Being ‘here’ instead of ‘there’

1498742_10201490149035710_1237995288_oI frequently find myself saying ‘here’ when I really mean ‘there’. As in, ‘That’s not unusual here’ or ‘We like to eat Marmite over here’. And I realised that this is the first time in my life that my ‘here’ is not the UK. I’ve visited other countries, but I’ve never lived anywhere outside of Britain and it’s taking some getting used to. Continue readingBeing ‘here’ instead of ‘there’

Balancing the human and non-human in nature writing

Nope, no humans here...
Nope, no humans here…

I recently read a blog post called ‘Ruminations on Nature Writing‘ that got me thinking. The blog’s author is at a reading by Sherry Simpson, who is being introduced by a man called David Stevenson. In his introduction Stevenson comments that although Simpson is often described as a nature writer, what she is really writing about is people. To which the blog’s author reacts:

Whoa, I thought. Did David just dismiss nature writing, or what? It’s as if writing about PEOPLE gave Sherry’s work more gravitas, made it more substantial and relevant and worthy.

It got me thinking about the balance that nature writers have to strike between the human (the narrator included) and the non-human. It also got me wondering whether I too am guilty of prioritising the human over nature. Continue readingBalancing the human and non-human in nature writing

What does it mean to be a successful writer?

Jealousy is not an attractive emotion. Being jealous makes you look small and petty. It makes you feel small too. But I have to admit I felt a tinge of jealousy recently when I read about Eleanor Catton winning the Man Booker Prize. At 28 she is the youngest winner ever of the prize. Perhaps because I have a birthday coming up soon (and because I can’t believe its been nearly a year since my last birthday) I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am in my life and where I’d like to be. Of course, writing has figured a lot in all this cogitating. Continue readingWhat does it mean to be a successful writer?

From Plymouth to Penryn via Google Maps

Google map

I wrote this piece for my MA in Writing, Nature and Place. It was originally published in Peninsula Magazine.

The journey from Plymouth to Penryn begins at my kitchen table. I set up my laptop, make myself a cup of tea and type Plymouth into the search bar of Google maps. I’m dropped down into the middle of the Royal Parade. I do a 360° turn, it looks to be a thoroughfare with shops on one side and a church on the other. Google Street View works by showing a yellow line along the road you are on. Arrows pointing backward and forward allow you to select the previous or next image, enabling you to “travel” along the road. I click on the arrow pointing east and set off under a grey and overcast sky. I reach a roundabout and try to navigate my way round it. It’s disorientating and I have to stop and check I haven’t missed my exit. I’m beginning to realise this journey is going to be a long and arduous process. Continue readingFrom Plymouth to Penryn via Google Maps

New paths and muddy boots, or what I bought back from the wild

2013-10-13 14.41.40It rained on Saturday. I don’t mean that there was a brief shower. I mean it was raining when I woke up and it was still raining when I went to bed. The sky was so grey and overcast that the light never seemed to get beyond pre-dawn levels. All day it felt as though the whole world was ready to go back to bed again. I tried going for a walk but quickly turned back after a car drove through a large puddle and soaked me.

On Sunday afternoon, when the rain finally stopped and the sky started to show hints of blue I quickly put on boots and a coat and headed out – grabbing my umbrella on the way, just in case. Continue readingNew paths and muddy boots, or what I bought back from the wild

National Poetry Day: water, water everywhere

Me, by the sea
Me, by the sea

I know I’m a little late, but as it was recently National Poetry Day I thought I’d dig up a few of my old poems. The theme for this year’s National Poetry Day was ‘water, water everywhere’ so I’ve picked out some poems that were inspired by the sea. Specifically, these are both poems I wrote whilst living by the sea in St Andrews. Continue readingNational Poetry Day: water, water everywhere