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Preview: Sarah's writing journal

Sarah's writing journal

Regular writing prompts and inspiration, but mostly random notes of things that take my fancy.

Updated: 2018-02-21T14:22:41.764+00:00




Come and find me at my new home here...

Or sit with me on my bench blog.



An (old-ish) article of mine about the joys of Getting Lost has just appeared on the Psychologies Magazine website. Really happy to have it out there where I can find it because I am quite the expert at getting lost myself....!!

Another Poetry Competition...


Expensive this one, but it is highly respected.

(sponsored by NAWE)
The Poetry Business is now inviting entries for its 25th Book & Pamphlet Competition. Entrants are invited to submit a short collection of poems (20-24 pages), for the chance to win:
book publication & six free copies (for the overall winner),
pamphlet publication & 20 free copies (for three/four first-stage winners),
a share of £2,000 prize money,
a poetry reading hosted by The Poetry Business,
and publication in The North magazine.
JUDGE: Simon Armitage
DEADLINE: Last posting on Monday 29th November 2010 (or for online entries, 1st December)
ENTRY FEE: £25 (or £20 for Friends of the Poetry Business and North magazine subscribers). A £1 surcharge is applied to entries submitted online.
Enter online, download an application form and find full details on the Poetry Business website at

Some publication news...


I'm very pleased that one of my short stories, For the Sake of the Children, first published in Night Train was chosen for the Chamber Four Fiction Anthology, a selection of 'outstanding stories from the web during 2009/2010'.


You can download the anthology here and please do, not least because it's FREE!

Also I wanted to tell you that a poem I wrote during Pascale Petit's wonderful Monday nights at the Tate Modern is included in the pamphlet, Poetry From Art. This is only available from the Tate, but I really recommend you getting a copy. Not just for my poem, of course, but for those of the other contributors including Karen McCarthy Woolf, Naomi Woddis, Malika Booker, Rowyda Amin, Matthew Paul, Anne Welsh, Rebecca Farmer, Zillah Bowes, Cath Drake, Rishi Dastidar, Beth Somerford, Roberta James, Cath Kane, Kaye Lee, Lynn Foote, Seraphima Kennedy, Ali Wood, Julie Steward, Elizabeth Horsley, MJ Whistler, Andrea Robinson, Angela Dock, Beatriz Echeverri. Good stuff.

It really is such a privilege to walk around a gallery like the Tate Modern after hours thinking and writing poetry, but what gets me most is how good it feels just to sit and stare at ONE thing, rather than do what I normally do which is to try and see everything. Thank you Pascale!

Here's a poem I wrote in response to Anselm Kiefer's amazing installation, Palm Sunday:



Down in the root ball of the ship
the plant collector is making a nest.

He counts his catch, tucks each seed
up in its own handwritten box, an ebony

cabinet ticking with paused hearts.
He dreams of growing a fresh desert

one day, of these dried moments
in the old land coming back to life.

His bones ache as he waters
the dust, while on the deck above,

sailors sleep, the wooden mast dances
again in perfect tune with the winds,

until reaching for water, it leans
too far, loses balance. White sails,

like baby gowns, christen the sea.

I also have poems in two more anthologies coming out soon, WordAid and South East Poets, but more on those shortly.



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Somehow I like it even better when it all goes a bit wrong - do LOVE Kim Addonizio and want to make my own videos now. The only recent one I've got is of me doing my party trick of sucking up a creme caramel directly from the plate and believe me, that is neither pretty or poetic.



THE TROUBADOUR POETRY PRIZE.Here's a copy of the email I've just received in case you're interested in this excellent poetry prize:Dear PoetsSome last-minute reminders in the run-up to our 2010 deadline as you're deciding which poems/how many to submit...- shortest turnround of any major competition: poems in on/by Fri 15th Oct, winners know by Mon 22nd Nov, results by e-mail to everyone else after announcement on evening of Mon 29th Nov;- no sifters/chuckers-out, both judges read every poem;- not just £1000 top prize but 22 other prizes and the chance for every prizewinner to read at Troubadour Prize Celebration on Mon 29th Nov;- every submission, whether one poem or ten, supports our fortnightly Monday night readings in London's liveliest, longest-running and best-loved literary landmark venue, now surviving without Arts Council support and relying increasingly on poets around the country and around the world to keep literature 'live' in London.Do feel free pass on the word to anyone you know who's writing and who mightn't be on our newsletter lists. And many thanks to all those of you who've already submitted.Best wishesAnne-Marie___4th Annual Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2010Judges: Gwyneth Lewis & Maurice Riordan(Both judges will read all poems).1st prize £1000, 2nd £500, 3rd £250, plus 20 @ £20 eachplusSpring 2011 Coffee-House Poetry Season Ticketplusprizewinners' Coffee-House Poetry readingwith Maurice Riordan & Gwyneth Lewisfor all winning poetson Monday 29th November 2010 at the TroubadourSubmission deadline: Friday 15th October 2010See for previous winners & winning poems, 2007-2009;See below or for judges, rules and submission details.___Judges:Gwyneth Lewis was the first National Poet of Wales (2005) and her words appear over the Wales Millennium Centre, opened in 2004. Educated at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen, a bilingual school near Pontypridd, and at Oxford, Columbia and Harvard Universities, she has written oratorio as well as having written on clinical depression and 'Two in a Boat - The True Story of a Marital Rite of Passage', inspired by a sailing journey during which her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Her poetry collections in English include 'Parables and Faxes' (1995), 'Chaotic Angels' (2005) and 'A Hospital Odyssey' (2010, all Bloodaxe).Maurice Riordan (b. Lisgoold, Co, Cork, 1953) is the author of three collections of poetry, 'A Word from the Loki' (Faber, 1995, a PBS choice), the Whitbread shortlisted 'Floods' (Faber, 2000) and 'The Holy Land'(Faber, 2007) which received the Michael Hartnett Award. A Next Generation poet, he has been Poetry Editor of Poetry London and is currently Professor of Poetry at Sheffield Hallam University, has translated the work of Maltese poet Immanuel Mifsud ('Confidential Reports', 2005), has edited and co-edited anthologies on science, space and ecology, and has edited a selection of Hart Crane's poems for Faber's 'Poet to Poet' series (2008).___Rules:General: Entry implies acceptance of all rules; failure to comply with rules will result in disqualification; competition open to poets of any nationality over 18 years; no competitor may win more than one prize; judges' decision is final; no individual correspondence will be entered into.Poems: Poems must be in English, must each be no longer than 45 lines, must fit on one page of A4, must be the original work of the entrant and must not have been previously broadcast or published (in print or online); prizewinning poems may be published (in print or online) by Troubadour International Poetry Prize and may not be published elsewhere for one year after Friday 15th October 2010 without written permission. No limit on number of poems submitted. No alterations accepted after submission.Fees: All entries must be accompanied by fee of EITHER £5/ 6EURO/$8USD per poem, if fewer than 4 poems, OR £4/ 5EURO/$7USD per[...]




What's going to happen to all our old, unwanted letters?


Well, do not fret. Because I have just found out that help is at hand.


They are being collected at the Museum of Letters in Berlin, the only collection of letters in the world so far.

I have to say that finding out about this, and looking at all the photographs of letters, has given me an enormous gust of pleasure.

And it means that I no longer have to feel quite so sad when I see pictures like this...




I'm delighted to welcome Sue Guiney to the blog today. Many of you will know her work already - poet, dramatist, blogger and novelist. Her latest book The Clash of Innocents comes out at the end of this week, and looks fascinating: Against the backdrop of Cambodia’s violent past and the beginnings of its new Tribunal for 'justice', a story of displaced souls unfolds. In Cambodia, innocents are everywhere. Everyone is innocent, or so they would like to believe – everyone, except the few who, for their own private reasons, take on the guilt of the many.I took advantage of Sue's good nature (plus the fact that she was available because of promoting the book, she's the busiest person I know!) to ask her to write about something that fascinates me - how the writer can be an entrepreneur too. Here's what she says.....Thanks, Sarah, for giving me this chance to visit your blog. And thanks also for giving me this opportunity to put down in a (hopefully) coherent fashion the lessons I’ve learned from my rather meandering and, admittedly, iconoclastic approach to my career.I’ve wanted to be a writer since I knew how to read. My first piece written for public (ie my class of fellow 7 year olds) was an adaptation for “the stage” of my favourite novel at the time – I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t remember its name, but I know it had something to do with mice. But it took me well into my forties to begin to believe I could write anything worth showing to anybody else. My first publications were a short story and a poem, both in the same year, in different magazines. I was 44. But here I am today, eleven years later, with 2 novels and a poetry play published, another poetry collection completed and a full-length play in development. I say this not to toot my own horn, but to show that it can be done. Now, as my second novel, “A Clash of Innocents”, is being published by the new publishing firm of Ward Wood, it’s a good time to look back and see what I can offer up as advice:• Take your creativity off the page and put it into your lifeWe are all creative people, and writers are especially good at creating characters. Use that creative energy to create yourself. Think outside the box and let your imagination run free as you contemplate your own life. I suppose the rebel in me has always made me think that I can do things differently, I don’t have to do anything exactly the way everyone else does it. Agood example of this was the creation of my poetry play, “Dreams of May.” I had been taking my writing seriously for several years at that point, working on a series of short stories which eventually – and surprisingly - became my first novel, “Tangled Roots.” But at the same time I was writing more and more poetry and braving more and more open mics. Was I a poet? A short story writer? A novelist? Who knew? All I knew was I was writing and it felt good. I was trying to get my poems published but I realized that the poems which seemed best received by audiences were not necessarily the ones being accepted by magazine and journal editors. It made me question why, think about the differences between hearing and reading a poem and then I thought, “hey – why not turn my poems into a play?” I had never heard of anyone doing such a thing, but it didn’t stop me. I literally got a few friends together to help me get it done, and the result was a two-week run in London’s Pentameters Theatre. I also created a text which I assumed I would Xerox and hand out to people coming to the show, but another friend convinced me to send it to a small press who, quite shockingly, decided to publish it. Presto, I was suddenly a poet with a book published and a playwright. That bit of creativity helped me to become the person I had always wanted to be and to live the life I have always wanted to live – namely a li[...]



Well, here is a story I wrote especially for (me and) you....Meanwhile back at homeVeronica Comrie has to call home three times and when eventually her mother answers, she’s breathing heavily and asks Veronica to hold on while she sits down. ‘Where have you been?’ Veronica asks, clutching her tear soaked tissue. She is going to ask her mother to come and pick her up. She hates college. Choosing law was a big mistake. ‘On the running machine,’ her mother says. ‘Running machine?’ says Veronica. Veronica’s mother hates exercise. ‘We put it up in your bedroom, along with the weights and the yoga mats,’ says Veronica’s mother. ‘I feel like a new woman. Or that’s what your dad keeps saying.’ Veronica tells her mother that she has to go a lecture now, but that she’s fine. Really. It’s only when she puts the phone down that she realises her mother hadn’t asked. When Colin Hiscox’s dad picks up the phone, Colin thinks at first he has the wrong number. His father answers in French. ‘Sorry about that,’ Colin’s dad says. ‘It’s these foreign students we have staying in your room.’ Three girls, Colin’s father says. Apparently it brightens the house up to have some young folk around again. Even Colin’s mother is loving it. And the money comes in useful. ‘We are becoming quite fond of garlic,’ Colin’s father says. Colin hears laughter in the background. He can’t remember the last time he heard laughter in his parents’ house. Or whether he’s ever knowingly tasted garlic. And he’s certainly never been allowed girls in his room before.‘Your room is your room for life,’ says Jerome Connor’s mother. ‘I have kept it just as you left it.’ ‘A bloody shrine,’ Jerome’s father adds from the upstairs extension. ‘She wouldn’t even let the neighbour’s niece stay there. Poor girl had to sleep in a tent in the garden.’ ‘It’s your room, Jerome,’ says his mother. ‘Now the neighbour refuses to talk to us,’ his father continues. ‘And will you be back to us soon, son?’ says Jerome’s mother. ‘Ferrets,’ Jane Brown’s mother says. ‘If it was kittens, or even rabbits, I might be happier. But what’s he going to do with ferrets? Keep them down his trousers?’ Jane’s busy smiling at the blonde guy from her economics class. ‘And they smell,’ says Jane’s mother. ‘I can’t go into your room without an oxygen mask. Not to mention the noise. It’s scrabble, scrabble, scrabble all day and night. And knock, knock, knock as he builds more and more cages.’ Jane stops smiling. ‘My room?’ she asks.John Jenson’s father has built bookcases along the far wall of John’s bedroom to fit in every copy from John’s booklists, both primary and secondary reading. Every night, he works his way through them. Sitting at John’s old desk, he grinds his teeth through timed essays from the lists of titles John emails him, before sending them to an independent tutor to be marked. John hasn’t told him that he’s making up the essay titles, that the books lists are from several years ago, and that John isn’t at university any more. He’s working in a sandwich shop. He’s happier than he’s been since he started school and his father learnt to read alongside him.Susan Carter’s father has turned her bedroom into a refrigerated storage space for his butcher’s shop. Meats that need to be hung are left on large hooks he’s drilled into the ceiling. ‘It might be a bit cold,’ says Susan’s mother, ‘but your bed is still there and we’ve shuffled everything round so no blood will actually drip on you when you sleep. I honestly can’t see what the problem is.’ When Chris Leslie’s mother rings, there’s a familiar background noise he can’t quite identify. ‘I’m cleaning your room,’ she says. For a minute he’s filled[...]



Poetry from Art
Launch of a pamphlet anthology: Poetry from Art

Saturday 25 September 2010, 18.45–21.00

You are invited to the launch of a pamphlet anthology: Poetry from Art at Tate Modern introduced and edited by Pascale Petit

These twenty-four poems were written on Pascale Petit's Poetry from Art summer course in the galleries at Tate Modern, the third of three six-week writing courses this year. These ongoing creative writing classes, open to both advanced poets and beginners, are held on Monday evenings and are in their fifth year.

The pamphlet includes poems after Mona Hatoum, Francis Alÿs, Joseph Beuys and Mike Nelson.


A still from Francis Alys's video work, Tornado, from which some of the poems were written.

The contributors are: Karen McCarthy Woolf, Naomi Woddis, Malika Booker, Rowyda Amin, Matthew Paul, Anne Welsh, Sarah Salway, Rebecca Farmer, Zillah Bowes, Cath Drake, Rishi Dastidar, Beth Somerford, Roberta James, Cath Kane, Kaye Lee, Lynn Foote, Seraphima Kennedy, Ali Wood, Julie Steward, Elizabeth Horsley, MJ Whistler, Andrea Robinson, Angela Dock, Beatriz Echeverri.

The event will be introduced by Pascale Petit.
Free entry, readings, great views and wine.

Tate Modern Level 7 East Room
Free, no bookings taken

Sadly I won't be able to attend the launch, but please do go, and please buy the booklet. There are some wonderful poems there. More information here.

You MUST read this book...


Nik started a great book recommendation meme yesterday, and Benjamin Judge joined in. AND BOTH RECOMMENDED ME! Thanks guys.

And to add my pennyworth, here are five poetry books I've read and loved this summer:

1. Furniture, by Lorraine Mariner. I came across Lorraine's work first when she read last during a packed Oxfam reading. Packed with readers, that is, and I'd heard some good things but to be honest I was a bit jaded by the time Lorraine stood up. Not for long though. The minute she started a poem about Stanley, an imaginary boyfriend, who has to go because 'nothing in our relationship has ever surprised me', she had charmed everyone in that room. I rushed to buy her book after the reading but she had already sold out. Even if it wasn't for the fantastic series of poems in the narrative voice of 'Jessica Elton', this collection would still be on my favourite shelves.

2. I wrote about Simon Armitage's Seeing Stars here and I have been coming back to it again and again this summer in admiration and yes, envy.

3. Human Chain by Seamus Heaney is my newest acquisition but I've already read it three times. A lot of the poems are dedicated 'i.m' but the whole book feels 'alive and living' in the best ways. I am sure there are a lot of references here I'm missing, but the joy of it is that it makes me want to read more, rather than just making me feel stupid. And in the meantime, the words are so beautiful I am enjoying just tasting them. In fact, I could almost lick every page of this book like 'Lick the Pencil':

'Lick the pencil' we might have called him
So quick was he to wet the lead, so deft
His hand-to-mouth and tongue-flirt round the stub.

4. Source, by Mark Doty is a good accompaniment to Human Chain, in that both seem to focus on what is left of the human being when the material elements are stripped away. Where is our place in the world? And how do we learn to see things through our own eyes rather than other people's? There is a lovely 'Letter to Walt Whitman' here that I read twice before I realised I was holding my breath each time. And then I raced to the page myself, wanting to write as directly as Mark Doty does here.

5. Not a poetry book but a book for poets that I have come to very late, Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers has made me look at nearly everything differently this Summer. The book describes Wabi-Sabi as 'a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete,' and is a practice rather than an end result. The tension it describes between the meanings of Wabi and Sabi is perhaps the most exciting one thing I've read for a long time.

And now I'm off to add a few of the books recommended on other blogs to my reading list. Good idea, Nik!

Back to earth....


Somehow when I got back to Kilimanjaro, I thought I would throw myself back into life with renewed energy. I have climbed a mountain, don't you know? So many people have asked if I've been writing about it, if I am already planning a new trip etc etc etc. But it hasn't been like that at all.

I think I've just been plain old exhausted. However, there's something else too.

Maybe it's because I'm a September baby, but I don't think I'm unusual in feeling the urge to sign up for something new at this time of year. A new class, learning a new skill. New shoes even.

This year however it seems I'm happy just to let it all drift by. There's a feeling that I need to let the whole experience settle down because I don't want to lose it before I've had time to ingest it properly.

It's a good feeling.




Us at the top of Kilimanjaro - around 8.45 on Tuesday morning!


I took lots of photos but unfortunately had my camera stolen at Nairobi airport so these are thanks to my sister (the one in the red jacket)...

It was an amazing, emotional, inspiring, exhausting trip. Of all the things I expected, FUN wasn't on the list. But that's what we had.

Every night when we arrived at camp, our wonderful porters sang and danced for us...


So after the first day, we surprised them by making up a song and singing it back to them every following night too! Not exactly rocket science, 'Four happy hikers climbing on a cliff, and if one happy hiker should accidently fall....' was one. But at least we can say that we did somehow sing our way up Kilimanjaro! Also we taught them an elaborate game of 'My grandmother went to market...' and played Rock paper scissors in return.

I'm going to write more later, and hopefully have some more pics, but this is just to say that we're safe, and happy, and to thank you ALL for your good wishes.

And if you're considering ever climbing Kilimanjaro, one thing to say to you .... DO IT! Happy to answer any questions you may have.



William Blake famously said: Great things are done when men and mountains meet.

So I'm off to Kilimanjaro to meet my mountain. I shall see you all when I get back.

Wish me luck, and here's something for you to watch and listen to...

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She planned it before he died, so at the right moment they took his body away. The drop of blood they returned was bigger than she expected, but she hung it up in the sitting room, and turned to the fashion channels. No more sport, she whispered. My turn now.



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She sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but she’s been comfort eating so much she can’t get out. And it’s safe with her chocolate and her sweets. So she watches the light thinking that tomorrow she’ll change her life. But now, she’ll sit here. Eat some more.




He fell over in the middle of the labyrinth. They said it didn’t matter, but he stumbled again as he got up. For the rest of the week he felt lost. It was as if he was blindfolded. He dreamt of walking round. And round. There was no way out.



I am pasting and copying the whole of this email from the Azaaz organisation about the floods in Pakistan in case you are like me and want to help but are not sure what to do or where to go...Dear Friends,A humanitarian catastrophe of terrifying proportions is unfolding in Pakistan, with a fifth of the country under water, and millions of people homeless and desperately needing assistance.Some relief efforts are underway, but the international response to the mega-disaster has been irresponsibly slow and weak -- the UN has urgently appealed for $460 million of vital aid, but just 40% has been delivered.Relief workers warn that without an immediate increase in aid the death toll could sky-rocket. We can help by sending funds directly to the most reliable aid organizations, and by pressing our governments to step up their efforts. Let's show our leaders what generosity looks like, and demand that they join us. Click here to send a personal message to key donor governmentsAnd click here to donate to the relief effort.After visiting the flood stricken areas, a visibly upset UN General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon, said “This has been a heart-wrenching day for me. In the past, I have visited many natural disasters, but I have never seen anything like this.”Thousands of towns and villages have been washed away -- roads, buildings, bridges, crops. Now people are stranded on tiny islands surrounded by flood waters. With no clean water to drink, cholera, diarrhea and other sicknesses are on the rise, threatening the millions of people who have lost their homes and livelihoods.The international response so far has not matched that of previous large scale disasters. Organisations like UNICEF and WHO have said they lack the funds to provide adequate assistance. The governments of the world need to do more, and we can lead by example. Let’s stand with Pakistan at this time of crisis, and ask important donor governments to do the same.Click here to donate.Click here to send a message.Our community has risen to the challenge of awful disasters before. In 2008, Avaaz members raised over 2 million dollars for the victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma. Earlier this year, $1.4 million was raised for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Our ability to move quickly in times of crisis can make the difference between life or death for people struggling to cope with disaster. Let’s show the people of Pakistan that people and governments around the world stand with them in this awful crisis.With hope,Luis, Iain, Mia, Ricken, Paul, Giulia, Ben, David, Graziela, Pascal, Milena and the rest of the Avaaz teamMore information:UN Chief’s heart wrenching appeal for Pakistan flood victims.Pakistan floods fail to spark strong global aid.Death toll rises from Pakistan flooding.Avaaz Burma Cyclone relief -- Haiti Earthquake response --[...]



It is like a visual art installation in which each message is an image or object we can pick up in our hands. You all know the Bookeywookey website, don't you?It's a brilliant place for book reviews and interesting people and things to do with the mind. Just my kind of thing, and it's been a great joy to me that its creator, Ted, has become a friend since he read and was so kind about Tell Me Everything a couple of years ago. But that didn't make it any easier when I knew he was going to review my new book. I wrote to him saying that he should say what he thought.And then I regretted it but luckily didn't send the email saying 'Actually I didn't mean that. Say what I think....' or something worse.But hurrah, hurrah, he 'got' it.You can read the review here, but here's some of what he says:The novel's leitmotif is a photograph and a negative, if you will: the superficial versus interior knowledge of another person. The snapshot one gets when knowing someone only from the outside in a single context, versus who they are inside, who they are when they relate to their intimates, who they are to themselves in their fantasies, and sadly, who they become when there is no one to whom they show their deepest selves. As a literary device the letters and messages are an appropriate form for this novel in that they are like snapshots, you need more than one to know the whole story. And while a nude picture is literally revealing, it does not necessarily give the viewer an intimate relationship with the subject. However the subject themselves possesses that whole story and so posing for that photograph feels a kind of risk, perhaps akin to the risk we take when we tell someone we love them, or the risk artists take when they put themselves into their work. That is the reverse image contained in the novel, the risk that it takes to be known. This is not just the artists' journey, it is everyone's and this novel's message is that the risk is worth it. And in other happy dancing showing off news, last week on twitter, William Gibson tweeted that he had Getting the Picture on his reading list and then I got an email saying that a certain British philosopher is planning to take it on holiday with him. Not going to name him because the names are dropping fairly heavily in this post already (Oh but OK, if you insist, A d B may be some of the letters.... )Anyway that's probably enough of the showing off now, Salway. Back to happy dancy writing![...]



One of the posts I've had the most personal responses to recently was one in which I mentioned my shyness and the cure that's helped me, Bach's Rescue Remedy.

I posted this photograph on Facebook as a joke about my forthcoming Kilimanjaro preparations, but it does seem to make a difference for me.


And here are some of the other things that help me overcome shyness when it comes to readings and public speaking etc ...

1. Making a note of all the things I've missed in the past because of it. And how much I would have enjoyed them. So I don't want to miss more in the future. Do I?

2. This tip I read which is that a speech should contain a fact, a feeling (created by talking about the senses) and an action. Just thinking about how I am gong to include this gives me some kind of structure apart from just panicking.

3. Remembering that no one else notices how nervous I am. Just bluff it out and smile. Also remember that people actually want me to do well. They are not the enemy. Although strangely easy to forget this sometimes.

4. In my head unless I'm careful, I often have a scenario going on about how I'm going to trip over, that I will start crying, that ... etc etc. The strange thing is that these thoughts are almost a little comforting - as if it's not really going to be as bad as that. How could it be? But that's all a bit negative, so I try to think instead about what people (the audience) want to hear. How can I give them that? Just replacing the first scenario with this calms me. Gives me something other than myself to think about, because it's not about me anymore. It's about everybody else. I remember listening to a talk by Dr Wayne Dyer in which he said that he sat in his dressing room before any presentation asking 'how could he serve'? Well, I don't have dressing rooms, and I'm not so sure about the serving, but I like the sentiment.

5. Have the first few lines ready, and prepared. And how I'm going to finish. And to practice this a few times in front of the mirror. Smiling. And bluffing it out (with a few drops of rescue remedy to hand..).

What tips do you have? Let's compile a list.




They prefer to live in the past. Of course, they’ve heard about televison, how strangers can come in to your house, how sometimes people cry over these strangers. But the villagers can’t understand. It’s busy enough already. In each family enough drama. In each house enough talk. Real connections. Love.



One of our highlights during our trip to Ghent was a visit to the S.M.A.K. gallery, and not least finding this amazing room for kids to hang out in - The Factory.


With comfy chairs to watch art videos, or just to read one of the art books in the bookshelf...


A table to use for drawings and art, or even to draw on!


And because it's called 'The Factory' (love this collage of words, btw, I think I should paint it on my own writing room wall!) ...


It had its own Andy Warhol's...


Inspiring in every way!




Thrilled to be able to talk about Denton Welch and the meaning his book Maiden Voyage has for me on Norman Geras's blog recently.

You can find my piece here.

Also thrilled to get this wonderful Amazon review for GETTING THE PICTURE from Tania Hershman too.




Harry doesn’t really believe the hairdresser when he says this is the latest cut. Even when he sees the result, Harry leaves a tip. The laughter in the salon follows him out to the street. A child points at him. It’s good to be ahead of fashion, the hairdresser said.