Lost in the Mists of Technology - Jan Edwards

I recently spent an afternoon rootling around for an old remote hard drive and finally found it in an old box file full of letters!

I plugged it in and scrolled through the contents, and was soon muttering dark imprecations about wasted time and useless computers. The data stored there only went back to 2000 and there were no other back-up files available. The floppy discs that had contained them originally were long since lost! Being the old biddy that I am it took a few moment to realise that this really is twenty years ago, and not last week...

The items I wanted to find all predated the millennium by some years (even decades), and were doubtless produced on my trusty Amstrad PCW 8256 or its replacement 8512.

For the younglings among you I should explain that my files would have been printed on a chattering dot matrix printer, using continuous paper, which required you to tear of the punched guide tapes on either side of the pages and separate each sheet along the dotted lines…

Transparency, by Elizabeth Kay

I’ve been fascinated by octopuses for a long time. They are extremely intelligent, their eyesight is very similar to ours, but they have a remarkable ability that we, most definitely, do not have. They can disappear. Just do a search for octopus camouflage on YouTube, and you’ll see all sorts of amazing creatures changing their colour, pattern, shape and size to escape predators, or lie in wait for prey. The mimic octopus can make itself look like a sea snake, a poisonous flatfish, or a deadly lionfish. 

A close relative of the octopus, the cuttlefish, is even better, and disguises itself as part of the substrate. I had an encounter with one in Indonesia, and it was fascinating. To begin with, I thought part of the seaweed-covered rocks had detached itself, which seemed a bit odd. I followed it, and suddenly realised it was a living creature which had made itself virtually invisible. I took a couple of photos, and then I swam off to do something else. About ten minutes later I looked b…

Caution or Fearlessness? Bronwen Griffiths

On the whole I’m quite a cautious writer. I am afraid of causing offence. That doesn’t always extend to my other life. I have a tendency to lose my temper and shout both offline and online – not always a good trait I admit – but that’s who I am, for good or ill. Yet at the same time I can sometimes be overly apologetic and cautious. Women especially are brought up to be polite and consider others – an admirable trait unless someone is literally or metaphorically treading on your toes – but politeness and caution doesn’t always help us get places.
Elfrika Deposit PhotosWhat about caution and fearlessness in our writing lives?I’ve written before about how fear can hold us back in our creative work. We fear we are not good enough, we fear to submit our writing to journals or publishers because rejection and criticism are hard to take. We fear to take risks with our writing, perhaps keeping to the same old paths. If you are going to be a published writer, or if you attend writing classes, …

Serendipity | Karen Kao

I started writing in high school. My metier then was parody of the sort that only a teenager could find funny. From parody, I went to poetry, from poetry to prose, from novel to short story to the personal essay. My road has been anything but straight.

Of course, not all my writerly moves have been random. I started this blog because someone told me I should. Who knew that I would love it? To feed my blog, I collect scraps of paper. A museum brochure. A newspaper clipping. Some old photographs. Then I wait until that magic moment when the bones of an essay emerge.
Memory In 2011, I quit my law practice to write. I had plenty of ideas and arrogance, too. It eventually became clear to me that I needed an education. I needed to read. What better place to start than The New Yorkers lying about my house?

At the time, I didn’t know what to look for. All I wanted was to be surprised. By a pregnant image, a flash of insight, a chord of pure emotion. It didn’t matter whether t…

This Happy Place by Julia Jones

In the latter part of this strange summer my son Bertie and I have been working on a history of Waldringfield. A k a ‘Wunnerf’l’ as the Suffolk pronunciation has it – which the locals are quick to point out is almost indistinguishable from the correct way to say ‘wonderful’. ‘Wunnerf’l Wunnerf’l’ runs to 314 large and glossy pages with somewhere in the region of 618 photographs and is a tremendous achievement by the Waldringfield History Group -- and also by Bertie who was responsible for design and typesetting. At the outset, however, I wondered where we would ever reach our collective goal of publication by Michaelmas (Sept 29th).  The two pages of foreword entitled 'Wonderful Waldringfield' went through a larger number of politely argued re-writes than any other section of the book. Everyone had their view on what precisely constitutes the particular wonderfulness of this Suffolk village.The answer, of course, is the Deben. 'The River Deben means many things to many peo…

Keeping on top of that Research ✍ Neil McGowan

Research.Love it or hate it, no matter what you write there's bound to be some element of research involved. In this post, I'll share some of the tools and methods I use.I write crime and dark fiction, and the old adage of 'write what you know' often comes up wanting. I've never abducted or murdered anyone (honest!), and my involvement in the criminal justice system is limited to working as an instructor in a prison and as a juror. Both gave me fascinating insights that I've filed away for future reference, but there are still a lot of gaps.
This is where the research element comes in: I like to think of research as the glue that joins the gaps and gives a piece of writing some rigidity and authenticity. Writers of non-fiction will know where I'm coming from, as their work is underpinned by solid research. Lots of research…For fiction writers, though, it's less clear-cut: how much research should you do? There's no definitive answer, as each piece is…