Tag: writing

Cycles of creativity

This week I was very lucky to be invited to take part in an experiment led by Generate, road-testing a model of creativity with a group of people working in a range of artforms: writers, visual artists, and dramatists, all at different stages in their creative projects. Generate Coaching Partnership is made up of professional coaches Emma Haughton and Lisa Westbury who work with teams and organisations in the creative and social sectors to realise their vision and potential. Drawing on thinking from Gestalt psychology, Emma and Lisa's model helps people understand their creative process as a cycle, which starts in 'the fertile void', and moves through distinct stages of idea generation, commitment and experimentation, into planning, doing and finally completing and letting go of the work.  Their contention is that the each stage of the process feels quite different when you're in it, and getting the most out of each stage of the…

Loud Literature!

Last Thursday I was very privileged to join children's authors Charlotte Raby, Sheila Rance, and Helen Baugh at the Loud Literature event as part of this year's Hurst Festival. Earlier this summer, a group of local children attended a creative writing workshop at The Mint House led by Belle Amatt, who was also our compere for the evening. Having had time to finish and edit over the summer, the children read their stories and poems aloud in front of an audience, and the authors gave feedback to each of the young writers individually.  It wasn't difficult to be enthusiastic and encouraging because the work was so diverse, imaginative, and passionate. The children's writing included farmyard action, fantastical tales of sharks and monsters, moving descriptions of loved ones, thoughtful poems, and even philosophical meditations on the nature of creativity. The authors also gave readings from their work, either published or in progress.  I read a section of my novel Seal…

Commandments for writing

I was intrigued by Henry Miller's 11 Commandments as posted recently by the Writers' Circle.  What I like most about these commandments is that they are so personal - Miller knows his own weaknesses. I also like that as well as hard graft Miller instructs himself to enjoy periods of partying.  It's important to 'Keep human!' and 'drink if you want to' - well, I say 'Yay!' to that. So, inspired by Miller, I've produced my own list of commandments, opting for the more conventional 10. In each of these, the 'you' I'm speaking to is me, of course; these aren't intended to apply to anyone else.  I've been carrying these around for a while, but I enjoyed writing them down, and recognising that my inner finger-wagger is somewhat stern but also kind (and very possibly voiced by Julie Andrews). I'd be interested to hear about own personal commandments.  Do they overlap with mine?  Do…

So, what next…?

So I've handed in the rewrite of Baby X to my publisher, and it's too early to expect comments back yet.   I'm thinking about what to do next. I've got two other 'completed' manuscripts I want to get out there, a middle-grade novel called Seal Skin and a YA novel called He, She, It. By 'completed' I mean that in each case I got to the end of a first draft, then I went back to the beginning and edited (draft 2).  Then I got a few trusted reader and writer friends to read the manuscript, and waited for their comments.  Then I let the comments sink in for a while, and only then, on the basis of these comments and further thoughts I'd had in the meantime, I edited again (draft 3). Then I sent each book out to agents.  Each book got some positive attention, but no one took the punt on signing me. Which means that at the moment I…

Ice climbing

It's three weeks now since I handed in the revised manuscript of Baby X (!), so in search of some creative distraction, I've been writing a fairy-tale about a Changeling, and looking over some old short stories I wrote a while back... Here's a tiny one.   Ice climbing   I’m at the park, perched on one of the old railway sleepers that forms the boundary of the sandpit.  My son, eleven months old, is upright in the sand, digging.  His back is straight, his knees bent around his bucket.  The long flap of his red sunhat falls over the back of his neck, down to his shoulder blades. I watch him dig, feel the sun on my back. Someone hunkers down beside me on the sleeper.  I’m friendly with some of the mothers who use this park; I’m here three or four times a week.  But before I even turn, I sense the newcomer is male. And…

Red Riding Hood reimagined

Welcome to ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical’ Carnival This post was written especially for inclusion in ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical’ carnival, hosted by Mother’s Milk Books, to celebrate the launch of their latest collection of fairy tales for an adult audience: The Forgotten and the Fantastical. Today our participants share their thoughts on the theme ‘Fairy tales’. Please read to the end of the post for a full list of carnival participants. *** I'm loving The Forgotten and the Fantastical, the new book of fairy-tales from Mother's Milk Books.  I'm enjoying the diversity of the voices and the breadth of these stories, the way modern fairy-tales always feel so familiar, but at the same time so fresh and surprising. Reading these tales inspired me to dig out a bunch of fairy-tales I wrote a while ago, and rereading them, what struck me was the rawness of the emotion, through stolen babies and…

How it’s really going when you ask me how it’s going

Friends and family members have been asking me how it's going with the rewrite.  Which is sweet of you.  I'm grateful for your interest, sincerely I am. Only, what mostly happens is I look shifty, and say 'Erm, you know.'  And look at the floor.  Then I make something up, something I think sounds like a reasonable response. The thing is, when I first set up this site I promised (myself mostly) I'd blog about rewriting and publishing a novel.  So in the spirit of that original promise, this is how it's going. Some background:  I wrote the first draft of this book almost a decade ago, and I was a different person then.  It's not that I'm no longer interested in the themes - I am, very - but my opinion on these themes has become, if not different exactly, at least more nuanced. The impulse to write this story came from something inside me I was trying to understand.  I…

Nutrition for… distracted writers

So delighted to have a contribution from a guest blogger - the very wonderful nutritionist and writer Belle Amatt.  Find out more about Belle here. "I am familiar with self-distraction, very familiar. It is 10.28 am. My plan was to start writing this at 9.15. In the meantime I have made coffee with meticulous measuring of the grains, sweeping away of the powdery remains. I have put out damp washing, uncharacteristically pegging the socks into pairs, lining up PJ bottoms with PJ tops. Further atypical behaviour, I’m ashamed to say I indulged in some mindless eating. That handful of nuts and the dried cranberry chaser, consumed whilst standing indeed, goes against one of my most closely held nutrition principles: be mindful of every bite. Does this scene of conscious distraction for the task in hand sound familiar? It is not that I don’t relish the idea of writing this post. Indeed,…

8 things I learned through swimming (that help me as a writer)

1. Sometimes you'll improve quickly. Don't be fooled by this into thinking your some sort of genius and headed for the Olympics (or the Booker shortlist). 2. Sometimes you'll improve so slowly it appears you're not improving at all. Don't be fooled by this into thinking you should throw in the towel. 3. Swimming, like long hours hunched over a keyboard, will sometimes necessitate the services of a good chiropractor, or sports massage therapist.  Where would I be without John Pursglove at Henfield Chiropractic or Muscle Balance Sport and Remedial Massage Therapist Caroline Telfer? 4. Sometimes you need to count in units of four, sometimes in units of 25. Other times it makes more sense to count in 100s or even 1000s.  There are unfortunate occasions when you may have to count in 17s.  Whatever you count in, get your head down and get on with it, and it'll soon start to add up.…