dan brown, i don't have his money for a start, enough said.

peter thompson
27 May 2013

i've been at the bottom of Amazon from the moment i put my books on their site, never sold a thing so far. am i depressed. no i am not. never expected to sell anything, the pond is too big. finding the pin in the haystack comes to mind. my little jewels can't outsmart the likes of Dan brown, i don't have his money for a start, enough said.

peter thompson
27 May 2013

All true. Great! I'd say fiction writer/ freelance writer tho. I used to be a full-time journalist and it was not a neurotic experience at all. The only thing that may help me is meditation and Buddhism (have been at it for over a decade) and that most difficult thing - not taking myself so seriously!

Veena Gokhale
27 May 2013

What about having to answer this question:
"How are book sales going?"

Courtney
27 May 2013

What about having to answer this question:
"How are book sales going?"

Courtney
27 May 2013

What about having to answer this question:
"How are book sales going?"

Courtney
27 May 2013

This article was more thrilling than porn. I loved it! Maybe I'm just a sick pup, but I read it as a comedy. Very well done! :))

Prince of Pinkness®
26 May 2013

Point numero nove is particularly hilarious! so identify. But peeps, hang in there. I know I am bad back et al. Keep calm and Write on me thinks.

Molly's Vote
26 May 2013

Thank you. Now I have to go back to digging ditches.

DD

Douglas Douglas
26 May 2013

But I've already given up my day job!!!
I love this, it's so true. Thanks for sharing my angst.

Michele Drier
26 May 2013

One thing to smile about-- we writers are truly gifted at laughing at ourselves and our places in the ranks of reality! Oh yeah, and screw JesusRainbowUnicorn from IA... perhaps someone should tell them their blasphemous Amazon name will end them up in hell ;)

TheMadMack
26 May 2013

Thanks! I am relieved to know that I am truly a member of this superior group of brilliant individuals!

Oh no! My verification word: insect.

EileenOR
26 May 2013

...but it's worth it. Every single bit of it. And that's why we do it anyway.

iamanenigma.wordpress.com

Jennifer Stavros
26 May 2013

Hooray! I am not the only one who thinks Dan Brown is the worst writer I've ever read. I love how he gets a reason all his own.

Christen Kimbell
26 May 2013

I had no idea I'd been found. Why can't I remember sitting for this interview. Oh, yeah, writers block. Sigh...

Catherine Wolffe
26 May 2013

Thanks for starting my day with a laugh. I'm an about-to-be published author and your tips are funny but so true. I'm not into the ranking part yet, but why aren't people reading my blog...lol

Leona Pence
26 May 2013

Great list. I especially love number 8. And the back thing is absolutely true. We all need better chairs, I think.

Kate Warren
26 May 2013

Other writers, man, those *&&*%%$ other writers...

Also, appropos (I can use fancy words, being a writer an' all) of point 1, Anthony Horowitz was recently stretchered onto a plane and flown out of South Africa after slipping a disc. So bad backs, man, bad backs...

Joanne
26 May 2013

:-))) Great!

Alen Kapidzic
26 May 2013

Love this list, it was exactly what I needed for a giggle. All so true.

Jamie Campbell
26 May 2013

Love this list, it was exactly what I needed for a giggle. All so true.

Jamie Campbell
26 May 2013

Too funny!. I love all of it, but #7 is my favorite.

Darlene Jones
26 May 2013

LOL. I laughed at several and smiled at others. You have a gift for humor. Of course, I have to add three small comments of not understanding.

3. Lonely? Not with all those people in my head. I wish I could get them to leave.

4. Finances? I loved it when I saw that giant check from B&N for $11.13 in Nov. 2012. My memory of it is still quite sharp.

5. There are other writers? Who knew?

Maggie Jaimeson
25 May 2013

Great post! It's so me...

Vicki Hopkins
25 May 2013

I am a children's author and most children think I know JK Rowling or Marc Brown and can't figure out why I also have a teaching job! This post was great to read because I thought I was the only one who looked a lot at my amazon ranking and got depressed about it!

Laura Eckroat
25 May 2013

I adore this and its all so damn true!!!

M.J. Rose
25 May 2013

I love this, couldn't help laughing hard. just live with a writer to verify!

Beatrice Akite
25 May 2013

There are millions of writers/authors and 700,000,000 people who use the english language.

I love writing. It keeps me sane. I love sport, it keeps me healthy. I read a lot, even books I don't like in order to realise why I don't like them.

That's it!

T. J. Edison.
25 May 2013

I was going to write something clever here and amongst other things refer to a review of my first book in Time Out which simply said 'yeah right, f**k off'.

However, I will instead simply mention that my verification code for this comment which was 'prison'.

That just about says it all!

Dougie Brimson
25 May 2013

I wish I'd read this before I started deciding to become a writer, then followed it up with actually writing. Unfortunately, for me, despite all of the very valid reasons listed, I have to say I spend far too much time on number 6. I have discovered deep in the cobwebby recesses of my mind, that I'm extremely stubborn and won't let a very valid blog stop me!
P.S. Can you please send me the DHL man to see me? I'm lonely...

Evie Asterwyn
25 May 2013

That's a fact, indeed! To my status-quo, two things - existence of other writers and less than expected remuneration are worst contributory towards having an inclination not to be a writer at all. Here in India, situation is terribly awful for writers but the luckiest ones...

Pawan
25 May 2013

Ha ha! Nice.

Sarah McIntyre
25 May 2013

Thanks for the laugh! The sad thing is I can relate to many of the points ^_^

Helen A. Howell
25 May 2013

Love it. Love it. I actually giggled a lot then laughed out loud. Thank you so much!

Greer Nicholson
24 May 2013

I want to laugh along with everyone, but in truth, I embrace all things that deter me from happiness for a reason: so that I can write and be left undisturbed. I don't really care about being lonely, so what do I have to lose? I could kill myself, but that would affect my family, so why do that? The point is: I care about human beings as a social worker, a philosopher and most of all a writer I am not concerned with other writers and their agendas. I live on food stamps and am pleased with the output regardless of my financial situation. Words on a page; it's simple. I put them there.
I was compelled to put them there.
I had no other choice.
That's why I'm a writer.

Paul Rogov
24 May 2013

JesusRainbowUnicorn for the win. LMFAO.

Thank you, that was very well done. Now, back the book.

Bobby Brimmer
24 May 2013

Awesome blog. You brought a smile to my miserable day :o) Thank you.

Lynette ferreira
24 May 2013

Love it. Point 9 resonated particularly loudly with me. One of my Amazon reviews has the title, 'Just no...'

Jennie Walters
24 May 2013

Wonderful! Point 9 resonated particularly loudly with me. One of my Amazon reviews has the title 'Just no...'

Jennie Walters
24 May 2013

A reference to "acts of a sinful nature" would be great compared to some reviews; people like to read salacious books,

Dave Higgins
24 May 2013

Oh so true, so true, so true. Especially 5 and 7. They're all having a wonderful time while I'm mooching around being a complete 6.

Miriam Vaswani
24 May 2013

And writers never know what day it is. My agent friends say that writers all say 'speak to you on Monday' before a Monday Bank Holiday, and expect their novel, submitted on Christmas Eve, to be read by the 28th December.

Nina Bell
24 May 2013

This...
is precisely why I have chosen to NOT be a writer. Instead I make my money by helping old ladies across the road and gaze wistfully at my flower and vegetable garden.

I am happier than every writer that ever lived, have the perfect balance of free time and engagement with others -

and have 2 books in the best seller lists.

Possibly.

patrick graham
24 May 2013

Love this! As a writer, I wholeheartedly agree. Let's give up for the bank holiday weekend - no more checking of the Amazon ranks, or the baited-breath reading of reviews! I shall eat ice-cream, grin at strangers, and not notice Dan Brown's book wherever I go.

Lucy Clarke
24 May 2013

Ugh. Thanks for this timely reminder of why not to choose the career I've already chosen. Can I add: 11. (or possibly 5a)? Writers' Blogs. There's always someone writing cleverer, wittier blogposts and coming up with great ideas you haven't thought of.

James Russell
24 May 2013

True, all true. I'd also add (as a children's writer) the eternal humiliation of being asked at every event: 'Do you make as much money as JK Rowling?', and having to answer 'No.'. Thanks for making me laugh amidst my misery, Matt!

Lucy Coats
24 May 2013

And that's only once you get published! Factor in the misery of the aspiring author desperately trying to interest an indifferent public/agent with their heartfelt work, then you truly have Plathian levels of woe :-(

Emma Woodcock
24 May 2013

Brilliant. Love it. It's all TRUE!

Lily Dunn
24 May 2013

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