Writing in a Taxi in Mauritania, Virtually

Now I’m earning a regular wage I’ve been able to buy a new phone. Not brand new, but a year old iPhone 8, quite an upgrade from my old 4s which was apt to randomly switch itself off, and overheated if I tried to use apps such as Instagram. Now I have all the latest […]

Story-A-Week #12: Using Objects as Prompts

On my old desktop computer, and in my loft, I have years worth of writing exercises, prompts, and old lesson plans. And this week has seen me searching through old files, dusting off old documents, revamping ideas (with the help of Pinterest), and doing a little testing. I have tended to present lesson plans/rubrics/exercises in […]

Story-a-Week #9: Memoir and Monsters

For last Tuesday’s Café Stories I put together a lesson that combined memoir writing and plot types. There are umpteen theories on the range of narrative structures, but to keep it simple I stuck to the one that holds there are only 7 Basic Plots, and that all creative texts – films; novels; short stories; […]

Story-a-Week #8: The Art of Losing

Another hard won story which started in the Café Stories workshop on Tuesday. We did the art of writing about place. The setting for a story is more than merely a backdrop for the action, when done right it can tell your reader a great deal about your character, and help move the action on. […]

Story-A-Week #7: On a Dig

I’m a day late with this post for a stew of reasons, the culmination of which being I couldn’t get any purchase on this week’s story until I woke on Monday morning and realised what it was about. Then had to rewrite it. Stephen King is right, I think, writing is akin to excavation. The […]

Story-A-Week #6: Twenty-Eight Years Gone

In last Tuesday’s Café Stories workshop instead of starting with character I got participants to start with an object. I asked them to choose an object in the cafe and describe it. But first, I told them, or reminded them really, about the value of simile. I gave them a few, and asked them to […]

Story-A-Week #5: Myrtle Davis is Lost

I said in Friday’s post that I had written a complete story in the course of my first Café Stories workshop. I realise now that I only felt it to be complete. I knew it needed work, nothing comes out perfect first time, but not quite as much as it actually does. Distracted by other […]

On Not Being Frank

I’ve heard tell from multiple people – some who knew him, some who teach him – that Frank O’Hara took his typewriter everywhere, and would prop it up on any available surface, in whichever situation, to write a perfect poem. He was famous for doing this at parties: cigarette attached to his bottom lip, he’d […]

Story-A-Week #4 Double Strength Drip

Writing for me is a form of exploration. Like Sylvia Plath* I want to be everyone, from a postman to the Pope, so I can better understand the world we have made for ourselves, and then write about it. In the absence of a technology that allows me to inhabit the minds and bodies of […]

Story-A-Week #3 What She Doesn’t Like

A couple of weeks ago I overheard a woman telling another woman everything she didn’t like about the menu they were looking at in the window of a café. Some days later I read a few stories in Lydia Davis’s Varieties of Disturbance. Last Monday I had to outline my story for the Story-A-Week Challenge. […]