There's a question I'm sometimes asked, which I find very hard to answer -
Why do I teach?
I generally ramble my way through a series of reasons, like giving something back to society, seeing people fulfil their potential, exploring the art of writing and journalism...
But I never seem to quite nail it.
This morning, in one little Tweet, it was all cleared up, sweet and simple.
An author who I taught at the Winchester Writers' Festival, a fair while ago, got in touch to say he was about to be published for the first time...Read more
For the first time in my life this week, I went viral.
I was covering a story about some young lads in Devon who wore skirts to school in protest at not being allowed to put on shorts in the recent heatwave.
That evening, after this picture had been shared around the world, and I received tens of thousands of responses, I wondered why it had made such an impact.
And I came up with a familiar reason.
It's all down to people and pictures. The same combination that's been fascinating the public, and selling books and films, plays and dramas down the years.
People as in characters. And look at the great mix of characters in the young lads. The thinker, the joker, the rebel...Read more
Even by my standards, that's a strange title for a blog post. You must be wondering what's coming next.
I suppose it's an experiment. And here's a lovely, and very appropriate picture to introduce it -
I usually start my writing day in my study, or at the kitchen table. But both involve sitting at a desk.
However! When I have a problem to think through, I tend to start the day in bed.
I stretch out on a couple of pillows, grab a notebook and start scribbling thoughts.
And this is one of the great joys of writing - the way you learn so much about yourself.Read more
It's scary and hard, probably one of the toughest things to do in life, but it can be so very powerful.
I was reminded of its impact this week, when I did a talk about careers in the media at the excellent Park School in Barnstaple, north Devon.
There's a story I sometimes tell and sometimes don't, depending on the group and their mood.
But this day I told it. Probably, I think, because of the dreadful attacks the country has suffered in recent weeks.
I suspect it was also partly because earlier in the week I was speaking to a friend who had done something very brave.
She'd suffered tough times in the past, so bad that she considered suicide. And not just thought about it, but actually stood there, on the edge of a bridge, balanced between life and death.Read more
I've got a couple of teaching events coming up, which require some in depth work. So I've been enhancing my model of characterisation for writers.
I usually focus on what makes people do the things they do, but now I've added some new dimensions -
Touchstones, what's most precious to a person; temptations, their weaknesses; and secrets, that which they most fear becoming known.
They've really added life, depth and tension, particularly when you put the different factors in opposition.
Someone succumbs to temptation... it creates a secret... which threatens their touchstones...
So what lengths would the character then go to in order to protect the secret? Cue some great drama!Read more