Category Archives: Writing

A new writing resolution; and a new (to me) altruistic way of advertising

I’ve made a new writing resolution: I will not allow the confusing complexity, the sheer size and the constantly changing, shifting nature of a novel’s first draft to eclipse the excitement I felt when its guiding idea first electrified me. I. Will. Not. … Continue reading

Posted in Baby Boomers, Creativity, Fiction, Millenials, Psychology, Rewriting, Things I'd Love to Have Made, Uncategorized, Writing | Leave a comment

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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Rejection is a rite of passage for writers, and the Raw Chocolate Company

One of the things that a writer takes a while truly to believe (it’s taken me a while) is that rejection is part of the process: it’s necessary, inevitable and makes our work better. It’s a rite of passage.But the … Continue reading

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Blurt It Out and Instead of a Card

I’m submitting the manuscript of my third novel to literary agents. It’s a process that requires much patience, a certain amount of luck and, most importantly, the ability to pitch my work well to the right agent at the right … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Fiction, Mental Health in Fiction, Things I'd Love to Have Made, Third Novel, Writing | 2 Comments

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

Posted in Artists, Creativity, Death and Dying, Fiction, Literary Prizes, Things I'd Love to Have Made, Women, Writers, Writing | Comments Off on Words on Writing, and Pass on a Poem

Auditioning to become a WI Speaker, and ‘Born Baffled: Musings on a Writing Life’

In March I auditioned to become a WI speaker. The WI, you say? Don’t they just make jam, sing Jerusalem and talk a lot? Yes to all three, but no to JUST. There are 6,300 WIs in this country with 220,000 members … Continue reading

Posted in Psychology, Talks, Things I'd Love to Have Made, Titanic, Women, Writers, Writing | 3 Comments

Third novel, and the Reith Lectures, 2016

This month I finished my third novel. Finished to be interpreted loosely: there will be redrafts when I’m working with an agent and then with an editor. It’s working title is For the Love of Life. Rejoice. At least for now. … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Equality, Fiction, Things I'd Love to Have Made, Third Novel, Titanic, Writers, Writing | 2 Comments

Theresa May, the Queen and Boris Johnson and, more seriously, Kent Haruf

A friend of mine sent me this sometime after the Brexit Bungle: There’s not much else to say, is there? On a much more serious note (and far wiser, kinder, more compassionate and life-enhancing), I read Kent Haruf (to rhyme with Sheriff)’s … Continue reading

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How dramatic stories change brain chemistry, and NOT the Booker Prize

Good strong stories, as we all know, transport us to other people’s worlds. So, when we’re reading fiction, even though we know the people we’re reading about aren’t real, if the story has a successful dramatic arc we’ll empathise with those imaginary people and … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Literary Prizes, Mind, Psychology, Things I'd Love to Have Made, Writers, Writing | 2 Comments

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

Posted in Artists, Creativity, Literary Prizes, Storytelling, Things I'd Love to Have Made, Writers, Writing | 2 Comments

Do you want Escape or Experience when you read fiction? And: from food desert to food forest

I found this definition of the distinction between genre and literary fiction here: The main reason for a person to read Genre Fiction is for entertainment, for a riveting story, an escape from reality. Literary Fiction separates itself from Genre because it … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Gardening, Things I'd Love to Have Made, Writing | 3 Comments

Mindfulness, Fitzroy Square and Subversive (Guerilla) Gardening

A few weeks ago I did an Introduction to Mindfulness day at the London Mindfulness Project (whose rooms are in the astonishingly beautiful, Georgian Fitzroy Square, at No 6): No 6, according to the Georgian Society, has: Over the years … 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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Mistakes, for a new year

The first days of this new year have brought oddly mixed emotions. Happiness and gratitude that all those celebrations with friends and family went well, mingled with sadness for the absence of all those we used to celebrate with who are no longer alive. Memories … Continue reading

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What it’s like to write and what it’s like to imagine you might write; and Suffragette

In Edith Wharton‘s 1925 The Writing of Fiction  in the section called ‘Constructing a Navel’ – obviously a typographical mistake but one I like for its overtones of contemplation – Wharton writes about the creation of character in a novel: The creatures … 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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How incomprehensible unworkable things inspire

Joanna Briscoe and Grace Paley caught my attention this month. They’re very different writers but I’ve just read articles about writing by both. Grace Paley died in 2007 but a friend sent me her thoughts on writing recently. Here’s an extract … Continue reading

Posted in Storytelling, Things I'd Love to Have Made, Women, Writers, Writing | 5 Comments

Ideas are NOT stories; and the Biblioteca Jardim

It becomes obvious if you write, but perhaps not if you don’t: ideas are not stories. Before I wrote or, at least, before I finished a novel, I didn’t grasp this fundamental fact because ideas, when they come (and I’ve no idea … Continue reading

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Electoral Reform in the UK. And Inspiration.

On 5 May 2011 a referendum on electoral reform was held in the UK: 68% of us voted No; 32% (including me) voted Yes; the turnout was 42%. We weren’t collectively brave enough, or we were too frightened of change to vote … Continue reading

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