My last post was about setting intentions for the new year, inspired by my recent reading, and the practice of choosing three words to help focus those intentions. Here, I reflect on the first word in the list of three: clarity. What role does it play in creativity, and how do we achieve it in order to best do the things we want to do? [click to continue…]


I love January, don’t you?  Crisp, sharp mornings and cosy nights by the fire.  I realise I’m in a minority as a fan of winter. But, at this time of year, I relish that feeling of emerging, mole-like, blinking in the dark.  It’s a time when we can reclaim and rediscover ourselves.  Everything can feel old-new. It’s a season for taking stock, and, of course, to start again.

This festive season was especially hibernatory for me.  It meant I took a proper midwinter holiday (as opposed to the trawl of travelling to visit lots of people).  It also meant the luxury of lots of time to read.  If, like me, you’re curious about the ways in which we can really engage with our purpose, then I highly recommend three of the books that were part of my Christmas reading diet: Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, Mihaly Cziksentmihalyi’s Creativity and Grace Marshall’s How to Be Really Productive.  Each, in its different way, is full of wisdom and valuable insights; perfect reading for renewal and reflection at the point when the year turns from old to new. [click to continue…]


Literary Dystopias

November 19, 2014

This week, I’m posting a podcast on literary dystopias (from the Guardian Books series), with Canadian author Emily St John Mandel and Clemens J Setz. I’ve always loved novels that look to the future, reconfiguring how society is organised and how technology impacts on daily life.   Tweet

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Effortless Writing

November 12, 2014

Earlier this year I moved house.  Five months later, most of my books are stashed away in storage but I did keep my creative writing books to hand – and have finally managed to unpack them and get them onto the bookshelves by my desk.  I couldn’t resist stopping to flick through them, my eye […]

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Why 2 + 2 should never equal 5

December 29, 2013

To the future or to the past, to a time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone – to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big […]

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Literary Sisters: Alice Munro

June 23, 2013

This week, Alice Munro announced that, at 81, it’s probably time she retired from writing.  It’s a good opportunity to celebrate the work of this extraordinary and prolific writer, whose work – though focusing on small towns and seemingly small lives – tackles complex and weighty issues. Tweet

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Literary Sisters: Angela Carter

March 20, 2013

Angela Carter  1940-1992   Biography and background ‘Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself,’ Angela Carter once said.  ‘You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world.  You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.’ Tweet

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February 22, 2013

I’ve just finished reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  I feel like I’ve arrived at the party late – it was billed by many as the ‘must-read’ non-fiction book of 2012.  It was lent to me by a colleague, who urged me to read it, […]

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The Next Big Thing: Linda Green

January 16, 2013

Last week I posted my response to the ‘Next Big Thing’ blog meme, which has been doing the rounds of writers recently.   This week it’s novelist Linda Green’s turn, and I’m delighted to be able to post Linda’s answers to the same questions here.  Over to you, Linda… Many thanks to Rachel Connor for […]

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The matter of reading

October 20, 2012

It’s hard to discuss the importance of reading without resorting to well-used ideas and phrases.  Reading can transport us; it can transform us; it allows us to see the world from different perspectives.  For me, personally, reading is – and always has been – a crucial part of my life; I’ve written about it before […]

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