Head above Water holidays

RialtoHead above Water has had it’s head literally above water on holidays near Venice, a beautiful, surreal, inspiring centre of wonderful renaissance architecture and art. The holiday spirit still lingers, particularly with the school holidays still in full flow, it’s difficult to eek out extended periods of writing or creative time so I look forward to September to really get back into the flow of it all.

Book bounty

In the holidays of course I used the time to revel in reading – more on the specifics later but I really enjoyed Nuala Ni Chonchuirs/Nuala O’ Connor’s The Closet of Savage Mementoes, vivid, touching, engaging and although drawn from real experiences able to spin a universal, beautifully drawn and accessible tale about the different kinds of loving in life, about forgiveness and imperfection. I also had the good fortune to have been completely bound up in A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book, a massive but enthralling and fascinating tome set between the 19th and 20th centuries. What a wealth of knowledge and social history covering the potteries, the economic and political situations, artwork and art movements set alongside the very real and personal unfolding story of several families and in particular that of a children’s writer and her many children and their trajectories. Questions of upbringing, relationships with different children, the place and ambition of women, all this is covered in this breathtaking novel. Now I’ve begun Matt Haig’s heartwarming and comic The Humans and it looks like I’m in for another treat.

A wonderful book that I thoroughly enjoyed recently is Laura Wilkinson’s Public Battles, Private Wars. There’s a chance to grab it for FREE on Kindle (I believe offer ends today July 31, so quick!) I really recommend this and you can hear Laura say more about it here.

On of my favourite bloggers is Karen Rivers whose lovely first book The Tree Tattoo was a great read, again, very insightful, poetic and engaging (she writes mainly now for the Young Adult market.) For me, her blog with her beautiful observations of life always hits the mark like no other. Here is her latest riff on Travel and Reading and the tricky eeking out of writing, putting down those elusive phrases and hoping for the rest.

Irish Blog Awards Longlist for Head Above Water

Speaking of blogging I’m happy to say that Head above Water is longlisted in the Irish Blog Awards along with many deserving writing and creative pals. This blog which aims to support and encourage busy people, and probably in particular writing parents, towards creativity in busy lives has been in existence for just over five years. I hope many of my posts, creative months and links have inspired others and helped you feel not alone in your writing endeavours. Blog judges will create a short list in the next few weeks and this will be put to public vote. I hope, in any case, to keep this blog as a venue for creative people who struggle with creating the head space or physical space in their lives to produce creative work. But it’s not just about struggle, it’s about the joy of doing something authentic in the span of our lives.Venicewkids

I hope you are refilling the well over the summer, whether through the better weather, a change of routine or location. For many, freed of job commitments over the summer, this may be a particularly productive time and may the force be with you! (They are filming Star Wars near my beautiful childhood home right now!

Better Writing: Fuel your fascinations & inspiring authors

In my Creative Practice course, one of the exercises I give to writers is to write down their fascinations, what they are absolutely interested in, the things they love and the things they despise. Many of these powerful obsessions, interests, pursuits can become the basis of energetic writing. By starting with the times, places, artefacts or people who really grip you, you are providing the fuel that can produce many short stories (looking through the prism of your fascinations from various angles) or longer works such as novels which, like rockets trying to get all the way to Mars, need massive amounts of fuel.

As well as taking the time to explore your own fascinations and why you even want to write at all (a subject I’ll come back to in my next few posts) listening to other writers describe the background of their books, and the source of their literary energy can also help you clarify your interests and see where the material of your works might lie.

Very recently I was reminded about my own fascination in social psychology and the power of the media through watching an old documentary by writer Don De Lillo. The examples and associations that had formed the basis of many of his works reminded me of my own excitement at making such connections. What was also really interesting was to see how some of his works had started with a single idea or association- a photograph he stuck on his wall, not really knowing how it could develop into something more. Subsequently he made links with other material and began an exploration in writing of these ideas, eventually producing the novel Libra.

This same video obviously struck a chord with writer Daniel Carpenter. I spotted a great post by Daniel yesterday where he links not only to the De Lillo documentary but to several other author videos that he’s found informative and inspiring. Take the time to watch some of these and I’m sure it will fire up your enthusiasm for the art of writing and perhaps help you clarify what you find fascinating to write about.

To Daniel’s great line up I’ll simply add my very favourite inspirational author video – one from Ray Bradbury, a man of great humour and artistic energy. I’d love if you have any further suggestions of inspirational and energising documentaries you have seen by your favourite authors. Please let us know of them in the comments.

My Head Above Water facebook page or @HAWwriters on Twitter are the repository of many links to articles I’ve found that help support creativity in busy lives. Browse for more inspiration!