Something inspirational to prepare me for the new year.

greene ways of escapeFrom, Ways of Escape, by Graham Greene, a collection of essays that gather together thoughts about his writing.

Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation.

I put this book at the top of my Christmas list. Santa tracked down a copy for me, and it’s living up to my expectations.  So I must have done something good this year.

It’s not just that Greene says things that resonate for me, he was such a careful wordsmith.  I love his economy: his precision.

I too believe that writing is therapeutic*.   There is a great sense of achievement in putting words together to build a piece of writing.

And the magic is that sometimes, we create meanings we didn’t plan to, even when we think we’re concentrating on telling things ‘straight’.  When writing works, and a reader tells me that I’ve evoked a mood, a feeling…an atmosphere through my writing, that’s a buzz.

It makes sense to me that just as I do, and have always, read to be transported into other worlds and lives, I write for the same reason.  First of all, it is an escape, and perhaps it’s when I forget that, that I can go wrong.

So I’m putting this quote on my wall, alongside the ‘write what you know/write what you don’t know’ one.  Because for me, these three things together say more than I can possibly explain here…

I pass them on with the hope that they have a similar effect on you.


Graham Greene by Anthony Palliser National Portrait Gallery, London Date painted 1981 to 1983

Graham Greene, by  Anthony Palliser, 1981 -1983 National Portrait Gallery, London


*There is a whole branch of the writing industry that is devoted to using writing as therapy, called LAPIDUS.  They use a variety of writing skills to provide valuable personal development coaching.


Because sometimes I need a nudge.

bookshelvesIn a flurry of office-rearrangement heavily disguised as tidying, I paused to flick through some old writing magazines.  Surely, I thought, it was time to re-use their space.

With a heap of books waiting for their turn on a shelf, I had determined to be ruthless, but it’s hard to overcome a natural instinct for hoarding.  I decided to compromise, and rip out pages worthy of saving.  That’s how I found myself rereading an interview Debbie Taylor did with Helen Dunmore for Mslexia, back in 2002. It concluded with this quote from Dunmore:

The more you do creatively, the more you can do.  You have to keep the momentum going.  If you are a musician and you don’t keep building it into your fingers for several hours every day, you will lose your edge.  It’s the same with writing.  It isn’t really the output that matters.  Sometimes it’s just the act of doing it.

I don’t see creativity as this fragile little flame that needs to be cherished.  I see it as an immensely powerful aeroplane.  as long as you don’t deliberately keep turning off the runway and going back to the terminal, it will take you wherever you want to go.

I put the magazine back in place, left the heap of books in their corner by the bookshelf and sat down at my desk – in the pilot-seat.

Dorothy Sebastian pilot, 1929I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for take-off.