Saturday saw seven of us gathering for our Humber-Ouse-Tees Lapidus workshop ( at the James Cook museum in Whitby. And what an inspiring time we had of it. A guided tour of the exhibits was followed by a series of interesting facilitated writing exercises around the topic of objects and journeys. We all came up with some great pieces, many of which will prove to be starting points for more extended work I am sure.

It is the untold story which often snags a writer and a number in our group were drawn to Mrs Cook. She lived until she was 93, having been widowed and lost all her six children from middle age. What had happened to her? What had been her background? What was it like for her, apparently a 'poor traveller', to have her husband circumventing the world? These and many other questions clamoured for an answer as we gazed on her bonneted face looking back at us from her portrait.

Lapidus promotes creative writing and reading for health and wellbeing. During our time together on Saturday, I was told about a recent Radio 4 documentary on the subject. I managed to track it down and it is, indeed, worth a listen: It made me consider once again the difference between Pennebaker's expressive writing, which invites people to write freely about an emotionally charged subject, and what I try to do with creative writing. I also invite people to write freely about emotionally charged subjects, however, and I think this is crucial, creative writing techniques also supply tools for bringing perspective and order into chaos in a healing way.

Meanwhile, here is a taste of what I wrote on Saturday.
Kauri wood.
with the coming of light,
of knowledge being passed
from one generation to another.
Pitted wood fashioning the perfect circle.
Yet human patterns were ever misshapen, broken, snapped.
An aspiration then.
Watched over by fish, hands, eyes, beaks, noses, whorls, snakes, shells, chains, feathers
in tattooed
Totara wood.
Last Friday found me at the Hull2Scarborough Line's latest performance: 'The Enormous Yes!' And it was the best yet. Taking the words of Virginia Woolf and Philip Larkin as a starting point, it invited us to consider whether it is possible to touch joy without being in touch with the bleak. The fast paced work interwove poetry and prose - Wilsea's and Hodcroft's own in between Larkin, Woolf, Charles Lamb, Wendy Cope, Roald Dahl, Emily Dickinson, John Donne and others - with the music of First Quarter. It was a deft and entertaining exposition of what might make life worth living.

There was an extract from the lovely 'The Summer Day' by Mary Oliver:
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.

And some moving poetry from Wilsea and Hodcroft themselves, such as the exquisite 'Bosphorus' exploring what might happen to us when we are gone and the lovely 'My Daughter Danced at Your Wedding' about time passing and friendship.

I have heard rumour that 'The Enormous Yes!' will get another outing. I can recommend you sign up to hear when. Go to: and follow the links.


The Scarborough Literature Festival was inspiring and enjoyable - both the main and the fringe events.

I will not forget in a long time a Home Office pathologist being asked whether rhubarb leaves can kill - some of the writers in this town appear to be a murderous lot. The creative writing students from the University of Hull, Scarborough campus, did an excellent performance both in diversity of work and in its quality. Then there was William Sitwell on the Sitwells and on food; drama sprung from the word flood; and moody American poetry. What a talented lot we are. I am just sorry that I could not get around to see more.

Here I am collecting contributions for my collaborative story making project 'Scarborough Consequences'. I now look forward to weaving them into a story.


Come along to the myriad Scarborough Literature Fringe events including my ‘Scarborough Consequences’ collaborative story making project in the library bookshop.

Beyond the Fringe: the new performance by H2SLine - Felix Hodcroft and Sue Wilsea - is a powerful, joyful experience - though not for the easily offended! Backed by the brilliant Scarborough trio, First Quarter, Sue and Felix will, amongst much else, rehabilitate Philip Larkin and Virginia Woolf as paramount writers of joy and celebration, as well as feature a wider range of first class writing - from 13th century Persia to 21st century Scarborough. Friday 19th April, 5-6pm, in the Sitwell library at Woodend. £2 to include a free glass of wine or fruit juice. Reserve your ticket by ringing Felix on 07926-382562.


I am getting on well with writing the first book in an intended novel series based on the mystery/crime format. I have taken the characters from an (unpublished) novel I completed in 2005 - which I had a go at re-writing in 2011 - and given them another good shake.

I am following Minette Walter's advice in creating a mystery: start with the characters and a scenario without knowing 'who dunnit' and allow the solution to reveal itself. Surprisingly it is working so far.

I am also finding the truth in something else novelists often say, that characters take over and write themselves. I have one who at the beginning was pretty minor, who is now muscling in on all the action. It's a very interesting process.