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The Writing Glow

There are many things that can make a writer glow. 

Something as simple as an idea, maybe a new character, a cute piece of scene setting, some passably decent prose, an uplifting literary festival... 

But my favourite is the teaching and education thing. 

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to a group of several hundred ten year olds about raising their aspirations and looking forward to a life that could be full of variety, excitement and fulfilment - 

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It will come as no surprise I thoroughly recommended writing. 

The event itself was sufficient to give me quite a glow, but that's only been turned up this week by the arrival of some lovely thank you letters - 

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Brainstorming footprints

There's something I suspect is unique to every writer, and which we don't even notice until we force ourselves to look, but when we do...

I wonder what it tells us about the way our minds work? 

I'm talking about the notes that flow from the brainstorming process and how we arrange them. 

I'm getting to the end of the planning for my new book, wanted to order the outpouring of ideas into some kind of shape, and realised I have a bizarre set of notations. 

Firstly, there's the excitement when a good idea arrives - 

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In the Hall mind, this clearly requires underlining for reasonably good ideas, and circling for even better ones. 

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The Advantage of Earliness

This week brought the privilege of one of the most enjoyable book talks I've done, in the stunning Dorset town of Sherborne.

It was great for the wonderful audience, the Friends of Sherborne Library, how kind they were, and how welcome they made me feel.

It's not often I smile contentedly enough to avoid looking like a villain from Dr Who -


After the talk I reflected on why it went so well, and came to the conclusion there was one powerful factor which really helped. 

I got into Sherborne a couple of hours before the talk and had time for a wander around. I enjoyed a delicious hot chocolate and slice of cake in Oliver's, a wonderful coffee house. I strolled around the town and marvelled at the beautiful old buildings and park.

It all gave me a sense of what the town was about, which I think helped me to understand the audience before we even started the event... which went a long way to breaking the ice.

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Scaring the Public

Writing can bring a major occupational hazard in the way authors may appear to the world.

Last weekend I was sitting happily in my local inn, thinking about the plot for a new book and making some progress, which was a joyful experience.

As often happens when the muse is kind enough to visit, I got lost in myself.

Only when I finally looked up from my notes to see various faces staring at me in a curious / quizzical / amused / disconcerted / plain alarmed fashion did I realise what I'd been doing.

Apart from a whole load of daft facial expressions, which wouldn't be out of place in a bad bedroom scene, I had been emitting a concerto of sound effects, from ooohs and aahhhs, to yes! and no, no, no, no, no, aha! etc...

And that wasn't the worst of it.

I'd imagined a key scene in the book, one which would be both powerful and emotional (hopefully) and was talking it out between the two characters.

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Time Together and Apart

It's easy, perhaps even obligatory, for a writer to fall in love - with our characters, settings and stories, not to mention the craft itself.

But like many great relationships, there needs to be time together and apart.

My current passion is the young adults novel I'm working on. But to make sure our relationship is fulfilling its delightful potential, I had to do something I really didn't care for this week... 

I took time away from the book. 

Last weekend I finished a set of edits, which meant the next business was checking them through. But I knew if I did that straight away, I wouldn't see the book with clear and fresh eyes.

So I forced myself to spend the last few days working on the teaching I've got coming up over the summer. And ok, that was good and enjoyable, but wow, did I miss the book.

But having time away worked. Because coming back to it today, the edits have been cleaner, sharper and much better for the break.

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