Category Archives: Artists

Creativity and Patience; and walks with Mental Health Mates

Being an artist means … ripening like the tree which does not force its sap and stands confident in the storms … summer [will] come. But it comes only to the patient … patience is everything! from Rainer Maria Rilke’s advice to Franz Xaver … Continue reading

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Women writers, and children; and Retro Peepers

I’ve never had children and the reason (apart from meeting the man whose children I’d love to have had well beyond my fertile years) is that I was always afraid that looking after children would eat so far into my … Continue reading

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John Clare, gardener and writer; and Bloom & Wild

In this strange spring and early summer of ours, where March’s snow, frost and ice stopped all plant growth and May’s hot days and tropical rainstorms encouraged it wildly, I’ve been wondering how many writers worked as gardeners. I only found … Continue reading

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Writers on writing, and an exquisitely beautiful tea

When our writers’ group met this week one of our number described how the rise of the ‘plotting and typing’ approach to writing was driving her demented. How all the work is done before you’ve typed a word and then you … Continue reading

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RMS Titanic: on this day 106 years ago … & Samira Addo, Portrait Artist of the Year

It’s 106 years ago today that the ‘unsinkable’ passenger liner, RMS Titanic, hit an iceberg and sank in just two hours and forty minutes. For years the tragedy was a matter of private internal horror: people didn’t talk about trauma then and … Continue reading

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Social media and the writer; Modigliani and Akhmatova

It’s wise for writers to have a social media presence these days. Publishers don’t exactly insist on it, but they like writers who have significant followings. (Followers equal interest in the writer and so potential sales, obviously.) But how does … Continue reading

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Teaching kids to fall in love with science (a different kind of love for Valentine’s day); and things to do with rubbish

I was noodling around on the internet wondering what I was going to post about this month when I discovered Arvind Gupta. He won the Padma Shree on 26 January (India’s Republic Day) for his work in literature and in education, … Continue reading

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Chaos & Creativity; and Beautiful Bookshops

I dislike hate chaos. Very much. Who doesn’t? But it’s an essential state if you want to write fiction. Messiness of the mind is the sine qua non for writers. But, when a piece is finished, it looks so orderly that … Continue reading

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Words on Writing, and Pass on a Poem

There are hundreds of thousands of words written about writing fiction: how to write, why we write, what to do when we can’t write and on and on so that, sometimes, I feel as if I’m adrift on a sea … Continue reading

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Spring in London, and The Kid Stays in the Picture

Spring in London is an astonishing thing: blossom among the grey buildings and pavements; green and blue and pink and white making us look up at it and then at each other and smile, us Londoners who spend most of our … Continue reading

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Anselm Kiefer and Heywood Hill

On the weekend we went to the Anselm Kiefer Exhibition at the White Cube in Bermondsey. It’s just closed, but if there’s any of his work anywhere near you do go and see it. He is the most imaginative of … Continue reading

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John Berger, Ways of Seeing … and PEN International

John Berger, who died aged 90 on January 2nd, was a critic, novelist, playwright, screenwriter and poet and well-known to many. Occasionally, in his early writings according to this Guardian obituary, Berger’s ‘Marxist dialectic did force him into uncomfortable contortions’, but whenever I heard him … Continue reading

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Dare Always Dare, and Guerilla Grafters

A friend pointed out to me a week or so ago that this: DARE ALWAYS DARE is written in neon above the foyer entrance to the Old Vic Theatre (no idea why I’d never noticed it before): And so we should, if … Continue reading

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Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata and Dioni Mazaraki’s silver jewellery

I’ve read all Rose Tremain‘s novels and I love the fact that they fail to fit neatly into any particular category (except the category of beautifully written stories about the way we are and how we become). They’re always and essentially different, one from … Continue reading

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The UK Referendum, Brexit, and Meike Ziervogel on the importance of listening to other people’s stories

On 1 July Meike Ziervogel, founder and publisher at Peirene Press, published this: Translation is Europe’s only common language. Umberto Eco It’s a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece about the UK referendum, Brexit, and the importance of listening to other people’s … Continue reading

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Why Readers Stop Reading; Lisa McInerney’s 2016 Bailey’s win, and Penicillin

An interesting survey on why readers stop reading: There’s more here. It’s published by Lit World Interviews (I found it on a TLC facebook post.) The conclusions are mostly what you’d expect to put readers off (although I particularly loved Unexpected Sex as a deterrent to reading on). But … Continue reading

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A Valentine to Fear; and Visual Verse

In Elizabeth Gilbert‘s brilliant new book Big Magic (I reviewed it here) she acknowledges that we need fear in our lives, otherwise we’d be: Straight-up sociopaths … [or an] exceptionally reckless three-year-old … . But you do not need your fear in the realm of … Continue reading

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Mindfulness; 18 things creative people do differently and the ever-magical Elizabeth Gilbert

Mindfulness, according to The Mindfulness Project in London, is: A simple and very powerful practice of training our attention. It’s … about paying attention to what’s happening here and now (sensations, thoughts, emotions) in a non-judgemental way. It can interrupt the habit … Continue reading

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Men and Embroidery, and a belated apology

Inspired by this post about John Craske and his delicate life and delicate embroidery in a new book by Julia Blackburn, at dovegreyreader earlier this week, I’ve begun thinking about men and embroidery. My grandfather sewed: tapestry, I think, for chair … Continue reading

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The Brain in Love; and Jim Burge’s Burgeoning Promotional Videos for writers and artists

Dr Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University, studies the brain, in love. She gave a glorious TED talk about it, here. I particularly loved Walt Whitman: Oh, I would stake all for you. and Emily Dickinson: Parting is all we need to know of Hell. … Continue reading

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