Our previous joint blog (under the same name) went down so well that another three members of the team (Kathleen Jones, Susan Price and Valerie Laws) have decided to share where they work as well. Kathleen Jones - visit website When I moved in with my partner there was nowhere for me to write. It was an old industrial building adapted to the needs of a sculptor who sloshed plaster and clay about and who needed large, draughty spaces to mix toxic chemicals for casting. The living space was basic and cramped. I wanted a quiet room to crawl into with space to think and spread papers around, enough light to read books and sometimes write them. It was quite a problem. But the man wanted me to stay and so he decided to fix up something to tempt me. Up in the rafters, on the top floor of the mill, he made a platform under two big skylights, built in a desk against the slope of the roof with plenty of space for files and a computer. The roof has wond
One of the most galling things about being a writer (apart from the fact that people think we whinge too much; sorry) is that it doesn’t sit too easily with being political. Despite the fact that some of the most massively effective works of literature over the years have been nakedly political – let’s cite The Grapes of Wrath as exemplar to avoid too much argument – the word has been used as a handy catch-all pejorative since time began (so to speak). The only one to get away with it scot free was old Bill Shakes, naturally, because almost by definition He can do no wrong. I’ve never heard of Richard the Third being ‘merely’ a political play, although it was arguably a piece of twisted propaganda for the Tudors. Bertolt Brecht was the opposite. He wrote some of the greatest plays ever put to paper, but he was a communist. Trot out the put-down words. Didactic. Boring. Germanic. Narrow-visioned. 'Mother Courage'? 'Galileo'
Veni, vidi...Wiki! Not long ago I had the all-time greatest Great Idea: one, born of total ignorance, that nearly tanked a novel. As you may have guessed from my opening line, my subject is Julius Caesar. But you might not have guessed from the title that my Great Idea entailed his being reborn as a penis. Don't laugh, please, I beg you. I saw no way around this, even though showing JC as a 'dick' might lead some to think that I've written a spoof. In fact, it's a serious thriller. Without giving the plot away, I can say this: I needed JC's ghost, today, remembering his nights with Cleopatra on her fabled golden barge. There was the heart of my book--a ghost trying for 2000 years to relive that lost boogie with Liz. And I'd begun to run with this when my memory corrected me: Mark Anthony, not JC, was on the barge with Cleo. And this was after JC's death. What the hell was I to do, lacking the good sense to check memory's 'facts
I first found out about the Primadonna Festival last summer, I spotted something online and then an advert on a local roundabout caught my eye. It happens in Suffolk, just on my doorstep so last year I went along for a day to check it out. This year I bought a whole weekend ticket and had an amazing time listening to some great speakers and even participating. Primadonna is a festival of books, ideas and inspiration established 4 years ago to promote “the world as it should be, for one weekend” the line-up “gives prominence to women, people of colour, LGBTQI+, working class people, and disabled people”. There are sessions for writers, activities to soothe the body and soul, great conversations to stimulate, as well as activities for the kids and a marketplace of yummy food and hand crafted, recycled and sustainable goods to buy. This year I listened to Joanne Harris and Sarah Shaffi talk to Paul McVeigh about the pretentiousness of publishing. I learnt how to write a killer
I' ve been thinking about creativity recently – alas, not very creatively. I'm interested in the 'where' and the 'when' of creativity rather than the 'how'. On the 'where' I have always agreed with Woolf that a writer needs 'a room of one’s own,' but increasingly I think it is about having this mental space, headspace, whatever you choose to call that freedom from obligatory socialisation, chores, money-making labour for a limited amount of time: the physical place is less important than the mental space. (You will note I have separated money-making labour from creativity largely because it is increasingly difficult for the latter to be the former!) I haven’t been very productive of late and toyed with the idea of booking myself into a retreat, removing myself from the distractions of my normal life. I can picture it all very clearly. I’d pick somewhere beautiful by the water, the Lakes maybe or somewhere by the sea. It would have exc