Posts Tagged ‘influence’

I am so close to my stay at the retreat in Wales that I can almost touch it, and yet in these last few days of getting up to a sensible point in the whodunnit I have been about as useful as a chocolate teapot, as they say in these parts.

If I had a chocolate teapot I would eat it before putting revolting tea in it anyway, but that’s another matter!

So I have started planning instead – planning how to get from where I am to the end of the story, how to find the missing clues etc. I’ll carry this on into next week with the aim of having a full map to build on in Wales. Alongside some reading, some poetry and a day off exploring the mythological sites (I love the Arthurian legends and I always want to explore the Welsh links more) I want to finish the blimming thing and tick it off!

I have noticed that about two thirds to three quarters of the way into any of my stories I hit a wall and I want to break this one down, to prove to myself I can do it.

So that’s the plan for the week to come, in between everything else… I have to find the time, and wake up every morning feeling that I can do it…

In other news – It’s book 94 in the 100 books list – An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro this week.  I like the sound of this one, for some reason – I guess partly because I have an interest in the Japanese culture, which seems so different to my own.  There’s something about it that draws me in as a reader.  In part I think it’s the use of allegory and imagery which is so intensely different to the language I grew up with.  There’s a poetic element to it.  Anyway, to get to the point, I think I’ll add this one to my list!

And finally – I have read the newspapers a lot in the last few days, trying to keep up with the events in, and affecting, Greece.  I have been so sad to see that ugly nationalistic stereotypes are being used about people from different countries (and there’s not just one victim of this) and as someone who is trying to share and spread friendship and peace it feels as though this is a huge step backwards.

We’ve seen where hate leads, and although people will say things behind a computer they wouldn’t say in reality, once those words have been shared the damage has begun.

Gandhi said 

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding

If we want a mutually satisfactory outcome, to any disagreement, we need to understand each other’s viewpoints – and that can’t happen if we’re throwing stones at each other.

Happy writing,






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This week I’ve been very distracted from my writing. Every time I think about sitting down and getting on with it something else grabs my attention and the moment is gone.

Some things are genuine and reasonable – poorly family members, classes, work etc – but sometimes I have to admit I get a little bit of clicker’s remorse because I find an interesting article to read online and that takes me to something else, and something else, and then the evening is gone.

The worst thing is that I know I’m doing it and yet I carry on. Today I read about 15 pages of online comments about a particular news story. They all say the same thing – boo to you, person who doesn’t share my opinion – but I keep reading in the hope that some nugget of understanding will come to me that I didn’t have before.

I think I need a week of no internet, but then I wouldn’t Skype, wouldn’t blog, wouldn’t keep up with the news. So maybe as a compromise I’ll limit myself to an hour a day and try to recoup some of that lost capacity.  Wales is fast approaching and I need to get moving on the whodunnit to make the most of my time away.

In other news – I was looking at the 100 novels list and I haven’t read 89 – Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison , 90 – A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul, 91 – Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie or 92 – Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.  In fact the closest I’ve got to these four was during a university course on Race and Ethnicity, when I was encouraged to read Toni Morrison’s book Beloved.  There were certain sections we had to read for class and I remember it being pretty hard going; I don’t remember reading the whole book.  Of all these four writers it is Morrison whose subject stirs the most sociological interest – I feel it is important to understand more about the experience other people have of life – but Housekeeping might make my pile of books to read if for no other reason than the almost 50/50 sense of love and outrage its inclusion in the list seems to have caused!

And finally – this is a little embarrassing but I was looking back at old posts and realised that two of the books I’ve read recently – Life of Pi and The Caliph’s House – plus one I need to read in the next week – Gone Girl – were specifically named in a blog last June, with a note saying I wanted to read them in the next month.  I really need to kick the reading up a notch!

Happy writing



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I can’t believe I’m at week 200. I know I didn’t start this blog exactly at the beginning of my career break, but close enough to make this 200th post seem like something of a milestone.

Since I began blogging, my life has changed in so many ways I can’t even begin to count them. From a writing point of view I completed a novel, have a portfolio of poetry, am working on a number of pieces of prose which are in various stages of formation. I’ve ended my career break and gone back to work, balancing writing with other responsibilities. I set up a writing group which is going from strength to strength.  I’ve performed my poetry to an audience on a number of occasions, and had my poetry shared as part of a performance piece.

In my wider life, I got married – which was a biggie! I got over my fear of flying, and started exploring a little wider than before. I studied random and fascinating courses, took up new hobbies, got involved in my wider community life.

In other words, I feel I’ve got a great deal out of the last 200 weeks, and I shouldn’t forget how far I’ve come.

I still have miles to go in all aspects of life.  But for me this is a great thing, because it means I get to carry on pushing the boundaries!

This year I want to have completed the whodunnit, and the story that sent me off to test the methods of twisting a tale. I want to get more poetry written, and perform it. I want to learn more.

I also want to explore new locations, and try new things. Already I have a break in Germany booked for September, but we want to go somewhere new and interesting for our anniversary in November too. We’ve got our retreat in Wales soon, and I want to give myself one day off to go exploring some of the King Arthur myths that still weave their magic around the world.  I want to progress in aerial skills, learn how to juggle, maybe take up a new dance or physical activity.  I want my next 200 weeks to be as rich, varied and unexpected as the last 200.

Most importantly, I want to celebrate my successes and learn from those things which haven’t gone to plan, in all aspects of my world.

I know life can be tough, and painful, and things happen that people cannot control – I have felt all those things.  But I hope my experiences in the last 200 weeks show how taking a chance can change your life in positive and unexpected ways.

And once you’ve taken a chance, it’s so much easier to take another.

Perhaps more importantly – once you’ve faced the first fear, you know you have the strength to face the next.

Happy writing, and thank you for being part of my journey so far; I wouldn’t have kept going without you.



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Sorry this is another late post – with the combination of a birthday shindig and a bank holiday weekend, I completely forgot yesterday was Sunday!

So I’m back from my holiday, on the beautiful island of Porto Santo. I had a lovely relaxing time, but one also filled with lots of activities.

I recognise in myself a desire to be braver, do things that I would never have tried a few years ago. That starts with flying (which I wouldn’t do for a long time) but branches out into all sorts of things.

So coming home from a holiday where I tried things I’d never have tried at home, I don’t want to lose that impetus, and have been investigating a few new opportunities… More on that very soon!

Of course, this all has to run beautifully alongside my writing life. I kept a writing journal during my break, and have been adding bits to it as I think about them since I came back. It covers all sorts – conversations, people I met, silly moments, observations, as well as being a little bit of a diary to remind me what happened each day. I want to finish working on that in the next day or two, before all my memories fade!

After that I’ll be back to the whodunnit, back to my 3000 word a week target and hopefully by my next post I can give a date for completion.

Once that’s done and I check out how the twists have worked I can go back to the novel, ideally in time for my retreat in July…

I really feel that I want to get on and do things now, so I’m going to leave this post here and, well, get on and do some stuff! I’ll look at the 100 books list next time but for now I’m going to enjoy my added bonus day off work!

Happy writing,

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I thought I’d do this post a day later than planned too, just to keep a little gap between posts 🙂

As writers, we know the importance of getting the timing right – the perfect moment for a reveal, or the point in a poem where we change or enhance the rhythm.

So when I saw this picture, I thought I’d be writing about picking that moment in work, and how I make decisions.



But you know what?  That isn’t what this picture makes me want to write about at all.

Instead, to me it’s a reminder that each moment is fleeting, that every crash of a wave on the sand is unique, never to be repeated.

It’s a reminder that we need to experience life if we want to record it with any authenticity.

So take a moment, or two.  Don’t think about the technicalities of writing, the form or style you want to create in your work.  Just look at the picture, and think about something you’d love to do.  It might be a hobby you’ve always fancied, or learning a new skill.  It might be getting a makeover or booking a holiday.  Whatever it is, try to seize the moment and make it a reality.

It’s amazing how a change of scenery, or meeting a new group of people, can open you eyes as a writer.  It’s pretty good for opening your eyes as a person, 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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…or something of that nature.  Although I’ve never ridden a horse so maybe it was a bad choice of words.

Anyhow – I’m back from my jaunts and slowly trying to get back to some sort of normal. My return isn’t normal though, it’s exhausting! I barely unpacked my suitcases and was straight into preparations for Christmas, I have had to jump into panto rehearsals, I was in Belgium buying chocolates yesterday and today I have started going through the wedding paraphernalia trying to find a home for 100 candle holders and half a tree trunk…

Writing – what’s that?

Now, before it seems like I have been completely useless I will say that one of my gifts when I got married was a beautiful notebook which my parents gave me to write down my meandering thoughts when I was away. I just made a few disjointed notes at the start of the honeymoon but as the days went on it became a journal of what I had seen, felt and experienced, almost like a travel memoir. I could see the lure of writing in that environment – it was sunny, warm, beautiful and unknown.

I have subsequently been thinking about my writing, and my writing style. I think I write for the damp air and soggy grass of home, it is part of the world I explore. But what could my world be if I moved it – if my ghosts weren’t in the foggy winter of an English house, but existed in the sun-baked streets of Morocco, or the sultry Mexican coastline? What if my stories were about colour, brightness, light? How well would I be able to maintain a world that I only know for a handful of days at a time?

There’s no answer to this yet. My mind is wandering through countless possibilities and in the meantime I am thinking about poetry and imagery. Still, it’s given me a kick up the posterior to get myself back into the writing fold – and to really think about what exactly I am doing, and why.

In other news – I missed a fair few books on the 100 novels list but to keep this brief I have not read 59, 60, 61 or 62.  That’s not likely to change any time soon either, there’s too much on my to-read list as it is!  However, The Big Sleep is one I’d like to look at in the future, because for some reason I feel drawn to it.  No logic there, I know – but reading isn’t really about logic, for me 🙂

And finally – you may have already spotted this story about people generally preferring to read books written by someone of their own gender.  I thought this was interesting after my last book review when I talked about possible differences of style between male and female writers.  Maybe I had a point after all.

It does happen, you know…

Until next time,

Happy writing,



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