Further thoughts Beyond the Start Line

I read this wonderful reflection by Mark Doty on his poem, ‘A Display of Mackerel’, recently and thought it made a great addition to the Start Line posts… “Our metaphors go on ahead of us, they know before we do. And thank goodness for that, for if I were dependent on other ways of coming to knowledge I think I’d be a very slow study. I need something to serve as a container for emotion and idea, a vessel that [...]

Finding the Start Line ix

Modelling This is number nine in a nine part series of posts focusing on ways into writing. Modelling can work a little like the Carpet Roll, if you pick the right poem for your subject. I stumbled upon the idea when I was thinking how art students are encouraged to copy the Old Masters as part of their training/apprenticeship.  I hadn’t heard of anyone else using it until I was talking to a group of people just a few months [...]

Finding the Start Line viii

The Dream This is number eight in a nine part series of posts focusing on ways into writing. I’m a big sleeper. I could, if left, sleep ten hours most nights. So I get plenty of REM and therefore, plenty of dreams. In an ideal life not only would I get to sleep loads I get to wake up slowly, turning over images and characters from the night’s dreams. I also enjoy dreams breaking into daytime activity, that is when [...]

Finding the Start Line vii

The Unknown This is number seven in a nine part series of posts focusing on ways into writing. In contrast to the ‘obsession‘ I will also, from time to time, attempt to write on something I don’t know. This can come from a commission, equally it can come from my own curiosity. My sequence Bedrock came from wanting to find out about my father and his family after he’d died. It was too late to ask him. It grew from [...]

Finding the Start Line vi

The Obsession This is number six in a nine part series of posts focusing on ways into writing. At stages of life we can become attached to stuff. Sometimes very attached to particular stuff. This can manifest in The Carpet Roll. It can also be more engineered, or more consciously explored. Take my preoccupation with the sea. I’ve been writing about it exclusively for over a year now, and instead of this becoming tiring, repetitive or predictable, it has become [...]

Finding the Start Line v

Documentation This is number five in a nine part series of posts focusing on ways into writing. Documentationis a similar motivator to the Outer Force. The difference being the external prompt isn’t someone else’s view, but an object or experience/incident so valuable I want to capture it before it is lost. To make it more than a diary entry the writing needs to transcend the original thing. This doesn’t have to be a spiritual transcendence, although it could be. Michael [...]

Finding the Start Line iv

The Outer Force This is number four in a nine part series of posts focusing on ways into writing. Unlike Jedi advice this method isn’t feeling the force within, but being fed from without. I love seeing the world through other people’s eyes, especially in a live sense, such as the interaction of an art gallery where you can circle a sculpture, get really really close to a painting, or in the theatre, listening and watching a space be filled [...]

Finding the Start Line iii

The Inner Child This is number three is a series of nine posts focusing on ways into writing. Many writers from Vicki Feaver to Paul Muldoon, from Jeanette Winterston to Maya Angelou till the soil of their childhoods for seeds to water. Our early experiences of world, learning how it works, where we fit, witnessing the vividness of new places, new people and new sensations all inform our sense of being, now. They’re still woven into our muscle tissue, be [...]

Finding the Start Line ii

The Gut Speak This is number two in a nine part series on ways of starting to write. Number one, The Carpet Roll, is here I like the Gut Speak method for its counterbalance to the Carpet Roll. This is not calm and attentive. This is generally angry, or mournful, sometimes joyous… basically it’s driven by emotion. I am moved to act, to write. A primal urge is overtaking me, be it unspeakable joy, rage, betrayal, a sense of impotence… [...]

Finding the Start Line i

I recently ran a two hour working on getting started. Two hours? Sometimes it takes me two hours to get started. Other times I’ve started before I’ve sat down… Starting is something I’ve not written about here, since Jenn and I offer a service in finishing and polishing. But revisiting where I start was so fascinating I thought I’d share it, over the next few weeks. Raymond Carver (I think) said that novelists had it easy, since they don’t have [...]