You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘writing’ tag.

Just as I start this back up again, I find that I’m doing other, separate, more directed journal work, and letting this slip. Certain things in my life at the moment though feel imperative. Not with a frantic urgency, but with the feeling of get it down quick and messy now. So this blog I think may become irregular. I have only so much time and energy. 

The end result may be a book though. That’s the secret of it. A not so secret. But something that you whisper, in any case.


Meanwhile look at this. I heard from Lynne Rees recently, and she has started this really fine site, with regular writing prompts. Lynne Rees is very, very smart about writing generally, and about poetry in particular. She’s a stupendous teacher. And a rather fine poet. 

You will find if you go there that she’s put up a couple of prose poems from How to Be a Dragonfly, in order to illustrate the imperative. Aha! There’s that word again. The must-be-done-ness of it. Anyway, there are some responses to the prompt, and they’re good. Enjoy.

I guess I don’t get to list all the people I’m so glad to know and see — again. But I do want to express one thing: welcome back Deborah! She’s moved her site. And I for one am breathing a sigh of relief. Life without Deborah’s sparkle hardly bears thinking about.

I’m hanging onto your sparkle, Deborah….



I’ve progressed from pedometer to gym. Oh yes I have. So far (okay, two days in) I absolutely love it. I know I’m behind with this. I know it. Don’t write and tell me. But being inside my own music, cycling, or doing the dreaded chin-ups…It’s not that far off my all time favourite activity, now limited by my knees. I can deal with hard work to good music, anyway.


I am not doing any writing. Just thought I’d make that clear. I could list everything else I’ve done — a chicken without the proverbial, in truth — but the heart of the matter is pretty simple. If I don’t make space soon, there’s not going to be much reason to carry on doing much of anything.

Any five minute a day bright ideas? I need a writing personal trainer. Embarrassingly, I’ve let myself go. To rack and ruin.

I mustn’t worry about how I am a) not writing b) not cooking c) not able to remember where anything is in the chaos…d) not keeping up with paperwork and this e) not in close enough touch with friends. Nor how much I miss doing/knowing all of these things.

Instead I shall rejoice in what I am doing/thinking/knowing. Let me just think about this….okay:

a) thinking. Mainly about writing. Find this rewarding, and I only really do it when teaching. Like to ponder process, the finer workings of rhythm, the creative process itself.

b) dancing. Managing still to do this twice a week, at last too in a ‘real’ class, with proper music, proper combinations. Am learning to acknowledge that grand plies — and any sort of pivot in fondu — are just not on the menu. My knees are thanking me and rewarding me with another class the following week. An added bonus is that when I’m dancing, I’m not thinking about anything else.

c) teaching. Yes, I really do love this. Good to be back. Could do without the admin, without the way time becomes juddery, punctuated by panicky emails or dire jobs — but the actual time in classroom and tutorial: yes.

d) imagining. Life in a new ground floor, one where we can all sit together, cook together, and where the dishwasher and refrigerator are actually in the same room as everything else.

e) ignoring. The floor in the bathroom that didn’t go back down well, the persistant plaster dust, grey hairs, dry knuckles. Etc.

f) noticing. Daffodil and crocus tops coming through the pots, lighter afternoons, striking pink mornings on the way to school.

g) enjoying. E’s obsession with iTunes and gathering music (the urge to collect from his father!); M’s new fascination with Nancy Drew mysteries (more later).

h) lastly, re-discovering. Things we’d thought we’d forgotten or lost while packing up for the plasterer, like a single given to me by a student years ago, which we all used to bop around to (okay, not R). While I’m ambivalent about its musical longevity — it does help me feel better about where this post began. It’s not that I’m not writing, it’s that the rest is still unwritten. Oh yeah, that’s right…

Yikes! I’m grateful (often) for the lack of paper in my life, but not (often) for the stacks of unopened, emboldened messages in my inbox. Sigh. I am grateful too (very often) for the rich tapestry of my many-threaded life, but not (usually) for the multi-tasking it demands of me.

However. Small potatoes compared to the fruitful, thoughtful week away: plans, writing, pin-drop silence. As predicted, lots and lots of fog, rain and general greyness — hence no lovely photos. And all of our photos from previous years seem to be buried in the bowels of the other computer. Oh dear. But here’s a taste, a photo that at least captures some of how the gorgeous Lake District looks this time of year (photo by Glen Morris):


conistonwaterlakelandcamweb.jpgI ventured out twice in a week (except for village walks). The second time I went to Brantwood (Ruskin’s home, and a wonderful rainy day visit, great to go back after several years), and Jumping Jenny’s, the cafe there (visited, I admit, many times a year! Delicious well-made food, and beautiful views). Despite the persistant and breathtaking-in-itself rain, Coniston Water was as complex and edifying as ever (this shot is taken from The Cumbrian Directory ). The roads were lined with fallen beech leaves that when wet darkened to pure russet.

By 3.30 pm it was nearly dark, but each day just before real darkness fell, 15 minutes of gold suffused everything — even through the clouds and fog. I stepped out the door more than once just to look, thinking there must be sun. But there wasn’t. Like when you’re walking down the street before people draw their curtains: inside you see warm sidelights, home. Only it’s outside, and 15 minutes later someone somewhere realises it’s nighttime, lowers the blinds.


From January 2010, my new blog is Waving and Drowning


All material is copyrighted. Please request permission to use via Contact.

Who am I?

A writer born in Texas, who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia (yes, like the song), and who's been living in the UK since 1988. I've published two books (see below), and teach creative writing at the University of Kent. I'm married to a composer, and we have two young children. See About for my full profile.