I am a writer and lecturer based in London. My first two novels are The Water’s Edge and The Haven Home for Delinquent Girls. I’ve just launched my first self-published ebook called How to Plan a Novel. Click here for more information. I’ve also recently written a nonfiction book called A Small Steps Guide to Goal Setting and Time Management, which came out on 25th July 2012 with Emerald. Visit the Small Steps Guide website here.
I’m giving a workshop at Roehampton’s tenth annual Learning and Teaching Conference today. I’m going to be talking about what I call my search for a creative pedagogy, which is an answer to the question (or at least asks more questions!) about how one can teach creativity, specifically in relation to creative writing teaching. Here’s the abstract, including some of the workshop activities. My search involves research I have been doing since 2008, which has had two strands. Continue reading
If you’re looking for a link to POD resources you need Where to Begin.
You know today we were supposed to be kind to each other as a kind of protest against the idea that there is no society. I’m not sure if I would necessarily argue that ‘society’ is synonymous with ‘kindness’ but here’s my act of kindness anyway: how to make the best banana cake ever. I’ll digress first. At the book fair today, the people promoting the ‘books are my bag‘ campaign asked us to write our favourite book and favourite bookshop on a post-it note. It might have been better if they had asked for an appropriate book, given that almost everyone at the London Book Fair has one thing in common (and possibly only one thing!): they are into books in a big way and are likely to have several favourites. I think this book, which I haven’t read yet, might have been an appropriate book for today: Continue reading
I’m talking at the London Book Fair tomorrow, so here’s what’s going round my head.
Firstly, here are some resources for those thinking about POD or setting up a small press in a University Department. (Scroll down to the bottom of the list.)
One thing that gets me every time as a dyslexic writer is where to begin. As you can see, so far I’ve begun this blog three times. But I don’t just mean where to begin at the beginning. I mean where to begin each point. Meaning seems to spiral off in lots of different directions; there are so many different connections to make. This picture (that one of my Facebook friends shared) comes close to describing the feeling. The sense of control I need to reign it in and make it linear is sometimes overwhelmingly absent. Not necessarily in a bad way. So where to begin what I want to say? I’ve just finished organising a conference on practice-based research. (The website is here.) It was totally fascinating in so many different ways: the combination of drama, dance, animation and Continue reading
Here’s a post I wrote on Wednesday evening on the number 73 bus: I realised I was going to miss it – not miss the bus, you almost never miss a 73 properly because there’s always another one coming – miss it in a piece of my heart way. And I also realised that it links a lot of my London experience together. It took me nearly three hours to get home. There are a couple of conclusions to draw from that. Either: if the people at Victoria say a tube train is not going anywhere anytime soon, it’s almost always quicker to wait for it to get going again than get the bus across Central London. OR: you get a new perspective on things if you take a different route home once in a while. Anyway. Here it is: Continue reading
I love to order jacket potato beans and cheese from the JP stand in Covent Garden, next to the Transport Museum. I recently took my wife out for the day for a Christmas present and took her for a potato. There’s something really romantic about it. Yes, we love Benugos and the Skylon and Canteen and the National Gallery Restaurant but the Covent Garden Jacket Potato stand is like going back in time. It reminds me of when I first moved to London in 1994. I used to sit on the steps of the market and eat it with a plastic fork and watch the tourists. So we did the same a couple of months ago until we got too cold and felt too old to carry on. A JP from the stand comes in at £3ish depending on topping. (Not the meal deal!) There also used to be a cheap jacket potato stand behind Westminster Abbey, nr the College Garden. Don’t know if it’s still there, but when I last visited (10 years ago) I bought one for £1.50.
In honour of my younger self, here’s my list of cheaper places to eat in London. Continue reading
Things happen on everyday of the year, if you think about it. I mean, there are so many millions of things happening to so many millions of people, that there’s bound to be a list of events from everyday in history that got into newspapers, happened to someone famous, or were historically, politically, culturally or socially important somehow. Plus any kind of finite list, not just a list of important things that happened on a given day, excludes much more than it includes: and those exclusions will be both biased and subjective. Not necessarily in a bad way. I’m just saying. OK, so that’s a huge caveat to what I’m writing about here.
I’ve known about 11th February for a while. Continue reading
You know what you want to teach. You know what you want the students to learn. Write that down first. Now break that down into a series of activities: what are you going to get the students to do? If you’re new to this, write out the activities as instructions, preferably in bullet points so you can read them while you’re standing in front of people. So now you’ve got a list of activities. Take a few steps back. What will they need to know before hand? What about before that? And before that? Write out the activities in the order you’re going to ask the students to do them. How long will each one take?
What next? Now take your lesson plan and think about context and scaffolding. Continue reading
The Southbank is one of my most favourite places but not because it’s a place. Let me explain. Yes, ok, I could visit to the Southbank from just about anywhere in the country. It’s big enough and bold enough to suck people in from just about anywhere in the world, in fact. So I’m not just talking about the Southbank: I’m talking about the ability to make a short journey there; I’m talking about being in the same city as the Southbank . One of the best things about London and one of the things I’ll miss the most is that sense of connectedness, that sense that my paths take me to the Southbank and away from it again and back towards it: like there’s an invisible map of my feet, palimpsest-style, across the Charing Cross Bridge and back. Continue reading
There’s a place near us called Bloomers. It sells flowers. It’s also a cafe. It’s run by a smiley couple who don’t speak much English but who wave hello at me when I walk past. It’s a pretty typical London deli-type cafe, aside from being in a florist. Plus, it’s small; there’s not a vast amount of choice; it’s the sort of place you’d stop for a sandwich if you happened to be hungry rather than seek out for lunch. We used to go there with the pram when the wee one was even more wee than he is now, as an excuse to go out, for a coffee and a chat amongst the flowers. The coffee is pretty standard. The hot chocolate warms you up but it’s regular hot chocolate. A jacket potato is a reason not to cook lunch but I could make a nicer one myself. I’ve included Bloomers here for something else. Continue reading
Over the road from Hooch, almost opposite, is a place that’s much older: Dunn’s Bakery, a business that started in Highgate in 1820s. We had cupcakes with sunflowers on them when we got married and they came from Dunn’s. We used to live close by so we’d be there all the time, most often for bread or sausage rolls. I’ve been trying to work out what it is that makes them special. Their puff pastry mince pies are the best mince pies I ever had but they’re the exception to the rule. Continue reading