Nest & Story – I want you to leave – my go

‘I want you to leave.’


‘Leave. It. Your Heart. Leave it with me.’

‘But what if I need it?’

‘I need it more than you.’

‘But how can I love you if I don’t have my heart?’

‘Damn, love is complicated.’


kindle kindle kindle how i love you

How you rock my world. Have written two books for kindle without ever owning one. Until today. Plunge took because editing using the previewer was hurting my eyes and slowing me down, like reading in mud. emailed the .mobi file to the device and what a difference. No eye strain, editing back up to a speed that matches

  • a) the amount of coffee I’ve drunk,
  • b) the tempo of the underworld tracks I’m listening to,
  • c) the unbelievable excitement speeding through my heart and head that this is for real, this book and these characters are going to be a part of  other people’s lives, and
  • d) the buzz of actually seeing how it looks on the kindle page.

Pinned to the passion of the  idea that readers  change the world because of the books they read, and writers change the world with the books they write. Life partners that matter.

And in this little kindle – smaller than I thought it would be, but I’m already used to it and appreciate the handiness of it all – I know the writer and the reader in me have a new life partner that matters.

How is it for you? Who are the life-partners that matter to you?


Are UK Mental Health Services really ‘mostly failing’ patients?

Okay, so three things to get straight to frame this:

  1. the main characters in my novel, I am Hate, could be said to be being failed by mental health services. I’m not sure they are – other themes in the book are far more powerful, but I’m trying to justify why I’m writing about this announcement on the news this morning.
  2. I worked for more than ten years in mental health as a care assistant. Which means a, I’m unqualified, b, I have a huge passion for caring for, and helping, a range of patient groups. (And I’m sorry, I’ll never call those in need ‘clients’.
  3. I have family and friends who work in a qualified capacity, and have family and friends who have to varying degrees, needed mental health services.

So back to the question in the title of this post. This was on the radio this morning. I have three responses.

The first – similarities to be drawn to teachers and teaching, here – is that  mental health as a public sector organisation comes in for a bit of unfair bashing in terms of its (completely unrealistic) capacity to be a panacea for ‘society’s’ problems. Mental Health is layered and complex, and treatment and recovery is sometimes absolute, sometimes temporary, sometimes partial, and sometimes chronic – long term.

Secondly, I wonder if, sometimes, society, if it’s broken down to consisting of actual real people with minds and motivations and habits of their own, needs to take as much responsibility for itself as it expects others to do for it. Like someone who smokes, who as a result develops lung problems, believing that cancer services are failing him,  we often do a lot of blaming or hoping before we turn the situation round to see what we might do to help.

Thirdly, which follows on from the second, I wonder if the reason some may feel or report that mental health ‘services’ are ‘failing’ is because actually, we are looking in the wrong place, we are asking the wrong organisation to solve the wrong problem. Perhaps it is not mental health services that are ‘failing’ but, rather, ‘society’s’ viewpoint that something as complex as thought does not need as much attention before crisis as it does during or after it.

What do I mean? I mean learning how to think is a long-term skill set every bit as important as learning how to walk, speak, drive a car, etc.

Is there a tendency that many consider the thoughts they have as all that thinking is about, rather than examine and explore how or why they might be thinking a certain way, and leading on from that, considering if there might be more helpful approaches to thinking and situations.

It is certainly true that Mental Health has incorporated a lot of what can also be considered philosophy – ways of thinking about thinking, considering situations from different perspectives, analysing motivations, or just being a much needed sympathetic ear into which a patient can learn to listen to themselves more clearly, and un-muddle their thoughts into patterns that are more effective. Cognitive behavioural therapy, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) are two that spring to mind. The umbrella term is ‘talking therapy’ but it’s really using talking to infiltrate and rebuild thinking, so might also be termed ‘thinking therapy’.

Is there a debate to be had about the need for this thinking therapy, talking therapy, to be re-branded thinking training, and to be offered as a mainstream part of life, perhaps at school, but certainly promoted throughout the media and by the government?

Excuse the crudeness of the ideas I’m suggesting – they are ideas, and they are coming to me fairly off the top of my head for this blog because the purpose really here is to find out if anyone else is thinking about this, whether in agreement or disagreement.

Please leave comments or subscribe and email with any thoughts. And please retweet to get a debate.  I’m not defending mental health services; but in looking for wellness, it seems wise to be sure we are looking in the right place, or whether we need a new place to cement proper care and wellness among the millions of individuals who make up the society I’m proud to be a part of.


What music did you listen to while writing your book?

What goes into a novel? In the nine or so years it’s taken to get to finishing the novel this page lives for, a lot of coffee and wine has been mixed with the ink. You too, huh?

But what about the music? Did you write in silence? Was it random radio, or deliberate choice? Did it change depending on the scene?

I feel I’ve consumed more than a life-time of music while writing just one novel. Some of it deliberate, some of it deliberately unknown and new to push me to a new place on the page.

To say thank you to the music,  I’m going to share some of it here in case it can find a new audience, and hopefully inspire more characters, more scenes, more books.

Basinski. From a side bar on a John Cage page. For the last six months of editing, from scene cuts down to commas with wrong spaces around them, I fell under the spell of two pieces, disintegration loop1 (with footage from the sky back on 9/11 on video) and  basinski – cascade I found them perfect to focus on finding the errors in the book, because they just repeat melancholic/hypnotic loops for ages, almost turning editing into m-edit-ating. Losing hours at the desk finding errors in the text. Owe a massive debt to this incredible composer/arranger.

More words on more music in future blogs. If you like the idea, keep coming back to see what else got inside my head while I was helping get the characters and story out of my head.  Hope you manage to listen to the tracks above.

What about you? What music was there with you keeping you and your characters alive? Please share and let’s get the writer’s music choice conversation trending. Please leave comments below.

I’m such a writer


So after ‘finishing’ my book in September turned into another two edits from mistakes and clumsy writing, here I am again, in February,  ‘finished’. There are many layers to ‘finishing’ a novel. It’s a bit like tax returns, you have the five second joy of completion, and then the awareness that the next lot are due in a few weeks.  So who feels like this at the end of a ‘finish’?

  • Battle-frazzled,
  • A writer’s equivalent of  trench-foot, trench-attitude:  a carousel-ling low that editing is endless coupled with the nagging question of when will writing be diagnosed as the mental illness it sometimes feels it is?

But it gets worse. On my last free day before the half term holidays, (I teach, so all my holidays are spent with all my children all of the time) I think, go on, treat yourself. A reward for ‘finishing’. So I start thinking – How should I treat myself? Thanks to my addiction to motivation literature, the question is immediately mixed up with another –  how do I use my time well? A shortlist emerges –

  1.  Consider opening a bottle of cider at 8.40 in the morning as a rock’n’roll nod to my teenage years spent on tour with a covers band, which saw us regularly open bottles of beer at 7 in the morning.
  2. Go to London for a trip out, – why else do I live here if I don’t want to see it?
  3. Go for lunch – fish and chips and maybe a pint.

You’ll note all these are solos. More about that another time. But  my eyes finally light up with the solution (I’m not looking in a mirror but I can feel the knowing glow). How do I really spoil myself? How do I really go over the top and show selfish indulgence for coming one step closer to the bookshelf with my own book? Here it is:

4. Go back to bed and read a book for an hour.

Honestly. Heaven.  Maybe that’s how I know I’m such a writer. I can’t stop reading. More than word count, rejection slips or even ‘finishing’. I know I’m a writer because my one chance of freedom away from the desk and I take it to jump into the work of another writer at another desk.

How do you know you’re a writer?

Please leave comments and say hello. Good luck in finishing and rewarding.