Judging your own writing

Having listened to a Radio 4 programme where Andrew Marr interviews “intellectual superstar” Yuval Noah Harari about algorithms and big data (scary stuff) I wondered whether we are deluding ourselves in many ways, not least regarding human creativity. Conversely, I read a magazine article about the award-winning author, Kate Atkinson, who says: You will not know […]

Heathcliff, the anti-hero

Resurrected and rewrote this one. Although I never found it easy reading given its complicated, disjointed style, for many years I shared the widespread delusion that Wuthering Heights was a love story. Won over by the brooding Laurence Olivier performance in the film, I too thought that the darkness permeating the entire novel related to […]

The importance of research

Listening to Dr Helen Rappaport discussing her latest book, The Race to Save the Romanovs, her account of her detailed research was impressive and striking. Certainly, as a historian, she needs to be factual yet also to weave a fascinating, engaging story. Fortunately for Ms Rappaport, she is a linguist, a fluent Russian speaker having […]

Review: Henry Marsh’s brain surgery books

As a reader, I have eclectic tastes. At Fowey book festival, Henry Marsh’s book on neurosurgery, Do No Harm, was a recommended read, so I tried it. At first sight, tales of brain surgery may not seem terribly inspiring, but the surgeon, Henry, who at times had a difficult relationship with his brilliant father (who […]


There is a great deal said and written about friendship. It is really hard to define, meaning different things to different people. Given the universality of social media, many of us have Facebook ‘friends’ who are people with whom one largely shares an interest (or several) and in whose lives you are interested. It does […]

Social media – why self promotion bores us all

Many writers, especially self-published ones who need to self promote more than others, use social media to get their message out. It’s the obvious call for it is free (except for time) to use. We are all told we must use social media to the max. How often do you sigh with irritation when someone […]

Pimp Your Prose

“One pearl is better than a whole necklace of potatoes,” so said the French mime artist, Etienne Decroux. In writing, the same applies. One descriptive gem beats a hundred mundane words. My writing students have been writing descriptively and imaginatively; they have come up with some stunningly strong visual images. One great rule to remember […]


Most of my deleted unread emails talk about changing my worldview, developing my intuition, and becoming mindful, my best self.  No offence to those who find navel gazing useful (and I have been guilty of doing too much of it myself) but it strikes me that all this contemplation of self, this constant sense of […]

Which season?

Had a little chat about the seasons yesterday, how autumn kills the summer with ‘the softest kiss’. Not my words, far too evocative and poetic, but apt. Autumn is beautiful, despite working towards death, as the leaves speed towards their fall. For many, autumn is their favourite season, a time to hunker down and recalibrate, […]