Monday 21 December 2015

From my blue notebook; The Sublime Susan Sontag on Structure.

I was having a pre-Christmas writing room sort -out when a book by Susan Sontag fell from my writing bookshelf open at her essay on Dostoyevsky’s writing.

Perhaps you know,  as you read  LifeTwiceTasted, that when I’m not writing my novels, I’m pondering the mysteries of the writing process as it occurs book by book.
My Blue Notebook

I  am in the middle of writing an exciting new novel  which – at present- is told from a single eccentric point of view. But in the back of my mind is the thought that I might eventually wish to incorporate other perspectives to deepen and thicken the narrative.  This is both a creative and a technical challenge for any writer. And then, as if responding to my thoughts, Susan Sontag’s book falls from the shelf open at her essay on Dostoyevsky’s writing. I read the page 
. I read the page eagerly and copy it into my blue notebook where I note words and ideas that inspire me.

Here are the sublime Susan Sontag’s words about the structural energy in rendering points of view.

…. ‘Summer in Baden - Baden’ is unified by the ingenuity and velocity of its language, which moves boldly, seductively between the first and the third person – the doings, musings, memories of the narrator (‘I’) and the Dostoyevsky scenes (‘he’, ‘they’ ‘she’) between past and present. But this is not a unitary present any more than it is a unitary past. (Submitting) to the undertones of remembered themes, passions from earlier moments in his life, the narrator, In the present, summons up memories of his past…

Sontag’s lucid de-construction of this complex element of narration certainly inspires me to plunge back into the process of my novel with ‘ingenuity and velocity.’ 

It could – as I hope it will – make this my best novel yet.

Happy holidays to all my reading, writing and creative friends out there in the world. With this wish comes a profound hope for a peaceful world in 2016 where the self-styled warriors of every culture turn their swords into ploughshares, their bullets into bees, their bombs into poems and their drones into butterflies.

D's Christmas House 

Friday 11 December 2015

A personal message about our free Forward Assist Workshops

Beginning Wednesday 13 January  Avril Joy and I are looking forward to leading a FREE six-week writing group in Durham City (Details below**) for the  veteran's charity Forward Assist*

All ex-forces personnel - men and women - are welcome to join us.  
Let us know if your are interested, Contact Neil:  
Phone: 0191 294 3539 Mob: 0783 469 9911 
Or Email:

A personal message from Avril and me 
about the workshop:


We believe we are all writers at heart. Perhaps you have a story you would like to tell, maybe you keep a diary, write letters and e mails, enjoy reading, or maybe none of these. Many of us have not written anything since school. Many of us are put off by worries about our spelling and grammar.
      We are not concerned about grammar or spelling, these are easily fixed. What we hope to do is inspire you to write in whatever shape or form your writing may take. We believe that writing has many rewards. It’s a source of great fun and pleasure and can be a positive force in our lives
   It is our aim to make the workshops fun, rewarding and a safe place in which to work and express ourselves. We will share tips and ideas with you to get you started. We will not necessarily focus on aspects of your war service, what you write about will be a matter of choice for you. We will begin by simply making lists and talking about keeping a notebook - both the list and the notebook are great tools for us writers. We will share our notebooks with you and talk about our work including poetry, the short story, how a novel is written and writing a blog. We will read the work of other writers and use this as inspiration for our own writing.
      If you’re interested in writing or simply curious and want to know more then why not join us on Wednesdays 4pm to 6.45pm, 13th January to 17th February  2016  at Clayport Library Durham, we’d love to see you there.
(Transport can be booked in advance if required. Check with Neil.)

* The Forward Assist Veteran Charity provides advice, information and guidance, 'life changing' projects and opportunities to former servicemen and women. See ... 

** Our workshop will be take place at Durham Clayport Library, Millennium Place, Durham City  over a 6-week period commencing Wednesday 13th January 2016, with the final session on Wednesday 17th February 2016.


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