Intermission #shortstory

image © OliBac via Flickr
image © OliBac via Flickr

Lying in a tangle of sheets, I watch a spider cross the ceiling while Jacob struggles unsuccessfully to open the window.  ‘I’m afraid I’ve broken off some of the paintwork,’ He holds up the thin white slivers, and lets them fall from his hands onto the wide windowsill of the triangular alcove. Continue reading

My Quota of Joy (short story)

image © youleah via Flickr
image © youleah via Flickr

The highest perfection of intellectual nature lies in a careful and constant pursuit of true and solid happiness

–  John Locke

One morning at the end of February I look up at the colossal wooden frame mounted above the fireplace and I can see I’ve already used up my Quota Of Joy for the rest of the year.

‘You’re so greedy.’ My mother twists my hair between her fingers. ‘Always wanting more. No sense of self-control.’ She ties the end of the braid with a red ribbon. ‘You get what you deserve; we all do.’

Sulking makes no difference. Under her name, flashing red in the half-gloom, are a couple of spare weeks. She says she’s saving it for August, in case of fine weather. Continue reading

Come and talk to me and Samantha on our mini tour

Samantha and I hanging out in a Naxi courtyard, halfway up a mountain in Southern China
Samantha and I hanging out in a Naxi courtyard, halfway up a mountain in Southern China

In a couple of weeks my creative partner Samantha Silver is coming across from the USA to work with me on our ongoing piece from our two.5 residency in China at the end of 2014.

While she’s across, we’ll be running free workshops for creative arts professionals in Newcastle (Tuesday 28 April) and London (Friday 1 May) to get some feedback on the very early stages of our digital commonplace book and to engage with some peer-learning on ways of approaching these kind of residencies and work produced from them.

If you’d like to join us, full details are up on the two.5 blog. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Blank Pages: how notebooks support us as we write

Writing in Practice Cover issue 1

What do you write in when you’re making notes of ideas compared to when you’re writing out a whole story/poem/scene? Do you use a pen or a pencil? Does typing make you productive or disconnected? I’m exceptionally curious about the material culture of creative writing processes and I recently had the opportunity to channel some of that curiosity into an academic research paper.

My paper ‘Blank Pages: The role(s) of the notebook in creating wellbeing during a series of creative writing workshops‘ is now available to read online in the first issue of Writing in Practice: The Journal of Creative Writing Research, a peer-reviewed open-access academic research journal from the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE).

The paper is a case-study of the ways in which a group of writers used the notebooks supplied to them as part of the Ageing Creatively pilot research project at Newcastle University. The main point are illustrated with verbatim-style poems, created from participant interviews as part of the project.

Part Two of my interview on ‘This is How We Make It’

crying illustration

I don’t think writing ever gets any easier; it does get more interesting.

… and the second half of my interview with on This is How We Make it is now live. My partner has more or less forgiven me for telling the world in Part One that he called me a bitch, so hopefully everyone else can forgive my obsession with making them cry.

Part One of my interview on ‘This Is How We Make It’


eventually my partner sat me down and said, you’re a total bitch […]

The first part of my interview on This Is How We Make It, a blog dedicated to how creative people work, is now live, with the second half following next week.

Breakfast (short story)

image © avrenim_acceber via Flickr
image © avrenim_acceber via Flickr

Hanging on the wall in the hallway of my parents’ house is a portrait of my great grandparents on their engagement day.  It’s one of those typical, non-smiling sepia photographs.  He has a massive moustache and her hair is scraped back off her face so hard it must have been painful.

They’re both facing slightly off centre.  One of his hands is blurred; it looks as if he moved it from resting on her shoulder to cupping her elbow.  Or the other way round.  I’ve walked past it a thousand times without ever really stopping to look.

My mother puts her hand on my shoulder and pushes me closer. Continue reading