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{Thu 22 July 2021}   Too long without a story

Too long without a story

A white quill pen is poised as if to write a story, but no hand holds it.

There’s writing and there’s writing

Ah, the power (and responsibility) of the quill! I pick it up gingerly again after too many years. Why “quill”? And why now?

Naturally, I only type these days, and quite a bit faster than I did after a five-day touch-typing course at the London Keyboard Training Centre so many, many years ago! But the quill reminds me of Shakespeare and other creative writers I admire. The difficulty of writing with a quill makes careful contemplation more likely before committing ink to paper. Also, there is a sensation of art-making in the physical calligraphic act.

Perhaps my fed-up-ness has finally reached boiling point? I don’t know. In 2013 I posted my Pyrenean poem. Today I realised that despite reading and writing every day of the eight years since, this was almost all wage-work. Nothing that I wanted to share with anyone except the target audience (and often not even then, I confess).

All I know is that I’m starving internally due to neglecting the types of writing that give me the greatest pleasure, use my true talents, and might be key to making meaning in my life.

Fascinated by story and storytellers

During all these years, my fascination with story has never left. Communicating for businesses and business people involves hearing and telling stories… of quest, discovery, failure and success.

And since completing my MA in Creative Writing and New Media in 2009, I have hung around the edges of story in fiction as well as non-fiction, playing a part in facilitating the journeys of friends and clients who stuck stubbornly with the craft and produced books and poems worthy of audience.

Often, the vulnerable, courageous truths in and behind these stories demanded more will than I had while battling the awful personal impacts of Brexit, the pandemic, and my inner demons. To cope, I’ve left some good books superficially-scanned or half-read, or tried to control them by analysing them minutely. Anything to avoid more challenge.

But even these reactions of mine fascinated me… they proved beyond doubt that stories are the opposite of Nothing; their rich, mysterious power creates, terrifies, inspires, feeds, and unifies.

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{Sun 11 January 2009}   Story and Story of Story

Story and Story of Story

After submitting work to an Online Workshop for the Methods module of the Online MA in Creative Writing and New Media (MACWNM) at De Montfort University, students were asked to write a critical commentary describing their creative process in making the work and in responding to feedback on that work. Throughout the Methods module, several models and tools helped us understand the creative process while engaging in it. I was fascinated by the two different kinds of writing, storytelling and commentary, arising from one starting point. I determined to learn to do both well.

This response attempts to showcase this learning.

Fruit and Veggie Stall by Monique Jansen
Fruit and Veggie Stall by Monique Jansen


{Fri 5 December 2008}   Who needs New Media?

Who needs New Media?

I haven’t blogged for a month, but it’s not because I haven’t been writing. I’ve had my nose to the grindstone, studying the vast amount of course material for my wonderful new MA and writing bits and pieces for creative and critical exercises. I’m doing the Online MA in Creative Writing and New Media from De Montfort University in Leicester.  The experience has been really positive so far, with hugely experienced course leaders (Sue Thomas and Kate Pullinger) and a really talented and intelligent bunch of fellow students. The last two weeks have been a bit of a strain, though, because DMU has just announced that they intend to close the course due to the credit crunch. They say (but can we believe them now?) that those of us currently doing the course will be able to complete it.

Even in this dire economy, it’s hard to believe that they would contemplate axing this one – a true flagship programme for educating people for the online world (where there are more and more unconventional opportunities to make money when normal jobs fail).  As an online course, it also must surely be one of the courses with the fewest overheads and therefore the least expensive to run and to promote.

As Course Rep for my year, I’ve spent a lot of what should have been study time collating and representing to the university administration students’ expressions of dismay at their betrayal and questions about our academic future. Of course, I don’t mind doing this, as I really believe in the course, but I hope all the effort will prove fruitful and they’ll decide to revive it. Well, if they don’t, someone else must, because the electronic universe won’t tolerate that vacuum, but boo hoo! then for those of us who were silly enough to give our precious credit crunch cash to DMU!

If you’re interested in the future of new media education,  you might want to see what some experienced voices have to say about this closure at Chris Meade’s bookfutures blog. Chris is a director of The Institute for the Future of the Book in London. In two articles (so far), Chris speaks of his own surprise at the closure announcement, and heavyweights like Howard Rheingold who has taught on the course have joined in to label it incredibly shortsighted.

Sigh… we’ll see. In the mean time, at least I’m writing again, after such a long dry season. See my next posts for a couple of the creative writing exercises that have turned out okay, I think, or at least offer potential for further development.



{Thu 2 October 2008}   A Fish Does What A Fish Must Do

A Fish Does What A Fish Must Do

Well, at last the long silence is broken… After some hectic months of much travelling and visiting, some ill-health and some hosting of guests, I’ve started the MA in Creative Writing and New Media at De Montfort University in Leicester and I am now required to write again (regularly, eek!).

This little poem is my offering for our first Creative Exercise which involved responding to a picture of a small, ugly fish balanced in the palm of a hand…. a fish out of water, presumably chosen as an image to reflect the anxieties of most students new to a course. I expect that this poem will change and tighten up a bit—it’s unusual for me to post such a fresh work for public view—but I wanted to make the statement that I’m back in the blogosphere.

A Fish Does What a Fish Must Do

This fish brings water with it;
Poised, vicious and delicate,
It rests lightly on the hand,
Fin repurposed into stand.
Not flapping-frantic-fitful,
But cool as primeval chill,
Awaiting opportunity:
Body taut, eyes alert to see
And seize translucent breath;
Its vast life or tiny death,
Suckled in swim or gagged by air,
Potentials beyond this now-where.
The moment balances with the fin:
Before and after stretch out thin
From here where nerves intensely
Immobilise magnificently.
There is no thought of why or how,
Instinct is all — its soul is now.

31 July 2009 – And here’s the image itself (don’t know why I didn’t add this before, as it was made available under a Creative Commons licence. From http://www.flickr.com/photos/16866037@N00/1386243643/
Creative Commons License: Some Rights Reserved http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en_GB

Lizardfish by Jennifurr-Jinx UpoadedToFlickr15Sept07


et cetera