Posts Tagged ‘art’

I don’t write comedy. I might have amusing scenes, or light-hearted poetry, but I am not someone who is skilled at the laugh out loud moments.  I’m thinking about this, because this week I went to see the funniest play I can remember, The Play That Goes Wrong

Comedy is most definitely an art.  Depending on the nature – physical, reflective, political – completely different skill sets are needed.  For writing, it’s also about picking the perfect words.

I don’t think I have ever really appreciated the art involved in creating a funny, engaging, novel. Most of the comedic poetry I have discovered is quite light, nothing to get you thinking too deeply, but that isn’t the same with a book.

For novels, there’s got to be engagement and sustained levels of comedy over 70,000 or more words.  It sounds impossible!

I am trying to think of a few that are genuinely comedies (rather than simply witty or light-hearted) and am going to have to review a few.  I would really like to understand how it can be done!

I am never likely to write a truly comedy novel, but I might see how to tie in a few more smiles for readers.

Plus, what a great project to see me through the autumn: books to make me laugh!

If you have any suggestions, please let me know in the comments…

Happy laughing!



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I am still on my jaunt to discover another beautiful place; I love to be able to explore a little of the environment when I am away, even if I’m not the type of person who braves rock-climbing and skiing!

Today’s inspiration is on that theme; it’s not a new photo but it is a place I hold in my heart:

The Tides they are a changingThis is the beach we were on last May – the grey-looking lines are the black volcanic sand, the white the golden sand that sits on top of it. When we put our feet in the waves and the sea rolled back, these lines were created from the lighter golden sand washing away.

It looks like art to me – but then nature is like that!

I hope you can see the beauty in it too.

Happy writing,




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I have no book to report this week – I am stuck firmly in the middle of one I have been reading for about 12 days and for some reason it seems that no matter how much I read, I don’t get any closer to the end…

So this week I thought I’d share something else with you: a quote not by a creative writer but a scientist.

If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week

Charles Darwin wrote this in his biography.  I love the fact that the man whose scientific discoveries changed the way evolution was understood also realised the value and importance of art – and whatever its form, I hope you get to enjoy some art this week.

Happy reading,



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I have a tiny obsession with macro photos of flowers.

I think part of the allure is that they are so impermanent: if you don’t take the picture when you have a chance that moment is gone.  The same could be said for so many things that I would love to take photos of everything, but that’s not really practical so I specialise 🙂

I’m not very good at these pictures but here’s one I took on retreat in Wales last summer.

Little Wonder

The feeling of having to record things immediately is one I’ve been developing for the last few years in writing – I’m sure we all have the tale of ‘the one that got away’; the great story opening or line of poetry that we didn’t write down and it disappeared like a whiff of smoke.  Even with notebooks everywhere, you can’t capture everything!

Sometimes I use photos instead of books.  I use them like a painter would, as a reference point to draw my image.  This works well for me for things like sunsets, the colour of the soil, the shapes carved into a wall; things that require some better description than the off-the-cuff notes I scribble as I wander around.  That’s another benefit of the macro photo too – you see a level of detail you might not have seen in person.

If you want to see what I mean, have a look at some amazing, properly macro, photos here!

Happy writing



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I said on Sunday that I was away; well, the reason for that was a trip to the ballet to watch The Nutcracker.

The last time I watched a professional ballet (as far as I remember) I was really very young – maybe four or five, something like that. I know it was at night and I got tired and fell asleep but there are a couple of elements I remember. It was an outside performance, at a castle with a moat. We were a long way back, but the dancers were well lit.

I think it was Swan Lake – all I remember of the costumes was white tutus.

I say I remember these things – it’s entirely possible that it’s all just an impression I took away and nothing to do with the reality of the evening at all!  But from an inspiration point of view, it doesn’t really matter. The ballet was a magical thing, and I remember the movements of the dancers as though they were silk threads weaving in the breeze.

As an adult, there is more to inspire me. The dancers are fluid, and yet incredibly strong with sharply defined muscles. The female dancers are almost ethereally delicate, yet when they wear their special shoes to dance en pointe, their landings are loud and sound almost wooden.  The costumes are light but weighted with crystals. The make up is heavy, and yet subtle (from where we were sitting anyway!).

It was still magical, but now I am aware how much work went into making it so.  The artistry is not just in the performance of the dancers but in the whole team – from musicians to hair and makeup to costume to set decorators.  As in any creative endeavour, the whole is more than the sum of its parts – but without any one of those parts it wouldn’t be complete.

That’s knowledge that I can use as a writer, and appreciate as an audience member.

Until next time,

Happy writing



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This week has been about beginnings, at least from a writing point of view.  And when you invite one new thing into your life, others seem to follow…

Firstly, I hosted the inaugural writers group for people in the village.  Although not everyone could make it, I was really happy with the event.  We were talking for well over two hours which is much longer than I thought; we all seemed to be inspired by the event; the dog behaved reasonably well and I got to share my excitement about text books and reference materials.  What’s not to love!

In fact, I was so inspired that a few new story ideas popped into my head like tiny flames; the end result has been that I’ve started writing a new story with the intention of creating a novel from its tiny seed.

I still have to complete the revisions to book 2, but I can feel this idea developing, and I want to record it. There is no plan as such, but I know it’s a human interest piece – there is a catalyst for change and we watch someone respond to that catalyst.

But alongside that I recorded two other ideas that have potential.  One is a crime novel, so it’s completely out of my wheelhouse and I can’t see it being a full-length novel at this point – perhaps a novella though.  The other is a light-hearted look at a certain type of lifestyle.

I guess this is a reminder that once I open myself up to inspiration, my brain makes all sorts of connections that I didn’t see before.  I recently read something that said we have 5000 thoughts a day – it’s good to know at least some of these are useful 🙂

As well as new ideas flowing in, I also took my inspired self out of the house to help out at the annual charity flower festival my partner and I support.  As usual, I was tasked with creating floral arrangements, and this year I branched out and did one completely without guidance or support (or a clue what I was trying to do!).  I am pleased to report good feedback; the flowers were beautiful and it’s good to know I’ve done them proud 🙂

I’ve also sought out the needle and thread and had a go at creating some things with fabric.  It’ll be about 100 years before I master complicated things like button holes, but just getting back into making stuff has been a lot of fun.

All in all, this week has been about me leaping from one creative endeavour to another – and I’ve welcomed them all with open arms.

In other news – Instead of just news stories, I though I’d link to some information related to my week…

1. Writers groups need exercises to get the inspiration flowing; here is a list of 15 that any writer could try.

2. The language of flowers is recorded in many places; this wikipedia page is a good starting point.

3. Creating with fabrics (or just knowing a little about them!) can help to explore things like texture, colour and design that may be important in a story.  There are specific qualities of fabrics that could be important.  You may not need to explore these things in the narrative, but they’re good to know about.  This website gives a very brief introduction to natural and man-made fabrics.

And finally – one just for fun!  I found this article which describes a study showing that the smell of chocolate makes people more likely to buy romance novels.  I’d just like the chocolate, myself!

So I’ve covered writing, flowers, fabrics and chocolate – not a bad combination this week 🙂

Happy writing



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Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know I am often inspired by images, so when this month’s peace challenge was announced, I felt pretty happy.  Our challenge was to think about a piece of art that makes us peaceful: for me the painter John Miller immediately came to mind.

To view some of his work, click here.  I’ve had prints of his paintings on my walls for over a decade, and I still find them restful.

I have always loved this type of art, with its blue skies and sandy beaches.  Maybe a parasol, or an early afternoon sun, give it an extra dimension – but it’s really the sky over the water that does it.  The sense of space.

Open space makes me feel as though my imagination is limitless – and, as a writer, that’s a truly life-affirming feeling.

But the more I thought about art, the more I reflected that peace in art is more than just images.  It exists in different places and different forms.

Nature is the original art.  One of my favourite natural landscapes is a bluebell wood.  They are magical; shadowed and lit by the movement of the breeze; in some places it looks as though the trees are walking on a rippling lake.   These woods are profoundly peaceful – quiet, soothing and reviving.

Created art can be practical, as well as beautiful.  There’s a type of building that often makes me feel at peace: a traditional windmill.  Watching the sails languorously turn on a fine day, they don’t look like functional technical machines.  They look like beacons of a past life, of living from the land.  They make me think of fresh bread and summer sunshine and horses clopping and picnics, all rolled into one.

And sometimes peace in art is a surprise – this example comes from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.  Although the contest came from a sense of wanting to rebuild relationships between nations, most entries are more pop music than political message.  This was the Russian entry, sung by Dina Garipova, called ‘What if’.  The song starts about 55 seconds in, and its message is one of peace.

So what have I learnt about peace in art?

I’ve learnt that I am surrounded by it, if I only take the time to look.  I’ve learnt that what inspires me as a writer often inspires a feeling of peace – and I often find my inspiration as a writer through peace.

I love that idea, and I’ll explore it more in later peace posts.

Happy writing,



B4Peace Central

Other posts you may enjoy:


Laurie’s Notes

Through the Peacock’s eyes

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No – this has nothing to do with second marriages, but instead is about National Novel Writing Month and the continuation of a story after the initial exercise.

Twice now I have done NaNo, twice I have got to the end with a story that progressed reasonably well, and for which I had a future plan.  Twice now, the end of NaNo seems to have encouraged the story to disintegrate.

Ok, this time is nothing like as bad as last, but having been working on it over the last few days, it seems to have become much harder to write since the end of November.  Plus, the scene that I have struggled with for hours is finally finished, but at about 6000 words, it is one tenth of what I have written.  Surely one scene should not be so much, especially one which is basically back story.

And now I’ve finally dragged my way out of the mire of the scene, I’ve gone completely off plan, tried to get back on plan, and yesterday I spent the best part of three hours writing things that I suspect will be stripped out in the very first revision.

In retrospect, I’m starting to think that using a story I was so wedded to for NaNo was not as good an idea as I expected!

But all is not doom and gloom: out of the jaws of defeat I may yet grab a victory, because I have started drawing a few different strands together to knit it all into a cohesive whole.  If I can make sense – from a story narrative point of view – of where I’ve detoured, it could still come together for the denouement I intend.

Think positive thoughts for me!

In other news – I am working on my Bloggers for Peace post, which I hope to post by Tuesday.  If any of you want to take part, I set up a tab so the info is easy to find.

And finally – now the Christmas decorations are down, I am feeling a distinct lack of glitter and shimmer, so I am going to dig out some of my old art stuff this week and get creating.  I have no idea how much time I’ll have for this, or what I’ll do, exactly – but I need something to perk me up when the weather is wet, grey, foggy and generally miserable.  I will let you know what I achieve – if anything – later in the week!

Happy writing



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I recently had a contact lens appointment, and was offered some new ‘HD’ lenses to try, which left me slightly bemused.  Do I not already see life in high definition?  Well, maybe not – but since then, the idea of clarity has been on my mind.

I write this blog informally; it’s like an e-notebook, where I plonk my thoughts about writing in the hope that one day it’ll all make beautiful sense.  To someone, somewhere…  When I am writing a poem or a story I need to make sure every point is clear – so you are absorbed into that moment.  In basic terms this is part of the show v tell discussion: to talk of a lawn is not always sufficient, nor is an angry face or a burnt cake.  If something is important to the flow of the piece, much more specific language is required to bring the scene to life.  This is where writing poetry, even if it’s not your greatest love, can help a prose writer.  I have used scenes in my prose that I have also written poetry about, and that can make you see the scene in more depth.  Photographers and painters out there will also be able to call on their skills in identifying the photographic/visual elements of a scene.

Alongside that is the journey from beginning to end: the pace, tone, depth of characterisation/description.  Sometimes so many ideas pop into my head that I lose track of the story I am trying to tell – and although I may go with the flow for a while to see where I end up, inevitably I know when a section is just words and filler, rather than plot development.  I have to cut sections at each read-through I do, and I have to be ruthless about it: even though I’ve now got someone else reading it through, I am still thinking of the sections I know are not working as I would like, and thinking about how they can be improved or if they are necessary at all…

Of course, for any piece you want to feel a physical reaction – tears, laughter, smiles, grimaces; a sense of peace, or stillness.  If I had to describe how a good book makes me feel – I’d say it’s like curling up in comfy clothes, sitting on a windowseat with loads of cushions, and peering out into the world that’s unfolding.  With a good book, I’m a character.

So, clarity.  Show me what you want me to see,  in the highest definition you can muster.

The second thing I want to talk about is my plan for the month ahead.  Following much scribbling of notes, I have decided to focus on the following work:

1. Complete Codename Wedding Belles – a poem I am writing for my cousin and her partner, to be read when they tie the knot in January.  The content will remain a closely guarded secret as they don’t want to hear the piece before the day (they are very brave) so all I will be able to share is the progress.  And possibly a title, if it doesn’t give too much away!

2. ‘NaNoWriMo’ plan – I don’t intend to try to complete a new story but this year I want to use November to work on the draft of my second novel, which you may remember took a back seat last year when I decided to focus on the family tree one. During October I will draft up a plan of action for this so I don’t lose sight of where the work is going; I’ll base it on a minimum of 25,000 additional words completed during November

3. ‘NaNoWriMo’ review – I will pull out and dust off (so to speak) last year’s piece and try to plan to the end of the story in line with my vision. I suspect completing it will take longer than a month but my aim is to progress by around 30-40,000 words. We shall see…

4. Poetry – I will revisit my space poems and draft up a couple more, plus choose five poems to share on Smashwords in a little e-pamphlet which I will then sell for some less-than-princely sum!

5. Short Stories – I will completely edit and send off 4 short stories.

6. Learning something new – I want to have something outside writing to enjoy, so will dig out my learn Chinese kit and have a go at starting that. Even if I can say ‘hello my name is EJ’ at the end of the month, I’ll be happy!

7. Torch Tale – the story surrounding the route of the Olympic flame will be completed in draft format: there will be six separate stories linked by their proximity to the flame – possibly more, as based on locations I know and people I’ve spoken to I could do around twenty at the moment!

8. Blog – I will write every day – my normal 2 posts will follow the usual format (with a quick line of update on progress) and the extra posts will say what I’ve got through that day. Hopefully this will spur me on…

This seems a lot, when I look at it on screen – and if things happen during the month to change my plans I’ll let you know but I really want to push myself and see how far I can get.  I am, as I’m sure you’ve realised, a great procrastinator and work much better with a list of targets than with too much freedom!

I hope some of you out there are inspired to take on some challenges or complete projects on your list this month – let me know if you decide on a project, and how you’re getting on, I do love to get comments and chat with people about life, the universe and everything :-).

Until tomorrow then – happy writing,



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Apologies for posting this a little late – it’s a bank holiday weekend here and I’ve been really busy with various events!

This week my writing time has been spent almost entirely on two things – this blog and the novel. The reason is  that the revision of the novel has become much more complicated than expected.

The new sections have led to putting more emphasis on areas I deliberately didn’t explore too much, and I am not convinced this is  a Good Thing.  I will have to see how this pans out: I try to let the writing flow naturally so if a few phrases lead me down a new path I’ll go with it, and rein it in if necessary when I do my next read-through, but I don’t want to be working on this forever so at some point will have to stop exploring new elements!

Writing the new sections is taking more time than expected. I was thinking they would take roughly a couple of days each, because I knew what they have to cover and I know the characters well so they were just an additional few scenes, but each one is currently around 3000 (and the longest is over 4000) words so they have become short chapters in their own right – the short missing ideas decided to bring a few of their friends to the party…  By the end I’ll probably have added over 15,000 extra words!

If you remember my NaNoWriMo experience, I wrote 25,000 words in a month, so  I can write that much – but this is much more complex than simply writing a new story.  For example, I have to remember where timeshifts occur in relation to the new sections, so have to measure out how long things may take to fit them into one or two week periods.  I also have to make sure that any plot points I add that weren’t there before are not lost but are subsequently incorporated into the later chapters.  I am glad I am writing onto a computer now, as the document tracking is extremely helpful!

It’s really good to do it all in order, so I know where I am in the story, but it does mean I can’t quickly edit anything!  I know it’s only my own timetable that I risk failing to meet, but that doesn’t matter – it’s a date that was theoretically achievable so I feel like I’m letting myself down if I don’t meet my target.

Fingers crossed I’ll find some extra writing mojo for the next week!

In other news – I read an interesting news story this week.  Some of you may have seen the story of an elderly woman in Spain who attempted to restore a 19th Century church painting.  This story has really caught my attention for a few reasons, and one of those is the tale it tells – a forgotten piece, neglected and uncared-for, is finally given some attention and it goes wrong: suddenly the piece had world-wide recognition; the descendants of the artist are called upon to share their feelings on the action – despite not knowing the artist personally, and the woman who tried to fix it ends up under threat of legal action…  There are so many ways of approaching a story like this that for any writer it’s a great inspiration piece to cut out and keep somewhere.

I am keeping it short this week so I can get back to the novel, so will leave it there.  Hopefully I’ll be back on track soon and laughing about my minor panic of the last week…

Happy writing



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