How to Cure Writer’s Block

Earlier this year I went through a bit of a dry spell on the writing front.  I took about a month off my usual routine due to some heavy targets in my day job and found myself unable to get off the ground again with any kind of writing.  I’d start, stumble, fumble for words and grind to halt once more.

Diagnosis: Writer’s Block

I found although I was making time to write, and even knew what I wanted to write, the words weren’t quite flowing.  It wasn’t that I didn’t have the ideas, or the motivation, or even time to write, it was just that I was really having to push to get anything down, and I wasn’t enjoying it.  This, for me, is writer’s block:  an inconvenient affliction that prevents you from writing despite your best intentions.  But good news – I managed to recuperate with a few simple steps.  Here’s what set me on the road to recovery perhaps it could be of some help to you too. Read More

Remembrance Day: A Poem

I wrote this poem in the days following Remembrance Sunday, which this year fell on 12th November.

 

Remembrance Day

November morning, near one hundred years since it all fell quiet

The city centre occupied by tourists, shoppers, poppy-wearers

Cold air invades hats, scarves, coats.  Shops offer warmth from overhead heaters.

The threat of Christmas is tangible now.

 

The department store speakers make their announcement close to the hour

Shoppers, entrenched in aisles, finger handbags, gift sets.  Buyers shuffle in the queue.

The radio switches to the BBC.  A presenter speaks the Queen’s English

As the bells begin to chime.

 

Silence falls.

Hats are removed and held like prayers.  Eyes cast to the floor.

Somewhere, a phone dings, apologetic.  Then quiet.  Somewhere else, the rustle of clothes hangers.  Voices outside raise and fall as their owners pass the door.

After a minute (and with a minute still to go), the checkout bleeps again, bleeps again, like radar.

 

Then the radio resumes its crackling Queen’s.  Shoppers reprise their plans for the season.

The silence is observed.  The remembrance is forgotten.

On Folk Horror

Folk horror is something of a retrospective tag for a brand of (mostly British) horror.  Although it is mostly affiliated with a clawful of early 70s horror films, it was 2010 before British screenwriter and horror aficionado Mark Gatiss popularised the term in referring to a trifecta of films with an emphasis on witchcraft, superstition and the British landscape.  The term has gained notoriety since then and many modern writers, filmmakers and musicians have made a conscious effort to tap its rich aesthetic.  I’m one of those writers.

Folk horror really speaks to me.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in a small English village; maybe it’s because I love nothing more than strolling through the countryside and letting my imagination run wild.  But I find rural English horror pleases me on a good few levels, and I enjoyed throwing my own hat in the ring with my most recent book Harvest House.  Here are some of my thoughts on why I like folk horror and why I find it horrifying, together with some signposts to exploring folk horror for yourselves. Read More

How to Talk to Musicians at Open Mic

I stopped by my favourite pub a few weeks ago for an after-work pint or two.  Halfway through a glass of Downland’s I noticed all the new arrivals turning up with guitars.  Some customers had ukuleles and one had a banjo.  Halfway through my third pint I had my first go on a cajon.  I loved it.  Now I want a cajon*.

I’ve been to a few open mic nights since, chipping in on a borrowed cajon and sometimes on full drum kit.  It’s good fun; you get to meet like-minded people and see some proper talent.  But there are some rules to stick to if you fancy giving open mic a go.  Here’s a useful guide on…

 

How to Talk to Musicians at an Open Mic Night Read More