Sunday, October 30, 2005


Who inspires you, and why? For me there has been one consistent source of inspiration over several decades.

George Ivan (aka Van) Morrison: The Man himself. Why? I think it's the perfect balance he's achieved betwen practicality and mysticism, craftsmanship and creativity. The fact that he has a gift to look squarely at the mundane and see it clearly, but also to see the marvellous shining right through it, and to communicate that vision to those who can't see it for themselves. That, and the fact that he's the greatest alchemist since Albus Dumbledore. That's why. Oh, and because he wrote my favourite song - In the Garden from No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (which pretty much sums up my attitude to writing too, come to think of it.)

Why am I saying this now? I'm going to see him play live soon - a rare treat - and in preparation I've been playing my CDs and thinking about the nature of inspiration.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Lively, controversial and other adjectives

I think the next Cabbage Soup meeting - on Monday - could be lively. We've got a controversial subject coming up next.

What, exactly, is or is not an adjective? I thought I knew. But after reading these seven pages I'm no longer certain that I do! The assignment is to write 300 words of description without adjectives and then (and this is the fun bit) add just one.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

New Writing - The lost house by Jane Dudley

The lost house

Remnants of the old crofting communities are still to be found - nestled among the humps and hollows of these windswept glens. To pick your way over the rough ground here is to stumble upon old histories sinking slowly back into the earth.

One such ruin lies above the shores of a small loch where a whisky-brown burn chuckles past the remains of an old sheepstead, just to leeward. Abandoned long ago, only the crumbled outer walls of the croft remain – the bare bones of a home. A doorway gapes like a lost tooth, the fallen lintel long since buried in an angry carpet of briar and nettles. In the vestige of a chimney breast, tongues of bracken sprout where peat-fires once burned.

A carrion crow calls harshly, like a petulant ghost.

There was a living, of sorts, to be had here once. But that was before the horsemen came. The sour earth yielded oats, potatoes and turnips, while scattered sheep and shaggy cattle grazed around. This squat little house of thick stone walls and low thatched roof, had shielded generations. Then the glens were emptied and the final dwellers scattered to the margins of life: to a storm-wracked coast, the drumming of the Atlantic and the call of unknown continents.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New Writing - Home by Alison Williams

It was a square house, with four windows and a door, like a child's crayon drawing. The upper windows were open and gauzy white curtains lifted and fell back with each breath of wind.

A man carrying a faded rucksack was passing the house when he noticed the door was ajar. He looked around and, seeing no-one, he walked up to it, knocked, hesitated, and then gave it a nudge. The door swung open to reveal a room full of light. On each of the four walls was a tall, wide mirror. Walking in he found himself surrounded by his own, surprisingly grimy, image at every turn. He bent his head and shuffled back towards the door. It must have been the wind that blew it shut.

That was when the colours began to swirl in the mirrors, flame colours, reds and ambers, with flashes of blue, streaming out into the room where the figure of a girl formed. She was dark-eyed and slight, and reminded the man of pictures of elves in a book he'd read as a child. He gazed at her, and she stared back at him.

He was a homeless man: no-one would miss him.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

We are what we do.

Don't just sit there reading this blog do something. Mind you, I'll be expecting you to let me know what you've done, once you've done it.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Oh dear. I'm resisting as hard as I can, but I just might get dragged into this madness. Protesting loudly all the while that it's an excellent excuse to write a load of utter rubbish. (Since when did I need an excuse? You may well ask.)

Sunday, October 16, 2005


The house exercise prompted me to go image googling for inspiration. This one has to be my favourite.It may not be handy for the town centre, but it definitiely benefits from wabi-sabi.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Estate agents writing at it's best

In the spirit of the current Cabbage Soup exercise (describe a house in 200 words) some gems from estate agents

...a stone's throw from the city centre... (Is it really? Oh dear!)

...within walking distance to most places... (What is this, a house or a tardis?)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

miso soup - another item on the menu

I obviously need to get a life, because I've now started another blog!

miso soup is for haiku (and possibly tanka and haibun and suchlike related things)which tend to get lost among my more lengthy meanderings here amongst the cabbage leaves.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Diet of words

Hello to all the people who found this while searching for diet recipes. Your search engine is trying to tell you something. What's it's trying to tell you is this. Forget the diet! Join a writing group instead.

Poetry for lawyers

My last post prompted a query about the difference between haiku and senryu. David Giacalone has a good summary of the differences, with examples, and notes that senryu can be particularly enjoyable for lawyers!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

haiku - autumn

autumn sunshine -
an old fireplace
out on the street

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Since I started Cabbage Soup I've written a lot less haiku which, at one time, was all I ever wrote. Perhaps the brain, or my brain at least, can only focus on one kind of writing at a time? Or perhaps it's like juggling, and the skill to keep prose and poetry in the air at the same time is one that can be learned?

Anyway, having added a few more haiku links to this blog - Snapshots, Morden Haiku and with words along with the existing one to Presence - I feel like I ought to make more of an effort.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Creative writing exercise for estate agents

Our next exercise is to write about a house, real or imaginary, and bring it vividly to life in up to 200 words. Good timing, as mine is currently on the market. Somehow I don't think the first of my 200 words will be 'This property benefits from...'

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

New Writing - Wally and Sam by Alison Williams

Two old men, in purgatory, up to their waists in flames.

Wally: You have two choices. Two. That’s all.

Sam: What are you talking about now, you old fool?

Wally: You’ve been here long enough, haven’t you? Surely even you’ve worked it out by now? You fly up into the clouds or you sink down into the fire.

Sam: You! You never change, do you? Even now! You always did over-simplify everything.

Wally: Just look... look, go on. Can’t you see? Haven’t you got eyes? How hard can it be to choose? Why’s it taking you so long?

Sam: I can see more than you can see, obviously. I can see that we can stay right here and not go anywhere at all.

Wally: Some time you’ll have to choose. You’ll have to. You’re just putting it off. Hanging around like a bad smell. Everyone has to choose, and you know it!

Sam: I do not know any such thing. I know a lot of old fools like you have come and gone, a lot of them, that’s all I know.

Wally: We’ve all... got... to choose.

Sam: So why don’t you choose? Go on, go and leave me in peace!

Wally: Typical! That’s just typical! Always thinking of your own comfort!

Sam: Hah!

Wally: I know what it is.

Sam: Hmn?

Wally: I know, and you know that I know. Don’t you?

Sam: I have no idea what you’re talking about!

Wally: Oh yes, you do!

Sam: I do not have any idea!

Wally: Of course I noticed it first, being sharp, and I’ve been watching you ever since. And I saw it! I saw it in your eyes when you realised what was happening.

Sam: Sharp! Hah! You’d like to think so!

Wally: You’ve noticed where they’ve all gone, haven’t you? All of them.

Sam: That’s not true!

Wally: It is - I know it, and so do you! They’ve all gone down into the fire!

Sam: You weren’t watching the whole time! I’ve seen you nodding! A small army could have marched past and you wouldn’t have noticed, you dozy old fool!

Wally: Don’t be so daft! You don’t need to sleep here!

Sam: You’re still a dozy old fool. Even here!

Wally: I’m not such a fool as you are, you think you can stay here for ever?

Sam: I don’t see why not.

Wally: Well I’ve had enough, I’m off. Are you coming or aren't you?

Sam: Where are you going?

Wally: Where do you think?

Sam: Damn you, you old goat, you can’t go down there!

Wally: Well, I can’t sprout wings and fly up there. I’ve thought about it, and I’ve argued with you about it and I just can’t. But I suppose you think you can!

Sam: ...

Wally: Ok, so let’s face it and go.

Sam: ...

Wally grabs Sam by the neck, and drags him down into the flames. A moment later two sparks fly up.

Ambiguity, allusions and arguments

Our Cabbage Soup meeting today dealt with our 500 word violent quarrels. It was an interesting discussion, one person had in their quarrel a literary allusion that went completely over my head I'm afraid (some chap called Shakespeare I think it was). And I was surprised by the reaction to mine: I thought the outcome of it was clear, but it seems it wasn't.

So I thought I'd ask you blog readers for your opinion. I'll post it as New Writing - Wally and Sam by Alison Williams and any comments you make on what it's about and what the ending means would be very welcome. Those of you who prefer to exercise your right to remain silent are appreciated too, even though silence is ambiguous.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Dragon on the keyboard

origami dragon on my keyboardI haven't written anything for a couple of days - there's been a dragon on my keyboard. Ok, that's a feeble exuse (does he look frightening to you?) but it's an excellent metaphor! My 'dragon' at the moment is that I've realised that before I can write any more I've got to go back and revise my first three chapters, adding a vital element that I left out. Just a small thing, and hopefully it won't take long, but I'm resisting the idea of going back.