My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON ELIZABETH STROUT Synopsis: Lucy is recovering from an operation in a New York Hospital when she wakes up to find her estranged mother sitting by her bed.  They have not seen each other in years.  As they talk, Lucy finds herself recalling her...

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE ANTHONY DOERR Synopsis: An ambitious novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. When Marie Laure goes blind, aged six, her father builds...

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

  Grief is the Thing with Feathers is a refreshingly original read.  It is a slim volume that packs extraordinary literary punch.  To use Max Porter’s own words it, “…eats sorrow, unbirths secrets and has theatrical battles with language and...

A New Door Opens…

After a long period of writing, rather than writing about writing, I’m back in the blog again, with words of encouragement for people who are slogging away trying to find some kind of platform for their work.  Don’t give up.  I’ve spent the last...

The Laxative Powers of Catharsis?

Weirdly, my dictionary (a lovely old Chambers that my mum and dad gave me in 1989) defines catharsis as purgative medicine having the power of cleansing the bowels – they missed that bit out in my drama degree.  It does go on to say that it can also mean...
Throwing a Sickie…

Throwing a Sickie…

Vile cold. Here’s a lovely door for you to be getting on with. It might lead you somewhere… Normal service will resume shortly.  

Going AWOL

Am off to London for conference on E-Publishing (amongst other things). Hope to come back not much older but considerably wiser.See you next week…
The Blank Page – Writing the First Few Words

The Blank Page – Writing the First Few Words

Although my shed is still mostly made up of holes, if you look closely you can see that some are door-shaped holes, and some are window-shaped holes and it’s all starting to feel rather exciting… In writing terms, you have probably done enough preparation...
Thinking about the Foundations of Your Story

Thinking about the Foundations of Your Story

Dawn again, in the drizzle… Even in the murkiness, you can see more clearly the shape of my house-shaped shed. The Steves have had to make a few adjustments, lowering the foundations so that the finished structure will be within height regulations – the...
Duvet Day

Duvet Day

Throwing a sickie. Streaming cold – my present to everyone for Christmas. Normal service will resume. In the meantime, here’s a wintry door to throw your literary weight against…  

Otherwise Evil-Adverbiously…

 …is a great phrase of Charles Dickens’ which wittily refers to the folly and shortcomings of using adverbs in your work. Jasper was walking slowly along the road when a car came suddenly round the corner.  The driver frantically hit the brakes...
On the Move…

On the Move…

We are moving house next week, so there may be a slight hiatus here while I rummage through every single cardboard box we have in order to find my laptop and then perch it on a precarious pile of books and start to blog again. As they say, when one door...

In Praise of Books (and Deborah Harvey’s in Particular)

I’ve just read Deborah Harvey’s luminous book of poetry, Communion. Actually, I’m being a bit disingenuous here, because Deborah joined a writing class I was teaching in Bristol in the late 1990s and I’ve had the intense pleasure of reading her...
Taking a Break…

Taking a Break…

In the spirit of my last post about RSI and the importance of taking regular breaks, I’m off on holiday for a while, boating in Burgundy, doing a bit of  research and idly dreaming.  I’ll keep posting when I have access to the Internet, but it may be a...

Summer Shorts – Form

Here’s a toughie (although the end result will only be eight lines long, but you’ll have to sweat blood to get there). Sometimes it can be helpful to constrain yourself, so that once you cast the constraints off, the liberty to write as you please feels...

Verisimilitude, or the Magic of the Footlights

My first job in the theatre was as Acting Stage Manager — general dogsbody, gofer and maker of tea.  I used to help at fit ups, when the set was assembled on stage for the first time, and was always amazed at how rough and ready it looked.  The...

Page One Hundred

I once had a friend who always chose books on the basis of how good the hundredth page was, flipping past the first page and going up country into the interior of the story.  If things looked good on p100, then he bought the book. To put this theory to the test,...
Gone Fishing….

Gone Fishing….

I’ve done a hundred posts – YAY – which I think has earned me a short break, so I’m off on a research trip. Back next week….

Christmas Cracker Number Eight – Spelling

How you present your work is incredibly important and spelling is a vital part of that. I know that I’m a fine one to talk – to my chagrin, I’ve noticed one or two typos in previous posts and I feel utterly mortified by them. In my defence (there is...

Christmas Cracker Number Four – The Jane Austen Game

We used to play a brilliant game I was a teenager, which we called The Jane Austen Game, although I’m sure other families have different names for it, but it’s a bit of literary fluff that makes people laugh and can sharpen your writing skills as...

Authenticity – the Charles Dickens way

In a preface to one of his books — I can’t, at this moment, put my finger on which one — the great Charles Dickens once said, “I have so far verified what is done and suffered in these pages as though I have certainly done and suffered it...