So I was inspired to write my Autumn sonnet and it is awaiting re-reading, re-writing and returning to in due course. On Saturday I met up with my Lapidus mates ( in York for a writing day which also took in a visit to the Quilt Museum for inspiration. Despite the cold blast of weather, it was wonderful to be writing creatively amongst fellow travellers. And I was fascinated to discover that "text", "textile" and "texture" all came from the same Latin root meaning to weave or construct.

Read Quirk on the Hill's blog for Sue's fabulous offering from the day. I've begun on another sonnet using the idea of a life as a patchwork. James Nash managed 63 sonnets to celebrate his 63rd birthday. Perhaps I will manage 50 to celebrate my 50th.

I have also started on my grand read through of my book on writing blocks - now called "Pathways Through Writing Blocks in the Academic Environment". Though each of the chapters has been read by an appropriate peer reviewer and I've already re-written them according to the feedback I've received, no-one has read the oeuvre from beginning to end. And let's be honest, who will again? In other publishing set-ups this would be an editor's job and I am feeling uncomfortable taking it on myself as author. A friend pointed out that this might have something to do with me for once having to trust myself and my instincts completely. Instead of bringing on board an "expert" to reassure me, I have to be the expert!
I am taking a break from book writing before I embark on the "great read through". I feel I need a distance of a few weeks to get the objectivity I require for this task.

So I've turned back to poetry, more specifically the newly published collection of sonnets "Some Things Matter" by James Nash ( I have written some sonnets in my time, but I am impressed and inspired by this volume to go back to the form. One technical aspect I've noticed in Nash's work is how simple his rhyming is. I'm not a great fan of rhyming, but may try to follow his example this time.

Another inspiration as I embark on my Autumn sonnet is Keats' "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness", no line could be more appropriate to the scene from my office window at this moment.


Saturday found me at the Beverley literature festival and one of the events I attended was a discussion with Nick Papadimitriou (new book "Scarp. In Search of London's Outer Limits") and Leo Critchley (new book "Skimming Stones and other ways of being wild" with Rob Cowen). Both were interested in their own individual fashion with re-connecting themselves with nature and the wild through writing, and inviting their readers to do like-wise.

Papadimitriou called himself a "radical walker", explaining that he stomps a lot and is always angry. I liked his term, though not so much his rather limp definition. It put me in mind of the French flaneurs who walked in 18th century Paris to preserve the city of the common people with their words. Or the people who walked out of the industrial towns in this country in the 19th century to reclaim access to the wilds from landowners.

I wonder if I am a radical walker. I certainly walk and write. My walking inspires my writing. As I walk I make the conscious effort to notice my environment, to harness my senses, to get out of my head. By moving away from thought, thought is re-engaged, as lines come to me which I will then capture in my journal. The thoughts that come, however, often have the feel of coming from outside of me, unbidden. They are frequently more visceral, more of the moment, and less of the eternal irresolvable ruminating that I can get into. I believe that my radical walking inspires pieces which are more innovative and engaging.

And, yes, sometimes my radical walking is an effective way of stomping out my anger too!
It was National Poetry Day last Thursday. BBC Breakfast celebrated it with some terrible rhyming guff. They also had Ian McMillan on (who else? If it's poetry invite IM on) who said that to rhyme was a deep seated instinct in humans. I disagree with him. It is rhythm and word sounds which touch us emotionally through reverberating with our own bodies' tick-tock. It doesn't have to be rhyme.Often-times the rhyme gets in the way.

Poetry is heightened language. It is the heart beat, the in-out of a breath. It is something that speaks to us and allows us to go, ugh, someone feels as I do, I feel connected. Yes, of course, there is room for things that make us laugh, that humorously play with rhyme, but these are ephemeral, they are passing. It is the poetry that speaks to our souls which has roots and staying power.

Here is my offering for the day:

I turned a corner,
chasing sunshine trapped in rain,
and caught a rainbow.


While preparing my book on writing blocks in the academic environment, I came across something called the: “Matthew Effect (Matt. 25:29 ‘For unto everyone that hath, more shall be given…’) or the tendency for those who are already established to reap more citations and recognition from others who publish associated work.” (Boice, J. and Jones, F. (1984) Why Academicians Don’t Write. Journal of Higher Education, Vol 55(5), 567-582.)

It seems to work just as well in the non-academic market. Does JK Rowling really need so much media air-time to promote her new adult fiction or won't it fly off the shelves in any case?  

Then I hear the author Sid Smith on Radio Four's Open Book bemoaning having to write novels. Well poor guy, to have the opportunity to sit with his characters and writing for months on end without interruption in the almost certain knowledge that what he produces will be published. I weep for him!

I wonder if he listened to himself afterwards and realised how ungrateful and arrogant he sounded to those who dream of such a pergatory?