Posts Tagged ‘emotions’

Since my break, I’ve lost track of what week I am on and after some deliberation I have decided it doesn’t matter. Writing is not a project where I have to report on progress against my targets or identify any risks and mitigations – it is a way of living my life. So for now I am dropping my weekly count.

If I change my mind, you’ll know soon enough!

As I said on Thursday, I wanted to get back into the habit of writing poetry. I have succeeded in pulling a short draft piece together and although its probably not ever going to be for human consumption, it has unblocked me a little and helped me process some thoughts and feelings that have been building up in my mind.

For this particular poem I have dealt with the frustrations of being unwell and how time loses all meaning when your normal daily experience has been undone in some way. I feel better for it.

Writing is a great form of therapy. It is an empowering way of taking strong emotions and owning them – crafting them into art and then making a choice about their future. It gives back a sense of control, which is incredibly important to me, and I’m sure I am not alone. ¬†I have poems on all sorts of subjects from grief to embarrassment to physical pain to joy – and whether or not anyone else ever sees them, I am glad I produced them because they are a record of how I got where I am.

I don’t tend to choose poetry subjects before the writing but this week I want to write more about what’s uppermost in my mind to clear the decks, so to speak. Once I have done that I will be ready to build up my portfolio a little more.

It feels great to have some output for the first time in ages, and even better to feel this is only the start.

Happy writing,



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We’ve been choosing music for the wedding this week, and it’s taken over my evening so I have neglected the blog today – sorry! I promise that after the wedding I’ll be much better…

Still it’s got me thinking about the power of music once again. ¬†You may remember this is a subject I was working on many moons ago. ¬†Well, I put it aside for a later date that didn’t come along so it’s languishing in my to do pile. ¬†This isn’t so much a reboot as a gentle reminder it’s there!

Making a list of songs I’d like played, it’s become abundantly clear that what I love listening to is directly related to when I first¬†¬†heard it. There’s a vast stream of music from my university years that fills me with a nostalgic sense of joy – even though the music is not really to my taste nowadays. It’s like the first time I play the 1950’s Christmas songs; it immediately transports me to a certain place and time.

This isn’t a new idea, and it’s not even the first time I’ve written about it on the blog. Still, it’s worth revisiting because music makes a scene.

It is the background noise in the lives of our characters: on the radio in the car or the office, on adverts, even film or tv themes.  Just as we learn the words of songs, and sing them absent-mindedly as we walk down the street, our characters will do the same.  They will feel the words of a poignant song, cry to love songs when their hearts are broken, and drive into the sunset to songs of freedom and hope.   Their lives will have a soundtrack, and one of the jobs of a writer is to make the reader hear that soundtrack.  Not literally, of course Рbut through tone, timing, rhythm and pace we can give our characters a soundtrack for their lives.

And if we want to mention a few of our favourites, and have a listen along the way – well, it’s work, isn’t it?!

Happy writing,





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Sometimes books make me cry. It might be the subject, the content, the characterisation – but whatever it is I have an emotional response.

If I want a reader to have that reaction to my book, I have to feel the same way: I have to have an emotional reaction when I write.

Writing a strong scene is gut-wrenching. If you are putting your characters through a painful experience, it’s as though you’re forcing someone you care about to face those experiences – after all, you made those characters, you defined them, you built them from your mind and formed them with your words. Why wouldn’t you care?

Other writers will tell you the same: in my mind we have to care, because if we don’t why would anyone else?

We writers have to be careful though; we cannot weaken in our resolve because we love our characters. ¬†We can’t make their lives free from conflict, pain, humiliation, strife any more than we would want to strip them of love, comfort, care, desire. ¬†Characters have to live on the page and in the imagination, and making them one dimensional kills them more thoroughly than anything.

So remember when you are writing, and you feel your eyes fill with tears, or you find yourself smiling in happiness, that you are bringing your character to life.


In the book challenge this week I only completed one…

Book 10 – The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. ¬†I really liked this; it’s a children’s book, but it doesn’t talk down to children, and the concepts within it are applicable to us all. ¬†I felt the end was a little rushed, because the focus of attention changes from one place to another quite suddenly, and the book is then resolved within a couple of chapters – but I have come to the conclusion this was a fashion as ¬†so many books are like it – or that I just like a smooth transition from middle to end! ¬†I particularly enjoyed the dialect sections because they gave such an insight into when the children started belonging to their home.

I have a second on the ‘did not get through it’ list this week as well – Paradise Lost, by John Milton. ¬†I know it’s a classic, but I read the first few lines and put it down. ¬†I need to build up to that style of epic poetry, Beowulf was hard enough and that had been translated into a more modern English…

So ten done, two discarded, and one on the go.  Not a bad start to the challenge!

Until next time, happy writing



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I have to say right at the start that I was uncomfortable with this month’s challenge, which was to address an enemy.

I don’t have any enemies. ¬†Perhaps people perceive me as their enemy, I don’t know, but I don’t have that intense level of feeling for anyone personally. I might have felt anger at times, as I’m sure we all do, but I have neither the time nor the energy to invest in someone I do not like. ¬†I’d far rather use that energy to enjoy the company of those who enrich my life.

There’s a difference in my mind between a personal enemy and an ideology that I oppose. ¬†Ideologies are not human, they do not choose a path – they are an excuse for behaving in a particular way.

There are things that make me angry, and people who are powerful and cruel whose actions revolt me, and much of the world we know was created on the backs of the weak.

But this creates a feeling of injustice, and of sadness, and not a list of enemies.

With all these thoughts about the nature of an enemy floating around my mind, I doubted my ability to pull any sort of post together, and I worried that whatever I said would sound too trite, too simplistic to be meaningful.

And I decided this was where I should focus my attention: not on people, but on the worry and doubt that get in the way of just doing things. It might not be the purpose of the exercise, but it’s meaningful to my writing life. ¬†

If you look at the meaning of enemy in the free dictionary, it includes this definition: ‘something destructive or injurious in its effects’

Doubt, fear and worry sometimes feel like playground bullies, taunting me over each submission, blocking me when I reach for an envelope, forcing me to read, and re-read, each e-mail, or blog post, or letter.  

They are the reason I have a pseudonym for this blog.

They are the underlying cause of embarrassment when I read my poetry.  They are the reason I defer and defer submissions until I literally have to publicise a date to do these things.  They seem cruel, and unfair, and unfeeling Рand they are part of me.  Am I really my own worst enemy?  Are they truly destructive or injurious?

I reflected on that idea for¬†a while, and in the end I decided not. ¬†There’s no malice from emotions; they are warnings and signifiers but they are not sentient, they are not thoughtful. ¬†Whatever impact my negative emotions have on me, they are part of why I am who I am. They are as much me as my skin, or my hair, or my teeth. ¬†And they haven’t been done to me, either.

I’m not suggesting I am always accepting, and certainly the last few months have tested me in many different ways. ¬†Nor am I suggesting that emotion are entirely nature, not nurture. ¬†Many emotional responses may be the direct result of experience, both good and bad.

Nevertheless, hating my emotions is about as useful as hating my freckles, or hating my ear lobes.

I am learning to channel those fearful, doubting thoughts – and to value them. Without them, in a strange way, I’d never have written anything. ¬†Emotions are what make writers write, or painters paint, or singers sing.

All in all, this month’s peace post is a bit of a strange one. ¬†Enemy is such a strong word, I really believe it should be reserved for those occasions where someone’s behaviour warrants its use. ¬†That way, it retains its meaning.

Happy writing,



B4Peace Central

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This week, it’s all about emotion!

Firstly, I have to tell you about the outcome of the ‘Codename Wedding Belles’ poem. ¬†Yesterday my cousin and her partner tied the knot; seeing them descend the stairs in their beautiful dresses did make me feel a little teary-eyed I have to admit! I had to pull myself together pretty quickly though because the order of service had my poem first – I had to keep those emotions in check to get through the reading!

I have never written a commissioned piece before and it was a bit nerve-wracking but the feedback I got was very kind and incredibly positive.  I was just glad that I wrote something that could be read as part of their service, and that I was able to play a small part in such a fabulous day.

And so on to fictional emotions… ¬†These are all over the place in the woods novel, from bone-deep sadness to furious anger and the bitterness of betrayal. ¬†I remember one of my assignments was very emotionally charged with a woman on the verge of collapsing under the pressure of life, and one thing my tutor said was (to paraphrase) be aware of the amount of times a character cries¬†as it doesn’t work as a dramatic device if it’s too regular. ¬†Therefore I am very aware of how I assign emotion – smiling, laughing or crying can become very boring words!

I’m not too concerned about this in the first draft – but when I revise it I will have to think about how to describe certain emotions in more interesting yet unobtrusive ways.

The third part of my thought process here was about re-reading the family tree novel. ¬†I have to admit I laugh at my own jokes (terrible, I know!); so it stands to reason, I get sad at my own sad scenes. ¬†When re-reading anything I’ve written, I look for the emotional investment¬†I am trying to engender in the reader. ¬†If I don’t laugh, or smile, or cry at appropriate points, there’s no chance a reader will.

My advice, from my experiences, would be to do a read-through of your draft(s) before starting to make any amendments, because once you start revising sections you lose the flow of the story/poem – and stop thinking about the reader!

In other news – it’s Golden Globes night tonight; what often¬†strikes me with these events is the focus given not to awards but to outfits. ¬†Wear the right thing, and win an award or not, you’ll be the star of the night. ¬†This got me thinking about how a book can attract attention.

I have long had an idea in my head about the possible cover of the family tree book, but I have no similar idea for the woods. ¬†I wouldn’t buy a book just for its cover, but it is important, and people do judge books by their covers, despite the old adage! ¬†Now I am reaching the end of the first draft, I’m going to sketch a few ideas. ¬†They may never be looked at again but if I can give the story its own identity it’ll help me when I edit it.

And finally Рon the subject of the woods novel, I have just two days left to complete it РI will be posting on the 15th to confirm, either way.  I may be jinxing myself, but I feel remarkably hopeful!

Happy writing,



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