Posts Tagged ‘Perception’

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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It’s gone midnight so I am not going to write a proper post today.  I started one but it got a little bit too political and I felt the need to reflect before posting: things can come across wrongly if I don’t have a bit of space to review!

I can’t ignore the political mood at the moment though – it shapes my work, after all.  And I don’t want to offend people or preach a particular point, but I blogged for peace for a reason and it wasn’t so I could say I’d done all I needed to do.

So tomorrow I will write a bit more politically than normal.  Tonight, I will sleep!

Happy writing,



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I’ve been talking about my writing a lot recently – for a number of reasons and to a pretty mixed audience.  It surprises me how easy people think it is to be published; as though every writer has a raft of offers (if only).

I explain the options of traditional publishing vs self publishing and how literary agents are the first line of resistance when it comes to most traditional publishing, but still I get the ‘of course you’re published’ comments that make me feel a little like I’ve failed them.

Getting an agent isn’t automatic, isn’t that easy for most people, and doesn’t guarantee publication anyway!

It surprises me how many people don’t know what goes on for writers, really – questions and assumptions I’ve heard about my own ‘career’ can be really demotivating, and quite honestly I have rejection letters and emails for that, I don’t need it from people in general conversation!

On the more positive side, editing has gone really well this week, despite a few shaky days when I couldn’t fit writing work in because of other things going on.  In some respects I think the busy days helped me because I was so keen to make up some lost time that I’ve managed to do more in an editing session than I would normally expect.

I now have just 34 A4 pages left to go, and that is my task for tomorrow.  I hope it won’t take more than 3 hours but if it does, I’ll just have to hunker down for a long evening.  Luckily, as I am working a lot of extra hours from Tuesday onwards I should get out of work on time tomorrow!

I’m still enjoying revisiting the book; there have been a few changes to improve the flow but really, there’s not a lot of alteration.  I want to build on this little world I have created though, and explore where these characters go – so I am really keen to get going on the sequel.

Perhaps that’s the part I miss when talking about writing.  Publication is an ideal, because I want people to read what I’ve produced – but writing is the goal.  I don’t write because I want a lucrative career, or a twitter following, or the film rights, or to be able to wear designer dresses to fancy awards.  I write because I need to write.  When I don’t sit down and build a story, or poem, or moment on a piece of paper, I am missing out on joy.

The rest is just wrapping paper.  The writing is the gift.

Enjoy your gift,



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I’ve been feeling a little rough – these really busy weeks have taken their toll and although it’s lovely to have lots going on sometimes I need to have a day’s holiday to recharge my batteries.

So yesterday, my husband and I went on a little ramble.  We headed out to see an archaeological dig which was open to the public, then off on a coastal drive with a stop at a country pub before heading home for a rather marvellously French inspired afternoon tea.

On our travels I got this picture.  It really was a gorgeous day; sunny and warm, with a light breeze to keep from getting overheated. Those cliffs on the far left are the White Cliffs of Dover, and the two tiny white blobs are ferries going into or coming out of the harbour – you can just about make out the harbour wall.

Just a bit of Dover


I always love to look out from the southeastern coast of England and see the coast of France.  I like to think when I wave over, someone there is waving back 🙂

What you can’t see from here, although I got some photos of these too, are the imposing Dover Castle or any of the Martello Towers that dot the coastline in this area.  It really is a reminder of how relationships between European countries have changed over time – and I for one am glad I’ve grown up in a time of friendship and community with our neighbours.

I do love to see the history of a place uncovered.  I watch a lot of documentaries, and even those with a decidedly unlikely theme often give me an insight into a part of the world that is unknown to me: its geography, history, folklore, culture, all tied into the roots of its existence.  This often influences my poetry, and the courses I take are frequently determined by whatever random programme I have seen that sparked my imagination.

I can’t ever know everything, of course – and the more I know, the more aware I am of the limitations of my knowledge – but the more I can learn the more I understand who we are, and how different people understand the world we inhabit.

In turn, the more I can bring to my work either in terms of language and imagery or in terms of creating peace poems.

This weekend enabled me to learn new things, and remember things I was once taught.  It gave me a chance to see, literally, what was buried in time – a real, live dig is a very different place from a visitor site and it was great to see the earth being treated with such respect.  It gave me a chance to sit back and be lazy, and learn, and absorb.  It gave me some ‘me’ time.

So I’ve had a chance to rebuild my reserves, and in a way that has invigorated my imagination: next week I’ll use that to expand on the work I did this week, and get the whodunnit another step closer to its conclusion.

Happy writing,



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Balance is important to me.  If something is out of kilter in my life I can feel it strongly; whether it’s too little time studying, or too much time alone, or not enough time with my family, the lack of balance seems to affect the way I feel about the world.

When that happens, I know I have to take action to fix it before I topple over, metaphorically speaking – I have to act before it affects my life in a negative way.




This picture was taken in a slightly damp field in Cornwall.  It is the centre stone of a group called Men-an-tol, around which many myths have grown of special properties and powers.   Like so many of these sites, it stands in a quiet spot, alongside cattle and a great deal of greenery.  There is no pomp and ceremony to it; it is a part of the landscape that pre-dates much of the world around it.

It’s also a reminder that anything can find balance, if it has the right tools.  In this case, a strong foundation was needed.  In my case, there’s a web of inter-connected points – writing, family, friends, reading, studying, alone-time, working, cooking and so on – that all need to be given the appropriate level of attention.

It took me a long time to realise the importance of balance in my life; it seemed such a small thing to have such a big impact on my outlook.  But it does make a difference to the way I perceive the world, and my own role within it.  When I am out of kilter, my thoughts get blocked up.

Blocked up thoughts are bad for a writer, but they are also bad for anyone trying to get the most out of life.

So I’m going to put this picture up on a wall somewhere and remind myself that seeking balance is about making my life the best it can be.

Maybe these stones do have special properties, after all…

Happy writing,



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Sometimes I visit places and I get to see familiar settings in an entirely unfamiliar way.

This picture shows a scene I know reasonably well – but it was brand new from this vantage point, on a gently rolling, wind-whipped, hill.



When it comes to writing, viewpoint governs the structure of the story.  Do you see everything from one viewpoint, or through many?  Is your viewpoint omniscient or narrow?  Is the viewpoint character a reliable narrator?

One of the exercises suggested by Brian Kiteley in his book The 3am Epiphany asks you to change a piece of writing from first to third person, or vice versa.  I won’t go into all the details about it, of course – but it was an exercise that really made me focus on how much of a story I should actually show.

In essence, the viewpoint character holds a torch, so you can only see what they see.  If you need to reboot a tale, change the torch-holder – you can even hang it up so light shines everywhere, if that’s what works for your novel!

If the story isn’t working as you want it to, a change of viewpoint could be all it needs.

It’s also worth bearing in mind what your own perception of the world brings to the story you are telling.  Just like my experience on the hilltop, if you look at something from an unusual angle it can change how you perceive it, and open your eyes to another way of defining things.

And of course, if you can’t get the writing to go as you want – take a break and look at the views around you.  It might not add to your word count but it adds something even more valuable to your day.

Happy writing,




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I was looking through some old pictures this week and I came across a few evening shots.

This picture was taken when we were in Cornwall a couple of years ago, and it instantly puts me in a holiday mood.  I love the way the clouds seems to mirror the shape of the bay, it looks positively purposeful.

At the end of the day

It also reminds me of a phrase I hate to hear and yet (over)use myself – ‘at the end of the day’ – but that’s another blog post 🙂

There’s a science to the colour of the sky, which I find fascinating.  Colours have meaning across life-forms, from a dangerous red to a toxic green, and we humans surround ourselves in them – we might buy a sky-blue paint, or a storm-coloured car, or a sea-green top for example – so to know they are in some ways a product of our biology is mind-boggling.

I can’t imagine the midday sky being purple, and if it was the whole world would look different because every colour would change to our eyes.  There are wonderful possibilities in that for painters, but I’m not sure we’d attach the same emotions to shades and tones as we do now.

That’s important to me – I prefer to look, and feel however the sky makes me feel.  In this case, the soft changes to the light over the water was restful, which I like at the end of  holiday-day 🙂

I especially love the light at the coast: growing up with easy access to beaches and coves but living away from them, the air and the open horizons still make me feel like I’m on holiday, or having a treat!

So the science of the sky doesn’t really matter on a day-to-day basis, I’ll just enjoy scenes like these, whatever colours they bring.

Happy writing



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Apparently, this is my 300th published post 🙂 Happy 300th post, me!

Yesterday my partner was off work so we decided to go out and make the most of the sunshine (yes, there has been sunshine!) and ambled off on a drive.  We ended up at a beach we like to visit; it’s not sandy but the horizon is open and there are ice creams 🙂

Well, when we arrived we saw this:

Building a Beach

It’s called ‘Beach Management’ and it involves moving shingle, where the tide has pushed it into a drift at one end of the beach area.  

I know coastlines are managed in many ways: here in the UK we have lots of properties built on or near the shoreline and parts of our shoreline (and some of these properties) are collapsing into the sea.  Without works like this, there would be more flooding and more houses at risk.

However, this is the first time I’ve ever seen it in such a definite way!

Obviously the beach was closed, but it didn’t look like our beach anyway.  It looked like someone was readying the ground for a housing estate – it wasn’t the same place at all.

That perception, the sense that things are not as you thought they were, is a theme in my new story so this felt very timely.  It’s a reminder that when we stop and look at things, and at how they work, it’s clear we see very little.  It’s like they say about ducks (or possibly swans!): we watch as they glide across water, but underneath their little legs are going for all they’re worth!

We didn’t stay for long and went off to enjoy the day somewhere else.  You could tell we were a bit out of kilter after seeing this though: we left without getting anything from the ice cream van!!

Happy writing,



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Have you ever looked out of a plane window at the ground below, and felt as though you are looking at another world? Or seen satellite images of countries at night, and felt disconnected?  Well, this week’s post is about perception.

Let’s start with an image, shall we?   Here’s one from NASA – this was found at grin.hq.nasa.gov

What do you see?

Not people, not man-made structures, not proof of life.  The first thing I saw was the clouds.  Just underneath, it seemed, was a white block – the ice at the South Pole.  I saw the liquid oceans and the land masses.

Humans, on the other hand, live at street level.  Brushing across the surface, we would be invisible to any aliens busily flying past; we wouldn’t show up to their naked eye – assuming they have eyes, that is…

They’d have to change their point of view to see that life thrives on the planet.  It’s in those clouds, under that ice cap, swimming in the oceans.  It’s scuttling across continents.

Now think about a story you might be writing, right at this moment.  In it is a whole world – people are vast in this world, as visible as a land mass, or the watery 70% of the globe.  But what are you missing, what can’t you see, what is hidden by your perspective? What, if you shift to the right and squint, can you see?  

Whose point of view could you explore?

Whenever you write, you make a decision which viewpoint you use.  Every so often, you should look from another angle to see what you’re missing.


I promised an update on the 2014 Reading challenge so here it is…

This week I have read two books:

Book 4 – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie.  Like many people, I know this from the cartoon more than anything, so some elements were quite surprising – Peter’s selfish cruelty, Hook’s torment at his hand (pardon the pun), Wendy’s willful ignorance.  I loved some of the description, but this wasn’t the cosy tale I thought – so it’s a good thing I read it really!  There’s a darkness in it that probably appeals to children still.

Book 5 – The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.  I put this one on the reading group list because I thought it sounded interesting (it’s a war story of sorts, narrated by Death), but I don’t like war books, and I needed a push to read it.  I’m so glad I did; I devoured it like a locust, I was so hungry to know how things turned out for the characters.  It was thoughtful and emotional, but not cloying, and although it was a little metaphor-heavy in places, I suspect that’s because I am aware of these tools.  There were stylistic choices I didn’t particularly care for but as a whole I think it was a very good book

I haven’t given up Moby Dick yet, but I haven’t finished it.  I think the thing that’s keeping me reading in Queequeg, make of that what you will!

Until next time – happy writing,



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