July 22, 2011

It’s time for a holiday. I’m looking forward to spending two weeks in one of my favourite parts of the world, surrounded by water and woods and far away from any internet access. There’s mobile phone coverage, but only if I walk a little way up the rise and the wind is coming from the […]

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Dreaming stories into being

April 6, 2011

I’ve always been prone to dreaming.  I’m the kind of person who wanders down the street staring into windows, fantasising about the lives of the inhabitants.  During a spell as a hotel chambermaid I used to wonder about the person whose room I was cleaning, inventing for them a career path or relationship struggles.  It […]

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Holding the breath and fisty feet

February 20, 2011

When I write, I hold my breath. What’s disconcerting is that I noticed this for the first time just the other day (cue the jokes: ‘you wrote a whole novel without breathing?  How are you still alive?’).  It prompted a number of fun conversations on Twitter about other strange writerly habits.  Chrissie Manby used to hold her […]

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The Place where I Work: Part 2

January 31, 2011

I know, I know.  It’s been done already.  But I so loved that Writers’ Rooms series run by The Guardian.  All those fascinating objects on different desks; all those different shaped studies with different views to inspire diverse pieces of writing. So: today I introduce you to my very own writing space.  It’s half of […]

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The Place where I Work: Part 1

January 31, 2011

I work for the Arvon Foundation which runs residential courses for writers. So my day job happens in a beautiful old house once owned by Ted Hughes. It nestles half way down a wooded valley, which never fails to take my breath away. In winter the mist swathes the hill and is mystical and glorious. […]

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November 14, 2009

A friend of mine has a finely tuned sense of intuition.  It shapes the way she lives.  Whether it’s the solution to a maths problem, the conclusion of an essay, a decision or a process to be implemented, my friend has a glimmer, an inspired glimpse of how things should be.  She works out the […]

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September 21, 2009

For my birthday this year, my partner gave me this painting.  It’s an image of where we live – a hilltop village in the Pennines surrounded by a wooded valley – and he’d commissioned our artist friend Kate to paint it.  To receive something so beautifully crafted, and given with such thoughtful care, was deeply […]

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The Art of Washing Up

September 8, 2009

When we moved house, six years ago now, we asked for the dishwasher to be taken out.  Some people were bemused by this (how usual is it, after all, to have a dishwasher removed from a kitchen?).  Others were quietly impressed by what they saw as our eco-credentials.  I’m not geeky enough to know whether […]

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September 1, 2009

 When I was at school, September meant a new pencil case.  It sent me rooting in the cupboard under the stairs for whatever scraps of wallpaper my Dad could spare to back my exercise books.  Clean pages, white space; new possibilities.  For years, working in higher education, I retained that feeling of September newness, of […]

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