Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Firstly, this is where my mind went after I typed this week’s post title:

This song brings such a strong emotional response to me, that it’s actually a really good representation of my task for the next few weeks.

I am now in preparation for not one but two open mic nights.  I decided not to focus on new work for the next one, but to get some neglected work up to the necessary quality.

It’s all about getting the mood and the language in harmony, really – finding the right word at the right time in the poem.

I’ll give you an example I am trying to fix: I wrote a poem about walking in the countryside; it’s a painting-inspired and natural poem in which I used the word crepuscular. Not a good choice: too technical, a little unwieldy and unattractive, and put in to shorten a line rather than because it’s the right word.

In a long poem a single word might not stand out, but this one is so wrong it needs a precision removal and an artistic, fluid word to go in its place. Not sure what but I have a few weeks to find something!

Editing is the hardest part of writing but when I do find the right word it is immeasurably satisfying!

So here’s to being inspired by Tracy Chapman and to making my poems as good as they can be.

Happy writing, and listening!




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As you may remember, I cajoled a couple of people into performing at the open mic event last month because I was worried about the turnout.

I actually didn’t need them to perform, numbers-wise, but I am glad they did because one of them has developed an interest in poetry as a result.

Not only have they started writing a piece of their own but they have also borrowed a second book of poetry to read through.

Such is the magic of words!

I have also been spending a little time this month explaining why we’re not having an event in September – it’s great that people enjoyed it but from our point of view we need time to work on new poems and performances.

However, the advert is now out for October, the night has been double checked for emergency meetings! and we are building up some more support for the writing group.

Roll on next time – and here’s hoping another person gets struck by the wordy bug!

Happy writing,




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As you know, sometimes I feel the need to write about the current world in order to process my thoughts and feelings.  Often this is a response to a political situation but at the moment it’s about our collective disregard for the environment.

I am a little obsessed with plastics right now. Having spread the word on microbeads to anyone who would listen, it’s now a wider issue of plastics turning up in our rivers, seas and oceans – and the fish we eat, the water we drink, the salt we add.

So I decided to work on a poem based on the flow of rubbish.  It might end up being – well, rubbish! But it allows me the opportunity to get up in front of some people and raise their awareness of a particular issue in a way I hope will make them think, but not feel lectured.

We shall see.

In the meantime I was on a car journey today on narrow, unlit, closed-in roads though the dark night with owls flying over us – I have a whole new stanza for my spooky poem.  I better get that finished soon too: we set a date for the next open mic, and it’s not long before Halloween!

Off I go to watch videos of clogged waterways to think of a metaphor that can carry me through the plastic lifecycle…

Happy writing,



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I am sure I am not alone in getting all sorts of strange comments sent to me at the blog.

Recently there has been a decided change because they are nearly all in Spanish.

Normally I just check and trash but having them come through in a different language is quite educational. I try to read them, at least basically, to learn a little.

I am sure you have seen the ones in English that look like random words have been picked from a dictionary; the Spanish ones may well be the same, but at least a word or two are sticking in my brain!

Long term readers may remember that I was trying to use words from other languages or with different roots to English for a mini poetry project. Sadly, after a few efforts it felt a bit forced, and it didn’t last as a concept.

In reading the Spanish spam, I remember that languages have different sound and feel different when you form them in your mouth – that perhaps linguistic choices have to be made differently for a performance piece.

So, once our slightly shortened open mic is done I can think about something new, something with a Spanish feel, for the next time.

And I am already working on the next time.

So when you next clear out your spam, have a quick look at what’s appeared: who knows if it might actually be worth reading!

Happy writing,



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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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As I said at the weekend, I am not reading as I am focussed on writing, so there’s nothing book- related today.

Instead, I opened a book at a random page, closed my eyes and pointed, and the sentence has to inform my next poem.

I chose Wild Swans by Jung Chang.  The sentence reads:

But all this introspection was really designed to serve no other purpose than to create a people who had no thoughts of their own.

So that’s my next challenge…  A few ideas are swimming in my head; I just need to land one!

Happy reading,



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Although my writing focus is on poetry at the moment, I continue to practice some of the writing tools I have found useful.

One of these is reading the news with an eye to an interesting or unexpected story.  As someone deeply engaged in politics I also read political blogs and websites to understand different responses to those stories.

This is proving to be a real eye opener – although I don’t agree with many responses I have a much better comprehension about why some people want to see the world structured in particular ways.

From the human, bloggers for peace, point of view, understanding is imperative to social cohesion.

From a writing point of view, it’s a great way to test out characters.

You can take any character you have written and imagine them reading a post.  What do they think? How do they react? Is the topic something they would have a strong reaction to or discuss with friends? What is their political point of view? Are they engaged with current affairs, do they watch the news or read a paper?

You might never write about anything of this nature but it doesn’t matter: the better you know your character, the more believable and consistent they will be.

So if you find yourself reading something which doesn’t reflect your view, take a chance on it, and read through the eyes of your character. It might provide the spark of engagement you need to find.

Happy writing,




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