does writing help you deal with your own darkness?

I’m not the only writer who infuses her fiction with the shadowy elements of her psyche.

Who knows what can emerge from the shadows of the unconscious?

I’ve just read an interview with thriller writer Mo Hayder – winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library 2011 award – where she says her writing helps her deal with the darkness in her mind. By fictionalising what terrifies her most, she is able to allay the intensity of her fears.

Psychoanalytic theory suggests that characters in novels are all projections of the author’s anxieties, neuroses and inner conflicts which the author him/herself may not be fully conscious of. It is this unconscious element that Continue reading

reflections on loss and regret at the end of a holiday

The end of a holiday evokes feelings of loss. (pic credit: Streetek)

Coming to the end of my holiday and, like any ending, it brings up feelings of loss, wistfulness; of wishing, perhaps, that I’d appreciated my time more: lived it more, felt it more, maybe. Perhaps I could have absorbed the beautiful countryside more enthusiastically, visited the sights more engagingly, and appreciated the reassuring sway and swagger of the boat more wholeheartedly.

Because this time won’t come again – and I’m not sure when I will have Continue reading

Holidays boost creativity, says psychologist

As I sail to the end of my holiday, and reflect on just how productive I’ve been with my writing, thinking, creating and planning, I discover that holidays are brilliant for boosting creativity.

Writing in the August 2011 issue of The Psychologist, Christian Jarrett’s article Wish you were here? examines the psychology of holidays. He says that creativity can emerge when ‘unshackled from the constraints of work and stress’ – in spite of all the frustration that can occur when getting ready to go on holiday.

The only challenge is that this boost to creativity is only temporary, and the effect quickly fades once we return home and are swept back into the quotidian demands on our time in what’s called the ‘fade-out’ effect. Thankfully, however, scientists are working on how to extend that post-holiday glow.

I fully intend to extend mine once I get back home.

 

Kindle author achieves publishing dream by landing major book deal

I LOVE to hear about writers making it big by being persistent and brave, and not taking no for an answer.

So I was delighted to read in the Evening Standard about an author who self-published her novel digitally, and sold it for 95p on Kindle. Louise Voss proceeeded to promote her novel, Catch Your Death, relentlessly via social networking, propelling it to the top of the Kindle charts. Her success caught the attention of HarperFiction, which gave her and her writing partner Mark Edwards a six-figure deal.

What an inspiring story. This has turned traditional publishing on its head, and shows that a well-written, compelling book with an author driven, focused and prepared to promote it CAN achieve starry success.

soul symbolism: horses in dreams

I’m in the relaxed, peaceful surroundings of the Norfolk Broads, on a comfortable enough boat, enjoying calming scenery and invigorating fresh air, and taking advantage of precious early nights.

Except something happens to my inner world when all is calm outside: my creative imagination takes over in my dreams – and not just its benign aspects, either. In fact, I’ve noticed that when all my physical, mental and emotional needs are taken care of during the day, and I’ve got nothing to worry about at all, then all my fears creep out while I’m asleep.

The dream I had last night let all my anxieties out of their trap, and Continue reading

why I need a room of my own on a boat on the Broads

I know I don’t appreciate things until I don’t have them any more – that’s human nature. But boy have I missed a room of my own since embarking on a boat trip on the Norfolk Broads.

Norfolk Broads boat

Boating on the Broads

Before departing, I had imagined a serene journey along the river network of Norfolk, gliding past wildlife and other friendly ‘sailors’ with their jaunty hats and jovial waves, and plenty of time and space to think and write.

I was right about the first two, but wrong about the second. Not used to ‘camping’ or managing without wi-fi broadband, hot running water, and the ability to Continue reading

why trust and commitment are the keys to healing

It’s funny how, when you set your mind to something, all the right things appear, happen, fall into place, and show that really you’re on the right track.

They say there’s no such thing as coincidence, which is why – when I was thinking of the power of writing in its ability to heal, and how I can work with other people to tap into that power – I get included in an online group called Continue reading

guilt about not writing

Not writing is like a shadow on my shoulder, always projecting itself in front of or behind me; always making me aware of its dark, pressured presence.

Not writing feels like I’m cheating myself of something.

Not writing and pretending that life is OK without writing is being in denial about my true life force, and what sustains me.

Not writing means missing out on Continue reading

can writing help you get through grief?

I was touched to read an article by the author of Parentless Parents, Allison Gilbert, about how writing about grief, loss and mourning had made her happier. Touched because I have also lost my parents (my father to cancer; my mother has dementia and no longer knows she has a daughter), and also inspired, because I could use my experiences to write so much more about healing after bereavement.

I wrote an 80,000 word memoir about my dad, eight years after he died. I got up at 6 every morning to write 1000 words of stream of consciousness. The process made me feelcloser to him, less afraid of my feelings, and resolute in capturing a piece of him that was lost forever. I had never planned to publish this memoir, but I know I can turn to it when I need to. And I have a sense of achievement: I have completed a memoir, even though I haven’t yet completed my novel.

 

a tulip’s shadow on a sunny day

Even perfectly open tulips have their shadow.

The sun was out in south London today. So were the tulip petals in my front garden. But such a thing of beauty has such a pronounced shadow, which is perhaps more bewitching than the flower itself.

I guess every person who looks at this photo will make his or her own interpretation of it. What perturbs me is that the raised arm on the right of the shadow could be cheering on the tulip for showing off her beauty. However, it could also be a persecutory gesture, an angry hand about to rain down blows to fracture the fragility of the tulip’s petals; to let rip because the tulip was audacious enough to turn its face to the sun and show its true, radiant beauty.

I wonder which one it is?