The sport of journal writing

My major task for this week is to begin the third draft of a hefty piece of writing on which I have been working, sporadically, for about three years. The past few weeks have been a slow run up. I have been reading, going over notes and mulling over structure to help me get into the right frame of mind. … Read More

Back to reality

The April retreat at Ty Newydd, the writers centre in north Wales, was everything a good retreat should be. It provided a week of freedom from the pressures and responsibilities of home. It offered a peaceful house in beautiful surroundings and the company of people who, like me, believe that heaven is a day is which you have nothing to … Read More

The great blog tour

In two weeks time I shall be co-hosting the annual NAWE and Lapidus retreat at Ty Newydd with Anne Caldwell, so I’m really pleased that Anne has asked me to come on this blog tour. It’s perfect timing. At the moment I’m dividing my time in roughly three ways. I’m working on my first novel, running training workshops for counselling … Read More

Dear Hanif Kureishi

I’ve read your comments in The Guardian in which you question whether creative writing can be taught. Perhaps you were having a bad day in the creative writing tutor’s office. It sounds as if you do not enjoy that aspect of your job. Others quoted in the article, and in subsequent responses to the piece, have answered your question … Read More

Adventures in time and space

On 14 February I drove through two feet of angry looking tidal water to attend a workshop hosted by Victoria Field, entitled ‘Experience Poetry Therapy’. If it hadn’t been run by Vicky – one of the UK’s leading poetry therapists – I might not have risked the journey. In this winter of tempests, this must have been the fiercest so … Read More

On the road

When you publish a book, the first months are full of activity to send it out into the world and get it reviewed in useful places. My publisher, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, was no exception when it came to launching my book, Writing in Bereavement, A Creative Handbook. A flyer was produced, review copies sent out, and a guest blog spot … Read More

It was a dark and stormy night…

In a recent interview with BBC Radio Four’s Book Club, the American novelist Donna Tartt mused on the role that extremes of weather can play in fiction. Her own ‘The Secret History’ was cited as an example and she commented on the use of rain in ‘The Great Gatsby’. One of my own favourite moments from that novel comes when … Read More

The home librarian

I recently moved house. I moved a great distance and, while I was searching for my new home, all my worldly goods were placed in storage. When I was packing everything up, I imagined that I would miss certain items; my favourite armchair, my own bed, my kitchen pots and pans. I certainly did miss some of these things, but … Read More

On the receiving end

During the past week I have been on the receiving end of a bundle of post, a bunch of emails and a load of phone calls. These have contained, variously, some good news, some sad news, some bad news and some better news. I have also been on the receiving end of a perfect example of how to facilitate a writing group. Usually … Read More

Perfect partners

I believe it is alright to keep your writing to yourself. Some words are written for ourselves alone. But if you want to communicate with readers other than yourself, the time will come when it is necessary to share your writing. Who do you choose? Why do you choose them, and what do you hope to receive from them when … Read More