Sunday 29 September 2013

All change

Happy Day!
This week sees the beginning of October. The trees are beginning to change into a glorious cornucopia of gold and amber. And I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

What this means for me is time to write. I will have two whole days each week to work on two projects I have. One fiction and one non fiction. Both of which need to be written by 2015. Seems a long time away. I can assure you it is not! Or certainly not when you have to do so much research and the projects are so different.

Yes, part of me is feeling pretty daunted at the moment. I have been working on them both or rather dabbling for the last few months but now it is time to be focused and get those words on the page.

My world has changed so much in the last year and I am trying hard to embrace those changes and move forward. These projects are wonderful as they give me something to focus on. Last week was the first of the semester and it was a timely reminder of how much I enjoy lecturing. My students are enthusiastic and insightful and therefore a joy to work with. While at Golden Egg, with Imogen Cooper, Beverley Birch, Bella Pearson and Chrissie O'Brien, continues to grow and thrive. I have the privilege of working with and mentoring some fantastic aspiring writers through GE as well as developing some new and very exciting projects. Watch this space for news on those at some point.

I know I have mentioned this before but I will be using my blog to test out my research ideas for the academic book I am writing. Please bear with me if I got off at tangents at times but I hope you enjoy my thoughts as I bounce my ideas around.

This is a brief Sunday blog and I felt the need for a bit of Joni because sometimes clouds get in my way too.

Saturday 14 September 2013


I have been a bit quiet on this blog recently because I have been very tied up in a momentous event, for me anyway, my daughter got married to a wonderful man. The whole event got me thinking about the layers of narrative in our lives.

The photo is one of many that were taken in a shutterbooth which caused a great deal of hilarity for many people at the wedding. This picture in itself has so many layers of narrative to it. A photo of 3 women who happen to sisters who all have stories to tell. It is a narrative of happiness and laughter but also missing and loss partly embodied by the white rabbit.

I love using photos as triggers for writing as you know (I have previously spoken about how Trafficking was inspired by a photo). You look at a picture and you take in what you see but also what you don't. What are these people thinking? What do they do? Where is their family? But also you spend your life creating narratives as you tell the stories of your day to those who care. Or retelling a funny/sad story you have heard. It is all about spreading those narratives.

When writing you have to understand narrative too. Your story should have multiple layers creating depth to bring the story alive. Narrative allows you to create links between events and cultural moments that are part of a developing story. You cannot have a story without a narrative, it is naturally integral. In the same way narrative is not only confined to 'realist' writing. It may not be immediately obvious but all stories in whatever format will have an embedded narrative.

There will be a narrative within each scene, chapter and complete story. As you develop your characters they will develop their own narrative in the same way that any setting will also have a narrative behind it. Not necessarily always obvious but there to inform your writing. Having an understanding of all these narratives will help you add the required depth to your story. For the reader this embedded narrative gives them the tools to decipher and make the connections between the various clues that when linked create the story and those pictures in their mind. But the cause and effect within a narrative can also be used to confuse the reader. This is reliant on the reader wanting to impose a narrative on certain sequential events. It is up to the writer then to turn this narrative on its head and prove the reader wrong, as in all great thrillers/crime stories, where you are certain you know 'who did it' only to proven totally wrong by the end of the book.

Look at the world around you and explore the narrative you are in. When reading think about the multiple layers of narrative involved and this awareness will be reflected in your own writing. Have fun with it.

I would like to introduce you to the very talented Caitlin Gilligan singing her own song Moon Child. I just love the imagery and narrative she uses here. I'd rather be putting the stars in your eyes and painting the sky with you too. Check out Caitlin''s page