June 2, 2018

barefoot on the sand

An endless variety of women in this world, all different, but all women. Life always finds a way to play them, doesn’t it, like a favourite CD, but one where the tracks are all new and have never been heard before. Yet they are made of blood and emotion and light. You will never play them; you will only ever touch them and then only for a moment or two. You can knock them down, drag them in the dirt, but they will always rise again. An extra scar, an illusion demolished, perhaps, but their heart still full of dreams; and to those of you who do not understand this, know that their life is a simple game of mirrors reflecting only the truth of what they are – beautiful, creative infinity!

Gray Wolf

completely fabricated

May 31, 2018


My mother’s poems cannot be crammed into the mouths of actors in any filmic reinvention of her story in the expectation that they can breathe life into her again, any more than literary fictionalization of my mother’s life — as if writing straight fiction would not get the writer enough notice (or any notice at all) – achieves any purpose other than to parody the life she actually lived. Since she died my mother has been dissected, analyzed, reinterpreted, reinvented, fictionalized, and in some cases completely fabricated. It comes down to this her own words describe her best, her ever-changing moods defining the way she viewed her world and the manner in which she pinned down her subjects with a merciless eye.

Frieda Hughes
From the foreword to Ariel: The Restored Edition by Silvia Plath


May 26, 2018

Writing to touch with letters, with lips, with breath, to caress with the tongue, to lick with the soul, to taste the blood of the beloved body, of life in its remoteness; to saturate the distance with desire; in order to keep it from reading you.

Hélène Cixous
Coming to Writing

“I meant,” said Ipslore bitterly, “what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?”

Death thought about it.

“CATS,” he said eventually. “CATS ARE NICE.”

Terry Pratchett

in a strange way

May 21, 2018


Usually the idea for a novel comes to me, in a strange way, from reading rather than from living or observation. It’s often what I can only call an intellectual concern – some sort of large issue I’ve got very interested in. The operation of memory is an obvious one because several novels have been prompted by that. Or again the nature of evidence – that’s another important theme to me. Then the problem is to find the vehicle, to find the story and the characters and the backdrop, because they’re going to be the vehicle for this idea. Because then I don’t want the idea to show very much; I want the idea to be a sort of seven-eighths of the iceberg, a kind of ballast, but without which the whole novel would flounder.

Penelope Lively
On writing: authors reveal the secrets of their craft
The Guardian, 26th March 2011

When I write a novel I’m writing about my own life; I’m writing a biography almost, always. And to make it look like a novel I either have a murder or a death at the end.

Beryl Bainbridge
On writing: authors reveal the secrets of their craft
The Guardian, 26th March 2011

Being Orange

May 5, 2018

Being Orange I think I shall become a painter,
And luxuriate in the world of
textures and shapes,
perspectives and hues

If I were a painter, I could say,
“Today feels like an orange day!”
And then spread broad bands of
tangerine, persimmon,
and burnt sienna
across a crisp, white sheet
One colour melting into the next

And I would float and flow along with them,
Blending, merging…emerging,
Alive and ravenous, out of the depths
of my fruity, bright core –
Orange, just for today,
Just for the sheer pleasure of it

Lisa Wersal

she loves the lake

April 12, 2018

Idea for a short story. The shore of a lake, and a young girl who’s spent her whole life beside it, a girl like you…she loves the lake the way a seagull does, and she’s happy and free as a seagull. then a man comes along, sees her, and ruins her life because he has nothing better to do. Destroys her like this seagull.

Anton Chekhov
The Seagull

always judgmental

April 5, 2018

Just because a story uses material from the writer’s life, I don’t think you can say that it’s her life, or that the narrator is her. As soon as you select the material from your life, and arrange it and write it in a stylized manner, it’s no longer really identical to that life and that person. But often something will start from my real life. So there I am with the dictionary. And here is a conundrum, a puzzle, and often one question will lead to other questions that seem logical to me. What do I treat the best and why? But again, it’s stylized. I’m leaving out a great deal. It’s not a complete picture.

In general, it is true that I am always examining how I live my life. Always. It’s sort of relentless. Not just, Have I had a healthy breakfast? But everything. There is a constant judge. Maybe it’s my poor mother who lives on in my head. She was always judgmental, and her mother was – judgmental. There’s a long line of mothers passing judgment, and it’s sometimes very – oppressive. If I take a short break from work and lie down on the sofa to read and stay there half an hour instead of ten minutes, just how bad is that? Is that really bad? Suppose some nice person writes you a letter and you love getting it but you don’t answer for two months. That’s more clearly a bad thing than spending an extra five minutes reading on the sofa.

Lydia Davis
Interview with Andrea Aguilar and Johanne Fronth-Nygren
Paris Review spring 2015

Mysteries, yes

April 3, 2018

Mysteries, yes

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvellous
to be understood.

How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds will
never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.

Let me keep company always with those who say
“Look!” and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.

Mary Oliver