What are you utterly attached to?

Ever fumbled with book covers, leaky roofs, a family storm, poverty, learning to tell not sell the incredibly horrible-beautiful lives being lived inside your novel? Put your marketing boat into so many oceans at once that you’re a bit clueless about where and how – tweet, face, e, network (could be renamed hardwork)?

Yesterday, my battered toyota took me on a drive that matched my inside exactly – I had no idea, took random turns (easy in a city) made a decision then back tracked, empty cafes were full, favourite cafes were shuttered, and on.

I found one seat next to a toilet five miles from home, struggled with wifi, then came the anti-flash of un-inspiration. Blank screen, blank day, blank blank. But then I saw this tweet quote –


And it resonated, chimed, sang and danced an opera. Yes. This was me. Is it you? Not just writers, whatever the thing is for you. And so instead of marketing or adding a chapter to my next book, I wrote this blog title on a blank page and asked myself

What am I utterly attached to? 

Here’s what came up – it’s rough, and unedited. It was thinking. Everything that follows I’ve pasted as it was, hopefully as a stir to making yours. Please share when you do.

To create.

To create things that last longer than me or the moment

To live for creativity.

To smash a thousand violins if it makes one symphony

To be myself

To resist culture

To write

To think

To sing

To have peace


To live big picture, not small.  Rather a small home and time to create than have to upkeep and be concerned with up-keeping and cleaning a big one.

I believe in making all the mess required to make a masterpiece. (Yes, I live in hope and hard work that masterpiece will come in my lifetime.) No, that’s not true, it’s not that I believe in making mess. But I accept the mess that making a creative masterpiece makes, I believe in allowing that mess to build up while creating is taking place, then cleaning when the work of the work is done for the moment. I would rather build my life around creating, than build my creating around a non-creating life.

And I’m understanding what I mean by creating, it’s not the same as being creative, like when you invent new ways to use a paper clip. It’s creating artefacts of art, something that lasts, it’s making something that lasts longer than it took to make purely because I have the idea to. It’s creative artefacts. Stories, paragraphs, poems, songs, pieces of art that I make (I’m a lousy artist but I love making it and always will), piano sketches or song sketches that I record, so someone may dig them up. I am utterly attached to a creative life, allowing all drops of creativity out, keeping nothing in. It is, I know, impossible on two levels.

  1. There is never enough create time. I have to work. I have to sleep. I have to pay bills and conform to roles and be in a family that doesn’t live to create. I get that. They don’t have to. I love who they are.
  2. And I will die with one creative idea or a library of them inside me. But those I can get out in the years in between now and then, I am utterly attached to.

I’m even writing this down so it becomes in a tiny skin-thin way one of those artefacts of art, by which I mean the product, the bit that comes at the end of an artistic inquiry into emotion or fact or feeling or an idea that pops into your head, or an imagination that continues to swell, fat with story. I mean meeting life artistically, daring to have or following a gut instinct to make something artistic from life.

What is your artistic manifesto?

I live for time to live. I want no small talk. I would rather silence. I want to live through the creative process.

My question today is a short one – have I created something? Have I  worked on something with at least some of my heart that has made inroads into creating something that will outlast me?

Have I managed my roles so as not be drowned in them or believe that they define me, but to liberate those that steward me to be myself?

Part of me doubts if we need to even make a manifesto for creativity – isn’t it anti-creative?

But if I’m honest, a lot of my life is anti-creative, at least at the level of the time it takes to do everything else, and the way in which everything else multiplies. When was the last time a novel knocked on the door, and you had to say, ‘Please leave me alone, I’m trying to live?’



No this is not a blog

At last they come, the final two minutes of morning before work, the crush, sudden, as if the day ahead were a boot and these last few free seconds butterfly wings. And as sudden comes the urge to write, to capture the moments inside the minutes, the picture in the frame.

It’s become harder to write morning pages, and I wonder why. I wonder if it’s a physical thing, I can’t sit at a desk for as long as I could;  I  wonder (I am terrified) if I have less to say. Does that mean I am more at peace?

What use is a writer without questions?

A writer who doesn’t question is a propaganda-ist, I think. I  don’t know, perhaps I should Hamletise and  write about my indecision. But that’s navel gazing fart gas and who wants to read that? I don’t even want to think it. Perhaps it’s because I’m not having an affair, not in a swirl of tormented bliss, or in the middle or in the recovery of a major illness. Perhaps it’s that my wife and I have retired from our sport of fighting, retired from hate,  and so turmoil stays on the touchline,  the unneeded substitute.

When did everything abandon  words?

And what is it about our modern world that says we should write a blog. So be it, but be warned, this time information is all you’ll find,  not real writing – the real writing as always shows up in books, tucks itself between the folds of a plot, hisses out between the embraces of made up characters who are not very made up at all.

We are supposed to run riot on the face of reality with our questions. Ha. Shit. I’ve done a morning page without realising it, and gone past the two minutes and now my kids are late getting up.

This is not a blog. A blog is to help someone, and who is this going to help?  How the hell do I know?  It’s what I needed to write. Maybe it’ll help someone who needed to do the same, write what they wanted to write, and who was looking for the nudge over the blogless cliff. No this is not a blog. And that’s all you need to say to write one.

A new page is born for you to read!

Under the bonnet of the marketing-car, I have been fixing the engine of social-media all day long despite not being a mechanic. And after help from the happiness engineer, Alex here at wordpress, we’ve given birth to a brand new page speaking its first ever words. Incredibly, these first words tell you all about the literary (sick-tion) contemporary novel set in Scotland, I am hate.

Click here to read what i am hate is all about

And if you’d like to, you can click here to read now!

Words words words and all for you.

Tried every writing tip out there? Now try bread…

Trying to finish the book or story or edit or draft? Time slipping around and falling off your plate like eating jelly with an oiled-up fork? Want to put the hours in but motivation dropping at midnight when you think of tomorrow morning and work and kids and on it goes?  Done it all? Seen it all? Still not finished? So try bread.

Don’t commit to staying up till dawn to write. Just commit to baking a loaf and write while you’re waiting for the dough to rise. You see the catch? You can’t begin bread and give up – you’ve got to see it through. You’ll have to wait for it to rise – an hour or two at least – bingo, there’s your writing time.

The only rule for this tip to work (okay, there are probably others, you can find them yourself and share them please) is a simple one – DON’T START THE BREAD TILL AFTER TEN AT NIGHT. Repeat – Don’t do anything bready till after 10pm. See the evening through with family or work, then go! Go completely bread.

Why bread?

  • It’s stupidly easy and quick at the start and end, which means you can set it to rise and get on with writing until nature’s done it’s magic with the yeast.  Here’s tonight’s dough perched on the piano. breadblog.jpgThe recipe came from  bakerbettie – thanks!
  • It’s practically a metaphor for so much of our daily lives, (Lord’s Prayer, anyone?) and if you can cook a metaphor, that’s got to be good for your writing. Your story will have plenty of time to rise and double in size, and on it goes – please tweet me your favourite bread metaphors/cliches etc.
  • You HAVE to wait for the dough to rise. You can’t half start it and fall asleep, or it’s ruined.
  • Easy 2 hours writing time won. I’m chipping at the last twenty chapters of the 11th edit of a noir-vel
  • Guilt free – ‘Writing again? No darling, I’m baking for everyone.’
  • You eat.
  • It is not procrastination – apart from starting the thing, it cooks itself; you just need to be there. It’s the domestic equivalent of being on a train or flight, when all you have is writing time.

So go writers, go bake yourself a story. A  tip so tasty it can triple your typing!