Under the Influence – Part Two

Following on from last week’s post I’ve been thinking about the books and writers that have affected my work, and my approach to writing. The very first influence has to be Conan Doyle’s The Short Stories of Sherlock Holmes.  I was lucky enough to study it for O’level and loved the brilliant mind of HolmesContinue reading “Under the Influence – Part Two”

Under the Influence – Part One

‘I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.’  Kurt Vonnegut. I am currently reading Slaughterhouse Five, arguably Vonnegut’s most famous novel about Billy Pilgrim, a time-travelling ex-soldier who claims he was abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore.  If this is the result of significant amountsContinue reading “Under the Influence – Part One”

Economy with Words

The shortest short story is reputedly by Ernest Hemingway and it goes something like this: For Sale.  Baby Shoes.  Never worn. Now, you many argue that this isn’t a short story, that six words can’t possibly create a narrative.  But it does have a beginning, middle and an end.  It does raise questions and thereforeContinue reading “Economy with Words”

The Changing Landscape

This week saw my last day on campus for this academic year.  Assignments are handed in, marking is well under way, and I found a lovely thank you card from a third year student on my desk.  There was an unexpected bonus too.  I received a nomination for a teaching award, which felt particularly specialContinue reading “The Changing Landscape”

The Science of Mooning Around

Last week I watched a thrillingly inventive film called Holy Motors.  It follows a day in the life of an actor as he’s driven to various jobs, but when he’s working the cameras are hidden and nothing is as it seems.  From the strange bearded character who ate fingers, to Kylie Minogue singing a songContinue reading “The Science of Mooning Around”

The Strange Wildness of Life

Those of you who read my last post will know I’ve been finding the balance of writing and teaching a challenge in the past few weeks.  The pace of university life is increasing and I’ve got a short story that’s fallen apart because my main character decided to go AWOL.  So it was with a senseContinue reading “The Strange Wildness of Life”

Paperclip Girl loses the plot (and her character)

This is the time of year when the high wire act of balancing teaching and writing becomes most tricky.  End-of-semester submissions have been handed in with another batch due at the beginning of May.  This means I’m going to be marking, immersed in other people’s writing, for around six weeks.  In addition to this, thereContinue reading “Paperclip Girl loses the plot (and her character)”

Living Amongst The People

I’ve been waiting to watch Silver Linings Playbook for a while now, and not just because it stars Bradley Cooper, honest.  This is a mainstream, successful Hollywood film that deals with the subject of mental illness.  It’s unusual, to say the least, to have a fetching male lead as well as the lovely Jennifer LawrenceContinue reading “Living Amongst The People”

Gifts from students

One of my all time favourite books (I’m talking top three here) was recommended to me by a student.  The book is ‘House of Leaves‘, by Mark Z. Danielewski and is hard to describe, it’s so complex and mind-bending.  All I can say is whenever I meet someone who’s read it (which is rare), weContinue reading “Gifts from students”

The things that scare you…

A couple of weeks ago I bumped into an ex-student at a seminar run by the Higher Education Academy.  I taught her as an undergraduate on a module where writing out of your comfort zone and experimentation was encouraged.  She told me I gave her two pieces of advice that she’s never forgotten and nowContinue reading “The things that scare you…”