All the details of the tree

All the details of the tree

A fine injunction to a writer, first to face truth and then to give unhidden all the details. Neither is easy.   ‘Face truth, wrapped in a puzzle. … You’ll tell Your tale in writing?  Make sure that you give Unhidden, all the details of the...
A poet on poetry

A poet on poetry

A surprising combination of qualities to look for in fine poetry (and other writing). Hard to think of poetry which comes closer to embodying all three than the meticulous, mysterious and fresh-voiced verse of George Herbert. ‘The three qualities I admire in the...
On illusory madness

On illusory madness

A fine description of Mervyn Peake’s balance between bounding imagination and taut writing, rounded off with a vintage metaphor. ‘It remains essentially a work of the closed imagination, in which a world parallel to our own is presented in almost paranoiac...
Writing on wheels

Writing on wheels

Another in a series of accounts by John Steinbeck’s wife, Elaine, of his perpetual search for the perfect writing space. This bright idea came of his frustration at one point of a writing room which had no sound insulation and therefore no privacy. But his...
Of centuries and cows

Of centuries and cows

These quirky comments by Steinbeck charmed me – first his reaction to the first room he chose to work in, and then his decision to move elsewhere on the old property they rented near Glastonbury. ‘We lived in an ancient cottage that was listed in the...
Of boats and books

Of boats and books

Another example of Steinbeck’s search for a perfect writing spot, in different houses, places, times of his life, as described by his wife.  She never entered these spaces without being invited, which on occasion led to some surprises.This is a writing room high...
When did you begin?

When did you begin?

Recently I read an old penny-paperback of The Grapes of Wrath.  I was about three-quarters of the way through when I left it on a plane – I hope someone picked it up and read it.  So I bought another copy of the same edition as it had a foreword by...
Something more pressing

Something more pressing

Yes, you can find a thousand things more urgent than writing, or at least more insistent. Writing for this and other websites takes precedence over a series of children’s stories I have begun. Blogs have a rhythm or schedule, books are open-ended. I find time...
Dancing light, rippling reflections

Dancing light, rippling reflections

Having occasionally lain in bed practically hypnotised by the dappling and dancing of light bouncing from water up to ceiling, I liked Hoban’s reference to flashes of mystic writing, like a watery, visual morse. ‘… dancing light reflected from the...
Mastiff-like tenacity

Mastiff-like tenacity

Such jaw-gripping tenacity is used to describe the force that the ending ‘-cious’ adds to words, as in the word ‘tenacious’.  Thoreau observes and analyses language as incisively as he observes and analyses nature. ‘… the...
High-perched asylum

High-perched asylum

In his acknowledgements, Leigh Fermor thanks a number of people for ‘kindness and haven during restless literary displacements’, and it seems he spent considerable time writing at their homes, or homes in their possession, over the years.  One of those...
‘Write,’ he said

‘Write,’ he said

A fine parting injunction to a friend you are seeing off at the train station.  Julián did as he was told.   ‘Write,’ he said. ‘I’ll write to you as soon as I get there,’ answered Julián. ‘No.  Not to me.  Write books.  Not...
How hard one must work … and how!

How hard one must work … and how!

In recent weeks, while typing up scores of quotations from Thoreau on the nature of writing, I started reading some essays by Seamus Heaney.  The first one began talking about finding your voice as a writer, finding the words to express yourself, and then I see that I...

Pin It on Pinterest