On Saturday was the second in the series of Healing Words workshops which I am facilitating and it went really well. I have devised these workshops for therapists, health professionals and writers working in therapeutic environments. They are an invitation for participants to explore how creative writing can work therapeutically. There are six in all, taking various themes, individuals can come to all six or pick and choose ones which interest them. At this last one we were looking at metaphor.

I had a great time, so it is very satisfying (and confidence boosting) when the participants say that they are gaining from the experience too. Here are some comments from the evaluations:

‘Gently & thoughtfully presented – allowed me to explore and learn more about using metaphor.’
‘The metaphor workshop was magical’
‘I’d highly recommend Kate’s writing workshops.
I’ve done two and have learnt so much in each but also really enjoyed them.’
The next workshop will be looking at poetry in this context. For more information contact: mail@scpti.co.uk


I've just finished reading 'Mrs Robinson's Disgrace', another cracking read from Kate Summerscale (I previously read her 'The Suspicions of Mr Whicher'). This new book is about a divorce case in 1858 (one of the first after divorce stopped being reliant on the passing of an Act of Parliament) where the evidence for the husband of his wife's infidelity came from her private journal.

Publicly at least, everyone involved in the case and those spectating were outraged and shocked by the honest and explicit content of Mrs Robinson's diary. And since she addressed a 'reader' there were questions about whether it was intended for publication. However, Summerscale suggests that the addressing of 'the reader' might give an explanation as to why Mrs Robinson kept such a journal: since she no longer believed an spiritual afterlife, she hoped for compassion from future generations. She finishes despondently, 'May you [the reader] be more happy.'

It is my contention that writing is essentially a relational act, writing means we are communicating something to someone, we are always writing for a reader. The reader may be ourselves (our present or future selves). However, in being that reader, we will also be influenced by the myriad of people who have already responded to what we write or say, as well as the myriad of others who we imagine responses from. Though we may sit down alone with pen and paper or at the keyboard, our space is thickly populated with audiences - real and fantasised - from our past, present and future.

Saturday was a get together of our local Lapidus (www.lapidus.org.uk) group. As ever it was a nourishing mix of mutual support and inspiration for writing (see also http://the-grumponthehill.blogspot.co.uk/).

One of our members', Sue, led us through a number of writing exercises to do with food:
  • favourite food;
  • food we loathe;
  • food and place;
  • food and time;
  • personifying food;
  • describing a character using food metaphors.
She encouraged us to think about gender roles in connection with food. Each exercise brought up some interesting reflections for me and in the group we agreed that writing about food evokes powerful images, memories and emotions.

Here is my personified food:
'I am lain on a plate, flat out, bronzed on either side, syrup running down my thighs. I am sweet, delectable, waiting. You have whipped me, beaten me, tossed me and I lie here expectant of your desires. You garnish me with rubies and jade - tangy raspberries and gooseberries - fold me in creamy silk. You will enjoy the first taste of me, the second and the third, but by the end you will feel gorged and uncomfortable. You will blame me for your unnatural over-indulgence. I should not have lain so openly on a plate.'


Having passed my 49th birthday with not too much fuss and entered my 50th year, I do pause and wonder about the passage of time. In the vastness of the earth's - even human - history, my life is but an iota of a speck, and I am comfortable with that. Yet, in my own infinitesimal way, I do want to do more good than harm, and I feel strongly that it is through my writing that I might manage this.

Recently I have discovered this from Edith Sitwell's 'The Poet Laments the Coming of Old Age':

I see the children running out of school;
They are taught that Goodness means a blinding hood
Or is heaped by time like the hump on an aged back,
And that Evil can be cast like an old rag
And Wisdom caught like a hare and held in the golden sack
Of the heart. ... But I am one who must bring back
Sight to the blind.



Writers hold a mirror up to the world. A mirror which reflects a grey lidded day when the clouds bear down on the steely sea, as well as the sudden rainbow, the colourful ladder between wave tip and sky. Writers turn a mirror on themselves and on others. It is not everyone who wishes to look into this mirror and see themselves, but it is the lot of writers to do so.

I sometimes wonder as I write reflections such as these, whether I am remembering a half forgotten quote such as Shakespeare's Hamlet: 'To hold, as t'were, the mirror up to nature.' Perhaps I will not claim the above thought as entirely mine, but it is around for me at the moment as I plough on into my future writing projects.