Stories are everywhere!

Many years ago a good friend (hi Fin) introduced me to the joys of a walk around a graveyard. And what an introduction it was! She took me to the remarkable Grade II listed Undercliffe Cemetery in Bradford. This burial place was first developed in the mid-1800’s. The site is terraced and has panoramic views over the town of Bradford and the hills and valleys beyond. It was created at a time of huge industrial development in the local area and the ‘best’ plots soon became sought after by the newly wealthy industrialists and people of stature of the local towns. Some of the extravagant crypts reflect the social history of the time – for example, passion for all things Egyptian following Carter’s excavation of the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Others have ever higher obelisk needles each seeming to reach out to the heavens just that little bit higher than its neighbours. Not all of the tombs are so grand. In fact, there have been approximately twenty-four thousand burials in the cemetery to date. Relatively humble headstones mark the factory workers such as Benjamin and Agnes Boldy, brother and sister aged 16 and 12 when they died, or the coal merchant William Chadwick (age 37) whilst the Surveyor Joseph Smith has one of the high columns reaching to the skies.

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Festive gifts

It is that time of year - the time of gifts and peace and joy to all beings.

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The creative writing space

It is a curious thing that people with an interest in creative writing are also interested in writing spaces. It is as if an understanding of writing process and the places they occur will lead to understanding what makes great writing. The UK Saturday Guardian Review section runs a regular piece in which writers talk about their process and they frequently describe where they write and the tools they use. Stephen King in his ‘On Writing’ told how upon getting a big cheque he invested in an imposing slab of desk placed in the centre of a room only to abandon it later for a smaller table in the corner of a room.
I like to write on a 28” desktop Mac. I have a dining table size desk though it is often cluttered and dusty – this is unusual as generally I do not like clutter or dust. It is by a draughty window through which I have a cherished view of the sea. It is a workspace. It is a zone. It is where I write.
Many writers write in public spaces – Kafka and Scott Fitzgerald for example. Other writers actively promote public spaces as adding an extra layer of inspiration to creativity. Karen E Lee (link below) in her Women Writers, Women’s Books blog post suggests that coffee shops are essential for writers. Against all my better instincts I decided to try something new.
I do not like my laptop. It is a perfectly good machine but it is small and a tool of convenience rather than preference. The coffee shop table was too high to type comfortably but I dislike juggling with knees whilst trying to write on keys slipping off my lap (now I come to think of it, ‘laptop’ is not the best name for them). It was not a relaxing start and even the coffee was not that great but then I heard it. I wasn’t there listening for dialogue or writing prompts but it would seem they fall like confetti in such places.

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Criminal insanity: mad or bad - character development in fiction writing

When violent and terrible acts are committed by one human being to another people want to understand how such a thing could happen. What is the motivation of the perpetrator? Why do they behave the way they do? On some subliminal level people may want to feel reassurance that such acts are committed by others ‘not like me’. The debate about whether people who commit murder are mad or bad is ongoing. Effort to understand may draw upon the discipline of psychology and nature/nurture underpinnings, values related questions of philosophy or theological pondering about how suffering can be explained.

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NaNoWriMo: A waste of writing time?

Today I ‘won’ the National Novel Writing Month challenge of achieving 50 thousand words of new writing in a month. I achieved it with more than a week left of the month. It has been hard work. A slog. I haven’t particularly enjoyed it. With the exception of the first week when the thrill of a new storyline was calling, from week two I was developing a whole new expertise in procrastination and something of a compulsion for telling myself fibs that the article I was reading was ‘essential research’. I had days of feeling miserable, experienced guilt about the words I ‘should’ have been writing when ironing was suddenly the most fascinating and essential domestic task ever. Finishing early is evidence of trying to just get it *done*, rather than positive commitment.

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