Research Point 1.4

Turn to your Creative Writing Student Guide, and look at the section called Research Tools. Take note of the advice on reading in the sub-section ‘Reading for writers.’

  • Reading is essential
  • Reading brings knowledge to writers (inspiration) 
  • A book list helps to always have a book on the go
  • Make use of the library, book shop and Internet 
  • Read both contempory writing and your favourite genre, as well as from famous writer
  • Read poetry, creative non-fiction and short stories as these are covered during the creative writing course
  • Read books about writing
  • Write a book critique with each read book
  • Imagine why the writer has written what they have
  • Make use of a personal note book to jot down ideas
  • It’s OK to base writing on a writers style (it’s part of the learning process) 
  • Writers often speak about their work, listen to them when you can

Why Literature Matters – Research Point 1.2

Read what Cathy Baxandall, Vice-Chair of OCA Trustees and a trustee of the Ilkley Literature Festival believes about writing and literature at

My favourite quote from Why Literature matters is “Literature is therefore much more than mere entertainment – it is a fundamental technique for the understanding of ourselves and our universe”. For me, the universe is ‘other’ and I can get to know a little more about you and I when I write or read. But there is more. I read fantasy as a way to escape from the pain of being alive, and this is really important for others as well. Baxandall expresses this with the following quote, “Literature breaks the continuum of everyday and makes us stop and think”. Although fantasy makes me stop and think, I often see myself in the Rome of one of the characters and I can become somebody else. I see in pictures when I read, I visualise the written word and I feel grateful for this.

Biography is important as literature to me also. I gain a new perspective when I read biography, and I get to work through and understand my own issues and qualities when writing auto-biographical snippets.

I can relate when Baxandall says, “Propaganda or saying something in an unreal universe that resonates in a real one, perhaps to better criticise the status quo or address a moral dilemma”. I do this with my photo essays, my writing about Extinction Rebellion and the Climate Emergency is a good example of this. Perhaps this is literature the explores by concept and fact at the same time. Literature that adds colour to concept is a way of bringing new or deeper understanding to the reader.

I’ve enjoyed reading the blog post and I feel that I’m gaining more understanding of my own need to write, as well as different genres of literature.


Baxandall, C; 2015; Why Literature Matters; Online; AT (accessed on 29/02/2020)

Write What You Know – Biography – Exercise 1.2

Below is a list of things you are likely to know about. Choose one and write for 60 seconds about any personal experience of your choice; my pet; my job; my mother; my home; my hobby; my sport; my family. 

My job

Work is not a part of my life just now for health reasons. I’m a student and I’ve just completed Foundations in Photography, and have now begun to study creative writing.

Sixty seconds is not very long. When you stopped after one minute, did you feel you had more to say? Did you carry on regardless of the instruction? See if you can carry on now: Choose something else from the list and write for two minutes. Choose a third subject and write for three minutes. Keep going until you get to your last choice, and attempt six minutes of writing. If you can’t write about one of the subjects, for example if you’ve never had a pet, substitute something else (my sister; my school). Did that feel like creative writing to you? This is how most writers start. By writing for a few moments, then carrying on.

My Pet

My first pet was a rabbit called Bunjy. I was six years old, and I don’t have that many memories of him. Although now I have started writing I can remember feeding him rabbit pellets. He was an albino with white fur and red eyes. I remember the day he died. I was at my nana’s house. Mum told me that Bunjy had been found dead in his hutch. I burst into tears. It was close to Christmas and we went to see santa.

My mother

My mother fucked up badly, and I stopped speaking with her in my early twenties. As time has gone on I’ve come to realise that she did the best she could with what she had. The hardest part is knowing that I’ve fucked up in some ways too. I’ve done the best I could with what I’ve got. Coming to terms with an inconsistent and inadequate parent is hard work. It’s taken all of my adult life, and the process remains as one that is ongoing. She died 5 years ago. I didn’t grieve, I had done that during those 20 odd years that we didn’t see each other. Somehow I find myself speaking with he now she’s dead. Life is bizarre.

My Family

I guess it makes sense to follow on with my family. I have no contact with most of my family now, and I have no desire too. In fact, I don’t wish to add anything further.


Its hard to be the black sheep of the family, especially since being so is as a result of the abuse I experienced whilst growing up. I’ve stayed away from my family for my own protection. I see happy families sometimes, and wonder what it must be like to have that closeness. It’s not that I long for it, it just not my experience.

I am in touch with two cousins. They express their love for me, and then I feel confused. What is love? Love makes no sense to me.

My home

It’s taken a year to begin to feel safe in my new home. The flat is lovely, the difficulties are living in close proximity to others, and the busyness on the street. I can hear the sounds of my neighbours above, below and to the side. I’ve put sound-proofing down under the carpet and upon the ceiling. It’s helped a little. I’ve been scared that my neighbours can hear everything that I say and do, it feels like I’m living in The Truman Show. It’s developed into paranoia, which becomes intense when I can hear them talking, and I’ve had periods when I have thought they are planning to kill me. The paranoia led to a suicide attempt last year, and to a very difficult summer during which I couldn’t tolerate being at home. However, my neighbours are lovely. Whenever I bump into them it has been a positive experience and being able to reflect upon these encounters has helped me to begin to feel safe in my home.

My hobby or sport

Photography is far more than a hobby to me. It’s helped to turn my life around, and it has improved my mental health considerably. When I first got a camera I had severe agoraphobia and panic attacks, which lead to me being housebound. Holding a camera in front of my face helped me to tolerate the fear for a short time. Gradually, the length of time I could go outside increased. Photography has given me a voice, a way of expressing myself and a way of exploring my life and that of the world around me. One of my biggest life achievements has been completing a project around anorexia, and my recovery from it. I haven’t published the results because I have embroidered on top of self portraits, and I struggle with my body image and how I look. An arts project once to exhibit the photos. They are unique. I’ve done considerable research into embroidered photography, and I’m bringing something new to the table. I’m feeling very proud about that.

Thank Fuck It’s Nearly Spring

To be honest it’s been a hard winter. I lost all interest in the people and projects that matter to me, and getting through each day has been a chore. A pointless effort with no reward. I’ve been in a very dark place, I’m still there on many levels.

However, today I felt some spontaneous hope. As I left home to attend counselling I realised it was light. The bus journey was diverted, and I found myself feeling excited to be living in London.

The past week I haven’t felt anything positive, but I have been putting the effort into positive behaviour. I’ve undertaken some photography for a long term project, I’ve read through some of my course literature, and I’ve undertaken a little writing yesterday and today.

Spring is just around the corner, and I’ve been looking for signs of it:- the growth of my trees, lighter afternoons, crocus and daffodils emerging, trees budding, and winter flowering cherry.

One of the things that true for me is that I have wonderful friends, and I seek additional support for my mental health. But life has still been a struggle.

Spring is a time of greater joy, energy and enthusiasm for me. Come on spring, please hurry up.





The Shaman Draws – Exercise 1.1

Here is how you get writing. You start with what is in your head – and that means putting something in your head, then writing about it. Before you begin, get yourself ready. Either pull up a blank page (word document or similar) on your screen, or pick up a pen and a piece of paper. Now, once you’re ready, look at the image below. Look at it for as long as you like, take it all in, or merely snatch a glance, but only look away from the image once something has come into your mind that is formed in words. As soon as that happens, get writing. 


Write down what came into your head as you looked into the picture. This might have been one of several things: a description of what you see, something you thought about the picture, a memory that came into your head as you looked, something about what was happening to you as you looked at it, some other, surprising thing! 

You might enjoy reading your work through once you’ve finished writing. But for now, don’t tamper with it. Let it be what it is – a first attempt to get writing. Don’t be dismayed if it doesn’t feel as good as you were hoping. On the other hand, if it pleases you, that’s a bonus. The one thing you should feel, after completing this first exercise is pride. You got writing. Well done. 

I don’t think I can bare to wait much longer. I am full of energy and completely exhausted. We have been dancing around the fire all night to the sound of drums. Dancing so that we can help the Shaman on his journey to the underworld to meet with the Spirits. The village is truly in trouble this time. The white man has destroyed our closest villages. They have killed families and generations. Apparently they have some new magic glued to their hands, which shoot balls of metal into the skin. They will attack us soon.

I hope the Spirits have some guidance which will protect us. What will the Shaman have drawn?

Please be good news. Please.

Movement ahead. The people at the front are beginning to enter the cave. I make baby steps to begin with, eager to go into the cave as soon as I can. 

We gather inside to see what the Shaman has drawn. Torches flicker, light and shadows dance together. I crane my neck, stretching as hard as I can to see, to learn our fate.

Hands. Hands.

Are these hands of help, or hands of surrender?

Word Definitions

This is a page in which I will record words that I either don’t understand or that I have only a vague knowledge of. Definitions come from a Google search. Descriptions in brackets are my attempts at understanding an alternate meaning from the sentence that the original word was in.

  • Acerbic – (especially of a comment or style of speaking) sharp and forthright.
  • Alabaster – A translucent form of gypsum or calcite, typically white, often carved into ornaments.
    made of Alabaster. “the gilded alabaster tomb of Sir Anthony Browne” (if a person is described as having an Alabaster face this must mean their skin is translucent.) 
  • Alacrity – Brisk and cheerful readiness
  • Avuncular – kind and friendly towards a younger or less experienced person. – Relating to the relationship between men and the children of their siblings
  • Caroused – Drink alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.
  • Cerulean – deep blue in colour like a clear sky.
  • Cove – A concave arch or arched moulding, especially one formed at the junction of a wall with a ceiling.
  • Curmudgeon – A bad-tempered person, especially an old one.
  • Dissemble – conceal or disguise one’s true feelings or beliefs.
  • En deshabille – partly dressed in a loose or careless manner.
  • Esoteric – intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest. Somewhat crudely, esotericism can be described as a Western form of spirituality that stresses the importance of the individual effort to gain spiritual knowledge, or gnosis, whereby man is confronted with the divine aspect of existence.
  • Forensic – relating to or denoting the application of scientific methods and techniques to the investigation of crime. relating to courts of law.
  • Founder – A person who manufactures articles of cast metal; the owner or operator of a foundry.
  • Friable – Easily crumbled (such as soil)
  • Fug – a warm, stuffy or smoky atmosphere in a room.
  • Fugue – a disturbed state of consciousness in which the one affected seems to perform acts in full awareness but upon recovery cannot recollect the acts performed. a musical composition in which one or two themes are repeated or imitated by successively entering voices and contrapuntally developed in a continuous interweaving of the voice parts.
  • Furtive – attempting to avoid notice or attention, typically because of guilt or a belief that discovery would lead to trouble; secretive. “they spent a furtive day together”
  • Geas – (in Irish folklore) an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person.
  • Gonnagle – Name of Gaelic origin (The Nac Max Feegle in the Disc world are also known as Pictsies, this suggest they are of Gaelic/Celtic inspiration)
  • Habitue – A resident of or frequent visitor to a particular place.
  • Hiatus – A pause or break in continuity in a sequence or activity.
  • Idiom – a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g. over the moonsee the light).
  • Jigget – To gad; to move from one place to another in a (seemingly) flippant or idle manner.
  • Kelda – A girls name in Norse – meaning spring or fountain (maybe referenced as a leader.)
  • Lament – A passionate expression of grief or sorrow. “his mother’s night-long laments for his father”. A complaint. “there were constant laments about the conditions of employment” Express passionate grief about. “he was lamenting the death of his infant daughter”
  • Lascivious – inclined to lustfulness; wanton; lewd: a lascivious, girl-chasing old man. arousing sexual desire: lascivious photographs. indicating sexual interest or expressive of lust or lewdness: a lascivious gesture.
  • Lucre – money, especially when regarded as sordid or distasteful or gained in a dishonourable way.
  • Lye – A strongly alkaline solution, especially of potassium hydroxide, used for washing or cleansing.
  • Ministrations – the provision of assistance or care.
  • Nonplussed – So surprised and confused that one is unsure how to react.
  • Obliquely – not in a direct way; indirectly. “he referred only obliquely to current events” in an oblique direction; slant wise. “the strings of the instrument run obliquely away from the player”
  • Patrician – An aristocrat or nobleman. Belonging to or characteristic of the aristocracy.
    “a proud, patrician face” (The Patrician of Ankh Morporkh is authoritarian and the suggestion is that a Patrician is a dictatorial leader.)
  • Pavane – a stately dance in slow duple time, popular in the 16th and 17th centuries and performed in elaborate clothing.
  • Pottage – Soup or stew.
  • Quarter – a part of a town or city having a particular character or use. Rooms or lodgings, especially those allocated to people in military or domestic service. Pity or mercy shown towards an enemy or opponent who is in one’s power.
  • Requiem – (especially in the Roman Catholic Church) a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead. “a requiem was held for the dead queen. A musical composition setting                    parts of a requiem Mass, or of a      similar character. “Fauré’s Requiem. An act or token of remembrance. “he designed the epic as a requiem for his wife”
  • Repose – a state of rest, sleep, or tranquillity. “in repose her face looked relaxed” Be situated or kept in a particular place. “the diamond now reposes in the Louvre”
  • Requisite – made necessary by particular circumstances or regulations.
  • Restive – (Of a person) unable to remain still, silent, or submissive, especially because of boredom or dissatisfaction.
  • Reynard – A name for a fox
  • Roister – Enjoy oneself or celebrate in a noisy or boisterous way.
  • Sage – (especially in ancient history or legend) a profoundly wise man or woman.
  • Sonsie – (Scottish) bringing of luck or good fortune, but it can also describe someone who is jolly, attractive or cheeky.
  • Sonsy – having an attractive and healthy appearance.
  • Suave – (especially of a man) charming, confident, and elegant.
  • Sconce – a candle holder that is attached to a wall with an ornamental bracket. a flaming torch or candle secured in a sconce.
  • Shamble – (Of a person) move with a slow, shuffling, awkward gait.
  • Sidle – walk in a furtive, unobtrusive, or timid manner, especially sideways or obliquely.
    “I sidled up to her”
    Staccato – Music performed with each note sharply detached or separated from the others.
  • Steadings – A farm and its buildings. A farmstead.
  • Stoic – a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining.
  • Stygian – Very dark.
  • Surmise – suppose that something is true without having evidence to confirm it.
  • Susseration – Whispering or rustling.
  • Swarf – Fine chips or filings of stone, metal, or other material produced by a machining operation. “a curl of metal swarf”
  • Umbrage – offence or annoyance.
  • Unfettered – not confined or restricted.
  • Visceral – Relating to the viscera (the Visceral nervous system). Related to deep inward feelings rather than interlect.
  • Woad – A yellow-flowered European plant of the cabbage family. It was formerly widely grown in Britain as a source of blue dye, which was extracted from the leaves after they had been dried, powdered, and fermented. Dye obtained from the woad plant, now superseded by synthetic products.




Notes For Future Reference

My notebook will probably mean nothing to you. It’s a page for recording inspiration, ideas and points of interest that I may or may not use at a future date.

Terry Pratchet – comedy

“Now her second thoughts were at work, thinking about what she was thinking.” p63 The Shepherds Crown, Pratchet.



Seeing the doors left me curious as to who lived behind them and questions as to what the walls have witnessed.

Considering The Characterisation In Disc World

I love the Discworld series by Terry Pratchet. The characterisation is incredible. The personalities are bold, funny and magical. And despite these wonderful quirky appearances, the people are so believeable. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to create such dynamics if I were to write stories. Granny Weatherwax is developed throughout the disc world series, but not in a descriptive account of her persona. Rather, she develops as her actions are portrayed, and my sense of her personality comes from this. I find that interesting, as I’ve been wondering how you develop characters and how I would ‘describe’ a personify. Pratchet draws his people in words.

“You (cat) kept away from the Bees, but stalked through the garden, following Granny as she moved through the herbs, touching a frond or a leaf as she passed, and the whole garden seemed to answer her, the plants almost nodding their heads in respect. ‘ the sense I get, and this follows on from the previous paragraph, is the Granny Weatherwax is dying. P40 The Shephards Crown.