Showing posts from April, 2017

Writng Without The Oomph

Bad day? Not written anything worthwhile, if anything at all? Do you feel like giving up or that you're the worst writer ever?

Here's some news. You may well be the worst writer ever, but just for one day.

I don't know of one writer in the history of writing who managed to write well every day of their lives. It happens to us all so don't feel bad about it, or let it get you down, as there are other things you can do to rekindle the oomph.

- Write something absolutely awful that you can happily delete at the end of the day. Trashy romance story, the bad jokes your dad told you, shopping list, the reasons your spouse should be buried in soft peat etc. You never know, something good may come of it. Probably not, but at least you know you'll delete it when you're finished

- Stream of consciousness. Just write down all your thoughts in one long rambling piece of writing without worrying about spelling, grammar or even words. If you feel like *)"£(%$)"£&…

My Favourite Easter Characters - Thomas and Peter

Image Credit:  Unless otherwise stated, all images are via Pixabay.

My favourite Easter characters are Thomas and Peter.  Easter shows them up as fallible human beings and I find that reassuring. 

I also love the tales of Mary mistaking Jesus for the gardener and the Emmaus disciples not recognizing Him until he broke bread with them.  Frankly, there are times I miss the obvious…  It is good to know I’m not alone on that!

Thomas, for me, is still continuing his ministry.  Why?  It is thanks to his story my belief in the resurrection is strengthened.  Indeed the story of Thomas confirms the resurrection.  It is such a mind-boggling event and beyond all human experience, people would have doubted at the time.  Thomas, bless him, says so, yet Jesus deals with those doubts by removing them. 

I love Thomas for being honest enough to not suppress his doubts.  Also, when confronted by Jesus, Thomas didn’t make excuses.  He came back with, to me, the perfect response to having his doubts swept…

CANCER 3: Last Radiotherapy session – and now another wait! by Trevor Thorn

The photo series Incorporated here tries to capture some of the most significant markers of the time since I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in early October. Let’s explain the picture before I invite you to hear something of  my journey through chemotherapy, then radiotherapy. (in CANCER1 and CANCER 2 - Links at bottom of this post)
The somewhat strange mask may only be recognizable to others who have experienced radiotherapy targeted at the throat, chest and other locations in the top part of their body. The mask is moulded to the contour of the face – and in my case to the shoulders as well. It is done by immersing a flat forma in hot water which is then dried and pressed down over the head, neck and shoulders. If you look carefully round the edge, you can see some of the nine pegs that are pressed down to keep one perfectly positioned and immobile on the treatment ‘bed’, so that the radiographers can be sure that the residual cancerous cells left after the chemotherapy are…

Down Time

by Fiona Veitch Smith
As you are reading this I am on a beach near my in-laws house in South Africa. During this Easter break, apart from visiting my husband’s family, I will hopefully be getting some rest and perhaps writing a chapter or two of my new novel. On a two-week holiday a chapter or two is all I think I can and should manage. I do not want to spend all my time writing, but when I do it will be a restful kind of writing; the kind of writing that restores rather than depletes my energy levels.
When you write for a living the very act of writing can exhaust you. When writing is work, I suppose, it’s almost inevitable. For people who write for a hobby it usually has the opposite effect – to relax and invigorate you. So as a professional writer I try to consciously strike a balance between the two: writing as work and writing as leisure.
I do this by structuring ‘down-time’ into my writing day. I try to get all my admin, social media and marketing work done in the morning, as well…

Sticks and Stones, by Fiona Lloyd

I was a sensitive soul, growing up. Whenever I was upset by someone’s teasing, my dad – who subscribed to the stiff-upper-lip school of parenting – would remind me of that well-known proverb: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

At the time, this was scant comfort. Even now – with all due respect to my late father – this saying makes no sense to me. I’d go so far as to say it’s completely the wrong way round, in that physical hurts tend to heal over time, but the wounds caused by vicious words and barbed comments can often fester inside us, resulting in far longer-lasting damage.

This seems particularly relevant in the light of the forth-coming general election. Having watched people’s reactions to both Brexit and the US presidential election last year, it’s clear that there’s something about political debate that can bring out the worst in us. We take to Twitter, Facebook (and all the other forms of social media I’m not trendy enough to understand) to exp…

Unwriting Dystopia

Those among us who enjoy reading or writing dystopic fiction may have an interesting experience in store. The signs are that our civilization may be moving towards dystopia in real life. We may have to experience it for ourselves.

I don’t read or relish dystopic fiction myself, but I’m aware of the kind of world it portrays. Nations deeply divided against themselves. Unpredictable, random violence. Cold, heartless cruelty and mockery. Powerful forces using advanced technology to maintain their ascendancy. Degradation of the natural environment. The majority robbed of the elements of civilized life—education, medical and social care, freedom of thought.

The world has seen these conditions appearing in many different places at many different times—no need to enumerate them here. And strangely, they often come about unexpectedly, after times of great reasonableness and cooperation. It’s as if a society suddenly loses its sanity. Society collectively endorses some policy counter to all the …

God keeps His promises - by Helen Murray

This is something I wrote nearly five years ago, and I stumbled upon it a few days ago. Well, I say that I wrote it, but reading it back after all these years I have quite another idea where those words came from. I read it again with a sense of awe and amazement. My heavenly Father was there then, and He is here now.

God keeps His promises. He does what He says He will do. If you've ever doubted it, please listen to me: I know He does. 

He keeps His promises.

Dear Helen
Did you think I didn't see? 
I gave you a glimpse of your future self and I watched as you gazed with such longing at the woman that I showed you.   It was to encourage you; to give you hope. To reassure you that we have business, you and I, and I will not let you down. There will be a day when you look back and realise how far you have come.

Do you think that I don't understood what you were going through? On your face I saw pain and envy and so much sadness. I saw the things you worked hard to hide - I l…

Take Your Seat by Emily Owen

I recently spent a couple of weeks with my right hand in a bandage.Following surgery, my hand needed to stay protected and immobile while it healed. It goes without saying that I am right-handed. My left hand valiantly tried to learn to do all the things it never has to do by itself, such as wield a toothbrush (a surprisingly difficult thing to do with a non-dominant hand) or fasten buttons.
And, due to the impeccable thing called ‘timing’, I had a manuscript that needed to be checked.As I laboriously and left-handedly looked up reference after reference in my bible (I prefer books with pages made of paper), I did ask myself on more than one occasion whether it had been necessary to include so many verses in my manuscript.
The manuscript is not overly long but it took the best part of two days to check.I can’t tell you how many bible references I checked but definitely more than five.I know this because I had five fingers to count on…
At the beginning of the two days, I was incredibly fr…

We've been on Ruth Johnson

There is a time 
for everything, 
and a season 
for every activity
under heaven.  

Ecclesiastes 3:1

In March we made our third trip to New Zealand visiting Brian’s two cousins who, with their parents,had emigrated in 1962.
On our first trip in 1990 we had permission to take our children out of school for a month, it being seen as a one-off educational event.And making the most of it we linked the time to the Christmas holidays.  We based ourselves with the family in Auckland, and toured the south island.Christchurch looked very English with its huge church, market stalls, and river punting. In Queenstown’s we enjoyed ‘safe’ white water rafting, took the paddle steamer across the lake to a sheep station to see the shearing and wool processed into garments.And to enjoy a boat trip from Milford Sound to the Tasmin Sea we opted for amazing, but  bumpy flights over the mountains in a six-seater Cessner.  Back on North Island we stayed with different families from our UK church who lived in t…

Called or not?

Unlike many, I don't mind going to the dentist, despite enduring, over the past few years, several unwelcome interventions, including the pulling of three teeth (happily not all at once.) The loss of teeth not only makes chewing less efficient but also serves as yet another reminder of advancing age. That I don't regard a trip to the chair with dread may be due to my faith in my dentist professionally (practically painless and ultra-swift extractions) but also because he is a very likeable man. In fact dental appointments are often the occasion for humorous banter. Some years ago - I don't remember what let up to this - I rather tactlessly exclaimed, 'I don't know how you can look in people's mouths all day long!' to which he replied, with a hurt expression, 'I see dentistry as a vocation.' No doubt he was serious, despite the frivolous tenor of our conversation, and I guess the same idealistic line may be taken by others in medical professions: eve…

Scene and herd? by Veronica Zundel

In the course of doing a poetry writing MA (well, mostly not doing it recently, since I've found it hard to concentrate between hospital visits), I've had occasion to spend more time around what I can only call 'the poetry scene'. Like all specialist groups (anyone watch the wonderful TV comedy Detectorists with its hilarious meetings of the local detectorists society?), it has its own ways and more importantly its shibboleths (if you don't know about shibboleths/sibboleths, check out Judges 12). It's all 'Did you go to X's launch?' and 'What do you think of Y's new collection?', and among its initiates I am a mere ignoramus whose knowledge of contemporary poetry stops around 1965 (well, I  did my English degree in the early 70s so that was contemporary then).

This has made me think about whether, to write in a particular field, one needs to be a member, however loosely, of the 'scene' that gathers writers from that field. If you…

How to move from critic to encourager by Joy Lenton

I gazed at the screen in disbelief. A blog post had attracted a critical response based purely on my writing technique. 

Though I'm my own worst critic, and tend to edit my work to death, still someone had picked up on a mistake my tired mind had missed.
Don't you just hate it when that happens? And I thought, (a bit peevishly): why say anything if you can't say anything nice? 

How should we approach a book, a blog? Do we read it openly, or primarily as a critic?

As we enter a writer's world, we engage with her mind's rich creativity. A well written story will always captivate us—as long as we can set aside our prejudices.

How about non-fiction writers? I believe each genre involves storytelling, reaching deep into our subconscious. Poetry, especially, encapsulates emotions and experiences, real and imagined. 

What matters most is the truth we share—the veracity of our words and their resonance within, the roots of reality they are planted in. In writing, and in life, le…