finding my way of writing

When I started writing ten years ago I was convinced that writers simply started a story, worked it chronologically to the end and then it was done. There was a kind of naïve magic to thinking this, looking back, but that perceived magic made writing incredibly difficult for me more often than not. There were, I am ashamed to say, more than one early story that concluded in a death, purely because I had nowhere else to go; I simply killed the character, binned the story and moved on to the next one.

As I read, learnt and wrote more I realised that there is no ‘one way’ to write and that all I needed to do was find a way that worked for me. I was a ferocious reader of writer’s biographies and one of the most fascinating elements, to me, was how they did it. How did these humans, whose words I found so alluring and mystifying, put their thoughts on paper in such a way that they became imbedded in my own head?

I took advice from everyone. I tried writing first thing in the morning, last thing at night. I tried writing at a desk and tried writing on the sofa. I tried all the ways there are to write, hoping that one of them would be the key to unlocking the stubborn door blocking the path between my brain and my hands.

The key, I finally found, was in the method of Nabokov.

Nabokov wrote entire novels on index cards, in no particular order. His vision was so clear that he could simply start writing wherever and know exactly how it would all fit together at the end. This revelation was both enlightening and terrifying.

Now, I cannot claim to have anything even approaching clarity when it comes to half of my stories, I invariably start something that morphs and shifts with every sentence I add until I end up with something completely opposite to what I thought I had to start with. However, this Nabakovian approach to writing was exactly what I needed to try and tame my fragmented, creative brain.

When I’m working on something, the stories and characters are constantly running around in my head, talking to each other, going about their lives, and every now and again a small fragment comes into a sharp focus and then I have to scramble to write it down before it fades out again. I started carrying a small Rhodia pad with me at all times, a pen on a chord around my neck, so that I was never caught out when these moments of clarity struck. Each page was small enough to capture a scene or some dialogue for later inspection. At the end of each day I would get to my desk and go through any notes I had made and, like a puzzle for which I had no reference, I would start piecing them together and filling in the blanks.

This worked, it really worked. I wasn’t drowning anymore in the whirlpool of thoughts like ‘what comes next?’ or ‘where is this going?’; it was no longer A to B but A to Z, and I had every other stepping stone to keep me on track.

I should say that not every fragment found it’s home in a finished puzzle, some simply didn’t fit, while others became the single seed from which an entire tree sprouted. Recently I have been looking back through my old notebooks and unearthed these fragments so I have decided to start sharing some, as well as the story behind them, or in front of them and sometimes both. So, pop back in a couple of days for random story fragments and pictures of notebooks.


turning one photo into four

For the longest time, it feels bordering on the ridiculous now, I was somewhat of a purist when it comes to photography. I was completely ignorant to the joy and magic that is the editing process and was content with doing all the ‘work’ in camera. Granted this is when I only shot on film and did not have access to editing software, but still, now I have and utilise those things, there is one element of my purist past self that lingers and that is not using cropping to its full potential.

I often crop a shot a little closer, usually in my live music photography to cut out blown highlights etc, but last week I was reminded of the joy of cropping and how it can completely change a photo.

Like most people last week I went out in the wonderful snow, camera in hand, to capture the rare event. Out of all the photos I took the one below was my favourite and when I started editing it I noticed just how much there was in the single frame. It’s the first time I have ever looked at a photo of mine and seen another one inside it. I took to cropping, as demonstrated below.

When I was finished I had four complete photos that I was happy with, all taken from a single vantage point, that feel to me like a small story. When I look at the collected images the whole scene comes to life far more than from just the single shot I started with.



This little exercise has really opened my eyes to the power of cropping, especially when dealing with long shots, and is something I am going to keep in mind going forward. One of the things I love most about photography is that, despite the fact I have been doing it for 15 years, I never stop learning new things that reignite the magic and keep me picking up my camera.

the little voice – a flash fiction

the little voice

All it takes is one moment of action, one step; it’ll happen sooner or later. You could contract some obscure untreatable disease or be walking down the street and get flattened by a falling piano and that’ll be it, out of time. Stranger things have happened. Take control of your own life now, what’s the point of waiting any longer. Go on, do it, do it, jump for God’s sake. Tell her you love her.


When I started out writing stories, one of my first publications was on a website called Six Sentences. It was a simple premise: tell a story in six sentences, no more and no less. This was my first introduction to flash fiction and was also where I came into contact with several wonderful writers who then grew into friends.

Unfortunately 6S is no longer operating, though some of the catalog is still available here. Recently I have been revisiting the format and it has been really helpful in getting me back into writing shorter fiction. The above story is the first of hopefully many new ones I am going to share soon.

In honour of the sadly now defunct 6S I am going to launch a competition over on Use Your Words next week. Keep an eye out for the guidelines, write something and submit. I can’t wait to read your submissions.


getting ready for spring tones


One of my favourite things to do with film photography is cross process slide film. There’s something about the punchy colours and often erratic exposure that encapsulates the whole magic of film for me. My go to film for cross processing is the Kodak Elitechrome with its incredible, cool blue and green tones and it’s something I’ve been trying to emulate in Lightroom. I’ve finally got something I’m happy with, that works in most situations but can be tweaked as desired to get some strange colours. Here’s a few shots from the last week or so, edited with this new preset.

slowly returning to the slush pile

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 19.14.06

Last week I updated this site, not just the design but also the links to my work elsewhere etc and I noticed that lately I haven’t been nearly as prolific in putting my work out there as I have been in the past. This week however, that all changed. I have submitted a few stories to a few different places and my work is once again sitting on the great cosmic slush pile, eagerly awaiting some kind eyes to glance at it.

The reason I feel like this small event is worth documenting is that I forgot how exciting the submission process is; it’s terrifying, and often exhausting, but also liberating. I always write for myself but I also want people to read my stories, I want to share them with the world, and that can’t happen when I keep them behind the bars of my hard drive. I have been holding on to these particular pieces for so long, a valid reason as to why becoming less and less valid as the days go on, that I began to lose confidence in them and by extension myself. Writing is such a solitary activity but it needs outside influence to really flourish, even if it’s just a friend or family member reading it over, don’t hoard it away, show people.

“Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.” – Paulo Coelho

Statistically these two pieces will likely get rejected, but for me this is a breakthrough and a step once more towards what I want. I am happy enough with these stories to let other people finally pass judgement, I have let them out into the world and maybe they’ll come back to me with a little wounded pride, maybe the kind eyes will send them further out, who knows? They’re on their own for now, there’s nothing more I can do, besides wait.

post script : how do you get feedback on stories/poems/any creative venture? I have been thinking of trying to organise an online writers circle recently, let me know if you would be interested.