I led a workshop at London’s Hayward Gallery a couple of weeks ago, writing in response to the work of photographer Diane Arbus. Arbus left a career in fashion photography to wander the streets of 1960s NewYork, documenting the lives of oddballs and outsiders, whom she affectionately called ‘freaks’. From Coney Island circus acts and […]
At just about every workshop I lead there’s a point where the participants move outside of their comfort zones. Sometimes they boldly leap across the line that separates where they feel safe from where they don’t. Other times it’s a more tentative shuffle. It always happens on a Dark Angels course. But it happens too […]
Why are we put into this life? What really matters? This from EF Schumacher.
What is your job as a writer? Perhaps not this from Dinty Moore. But what then? Whatever it is, it will involve imagination and understanding.
Thinking about the relationship between imagination, creativity and the impulse to document. Not sure what i think yet. It’s complex. But thinking about it. From Stuart Franklin, The Documentary Impulse
Patterns, connections, community, beauty, fishing… What is writing poetry? Sandford Lyne, Writing poetry from the inside out
Drop a bucket down the well. See what you can pull up. But don’t get stuck at the bottom of the well. And make sure your bucket isn’t a colander. From Writing Poems by Peter Sansom
It is impossible to combine work and motherhood. But poetry starts from impossibility. An Alice Oswald interview. Cut out of The Guardian and glued into a notebook. As I would say more generally, constraints liberate. Given your impossible limitations – of time, form, talent – do what is possible.
One of the good things about getting older is that your kids are old enough to choose amazing Father’s Day gifts. It’s time to step recklessly into the book I have not yet written. From the White Book, by Han Kang. Thanks Evie.
Writing is hard work. The task is seemingly impossible. When you don’t know how to start, just start. When you don’t know how to continue, just continue. As Rebecca McClanahan says, reach for your journal. Writing is easy.
I was away in Northumbria last week leading a Dark Angels writing course. One area we explored is the different ways of finding “voice” – whether that’s your own voice, the voice of a character or the voice of an organisation you might be writing for. So, rather fitting to stumble across this piece from […]
A forlorn beach hut. I’m writing about Rye Harbour Nature Reserve as part of a residency project with creative collective 26.org.uk. It’s a beautiful place, but my word is it windy! Hard to hold the camera steady outdoors. And the few notes I scribbled in my book are almost indecipherable. But this process of walking, photographing and […]
This is Chris. Her father raped or abused her every day until she was 15 years old. “I just knew he couldn’t break me,” she says, when I asked her how she survived. “There was something about me that meant I wouldn’t go under.” To help other abused women – and, increasingly, men – for […]
Here’s a story I wrote recently, part of my work with The London Community Foundation… There’s a worn out pool table. The bar sells Ribena, Mars bars and crisps. A girl in black leggings and a Chelsea football shirt laughs and dances. This place feels like any other youth club. The only difference is […]
Recently I’ve had the honour of visiting many small charities across London, all doing incredible work with almost no resources. I’ve been trying to tell their stories. One of them has just been published. As an experiment, I thought I’d paste the full text here. I reckon it’s a 5-minute read. ***** “I believe we […]
No strangers to photograph today, as I’m back working in the writing shed. So it’s off to the woods to shoot trees instead. Leading a writing workshop in Spain last year, I took a group of students on a walk; we stopped to “talk to the landscape”, asking questions of gateposts, stone walls and – […]
Olivier, a French man in London. I was on my way to a board meeting at writers’ organisation 26.org.uk. Feeling knackered; still emotionally drained from a dear friend’s funeral last week. Olivier was leaning against a bollard on Borough High Street. “Are you waiting for someone?” I asked. “No, I’m just enjoying the light.” […]
This is Sarah. She was standing outside a laundrette in Pimlico, London, waiting for her wash to finish. I was on my way to visit a youth club project. “Can I take your photo?” “Sure, what’s it for?” “Nothing, just for my own purposes. Oh sorry, that sounds kind of creepy.” “No worries,” she laughs. […]
Henry and John are standing on Tooley Street, London Bridge. “Can I take your photo?” Henry says yes. John says no. “He doesn’t want to be in the photo because he used to be a professional photographer,” says Henry. “He worked at The Times for years.” I ask John: “So don’t you like photos?” “Yes, […]