Matt Gemmell

My book Raw Materials is out now!

A collection of personal essays, with exclusive content and author's notes.

★★★★★ — Amazon


Politics 3 min read

Anger is a normal reaction. It’s the normal reaction.

It’s a response to fear. Anger prompts us to destroy what we fear, thus alleviating the feeling – in theory.

It’s not that simple.


Personal 2 min read

Sometimes, I can almost remember how.

There’s no particular pattern to when it happens. Maybe I’ll be sitting in my armchair, looking across the room. Maybe I’ll be walking, or driving, or even lying in bed.

The only common factor is the flash of instinct; just as natural as breathing. I find myself right on the cusp of knowing, … and then it slips away.

It’s like a weight falls into the centre of my mind, pushing the knowledge underneath again, in the moment before I could take a good look at it. I’m left with only vague shapes, and the characteristic sinkhole of a memory that’s only defined by what it isn’t.


Personal 3 min read

You can tell by how they use the words.

Oh, you could look a little deeper – at their social profiles, or their blogs, or which newspapers they read – but you usually don’t need to. The words are enough. The ones they choose, and the tone that surrounds them. You can always tell.

There’s always a moment of disbelief for me. I assume I’ve misread, and I go back and try again. I begin the paragraph anew, this time more carefully, attempting to reconcile the words with my own worldview. But I fail. There’s no connection between there and here.

Mostly, it’s the adjectives that give them away. The ones they spit out in disdain.


Personal 6 min read

About a year ago, I opened a new text file on my computer, then I used a random name generator to create a female name. I typed it into the text file. It was Lizzie Collins.

It’s not a great name (“Lizzie” is a bit juvenile to my ear), but it was just a placeholder, and I knew I’d change it later. I’d have been better off just skipping the random generator and choosing a name myself, but it’s something I always find difficult when I’m writing fiction. Her name didn’t really matter anyway.

What mattered was that she was going to be a new and upcoming technology blogger – particularly for the Apple platforms – and she was going to have her own site. A female voice, in an industry that’s notoriously toxic to women.

A social experiment, if you will.

Sharing your words

Personal & Writing 6 min read

There’s a lot of vulnerability that comes from sharing creative output with others.

I published a piece earlier this year on what blogs are, and the main argument was that the terminology we use (like “blog”, or “post”) is trivialising and self-limiting. In some ways it’s a follow-up to an earlier piece on getting rid of dates in your URLs, where I make the related argument that they imply ephemerality, and carry a certain sense of amateurishness. They harbour an excuse, before there’s even been an accusation.

I think that self-esteem is a critical issue for writers.


Personal 12 min read

There’s a gap in my identity.

It’s about seven years long, more or less. It corresponds with the time when I had a different name. I’ve mentioned it before, in abstract terms and brief summaries.

I’ve talked about the darkness that came from it, and had so many touching messages from those who have gone through similar experiences, or who know someone in that position.

I’ve never really talked about the reality of that period, though; what it was actually like. I’ve tried to explore it for myself, to build a bridge across that strange, blank time in my life, but it’s difficult. It’s my lowest point. So much of it doesn’t seem real.

Yet it was all real, and there’s so much there that shaped me. So much texture and detail, and truth. The only thing I can do with it is drag the dust-covered box from the back of the cupboard, unlock it, and lift the lid.

Let’s look inside.


Fiction & Writing 13 min read

This brief tale was written for members of this site in August 2015. Membership includes a weekly newsletter with exclusive essays, stories, updates on my writing projects, and giveaways.

Seems about right, Harkness thought.

It was just after 7PM, but the restaurant was almost deserted. The occasional waiter wandered by, casting a brief glance in his direction, and there were one or two occupied tables, but most of the vast space was empty.

It was called The Exchange, and it had a sort of faded elegance. Brass fittings, marble floors, thick carpets on the stairs, and an ornate ceiling twenty feet above. There was a mini-grand piano in a far corner with a dust sheet thrown over it, and the menus were bound in well-worn red leather. From some unseen point above, tastefully inoffensive music played quietly.

His stomach rumbled, and he frowned at the glass of ice water in front of him. It had been poured from a tall carafe with cucumber, mint, and sliced lemon, by a young man dressed all in black and sporting an immaculately-groomed beard. The waiter had asked if he’d like to order something from the bar while he waited, but he had declined. There would be plenty of time for alcohol later.

And plenty of need for it, he thought.


Tech 8 min read

For as long as there have been ads, there have been ways to avoid seeing them.

Technology has kept pace on both sides, but ad-blocking has never really become mainstream. It remained the domain of the tinkerers, who knew about browser extensions at the very least, or proxies, or hosts files. Extensions were as approachable as blocking has ever been, but the vast majority of normal (i.e. non-technical) people probably don’t go anywhere near them. And so the ads were always seen.

Things are starting to change. Legislation, public perception, and consumer-focused functionality have all woken up to issues of privacy, intrusive tracking, and our never-ending exposure to advertising.

We’re slowly realising that we have options, and that we should perhaps begin to exercise them.

Social Dark

Productivity & Tech 2 min read

As someone who has worked from a home office for the last eight years, I’ve learned that the primary enemy of productivity isn’t lack of motivation, or shortage of creativity, but rather dealing with distractions.

I often find it difficult to get started, and then I find it very difficult to remain focused. There are times when I’m sufficiently engrossed in a task that hours seem to vanish – for me, that’s usually when I’m writing new material – but there are also many times when even staying in work mode for half an hour is a challenge (usually when editing).

Social media is the biggest problem for me, followed closely by web distractions like shopping and reading. After considering it for a while, I’ve taken the perhaps extreme step of going social dark on my laptop.


Personal 3 min read

The change has already begun.

You first see it in the fading evening light, a little earlier each week. The palette begins to shift – subtly at first, then more quickly. The sunlight itself, low in the sky, darkens.

Colours reach saturation, losing the simple brightness of the warmer months. Nature deepens, in keeping with the seriousness of the matter ahead: the transition between the seasons of light and darkness.