Written in a writing workshop following a reading of "Woman on the Moon" by Jean Harrison.

His hands and legs are crippled,
his back snapped,
his curved over figure presented to me
as a warning.
'It was him,' they whisper,
'who went too close,
melting the wax that held
the feathers, the bone, the straps.
He only has himself to blame.'

And yet, and yet,
it was him
who felt the heat, the rush,
the backdraft to his stomach,
smelt the sulphurous gases,
saw the orange centred volcanoes swirling,
before he fell.
And there must be
in that.


I have sent my book proposal off to a second publisher today, having had a rejection from Jessica Kingsley. It seems like there's a practical part of me which is determined to 'get on with it', even as the creative side wrangles on. Though I do feel more of an impetus to write and I am looking forward to some time this week when I can really get my head down.

Used to be I could come in from a full time job plus an hour's commute and write on a make-shift desk for a couple of hours before bed. I wrote four novels that way. But no longer. Get much past afternoon tea at three and I'm thinking it's too late on in the day to be writing. If I'm going to get this book completed, along with my counsellor accreditation done, I will have to work on that mind set.


"Dangerous writing," author Chelsea Cain citing Fight Club writer Chuck Palahnuik, is writing "whatever makes you feel uncomfortable, getting to the point where you, as a writer, sitting at your keyboard, can feel your cheeks grow hot, you get a little nervous and giggle to yourself and think, 'I should should cut that, I shouldn't write that.' That's dangerous writing."

In her article for Mslexia magazine (, Cain is looking at horror and crime fiction, but the same could be said for non-fiction. On the face of it, this shouldn't be dangerous writing, however, the "I shouldn't write that" is certainly getting in my way, and it's not thrilling in the way that Cain and Palahnuik obviously find it. Because it's about who is going to be hurt by this in a deep and personal way? Have I the right to stick to my truth even as it diverges hugely from other people's?

And even as I chew over these questions again and again, nothing is going down on paper.

What is happening, which I am pleased about, is that I am collating the writing I did over the residency and am finding that I am still moved by it. A good sign that perhaps others will be drawn emotionally to it.


I was once sand.
Then I was mixed with soda ash and lime
and roasted.
My colour came from cobalt
which did for my first master's lungs.
So he swapped me to pay for the brew,
he called medicine,
my new mistress stewed in her cauldron.
She filled me with the juice from a rat's spleen.
It stank and stained my sides.
I wasn't happy.
But hey, what did I have to say about it,
I was but a vessel.

They came one night,
crying, "murderer," "whore,"
dragged her out by the hair,
smashing their fists and clubs
into her wormy bedstead and flawed jars.
I was saved.
It was the way the candle light
was caught and reflected back,
gold and green,
which attracted him.
He seized me by the neck,
I thought he would snap it,
but then he hid me away in the harsh folds of his woollen cloak.
For years, I held vinegary wine,
until my master's wife became a widow.
She outlawed the stuff,
replacing it with figs and syrup.

I was passed on to her daughter
and then to her daughter
and to hers.
I held lemonade in the Summers,
barley milk in the Winters,
once a bunch of flowers for a wedding,
some sparkling elderflower for a christening,
a quantity of blood red port for a funeral.
Life was short,
meted out in a miserly fashion,
sunrise to sunset
was a span long enough.
I did not lose my colour nor my shape
as those around me did.

It was two meagre harvests
and a hacking cough, pitiful to hear,
that finally saw off the family.
Those that did not succumb, left.
The house, already slouched,
fell to ruin.

I was looted along with a feather filled quilt
and oak beams.
Chimneys replaced the trees where I came to live.
I was not much admired then.
Smoke clogged the air
and grimed my sides and anyway
I was up against the new, the modern,
the mass produced.
I was shoved to the back,
a receptacle for nails and screws.

Then the shuddering,
the noise, the splintered wood,
the smashed plaster, the crushed brick.
All around me fractured.
I toppled

but I did not break,
the debris held me in an airless tomb.
Rubble, earth, bone,
a skinless foot taps against my body
as the world is turned upside down
once more and once more.

Finally there came a time when you wondered
more about the past than the future,
and you dug and scraped and lifted,
until I was taken up in a human hand once more.
I was cleaned and turned and passed around.

And now I stand
in this glass box,
still blue, still rotund and graceful.

and empty.

Kate Evans, 2007


I am facing what many a writer faces, the blank page, uncertain what to say. I've often said I find the blank page open, forgiving - ever accepting as Gillie Bolton suggests - but this blank page is to be shared with others. And the internal critic gets in the way, what have I to write which is of any interest to anyone else? What if I get it wrong? Without any real sense of what wrong might be or look like.

This is consistently stopping me from working on my non-fiction project: a book about training to be a counsellor, from the inside out, so to speak. With the help of a more published writer friend and mentor, I've put together a proposal and had sent it off to Jessica Kingsley Publishers. On the advice of my mentor, I am only sending it to one publisher at a time, the non-fiction world is too small for anything else. To my surprise I got a brief personalised emailed reply very quickly saying they were looking at my proposal. This, in my experience, never happens with fiction, where you're lucky to get a tatty compliments slip attached to your returned pristine submission. Unfortunately, only a few weeks later, I get an equally pleasant, thanks but no thanks email.

So it's back to base camp, and I know I have to send my proposal off again. My mentor and others have told me it's a good one, I just need to have some faith.

It's not easy. I was in the South-West of England this weekend and on the local news there was some information about a literary festival. Not one of the authors mentioned were actually primarily writers, they had all made their names through doing something else. Celebrity has stitched up the fiction market, how much longer before it ties up the non-fiction one too?

All this is true. And an excuse. If I want to get this book written and out there, it's me who has to believe in it.


So this blog is going live at last. I have expunged all the posts which have upset the Primary Care Trust, what remains are the scraped bones of my reflections during the residency. I still think they are worth keeping.

And I hope my blog will prove interesting to read. I am back to teaching on a part-time degree at the university - where all my students are mature, new or returners to Higher Education - and to running a therapeutic creative writing workshop for people with depression and anxiety. I am into the final part of my training as a counsellor. And I am trying to write a book about that training.

It is the life I choose, financially insecure, often exhausting and frustrating, and organisationally complex as I juggle the demands of various employers along with my compulsion to write. It can be painful as I have to face the many hurts carried in myself and others and in the world around me. But it is a life which buzzes with people and creativity and is nourrished by love.