I’m reading Whirligig and boy am I enjoying it. That will sound very conceited given it’s my own novel. It’s not like I can be surprised by the twists and turns, the rising tension, the character progression. ‘Whoa! I didn’t see that coming.’ The story is my own invention as are most of the people. Even the ones I’ve borrowed from history are my own take. So why is it such a pleasure?
I ‘sailed’ with my family on a sixty-five-foot canal boat over Easter, starting out from Rugby. We’d done a couple of weekends in the past, but this was the first time I was brave enough to try a tunnel, the two km long Braunston Tunnel on the Grand Union. We motored into the maw and out of the reach of the spring sunshine at, I would conservatively say, about two knots. That’s still too fast a speed to enter the underworld, maybe two knots too fast, and it was so much darker than I’d...
People have been sending me stories lately; lots and lots of them. I'm a story magnet. This isn't some random cosmic aberration, it's because I'm helping to run a short story competition on behalf of the Steyning Festival and the West Sussex Writers. As the final day for entries approached, I received more and more stories every day; a gush of stories, a torrent of stories. They arrived faster than I could process them.
While I love writing in my study, it’s easy to get stale looking out over the same garden every day, so this Saturday I attended a short story masterclass run by the wonderful Melanie Whipman at her home in the Surrey Hills. What always amazes me about attending masterclasses, book readings or workshops is how easy it is to quickly find something that resonates with your own work in progress.
A tutor of mine at Chichester University, where I was studying for a mid-life M.A. in Creative Writing, used to bang on about time: how even the past has a past and we need to feel that depth; how memory isn’t linear in our inner world; how places themselves have different qualities of time, different relationships with time. She encouraged us to think of settings where time has special meaning, such as museums, a library perhaps.