Matt Gemmell

Raw Materials book cover image

My book Raw Materials is out now!

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

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Anthologies in Scrivener

I recently published an anthology of some of my most popular personal essays. It’s called Raw Materials, and I’m pleased that it’s garnered many positive reviews.

I used Scrivener to assemble the anthology, and I’d like to talk briefly about that process, and how I went about adding a few finishing touches.

Raw Materials is free today on Kindle

My anthology of personal essays, Raw Materials, is free today (Thursday 28th August) on the Kindle Store. This is a one-day promotion, so be sure to grab a copy unless you desperately want to pay for it later. It’s on:

Leaving a review on Amazon would be hugely helpful, if you enjoy the book. Those reviews influence eligibility for Amazon’s various recommendations systems, popularity lists and so forth - so your reviews make a big difference, and help me reach new readers.

I hope you’ll enjoy the book. As ever, feel free to get in touch with any thoughts.

Raw Materials: Collected Essays

I’m excited to announce that I’ve compiled an anthology of some of my most popular personal essays, and made them available as an e-book.

The collection is entitled Raw Materials, and includes revised and updated versions of each piece, with new author’s notes after each one, plus an exclusive extra essay written especially for the collection.

It’s around 90 - 100 pages long, and you can read it either on a Kindle device, or in the free Kindle app on your Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad or other device. I do hope that you’ll take a look.

Raw Materials is now available on the Amazon.com Kindle Store, and also on Amazon.co.uk and your own local Kindle Store.

I put this anthology together in thanks for your readership over the years. These pieces are the ones that have consistently generated the most moving email and personal feedback. As I mention in the foreword, I think that sharing our own difficult stories has the greatest potential to unite us.

There’s something you can do to help me, too: if you enjoy the pieces, please write a review on Amazon. Those reviews are the lifeblood of Kindle books, and promote visibility for the author. This isn’t a money-making venture for me, but rather a lead-in to publishing my first novel later this year, and fully embarking on my new career.

If you’ve found relevance or enjoyment from my words over the years, this would be a meaningful way to let me know. I hope you’ll enjoy the book.

Raw Materials: Collected Essays

Once again, Raw Materials is available on the Amazon.com Kindle Store, and also on Amazon.co.uk or your own local Kindle Store.

Thanks for reading.

Writing a novel: resolving plot issues e-book

I’ve spent the weekend extensively updating and expanding my technique for resolving plot issues in fiction, and tackling the second draft. It’s designed for writing novels, but it’ll also work for novellas, short stories, vignettes, fan fiction and pretty much anything else with a narrative flow.

Resolving Plot Issues is now available as an e-book, for maximum convenience and reading pleasure.

Writing a novel: resolving plot issues

I’m currently just over two weeks into the second, or revised, draft of a novel (I recently wrote about the lessons I learned while writing the first draft), and I’d like to talk about my approach for identifying and making revisions.

Writing a novel is a huge undertaking, and at the end of the rough draft you’ve written tens of thousands of words. You’re faced with a manuscript that you know has flaws, but it’s a daunting and shapeless task to try and identify them, determine what the problems are, and then fix them.

I have a system that I use which takes a step-by-step, simple approach to the problem. It works for me, and perhaps it’ll be helpful to you too.

Genre shame

One of my favourite aspects of being a writer - probably the favourite part, honestly - is getting messages from readers. It’s a profoundly satisfying and validating thing to hear from others who have read my words. If you’re one of the people who has written to me, I’m deeply grateful. If you haven’t, I’m still grateful to you for reading. It’s a sunny day here in Edinburgh, and there’s plenty of gratitude to go around.

Most of the mail I get is about my more intimate, reflective pieces, such as the personal essays here. The sender often talks about their own analogous experiences, which is a touching demonstration of trust, and very moving for me. It’s my belief that we ought to be sharing these difficult, vulnerable parts of ourselves, because they have the most potential to unite us with others.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been writing a novel. The first draft is complete (I wrote about what I learned while writing it), and I’m now embarking on the second draft revisions. After the revised and final drafts, I’ll be self-publishing it on the Kindle store, and perhaps in other formats later.

The day that the novel is released into the world is now distantly visible to me, after being shrouded in fog for many months. As that day draws closer, a certain buried feeling of unease increases.

Dissatisfaction

In a way, it all started with the Start button.

On Tuesdays, in whatever year of high school I was in at the time, I had a double period of Computing broken up by lunch. I don’t remember the year, though it would have been the mid-nineties, but I do remember that it was a Tuesday.

I was the kid who volunteered to help out in the computer labs during his lunch break. On this particular day, I was carrying a batch of software manuals from one lab back into the department office. It was a square room between two labs, and its windows looked out onto both.

My high school was one of those schools where uniform was mandatory, and the computing labs were fully stocked with row after row of Macs - at that time, gorgeous little beige-grey-green boxes with dramatic lines and vents. Macs were the norm at our school, which was an exceptionally rare thing. I’d been using them in classes for a few years, and it had never really occurred to me that there was anything else out there.

Writing a novel: first draft

Yesterday, I finished the first draft of my first1 novel. It came out at just over 90,000 words, which was the target I had in mind. It was a strange and emotional experience. After typing the last word, I felt like I’d been suddenly dumped out of that fictional world and back into this one, with an abruptness that almost made my ears pop.

I finished it while on my exercise bike here in my home office, before midday. During the afternoon, I reopened the project at least five times to check I hadn’t imagined the whole thing. I’ve had mixed feelings of relief and bereavement, coupled with dread of the enormous set of second draft revisions looming ahead of me.

I’d like to talk about a few of my experiences, and the lessons I’ve learned, while writing my first draft.

  1. Not counting the two I started years ago and never finished.

Unprepared

My father recently turned sixty-five, which is the conventionally accepted retirement age here in the UK. He has no plans to actually stop working, but he has already quit his life-long career in the motor trade, in pursuit of a simpler, less stressful existence.

A few months ago, he called me, telling me of his plan to bring his career to a close and find something else to do. I listened with interest as he made the case for his decision. He seemed to have thought everything through quite thoroughly, and I assumed that he was going into detail just because he was nervous about the boldness of the move, and wanted to reassure himself.

Then he asked me if I thought it was a good idea.

Unprofessional and CocoaConf podcasts

I’ve been a guest on two podcasts in the past week, and I thought you might be interested to check them out.

First up, I joined hosts Dave Wiskus and Jaimee Newberry for episode 98 of Unprofessional. We talked about writing, professionalism, pursuing your dreams, and the TV show Castle.

Next, host Daniel Steinberg was kind enough to invite me to join him for episode 5 of The CocoaConf Podcast. We talked about writing again, and also had a discussion clarifying some of the points I made in my Confessions of an ex-developer article recently.