Sunday, April 30, 2006

Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now
A E Houseman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
Oh, this is a blog after my own heart. Sasha Cagen has started a todolist blog which is asking for people to send their 'to do' lists which are then going to be compiled into a published book. I can just imagine the circles this will create ... on everybody's to do list, there will be the entry 'Read To Do List Book', and then there will be people cross-referencing other people's To Do Lists, filling their own with other people's To Do points and so on and so on. A brilliant idea, and thanks to Patti for the link. I particularly like the ps after one of the lists - "Note: List says Get Land, not Get Laid" ...
Something to read for the weekend? Try this wonderful prose poem, Nearing Menopause, I run into Elvis at Shoprite, by Barbara Crooker. It's almost worth it for the title alone.
And so my writing prompt for today is going to be bumping into a celebrity in a supermarket. (Actually I've almost written this already with my short story, Jesus and the Aubergines, but I'm going to make it more surreal!)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Got this cartoon from Harold's Planet today. Their site has to be one of the funniest ones around.
Having tried to write for the last few weeks with builders - however lovely - in the house, I'm wondering whether behaving like this crocodile might just do the trick in getting some much needed peace. I would like to find out, though, how they know he's called Brutus.
Et chew Brutus

A crocodile in northern Australia has chased a storm-clearance worker up a tree and made off with his chainsaw. The 4.4m (14.5ft) saltwater crocodile called Brutus apparently took exception to the noise of the saw.

The worker was clearing a tree that fell on the crocodile enclosure at the Corroboree Park Tavern, 80km (50 miles) east of the northern city of Darwin.

Brutus chewed on the chainsaw for 90 minutes, reducing it to pieces. Neither man nor beast was injured.

Worker Freddy Buckland was cutting a tree that had fallen as a result of a recent tropical cyclone. Peter Shappert, the tavern's owner, said the crocodile jumped from the water and sped 20ft to the tree.

"It must have been the noise... I don't think he was actually trying to grab Freddy, but I'm not sure. He had a fair go at him... I think he just grabbed the first thing he could and it happened to be the chainsaw."

Tavern co-owner Linda Francis said: "Fred virtually gave him the chainsaw, shoved it at him. "It was still going and he took the chainsaw onto the ground and proceeded to smash it and it stalled. The crocodile didn't cut himself, just broke a few teeth."

Mr Shappert said the saw was destroyed. "He chewed on the chainsaw for about an hour-and-a-half, then we finally got it out."

Saltwater crocodiles are known to attack small boats, apparently disturbed by the sound of outboard motors.
I'm constantly amazed at the high proportion (for the UK) of writers I come across who, like me, have had a Catholic upbringing or schooling. I haven't seen any research on this but I guess it's due to a number of factors. Firstly, the rhythm and music you almost inhale in those services, but secondly, I wonder if it's down to the fact that, with so much set in stone, the baby writer learns how to question at an early age. I never forget how when we were being taught about what you could and couldn't do on a Sunday at my convent school, asking what you should do if a really nasty insect crawled over your plate when you were eating. The answer, I was told, was that you cover it with a glass and kill it on Monday. Some kind of logic there, I suppose, but one that makes me shiver still.

What made me think of all this is that today's 'poem' from The Writer's Almanac is the ten commandments. Reading them made me think of another reason my religious schooling might have helped me become a writer, and that was the importance given to words in my education. Not only that, but actually being forced to learn them by heart too. This morning, I got hit by a sudden memory of crying wildly in class once because I could only remember eight of these:

The Ten Commandments

I. -Have thou no other gods but me,
II. -And to no image bow thy knee.
III. -Take not the name of God in vain:
IV. -The sabbath day do not profane.
V. -Honour thy father and mother too;
VI. -And see that thou no murder do.
VII. -Abstain from words and deeds unclean;
VIII. -Nor steal, though thou art poor and mean.
IX. -Bear not false witness, shun that blot;
X. -What is thy neighbor's covet not.

-These laws, O Lord, write in my heart, that I,
-May in thy faithful service live and die.

And my writing prompt for today is going to be ... 'shun that blot'.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Here's something I bet no-one imagined ever happening...

Pink Floyd: The Appeal & Longevity of a Band
September 2007 England (Details coming soon)
A conference to examine the social, psychological & economic impact of a very British Band
Organized by, Social Theorists, Methodologies & Methods
In association with Midrash Publishing details:
Postgraduates are welcome at a (subsidized fee). A selection of papers presented will be published in Conference Proceedings (ISBN) and others in a book.
Pink Floyd is a global phenomenon; an icon for nearly 40 years.
This is a conference for academics & researchers to examine, from different frames of reference, the appeal, identity, impact & economics of one of the most successful and enduring bands of all time.
The Orange Prize Shortlist was announced yesterday. The shortlist is:

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
The Accidental by Ali Smith
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany
The Night Watch by Sarah Waters

My fingers are crossed for On Beauty - it was a GOOD book. Carrie Tiffany's title is great though - makes me want to read it.
Some good innovative stuff here .... I have particularly been enjoying browing in the links, and reading about the history of the world wide web, for example.

***Introducing the trAce Archive
The trAce Online Writing Centre is proud to announce the launch of the trAce Archive. The trAce archive was
commissioned by NESTA, The National Endowment for Science, Technology and
the Arts. It is housed at Nottingham Trent University and is managed by
Professor Sue Thomas, Faculty of Humanities, De Montfort University. The
trAce archive contains all your favourite projects developed by the trAce
Online Writing Centre between 1995 and 2005. It also houses all the
original new media writing, articles, and transcripts of practice-based
discussions published on the trAce website in the last decade.

And my writing prompt today is ... a tracing found in library book.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I'm fresh out of inspiration today so my writing prompt is going to be taken from Creativity Portal's Imagination Prompt Generator. Mine is 'Write about the losses you've experienced, but you can keep pressing until you get one you like! Just wish there was a button I could press that would write the story too!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I really enjoyed this story - Everyone in Holland is Mad at Me by Andrew Tibbetts at Smokelong. Nice ending, and it's so good to read something that makes you laugh out loud.
Just had a lovely day browsing at an antiques fair with a friend, and although I failed completely to buy anything, I got so many ideas for stories... a painting of a wonderful male nude in a life-drawing situation ... the antiques dealer who had fallen asleep on the sofa he was selling ... a live greyhound surrounded by stone greyhound statues ... a mirror on a stand jointed to go round corners ... collars from fighting dogs ... and a wooden hand holding a bible that was a bookshop sign. But a true writer at heart, I'm always amazed how, in the middle of so much visual pleasure, I'm still drawn to words. A great friend of mine has a poster of the sign above in her kitchen, but one of the wartime originals was for sale which I was very tempted by. In fact, there were signs for everything - from confessional booths, schools, shops ... although my favourite was the very firm CHILDREN FORBIDDEN. Now that could really come in useful.
And my writing prompt today is going to be ... graffiti.

Monday, April 24, 2006

From August 28 - September 2nd this year, I'm going to be teaching a week's writing course on Exploring Fiction with the writer, Jim Friel, at Ty Newydd, Lloyd George's old home in Wales. This will be my FOURTH visit to Ty Newydd, but the first as 'teacher'. Can't wait - the sitting room above is the library and you can see the sea from the windows. The last time I went was during the petrol crisis so there were very few cars, and it really did feel like we'd all found ourselves in a forgotten world. This is a description of the course:
Through workshops and tutorials this course explores the techniques of writing fiction, including structure, voice, characterisation, place, purposeful description as well as generating creative ideas for getting started, keeping going and, even, getting to that finishing line.
More details are on the Ty Newydd website.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

This seems appropriate (see below)!

There are many reasons why novelists write – but they all have one thing in common: a need to create an alternative world.
John Fowles
So there I was, yesterday morning, teaching at the University, and speaking with students about how the characters we all wrote about need to move between the 'ordinary world' and the 'special world', terms taken from Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey. We talked about space, not least because I'm obsessed at the moment with The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, and I used as an example the way we'd just moved back into our house after major building work and - for the sake of our sanity - needed the little pockets of order we created amongst the mess. I was thinking particularly about my sitting room - the one room in the house which wasn't full of boxes or 'things to do', and so has become a sanctuary. Imagine how much it hurt then to find a phonecall waiting for me at lunchtime to say that the ceiling of the sitting room had just fallen in and water was pouring down my newly painted walls. Arrgh. Great structure though - the house is very old and this ceiling almost seems original - you can see the horsehair, straw and, is it, can it really be, yes it is, dung, holding it all together! It's just a pity about the dung stains on my absolutely brand new carpet ... and the fact the builders are now going to be around for a little bit longer.
And my writing prompt today is going to be ... a leak.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

There's something about why a man or woman would encourage bees to swarm around their face that has always fascinated me. I was thinking about it last night - about all the good and bad things coming with Summer - and when I googled bee beard images I couldn't believe how many they were. What must it feel like? How could you resist the urge to scratch, because it must tickle. I wonder if there are women who have real bee hair-styles, not content with the beehive. 'Your hair is smelling like honey tonight .... oh wait, it's even tasting like honey. Owwwww....'
And so my story for the weekend follows the bee theme. It's Beeswax from the excellent Pulp journal, and it's by Paul Gorman, a writer I haven't heard of before but will be looking out for.
My writing prompt - hahaha, I'm teaching all day so will have little time but I WILL fit it in somehow - is going to be from Rosemary Grant's amazing step by step instructions to how to grow a bee beard. Go on try it, you know you want to.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else.
Gloria Steinem
An article from cheered me up on this dreary Friday... that strange and cruel pleasure coming from the knowledge someone else is having a worse day than you!

But thanks for writing

The letter Rep. Jo Ann Emerson sent to one of her constituents read like any other a 20-year-old legislative correspondent might prepare for a member of Congress: Thank you for writing, your concerns are important to me, blah, blah, blah. Then came the kicker: "I think you're an asshole."

As the Associated Press reports, Emerson, a Republican from Missouri, says she has no idea how the insult made its way into her letter to a Centerville, Mo., resident named Bill Jones. "We cannot determine whether the addition to the letter was made by someone within the office or by someone with access to the office, but it is on my letterhead and the responsibility for it lies with me," Emerson says. "A valuable lesson has been learned, and new procedures will be adopted as a result."

I once worked for a council rewriting their standard payment request letters. Some were so complicated I had to breathe very deeply for some time before trying to work out what it was they were trying so say. Heaven knows what it would have been like to receive one at a trying time. Others were just ridiculous. The words to one - when someone in the family had died still owing money - have been burned in my brain. It went .... "As officials, we are instructed in some circumstances to show sympathy. However, your situation does not warrant it." My only hope was that particular letter never had to be used.

And my writing prompt for today is ... an instruction to show sympathy.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I am so pleased that my friend, Michelle Lovric's website is up and running. It's worth a look not least because it's so beautiful, just like her and her books, the latest of which, The Remedy, is out in paperback in the UK at the beginning of May. Very definitely worth a read - it's one of those books you can lose yourself in as you travel from London's Bankside to Venice in the late 1700's, and was a worthy inclusion in the longlist of this year's Orange Prize.

Here's an extract to whet your appetite:

So at fifteen, spread belly-down upon the floor, a black sheet hunched over me and candles at my foot and head, my lips pressed on stone, litanies in my ears, as the priest broke and entered my shocked fist to slide the ring on my finger, I promised to take no other husband than Christ. I almost meant it. In that heady moment the vow itself seemed no great sacrifice: I'd never known a man, but I had tasted chocolate.

And one of the Amazon reviews:

Gripping and grimy, September 2, 2005
Reviewer: J. Cotton (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This one's even better than 'Carnevale', her last, and just as flavoursome! The action switches between Venice, where a daughter of the aristocratic Venier family is confined to a convent, very much against her will, and London where later Valentine Greatrakes' quack-remedy and 'importing' business is stuck a blow as his partner is killed in Venice. There will be more murders, lies, romance, sex and travel before the plot to this one plays itself out. There's also much vivid description of the streets and low life of the Thames Bankside and dank Venetian canal sides - The Remedy gives good 18th Century Venice and London, with descriptions you can almost taste, and not just of the food. The hint of decadence in the writing and nastiness in the plotting I find much to my taste too. And if you want to know how you can use any peacock dung, faeculae of cuckow and ox galls you might have about the place in remedies and other useful potions this book will tell you, with handy recipes at the start of each chapter. Gripping stuff!

And so my writing prompt for today is going to be ... gripping and grimy.
This looks like a useful resource from the British Academy:

PORTAL: the British Academy's online directory of research resources in the humanities and social sciences now contains more than 750 links to research resources in all areas of the humanities and social sciences.

PORTAL covers the whole spectrum of the humanities and social sciences from the history of art to geographical information systems, and from labour history to the indigenous languages of Latin America. The resources listed make full use of the opportunities provided by the new technologies and include texts of major or rare and otherwise difficult-to-locate texts, images of artworks and artifacts, datasets, maps, dictionaries and encylopaedias. Resource-providers include academic departments and research centres, individual academics, libraries, museums, government departments and ministries, and non-governmental, international and supranational organisations. Resources, all of which are free at the point of use, are selected on the basis of their high quality and potential usefulness to researchers, and must demonstrate currency, proper functionality, and responsible management.

PORTAL is organised as a simple directory. For each resource listed, a short description and set of key words and phrases is compiled. These resource descriptions are listed alphabetically under 18 broad subject headings. A search tool and index of keywords and phrases are available to assist users in finding resources relevant to their subject.

Although it is primarily intended for use by post-doctoral researchers, PORTAL is freely available to the whole education community, and it has been selected for inclusion in EDSITEment, The Best of the Humanities on the Web from the U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


SATURDAY 13 MAY 2006, 12.00-6.00
ICA, THE MALL, LONDON, SW1Y 5AH. TEL: 020 7930 3647

Booking is now open for this year’s PEN International Writers’ Day. Titled Migrations of the Mind, this year’s event celebrates the ideas-traffickers of the twenty-first century – the international writers who fuse cultures, challenging received wisdom and opening up spaces in which radical new stories can be told. Smuggled inside their novels, plays and memoirs, writers transmit thoughts across frontiers.

Since 1921, PEN has colluded in writers’ defiance of the intellectual border police who seek to limit the free trade in ideas. Now our work is even more important than ever. Join us for a day of talks, readings and debate about the role of literature in an increasingly globalised society. For more information visit

Tickets are available from the ICA box office on 020 7930 3647
Full Price: £25
Concession: £20
PEN Members: £18 – Please quote ‘PEN’ when you book

We hope to see you there!


12.00-1.00 WILD WORDS
Jung Chang’s books are tightly censored in China, but these controls are counter-productive, giving her work added cachet. In the opening lecture, Chang, author of the international bestseller Wild Swans, describes the fate of her new biography of Mao, which has just been released in Taiwan. Has the book even made it into China – and if so, with what effect?

1.00-2.00 LUNCH
Sandwiches will be available in the ICA café; alternatively, the fleshpots of the West End are only a few minutes walk away.

The novelist Elif Shafak, one of Turkey’s brightest exports, joins Croatian writer Dubravka Ugresic, whose The Ministry of Pain was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2006, and Monica Ali, author of the critically-acclaimed bestseller Brick Lane, to ask why women writers so often find themselves on the front line of cultural collisions.

When does mob rule veer over into state censorship? Playwright Gary Mitchell has been personally threatened as a result of his controversial depictions of Northern Irish culture. In conversation with David Edgar, he asks why the stage arouses such extreme passions, and why the Government cannot do more to protect writers.

4.30-5.00 COFFEE

The Moroccan novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun has long lived in self-imposed exile in Paris. In the closing address he asks whether the confrontation between Western and Islamic cultures is a clash of civilizations, or just another battle between rich and poor.

6.00-6.15 LAST WORDS
There is no reality except the one contained within us. That is why so many people live such an unreal life. They take the images outside of them for reality and never allow the world within to assert itself.
An article by John Walsh in the Independent newspaper has given me such pleasure this morning. It's a review of a book, The Meaning of Tingo, which came about when the author Adam Jacot de Boinod discovered that the Albanians had 27 words for moustache, and started collecting "extra-ordinary words that abound in the world". Some are beautifully precise. NAKHUR, for example, is the Persian word for a camel that won't give milk unless her nostrils are tickled, but once you hear others, you can't imagine a better word for the job. QUEESTING is the Dutch word for allowing a lover access to one's bed under covers for a chit-chat. Lovely word in itself that, chit-chat. SEIGNEUR-TERRASSE, is the French word for someone who spends time, but not money at a cafe (yep, been there, done that). YUYIN is the Chinese for the remnants of sound that stay in the ears of the hearer. But before you spend as long as I've done on this article, be careful of too much FUCHA - the Portugese for using a company's time and resources for personal purposes.
And my writing prompt for today is .... I want to speak another language.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Thursday 4th May 7.00pm
Oxfam May Poetry Reading 2006
Oxfam Books & Music
91 Marylebone High Street

Hosted by Todd Swift - Oxfam's Poet In Residence

Seven Poets For Oxfam:

Dannie Abse
Olivia Cole
Tim Dooley
Mark Doty
Alan Jenkins
Valerie Josephs
Carmine Starnino

Admission free, suggested donation £8
Please contact Martin Penny to reserve seats
Telephone: 020 7487 3570
Well, that's strange. I've been off-line for over a week now because of 'technical problems', argggh!, only to come back to the site last night to find my viewing figures are bigger when nothing's happening on the blog than when I'm here tirelessly working to pass on good news! Hmmm... never mind, onwards and upwards because I've fallen in love. Let me introduce you to Tyson, the skateboarding bulldog:
I knew there was a good reason for needing my internet to be reinstated quite so badly - I have been watching the video of this dog skate-boarding again and again. He's so organised and careful about it all.
And my writing prompt for today is an over-tidy dog.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I've been struggling with my 'ded and ack' this week - the dedications and acknowledgements for my novel, Tell Me Everything. It seems to be unusual not to dedicate a book to anyone these days, (and I know I want to dedicate it to my dad, because he's the real writer in the family and also the book features a completely horrible father who is so different from mine it's not true, and I'd hate anyone to think it's autobiographical) but it's a bit like an Oscar speech. Try to say what you really feel, and you sound all slushy and pink-dressed when it's read in the cold light of day.

When I wrote Something Beginning With I knew I wanted to dedicate it to my girlfriends because I'd set out to write a book for them in my mind, all the things we would laugh at and cry at and moan about if we were talking. However, I learnt a lesson there in that I missed out one friend - my best mate at school, Nicky, who I wasn't in touch with any more. As soon as the book came out, I knew I'd made a mistake and that Nicky should have been there, because hers was probably my most important friendship and certainly one which made me who I am.

So I don't want to rush this dedication. Trouble is a simple 'To my Father' could be taken either in the spirit of a thank-you, or as a sarcastic fore-note to an expose. I wanted to put for 'To my father, who is not Molly's father', but a friend pointed out that would just look like I'd gone a bit simple and was pointing out biological facts.

Luckily, the internet is at hand to help. One William F.E. Morley has been collecting book dedications and written about them entertainingly in an article for the Alcuin Society webpage. This one is a story in itself:
Belloc, in On Something: "Dedication to Somebody."
"I dedicate this book to those who drank coffee with me in the smoke room of the Mauretania - CCC, MRC, JCB Jr., RHC and GWB. To the first three my friendship; To the fourth and fifth, my apologies as well. To the fifth a request that he show mercy to all slanderers, that he report me and my cause aright with Veronica and a dozen Georgian widows."

I particularly like this one because it made me cry, and I like crying over things that touch me:
A book about Gregory Dexter: "To the memory of my Father because he would have liked Gregory, and to my Mother, because every book needs one reader who is going to like it anyhow."
It makes me think about the time when my son was learning to skateboard and was very very bad at it, so he came and asked if we were going to see my mum soon because 'Granny will think I'm brilliant at it'.
But the one that makes me cry most is Raymond Carver's last book of poetry, A New Path to the Waterfall which is just simply dedicated to 'Tess, Tess, Tess.' It's all he needed to say.

And my writing prompt today is .... finding a message printed in a book.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Asham Award 2006
The sixth Asham Award will be launched in April 2006 at the same time as the new collection of winning stories, Don't Know a Good Thing Deadline for entries 31 July 2006. A shortlist of 12 will be announced at the end of November 2006. For more details go to
The resources of the internet seem limitless. How did we live before we had all this information? Every morning I get emailed to me - free of charge - a different person's life from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and each one is worth reading and writing about. So for today's writing prompt I'm going to take the life of William Ralston Shedden, librarian and Russian Scholar!

Monday, April 03, 2006

The Tate Gallery's Late at Tate event on the evening of April 7th at Tate Britain will feature some of the Poetry Archive's recordings being played in various rooms of the Gallery.
Late at Tate Britain is the perfect opportunity to explore art after hours; relax with a drink and enjoy exhibitions, performances, music, talks and films.

For more information about the April Late at Tate event please visit the Tate Britain website.
I hadn't heard of the term Blooks before, but apparently it's blogs which turn into books, and the first Literary Prize for a blook has just been won by Julie Powell for her book Julie and Julia. I couldn't be more pleased - I LOVED this book. It's the story of a woman's successful attempt to work her way through Julia Childs, albeit in a tiny little New York kitchen, with very little knowledge of most of the ingredients. It's a love letter really, to Julia Childs but also to her husband, Eric, and - although I know this sounds sappy - to the internet too. Here's a bit when she's just starting off...
'After we'd finished our very good and buttery steaks and cleared away the large pile of scraped artichoke leaves, I sat down to write. I made a witticism or two about artichokes - 'this was my first time with artichokes, and more than liking or disliking them, I am mostly just impressed with the poor starving prehistoric bastard who first thought to eat one' - and then posted a few short parragraphs onto my blog.
The next day I got thirty-six hits. I know I got thirty-six hits because I went online to check twelve times that day at work. Each hit represented another person reading what I'd written. Just like that! At the bottom of the entry there was a spot where people could make comments, and someone I'd never even heard of said they liked how I wrote!
I was going to eat lots of French food, and write about it, and get compliments from total strangers about it. Eric was right. This was going to be brilliant!'

I just love it, in writing, when people are so enthusiastic and positive because you know they're heading for some kind of disaster, and, let's face it, that's always good to read about, especially when written by such an engaging author.

And my writing prompt for today is ... a compliment from a total stranger.
A friend of mine sends details of her new book. I haven't read it, but it sounds intriguing. Can't wait.

Abhorred by a selfish mother, but adored by his father, John Brookes grew up with strangled emotions. The young boy finds an outlet for his confusion through harming defenceless animals, but when his prostitute mother and his devoted father divorce, John's elation is fleeting. His mother gives birth to an illegitimate child, and watching his father's heartache tears John apart. Jealous of his half brother, he turns his hatred upon an unsuspecting victim.

However, as life moves on, John finds love and marriage, followed by the birth of his own child. This still isn't enough to pacify his inner demons. They surface once more, tormenting, mocking and sending John on a killing spree that culminates in the most dreadful crime of all.

It goes on sale @ on April 10th priced $5.95.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


A week-long residential creative writing course in Sept 2006 on the Greek island of Skiathos

Erotic literature has changed dramatically in recent years. No longer banished to the top shelves of bookshops, it instead holds court on the front tables. Approaching the subject from a literary perspective, internationally known erotic-fiction author, anthologist, and erotic-writing workshop pioneer Mitzi Szereto will pull back the blanket on the field of erotic writing, offering her own perspective on the craft. The course is designed for those looking to write erotica for professional or personal exploration, or those looking to incorporate the erotic into another body of work. Open to all levels of writers.

Dates: Sept. 9-15, 2006

Cost: (in USD) $795. Includes accommodations for 7 days “Greek Style” room with private veranda and a/c, 22 workshop hours, and transfers by private car to/from hotel from airport/seaport on Skiathos. Single room accommodation is $100.00 extra.

For information or to book:

{American born Mitzi Szereto has more than a dozen books to her credit, including the critically acclaimed Erotic Fairy Tales: A Romp Through the Classics; The World’s Best Sex Writing 2005 (non-fiction); Dying For It: Tales of Sex & Death; Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers; and the Erotic Travel Tales anthology series. She’s also penned several best-selling erotic novels as M. S. Valentine. Mitzi is the pioneer of the erotic writing workshop in the UK and Europe, teaching them from the prestigious Cheltenham Festival of Literature to the Greek islands. She’s been featured in publications ranging from the Sunday Telegraph (London), Independent (London), Toronto Star, Family Circle, Writing Magazine, and Forum to Bravo UK Television, Telecinco TV 5 (Madrid), and BBC Radio. Her work as an anthology editor has earned her the American Society of Authors and Writers’ Meritorious Achievement Award. Originally from the USA, she now lives in England.}

I had an Emily Dickinson moment yesterday -
As if I asked a common alms
And in my wandering hand,
A stranger pressed a Kingdom
And, I, bewildered, stand.
- when I went for a swim and found the pool completely empty, so I could just go up and down revelling in being in the water on my own. I find doing anything repetitive - walking, swimming, even ironing - good for my creative thinking, but this had a special quality. I managed to sort out a number of plot problems I just hadn't had the space to even begin to cope with before. And it got me thinking about space - how it's not just about taking a month off for writer's retreat, but finding time and aloneness in the day. Somewhere where you can go without others people's chatter breaking through, or to-do lists crowding up your brain. And how I haven't had much of that recently but how much I needed it. So part of my plan is to build in a time in every day when I can be by myself to think, away from mobile phones, computers, other people. Here's a photo of my beautiful swimmming pool to show just how lucky I was.
And my writing prompt for today is ... the sound of silence.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Something to read for the weekend? The British Council's New Writing website has a gem from Edwin Morgan. Gorgo and Beau is a poem in dialogue between a healthy and cancerous cell, originally written for radio. The website describes it so:
Edwin Morgan's 'Gorgo and Beau', a poem commissioned by BBC Scotland (Radio), is in the form of a conversation between Gorgo, a cancer cell and Beau, a healthy cell. They debate human suffering. Gorgo is taunting and full of bravado: he doesn't know the meaning of pain. Beau, with all Morgan's experience of a cancer ward, knows suffering only too well:
'The ward lay awake, listening, fearful, impotent,
Thinking of death, that death, their own death to come.
The sobbing ended; time for sleep, and nightmares.'
But Beau is not without his weapons:
'In Celtic tradition, poets had the power
(It is said) to rhyme an enemy to death.'

And my writing prompt is going to come from the artwork by Bedwyr Williams, Before you judge me, Walk a mile in my shoes, which is one of the finalists (no.3) in the Beck's Futures artwork competition.