The main secret I learned was there's no escaping the fact that the key to getting a book written is hard slog. But if you're going to do it, you may as well do it with copious amounts of cake and good company. I'm already planning my next escape, even if it does mean working on another novel to justify it.
This week I'm not housesitting. Here at home in South Devon I'm writing, creating, running creative writing workshops and musing on one of my favourite topics: creativity. In particular I'm thinking about inspiration for writers. Looking for some suggestions to free up your writing/creativity? Read on.
Getting children to love reading and writing can prove to be a challenge, especially with television, films and games being it's most harsh competitors. Having some family reading time can be very powerful. If your child sees you replacing TV with books then they are more likely to be inspired to get excited about it too.
In the aftermath of the Second World War Tom had to return to his family after spending the duration in Polly's tiny rural village. Circumstances and parents didn't allow the young couple to meet for a year. It was their daily love letters on cheap lined paper torn from exercise books that kept their love alive.
Everyone knows that children's literature can't possibly be high quality, right? It doesn't count as proper literary fiction, does it? It can't make people consider big issues or challenge ideas of genre, can it? This week, the University of Kent's creative writing programme embarrassed itself by its advertising strategy, followed by a series of rather ignorant tweets.
So now that we're into November, a mass project has been taken up by people all across the globe. Yes, all over the world people will be picking up pens and opening up their laptops to whittle away some works of fiction. They say there's a novel in each of us and this is the time to prove whether you can get that novel out of you.
It's wonderful to have a collaborator. Sometimes as a musician, or writer, you spend hours at home alone just working on idea after idea, you never really know what's working, you don't know what's good, bad, or just plain terrible. And, I suppose that's why getting those ideas out in front of another human being can be so scary.
Bland is one of those words that has its own taste. Saying it releases a mouthful of tapioca like sensation, thick on the tongue, fat with its one dull syllable. Bland is also the word used by one person to describe my last blog post. Bland, I mused, as I saw the comment, flinching a little at the obvious slur on my writing skills.
Whether you're writing an essay, editing a novel, or just cleaning the flat, procrastination is always sure to rear its ugly head. Procrastination occupies the middle ground between work and play, but doesn't really count as either. Like watching an Adam Sandler film, you've got to work hard to pretend you enjoy procrastination.
We sat in the kitchen for our writerly discussion. He held a sheaf of A4 paper, covered in typescript while I was armed with my favourite pen and my kitchen reading glasses. I slid them onto my nose, squinting around the scratches and food smudges. Two mugs of tea and a plate of just baked flapjacks sat on the table between us.