Sociable Writing

I don’t suppose that any writing advice is universally applicable, but finding some way of connecting with others seems pretty important to me.  Writing is, on the whole, a very solitary activity, so belonging to some sort of group adds a dimension to your ways of working.   If you are not sure which would be worse: to expose yourself to the comments others might make about your work, or to exercise your creative skills in finding something vaguely pleasant and approximately truthful about that of other people, then fear not – there are many different ways of being part of a writing community, and there may well be one that suits your preferences better. Read more

Writing Challenge – Now That It’s Over

Now that I have finished this writing challenge, I find that I have learned a great deal: about the way that I write; about what works for me and what doesn’t; and about where writing sits within my life and my priorities.  I have the uncomfortable feeling that some of the insights I have gained don’t only apply to writing! Read more

Writing Challenge – Update at End of Week 3

The shift in attitude has continued.  I carry an A4 notepad and pen with me everywhere, and I’ve got several pages for different ideas that I can work on if I have anything from a few minutes to an unexpected half-hour or so to spare.  If I’m waiting for someone, I can turn to a page where I’m fleshing out characters who will shortly appear in my next novel.  If I arrive early for an appointment (this happens quite often, as I have a habit of allowing more travelling time than I need), I have passages that I know will work better if I hand-write them.  I also carry articles, short stories, and chapters with me for editing, if I have any in hand. Read more

Entertaining the Crowd

“Why don’t we have a people-cart, Mama?”  Trenno was looking up at the horse-drawn wagon passing them, voicing for the first time a five-year-old’s awareness that his family compared unfavourably in this respect to others.

“Horses need more looking after than our Jess,” Sheshni indicated the donkey pulling the small cart containing all the family’s possessions, “And they eat food you have to pay for, too.  ‘Sides, what would you want to ride in a wagon for?  All day long, sat up there, with nothing to do?  You’d lose the use of your legs!”

“I used to ride, Mama.”

“So you did, Trenno.  When you were very little and you couldn’t walk all day, we used to put you in the cart for a while, for a rest.   But you’re big now, and it wouldn’t be fair, expecting Jess to pull your weight along with the shelter and our things.”  Her husband, Jaseth, was walking ahead as usual.  She’d asked him to scout out a good place to stop for a bite to eat; somewhere they could perform, too, and earn some coins from the crowd to eke out their savings until they reached the big city.  She’d sent Caillie with him to keep him company, so she only had one of the young’uns to jolly along. Read more

Writing Challenge – Update at End of Week 2

This week, it hasn’t been so much about the number of different places I have written – although I have used my laptop in the car and on trains, and I have made notes, drawn up plans, and fleshed out characters in notebooks in a meadow, in hospital waiting rooms, and on the beach.  Nor has it been about the amount I have written, although only on retreat do I usually write more than this. Read more

Writing Challenge – Update at End of Week 1

So, where have I written this week?  As well as writing at home, I have used my laptop to write with my writing group in a local café and on train journeys, and I have failed to type on a bus journey (the laptop kept sliding around and risked falling off my lap).  I have fleshed out a character while waiting for a physiotherapy appointment, and I even had half an hour with my laptop while my husband was avidly exploring the motor museum at Bentley Estate, before we went to see the wildfowl together. Read more

Where Am I Writing Today?

Until a couple of years ago, I had to squeeze time for writing out of a busy schedule; I have four children, now all adults, and have enjoyed an interesting and satisfying career, so writing was very much relegated to third place, after my family and earning a living, both of which took a great deal of time and energy.  I have always been an early riser, and it used to be my routine to write for an hour or so first thing in the morning, before anyone else got up.

Two years ago, I reduced my hours at work considerably.  My youngest son, the only one of my children still living at home, was by then nineteen, and involved in his own work and studies.  So I looked eagerly forwards to writing more than ever before. Read more

Tending the Sheep

“I don’t want to fall asleep, Millie.” Jan’s words interrupted her as she started to doze, and she sat up straight, away from the cushions, to keep herself awake. “Would you talk to me?”
“Of course I will, my love. About anything in particular?”
“Would you tell me about when your father died? You’ve never talked much about the past, and I haven’t wanted to cause you pain, but … well, I’d like to hear how it was, and share some of those feelings you’ve kept shut away.”
She checked the crib beside the bed, where little Senlik was sleeping peacefully. There were nights, now and then, when he didn’t wake until morning, and she hoped that this would be one of those times. She was silent for a couple of minutes; it seemed vital that she explain this right. When she had finally thought herself back to that sad and desperate time, she closed her eyes and began to speak. Read more

Interpreting the Law

“Ah yes – the law-interpreter again.” The man frowned as his daughter showed me in, and once again I regretted that my face seemed as yet unable to grow a beard. “Are you sure you’re competent to pronounce on points of law when such a valuable parcel of land is at stake?”

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Seeking a Third Alternative

So often nowadays we are urged to subscribe to an either/or sort of philosophy: yes or no, black or white, straight or gay, on or off, left or right. If you’re not with us you’re against us; marry him or marry me; if we don’t bomb them we’re supporting them; love him or loathe him.


Those that vaccinate accuse those that don’t of not caring about their own children, and of endangering those of the immunising majority by reducing herd immunity. Those that don’t accuse those that do of blindly following the herd at the cost of their children’s health, and of contributing to everything from the rise in ASD to the propagation of auto-immune diseases and syndromes. Read more