Tag Archives: perspective

Where I Find My Poetry…

At band rehearsal this week (I play in a covers band for weddings and corporate functions) I scribbled this onto a scrap of paper between songs as the band rehearsed with a drummer who is filling in for me for an upcoming gig.

I’d had the title floating in my head for about a week and an idea of what I wanted to write. Originally I intended it to be a simple blog post about how I, as a writer and poet, find my inspiration and ideas. 

The idea was composting in my head and while I lounged behind the sound desk I scribbled this out.

Where I Find Poetry

Where I Find Poetry

while searching for loose change in my pocket
between the first splash of milk
when I make a cup of tea
and stir in the sugar
waiting for the hot water to come through
in the shower and I’m standing naked
getting cold
watching my indicator blink on/off on/off on/off
listening to the kitchen tap drip
no matter how often I change 
the washer
and touching your skin as the last thing
I do before I go to sleep.

What becomes more interesting is I took a photo and posted it to Facebook, rough and ready as it was. A good creative friend of mine made this comment: “This reminds my (in style) of Leunig, but I do that in praise of such an original piece. This needs to be a poster.” (Leunig is a well known and highly respected Australian cartoonist and writer)

Once it is published it is out of my hands. It is what it is to the reader and viewer. I see its faults and insecurities, the line breaks that don’t quite fit or the meter or rhythm of lines that are inconsistent, the ideas for improvement. 

But the reader and viewer engage with it as it is, seeing it as a finished product for him or her. It either resonates and connects or fails to spark and is ignored. And that’s fine.

It’s also, upon reflection, an accurate understanding of the focus of what I write about. I like the minutiae, ennui and detritus of the day-to-day because these actions, objects or circumstances have significance and meaning to a person. We are inspired and captivated by the videos flowing through social media of spectacular acts of heroism, generosity and compassion but it’s often the short videos of people doing simple, routine acts that bring us to tears because it reminds us we can make a difference. 

The seemingly insignificant has meaning and purpose to the individual and I want to explore what it means for the character and his or her life because it often reveals significant meaning and purpose.

7 Reasons to Abandon The Myth of the Muse

I’m calling it now.

I’m calling shenanigans on the whole Muse thing.

The anthropomorphic representation of the creative inspiration is a romantic notion, used as a mythologising factor of and for the creative life. The Ancient Greeks had 9 anthropomorphised Muses (Epic poetry, History, Lyric poetry, Elegiac poetry, Hymns, Tragedy, Comedy, Astronomy and Dance) so you can appeal to any number of them. Heaven help you if you want to write YA or Gothic romance.

There have been a fair number of creative people over the years, be they writers, artists, painters, who sprouted the notion they cannot create with the inspiration of their Muse (who was probably a prostitute or mistress or as a result of drug and/or alcohol abuse, or all of the above).

And yes, they have produced some brilliant works of art in literature, painting, music or film. But if we didn’t tacitly approve of their illegal and/or immoral mores, would we look on their work any different? Or do we say they were screwed in the head and needed a good paddling? Perhaps they could have produced the same work of genius WITHOUT the chemical alterations?

All that aside *sweeps table clean*

I think the concept of a Muse is a load of rubbishy bollocks.

 I believe we can all be creative to some degree. It can be as simple as taking a photo a day on your phone and whacking it on Instagram (Note: food and selfies are long gone; try combining the two for something different) or writing a piece of bad poetry to fit on twitter or doodling in the margins of the newspaper on the way to work.


Make a cake, sew a quilt, tend a garden, write a story, learn an instrument, paint a picture.


Then we can get to this finnicky point about having a Muse. You do not require the assistance of an anthropmorphised idea to create, or to inspire you to create, or to keep you creating.

Here are 7 reasons why I don’t believe in the Muse an an anthropomorphised notion to inspire, or be the main reason for, your creativity.

1. I don’t believe in the Muse as inspiration because it’s an excuse

“I didn’t feel the presence of the Muse today.”

“I’m waiting for the Muse to inspire me.”

“My Muse hasn’t shown up today.”

“My Muse abandoned me in the middle of my writing session.”

No, no, no and just to be different, NO.

There are many, many different reasons why you are not creating but if it is not due to the presence or absence of a Muse, it’s an EXCUSE.

When you’re procrastinating from creating, know WHY. Are you being lazy? Too easily distracted? Emotionally unbalanced by something unrelated? Life happens and disrupts your creative flow: work stress, family stress, tired from being so busy. And the list could go on.

No more excuses!

2. I don’t believe in the Muse as inspiration because it undermines a positive work ethic.

If you are continually waiting for the (non-existent) Muse to arrive, you will NEVER get anything done. You wouldn’t show up to a professional level sport match and expect to play without the prerequisite years of training and discipline.

Neither should you turn up to your creative life without having done the background work.

If you’re a creative person you turn up each time prepared to work. You invest time and energy into what you do; you sacrifice time with friends, family, leisure to pursue what you are passionate about.

You don’t write a best selling novel on your very first attempt. Before you have ever set down the first word you have spent time preparing yourself for it. I have heard many authors speak of “practice novels” sitting in the bottom drawer of their desk or filed away on their computer. They put in the hours of work to write it but learned along the way of what worked and what did not.

Don’t wait. Do the work.

3. I don’t believe in the Muse as inspiration because instantaneous rewards does not bring long term benefit

Instant success can be a curse as it artificially inflates your sense of achievement. It is of greater benefit to spend time slogging it out in obscurity, honing your craft, developing the skills you need to master your choice of creative pursuit.

I have spent four years serving a writing apprenticeship so I can have the basic skills required to produce good art. And I still have a long way to go. I am nowhere near the end of my writing apprenticeship, but I have learned enough to feel confident to write a novel.

I spent a couple of years writing flash fiction and short pieces to understand story craft and structure. I read blogs, articles, received feedback on my own stories to learn more.

I will always be a learner of the craft.

Commit to the long term.

4. I don’t believe in the Muse as inspiration because it negates personal responsibility

As a teacher I see students who have not learned what it means to put in the time and effort on a piece of work. They would rather do nothing and fail, than to try and put some effort and possibly fail. And their parents often bail them out of trouble when their student is challenged on his/her lack of performance.

The percentage of people who say they want to write a novel is significant (somewhere around the 80% mark) but how many of them will actually start (not many), and how many of them will actually finish (even fewer)?

If you want to be creative, you have to do the work. No ‘ifs.’ No ‘buts.’ No excuses.

Take responsibility. If you want to create, CREATE. You cannot wait for someone else to get you to do it.

5. I don’t believe in the Muse as inspiration because it romanticises a short cut process, not a long term commitment

As a creative person, you’re in this for the long haul, not as a short fad or craze (think how fast the Harlem Shake or twerking or MC Hammer pants died out).

You create through all the cycles of life because it gives you meaning. You create when you’re happy. You create when you’re sad. When you’re curious, adventurous, melancholic, introspective, cautious, rebellious. Not because you’re at the whim of a capricious Muse who doles out ideas like rewards if you’ve been extra special today.

6. I don’t believe in the Muse as inspiration because creativity will not be handed to you without some work

The more you create, the more you look for ideas and inspiration, the more you find them. The Muse is not hoarding a treasure trove of delicious and vision-inspiring ideas, waiting for the most opportune (or inopportune) time to leave them like a trail of bread crumbs in the forest.

There are times when ideas are rare; you’re looking for canned unicorn and all you get is Spam. But to reinforce a previous note above, ask what’s going on in your life that make be cutting into your creativity? Tiredness, laziness, stress from work or family, bereavement, financial worries, commitments to family and friends.

Do the work. It will happen. Write ideas down and let them sit in the back of your mind (I call it composting – you can call it gestating, stewing over, masticating, growing flowers in the attic). Inertia and apathy are the greatest killers to your creativity.

Do the work. Read books. Watch films. Visit art galleries. Walk outside. Exercise. Talk to other creative people and brainstorm.

Feed your mind so you have ideas to draw on.

7. I don’t believe in the Muse as inspiration because you need to understand your own creative cycles

When do you work best? Is it in the early hours of the morning before everyone else wakes up? During the afternoon? In the evening? In the later hours of night after everyone else has gone to bed?

How often do you want or need to be creative? Once a week? Every third day? Every day?

You need to know how you work best to achieve maximum achievement from your effort.

Also know when you are creatively dry and in need of refilling your creative well. To quote a breakfast cereal commercial, “You only get out what you put in.”

When you know how you work, and when it is best to work, you are not at the beck and call of the Muse to create. I know someone who works best in focused, manic cycles of creativity, producing a fair amount of work in a short period of time, be it weeks or months. Conversely, there is an almost equivalent down time when work is not being produced.

Other people prefer to work in small, consistent pieces of time and produce work on a regular basis.

Is your creative locus internal or external? Where do you find your best ideas? From working alone or working with other people?

Give yourself permission to stop if you need to because life is chaotic and you need some rest but give yourself a specific date when you will return to it.

Know your creative cycle.

Final Thoughts.

I believe inspiration and creativity are two different aspects. Inspiration feeds into the creative process, but you cannot wait for inspiration. Creativity is a continual thought process. Inspiration taps into areas of thinking in order to create.

Sacrifice the idea of the Muse as archaic and unhelpful. Call shenanigans on it and do the work. Turn up when you’ve said you’ll turn up. Put your bum in the chair and create.

Expressing Your Pain Through The Creative Arts

Expressing Your Pain Through Creative Arts

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.”

The Dread Pirate Roberts (The Princess Bride)

Society doesn’t teach you to accept pain. It teaches you to look for wish fulfilment, constant euphoria and ecstasy; to be continuously and deliriously happy like a child drinking red cordial straight from the bottle.

We are the inhabitants of Brave New World who take their soma and remain blissfully unaware of the full breadth of human emotion while frolicking naked down the slippery dip of self-absorbed instant gratification. Pass the microwave dinner, please.

We must become like John the Savage and question our world about the spectacular depth of emotion garnered and expressed in poetry, film, song, literature, dance and music.

We need to know what it’s like to have Dettol applied to our gravel-grazed knee; to know the pain of heartache from our first break up (and then write bad poetry to immortalise the event), the gut-wrenching sorrow of losing a loved one and every other expression of pain and suffering capable in our experience.

Pain is often a stimulant for creativity; a genesis for a piece of writing, a song, developing a dance or striking a canvas with paint.

Acts of creativity brought about by pain and trauma have three expressions for the creative person:

  1. Catharsis
  2. Reflection
  3. Teaching and Learning

1. Catharsis

In order to understand pain and suffering there needs to be a release, a purging of the emotions, resulting in the renewal of heart and mind. One of the ways we do this is to tell stories.

Physical scars become stories and shared experiences

Our childhood is characterised by physical scars; I have one just below my knee where I met with the corner of a fish tank and another in the middle of my back from a staff Christmas party. My brother, the carpenter, is a museum of scars and stories (and it is nothing short of a miracle he still has all fingers, toes and limbs).

Yet we often repress those experiences that have caused us to experience emotional and mental pain.

Emotional scars become silent considerations and isolating experiences.

As children we find it difficult to understand the emotional and mental scars from the trauma we experience. I remember the passing of my paternal grandmother when I was 13 and not having the emotional maturity to understand and comprehend the enormity of it. After recently attending the funeral of my best friend’s father who died of cancer, I doubt I have the emotional maturity even now.

The catharsis of emotions allows for a creative act to be expressed in its most primeval and unformed way; a raw, uncensored, unchecked and deliberate action to release the pressure of the pain.

And the creative act may go no further than the initial purge; allowing the vented emotions to dissipate on the wind and be no more.

Sometimes, though, we need more.

2. Reflection

The painful and traumatic experiences of our lives can find expression in acts of creativity as we come to understand the complexity of our emotional scars and through the maturation of our emotional wounds. Severe trauma can cause a blockage in our creativity and cause our expression and understanding to stop.

Yet it is pain that is often the trigger for creativity as we reflect on our experiences – as catharsis, inspiration, questioning, understanding.

Understand your pain; know what causes it. Learn from it. Keep a journal. Paint. Draw. Write music. Write a story. Create something from it, even if it’s only a piece of paper entirely coloured in with a black texta.

Tell others about your pain through your creativity. It may resonate with them and speak to them.

A friend, Janetta, who has worked with people using art as therapy, explained it this way:

“From what I’ve seen working with people in art therapy, using art making to creatively process trauma gives people the ability to express the inexpressible and help them tell their story.

“Trauma is non-verbal (stored in the subcortical, non-verbal parts of the brain), so making art can allow the person to explore the non-verbal traumatic memory/experience and externalise it, so it can be processed with the verbal parts of the brain.”

3. Teaching and Learning

Creativity teaches you to express your pain and come to an understanding of the experience

Janetta continues:

 “Suddenly you can speak and talk about something that was too much to cope with. This makes the issue more manageable & less overwhelming and restores the person’s sense of control, all of which are lost through traumatic experiences, which primarily are beyond our ability to cope & make us feel overwhelmed & out of control.

“Some of my clients have also reported feeling understood when they can finally talk about it and when I can see what they were dealing with on the inside.

“For the mental health patients and dementia residents I work with, creativity, especially in group settings, offers an opportunity to connect with others and gives people relatively safe things to talk about, which is great for healing loneliness, isolation and dealing with loss of independence.”

A creative act is a teaching and learning moment for the creator and a teaching and learning moment for the reader/viewer/listener. It is a shared moment.

In my collaborative novel, Post Marked: Piper’s Reach (currently being edited), is it the emotional resonance of the past, a form of trauma, which defines the protagonists, Ella-Louise and Jude. As an author I explore how the past defines and influences the present, how the trauma affects the characters. Without pain, a story has no momentum, no movement forward. A story with no pain or conflict is no story at all.

Final Notes

To focus on pain alone, in all its manifestations, in the composition of a creative piece, to the exclusion of other emotions, is limiting. Creativity is about expressing the breadth and depth of human emotional experience.

We create with pain as the focus to understand ourselves and our relationship to the experience.

We read stories or watch films or listen to music about pain to understand that our experiences are not individual to us alone; to know someone else shares what we have gone through and to seek redemption in the hope of their success.

To express our pain we write stories, compose music, draw, paint, dance, sculpt. We find a creative outlet to deal with the pain.

We create firstly to understand our experiences, and secondly to share those experiences as the connection of our humanity.

How has creativity helped you through the painful times in your life?

New For Old Replacement

What do you do with old stories and old ideas you want to rehash, recycle or revisit?

I have a list of old stories and old ideas waiting for my attention. But what to do with them?

Recently I looked at the list of stories I have, both old and new, and came to a decision: Ditch the old and focus on the new.

It’s like an infomercial offering you a ‘new for old replacement’ deal.

I am not the kind of writer who can sustain multiple projects at various stages; I prefer to give my attention to one work in progress at at time. My focus right now is on the editing of my first novel, a collaborative tome, Post Marked: Piper’s Reach.

If new ideas pop up, I write them down in my notebooks and file the idea away in the back of the mashed potato I call my brain.

While I like the old stories, their ideas and expression, it’s not moving me forward towards the writing goals I have set. I have a 3 Year Plan of projects (which may have to extend to 5 years as I think I was being a little over ambitious).

My blog is a testament to the beginning of my writing journey, and while there is less fiction being posted here, I will leave it as a reference point (at least for the short term) while I work on my novel and plan out a novella and new short stories. I will let them stand as markers of my writing journey, a testament to how I wrote.

Looking back too far will only stymie the progress forward.

It’s good to take stock of your writing inventory from time to time, clear the decks of those projects prohibiting your progress forward and focus on the new works you will write to achieve your goals.

Will you have a “New For Old Replacement”?


Post It Note Philosophy 10

Post It Note Philosophy on Creativity 10

PIN Philosophy 10

Creativity is a delicate dichotomy between seriousness and whimsy, rebellion and acceptance, reason and passion, community statements and individual mantras, darkness and light, life and death.

Colouring Outside The Lines

As a child, colouring outside the lines was the mark of a juvenile understanding of boundaries and parameters: they were ignored.

You were handed a pencil or crayon and a colouring book and told to have fun. And fun was most definitely had. Scratched lines of pencil or crayon all over the page. There was fun simply in the act of creating marks on the page.

Yet gentle adult encouragement made you aware of the lines of the picture; the boundaries drawn to keep the colours within.

So you took extra care and effort to colour within the lines and make the picture look special. You were disappointed if your pencil or crayon slipped over the line, extending the colour beyond its prearranged designation.

And so it is with any creative endeavour. Initial enthusiasm and fun is gradually replaced with awareness of the skills, parameters and boundaries of your chosen creative medium. You become a skilled practitioner of your creative art and can produce good work.

So, how do you extend your creative skills? How do you extend your knowledge and understanding of your medium? When you are entrenched in your chosen creative medium, whether it’s art, literature, film, painting or music, how do you extend the boundaries and parameters?

You learn to colour outside the lines again.

As a drummer playing contemporary music and musical theatre, I am used to the drums forming a rhythmic foundation, providing timbre, dynamics and tone colour, the beat and rhythm.

The other day I had the opportunity to meet up with Adrian, an old teaching colleague of mine who is an art teacher, musician, boutique record label owner and producer, and a mutual friend and drummer, Costa.


The three of us convened in a small home studio out the back of Adrian’s house. We lugged gear in and set up while Adrian placed mics.

There was no preconceived ideas as to what we were going to play and record, except for some youtube clips we had looked at earlier. There were no lines to demarcate the boundaries of our creativity.

Yet how easy it is to rely on the boundaries of what we know. As drummers Costa and I fell into an improvised jam in 6/8, using a form that was familiar to us, creating a beat and rhythm. As we played we listened to each other, playing around each other’s grooves and timbres, sometimes playing with the groove, sometimes playing against it.

We were colouring within the lines.


I learned to colour outside the lines because of Adrian’s artistic vision and creativity.

Adrian suggested for the second jam an experimental form playing in different time signatures: Costa played in 4/4, I played in 5/4 and Adrian played in 7/4. It sounded gloriously messy as we experimented within the constraints of the time signature allocated while listening to what the others were playing.

The Junk Collective 3

The last jam was truly a learning experience of colouring outside the lines. Adrian suggested we play not rhythms or beats, but focus on the sounds produced from each part of our instrument.

We used sticks, mallets, brushes, rods, plastic rods on all parts of the drums and cymbals including the rims and stands. I threw a handful of sticks into the air and let them fall where they may. I bounced sticks, mallets and rods off my snare to see where they landed. Adrian used a violin bow on cymbals and played mallets on my kit, Costa’s kit and their “junk” drum kit which consisted of a metal garbage bin, water bottles, saucepan lids made into hi-hats and a metal tea pot.

The Junk Collective 2

It was this last improvisational jam that really expanded my understanding of rhythm, drums and music in terms of creativity. It allowed me to colour outside the lines as I was not focused on the traditional parameters of my instrument, rather learning to see outside the lines and create accordingly.

Artists talk about the ‘negative space’ on the page; what is not there is as important as what is there.

My next step is to apply this principle to my writing.

Whatever creative medium you are engaged in, whether it’s writing, music, art, have you learned to colour outside the lines again?

What Happens When You Reach ‘The End?’

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, my collaborative writing partner, Jodi Cleghorn, and I finished writing the first draft of our epistolary narrative Post Marked: Piper’s Reach.

We are separated by distance, living in different states in Australia and have written this novel by handwriting the letters and sending them via the post. Yes, we wrote 85,500 words BY HAND.

Fortuitously, for the first time we were able to sit down together in the one place and write the final installments.

If you want to know what Post Marked: Piper’s Reach is all about, here’s the blurb:

In December 1992 Ella-Louise Wilson boarded the Greyhound Coach for Sydney leaving behind the small coastal town of Piper’s Reach and her best friend and soul mate, Jude Smith. After twenty years of silence, a letter arrives at Piper’s Reach reopening wounds that never really healed.

When the past reaches into the future, is it worth risking a second chance?

Post Marked: Piper’s Reach is an ambitious collaborative project traversing an odd path between old and new forms of communication, differing modalities of storytelling and mixed media, all played out in real and suspended time. The project has at its heart a love of letter writing and music.

The letters are handwritten and posted in “real time.”

“To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.” ~ Phyllis Theroux

photo 2 copy

And now we have written “The End.” The story is finished.

This is the first significant piece of writing I have completed apart from flash fiction. It is the first novel I have written (I have another currently in the works that I began last year but have put on hold for a number of reasons).

How do I feel?

I feel excitement at having completed the novel; joy and relief; a sense of accomplishment because of what I have completed, and with it also, I feel sadness.

Coming to the end of this project brings with it a whole series of conclusions and endings.

  • The ending of the narrative and the story of Ella-Louise and Jude.

We have had such an emotional investment in our characters and their intertwined lives that coming to ‘The End’ is like the passing of a dear friend. I wrote the character Jude while Jodi wrote the character Ella-Louise and for the better part of 16 months we have lived with these characters. We keep saying we’ll need some therapy to get through the tumultuous times our characters experienced. And vicariously we have too, reading each letter through the lens of our character and as a reader.

We were sitting at opposite ends of my dining room table, writing the final lines. When we finished, we handed them over to be read. There were tears, stunned silences and a gutted feeling that it was all over.

  • The end of the interaction with our small, but dedicated, core of readers who we dubbed “Posties.”

They engaged with the characters and the writing, commenting on the weekly letter, discussing the characters’ motivations, arguing over what should or should not happen to the characters.

Over on the Facebook page we had long conversations with the Posties, ran contests and trivia, and had a whole lot of fun.

And we will feel the sorrow of the ending all over again when our readers get to ‘The End’ in about 8 weeks’ time.

  • The ending of the collaborative partnership.

Jodi pitched the idea to me in January, 2012 after we met for the first time in real life in December the year before. She runs eMergent Publishing and I had the privilege of working with her to have my first two short stories published. Our friendship developed and grew as we worked together, and when we met in real life it was like we had known each other for decades.

After the initial pitch we spent three days brainstorming by text and the first letter arrived later that month.

Since that time we have worked closely together during this project and it has been an exhilarating journey.

It was not a traditional collaboration; rather than plan and talk through ideas on the plot and structure, we let it develop in an organic way in what we came to term the “No Spoilers Policy.” Without discussing plot and ideas it kept the writing, and anticipation, fresh as we waited for the arrival of the postman to deliver the next letter.

We spent hours talking and deconstructing each letter after it arrived and we had read it. You can hear about our process of writing and what we learned as writers in an audio interview we did with Sean Wright (@SeandBlogonaut) over on his blog.

But our collaboration (but not our friendship) has come to en end, and with it, a strong sense of sadness.


After ‘The End’

With the writing of ‘The End’ comes a feeling of finality (at least temporarily), that the initial phase of writing and drafting is finished and complete. Yet the end of a draft is only one step in the path to publication.

Now comes the time to put it all aside for a while, let it sit and be forgotten about until it comes time for editing.

This is then followed by synopsis writing, query letters and the like; but that’s in the future (we have big dreams for this novel).

After ‘The End’ comes a new project. For me it will be a novella, some short pieces, a picture book and a multimedia project.

Envelope Addressed

What Next?

‘The End’ does not mean I stop. It means I begin the next step in the process. I begin writing new material. I begin editing other projects before I return to the manuscript of Post Marked: Piper’s Reach and polish it ready for submission.

Reaching ‘The End’ is only one part of the process, because for a writer, there is always another story to tell.

On the Creative Couch: Icy Sedgwick

Sitting on the Creative Couch today is Icy Sedgwick. She is a writer, academic working towards her PhD in film studies, teacher, artist, wicked with a pair of knitting needles and constant supervillain.

Icy was one of the first people to encourage my interest in writing when I first started participating in the now defunct [fiction]Friday. Without someone to champion the cause, I may have let my writing slide away into nothingness.

Today she shares her perspective on creativity.

How do you define yourself as a creative person?

Creativity’s one of the strange phenomena since it’s not really something you are, more something that you do. You have your traditional forms of creativity, but then you have your approach to problems or issues that come up in life which require a creative approach to solve them. I do plenty of photography, jewellery making, knitting, painting and writing to satisfy the ‘creative outlets’ part of my existence, but I like to think I approach problems with a fairly creative mindset. Some people call it thinking laterally, I like to think of it as using the tools at my disposal to get the job done.

What is your chosen creative medium and how does it allow you to express your creativity?

I don’t have just one, it depends on what the end product is going to be. Sometimes I just want to capture what I see, so photography (and the creative editing that goes with it) is better suited to the process, but other days I just want to make something pretty that says something about me. Hence the spider fascinator I made.

Having said that, I think that words are my usual medium, whether I’m writing handouts at work, producing academic writing, or writing fiction. Language is one of the most pliable, but temperamental, creative media and I love seeing what I can make it do.

Can you explain your creative process?

I have two when it comes to writing. With one approach, it starts with a ‘What if…?’ My task is to take the data at hand and extrapolate potential scenarios. I choose the most plausible, and write it. That’s how I get the story. And yes, that applies to horror as well – when I’m looking at plausibility, I mean what would be plausible within that world and with that set of characters, not what is plausible according to the known laws of science. With my other approach, it all starts with a picture in my head, usually kicked off by a smell or a snippet of music. I work out what’s happening in the picture, and then that becomes my ‘What if…?’ scenario.

Who or what gives your creativity impetus and direction?

I’m not entirely sure it has a direction, other than the logical route from A to B. I have a creative idea, point A, and I want to see it finished, point B. I suppose the impetus is the joy of seeing a finished product, whether that’s a knitted garment, a beautiful photo or a piece of writing. I suppose the impetus is seeing it finished. So to answer the question, I think I rely a lot on my own curiosity, and my need to see things completed.

Who has inspired you in your creative journey?

Oh that’s a difficult question because technically it would include everyone I’ve ever met, and even those I haven’t. Creativity is such a broad thing, and I’ve been just as inspired by negative people as I have anyone who’s supported me. True, there are writers or filmmakers that I look up to, but for the inspiration that I use in my stories or my photos…I suppose it’s the world around me, and how I see it.

What are you currently working on?

I have different knitting and jewellery projects at various stages of completion, but I’m still working on the edits for my horror/fantasy novella, The Necromancer’s Apprentice. Once I’ve finished this editing pass, it’ll go to the beta readers and I’ll return to editing my Fowlis Westerby novel while they’re reading Necromancer.

What is your “go to” piece to inspire you?

Anything by Mozart. I truly believe that different forms of music resonate with people in different ways, and I tend to find that anything by Mozart gets me going. Sometimes a piece will give me pictures in my head that turn into stories, other times it’s just a mood relaxant that gets me in the right frame of mind to start creating.

How do you see technology impacting or affecting people’s ability to be creative?

I see it a lot at work because half of the students hate computers, and half of them hate doing things by hand. The ones that hate computers believe technology is hampering their creative abilities, and the others think that the computers will do the work for them. As with anything, technology is a tool that can be used to create different kinds of art, or to enhance existing art. It doesn’t do the work for you, but nor should it hamper your process. Having said that, technology makes sharing your creative endeavours a lot easier, and helps you to network with like-minded individuals. I love technology!

What is a piece that is representative of your creative purpose?

I’m not entirely sure I know what my purpose is, other than to create things that please me. Having said that, since I often do creative work to help combat my depression, I think this photo sums it up quite well – being creative helps me see the light among the storm clouds.

 Thanks for sharing on the Creative Couch today, Icy.


Icy Sedgwick was born in the North East of England, and is based in Newcastle upon Tyne. She has been writing with a view to doing so professionally for over ten years, and has had several stories included in anthologies, including Short Stack and Eighty-Nine. She teaches graphic design and spends her non-writing time working on a PhD in Film Studies. Icy had her first book, a Western named The Guns of Retribution, published through Pulp Press in September 2011.

My blog – http://blog.icysedgwick.com

Find me on Twitter @icypop

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/miss.icy.sedgwick

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/Icy_Sedgwick

Buy The Guns of Retribution – http://www.amazon.com/dp/1908544007/

The Year That Was. The Year That Will Be.

We have reached the end of 2011.

Time's Running Out

The year is like a roll of toilet paper; the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.

It is a handy time to pause and reflect, stare with focused gaze into one’s navel, pick out the lint and be careful you don’t stick your head too far up your bum and turn inside out.

THe year that was

I began writing in late 2009. I designated 2010 as my Practice Year. 2011 was to be the Year of Submission. Have I achieved it? No. Not in the way that I wanted because I didn’t create a plan.

By the end of the year I had three stories published: Headlines and Post-It Notes and Ashes to Ashes in eMergent Publishing’s Literary Mix Tapes’ anthologies “Nothing But Flowers” and “89.” I also had a piece of flash fiction, The Knight’s Defence published in the December edition of efiction magazine.

The first two came from associations and friendships formed via Write Anything. I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity to contribute, to be trusted as an unknown writer. Having The Knight’s Defence published makes me believe I have the potential to sell more.

the year that will be

A new year is a time to gird loins and make a list of No-No’s and Thou Shalt Not’s. Lists mean nothing unless there is a plan to back it up.

But I don’t do lists. I’ve decided on goals.

The problem is, I’ve never been much of a goal setting type of person. I’ve wanted to be one of those focused young things, changing the world before they’re twenty-five. Those years are a little behind me.

In the latter half of this year I set about designing and implementing writing goals. Lo and behold, I was able to reach them. Who’d a thunk it? I still need to revise the process, but it’s movement forward.

2012 is the Year of the Novel. I have never written a novel, although I’ve written enough words in the last year or so equivalent to a novel. And frankly, a pair of dark coloured underpants would be a useful to hide the fear I’m feeling.


I am putting into place goals and plans to make this dream a reality. A key word to keep me going is “momentum.” I will set the marble rolling down the hill.

I will not measure myself against others. I will measure my success by the goals I have established.

The Highchair Philosophers 2

Morning was a relaxed time for Samuel and Jeffrey.  The whirlwind breakfast activity had subsided, giving them time to ponder over a drink.  They shooed the cat away who had temporarily taken over the sunny spot on the back deck.  The cat knew its tail was in jeopardy if it didn’t skedaddle.

Thoughtfully they chewed over the news and events of the previous day, giving comment and opinion as fore-casters of the future in time-honoured fashion and opining on the past.

Their attention turned to the hallowed halls of education.

“My Big Sister started school this year,” said Jeffrey.

“My Big Brother starts next year,” said Sam.  “Is Big School different?”

“It certainly is.  Each day, she puts on her school uniform, packs lunch in her bag and off she goes.”

“What else happens?”

“She says that they do numbers and letters and reading.  Sometimes there’s drawing and colouring in and pasting.”

Sam sat open mouthed.  “You mean there’s no playing?  No blocks or trucks or Lego or cars?”

“There’s playing, but only at certain times and no blocks or trucks or Lego or cars.  But I haven’t told you the worst part,” said Jeffrey.

“What could be worse than no toys to play with?” asked Sam, fear creeping into his voice.

Jeffrey dropped a bombshell.  “My Big Sister said that at Big School you have to sit in a chair.”  For maximum impact he dragged the syllables out as long as strings of melted cheese, “All day.”

“Like the Naughty Chair?” asked Sam.  “I was put on the Naughty Chair for drawing on the walls with Mum’s lipstick.  Apparently it was her favourite.  I thought I drew a good picture of Bob the Builder.”

“Dunno.  But all I know is that you have to sit in it all day.”

“So Big School is sitting in a Naughty Chair all day long,” Sam said, trying to comprehend such a villainous punishment.

The pair contemplated in silence as the cat ventured near enough for a pat, but wary enough should its tail be pulled.

Sam broke the tension.  “You know what this means?  We’d better on our best behaviour or else we’ll be sent to Big School to sit on the Naughty Chair.”

“You’re right,” said Jeffrey.  “I don’t want to get stuck on a chair all day long.”