Unreasonable Happiness: or How to Be a Dog

The day an an angel disguised as a blue eyed greyhound bounced me out of a depression

Last week I talked about how I stumbled into joy and how strange it was to be so happy for no reason. It shouldn’t be strange because joy is my true nature. But as anyone who has suffered with depression will know, that’s not an easy thing to remember. Especially on a bad day. Depression is a black hole that sucks in everything else. The darkness can seem so real and solid, like it will never change. But that’s a lie.

Everything changes. All you have to do is stop listening to the lie. You can turn it around, use the lie against itself and it implodes. You transmute the poison of darkness into the medicine of awakening. On a good day. Continue reading “Unreasonable Happiness: or How to Be a Dog”

Music opens a secret door in time to eternity

Music plays an important role in my novel Addled because the heroine, Zoe Popper, learns so much about how to be present and in the moment from her musician boyfriend, Jonah and his band Dionysus Wept. She first hears Jonah sing in Chapter 5 and is transported, amazed by the way the individual band members seem to be “perfectly locked together: the way the music would suddenly shift, speed up or slow, subtle changes in rhythm – it was almost like they were mind readers.

Music can be difficult to capture in words because it’s so abstract and emotional, but here is a beautiful extract from Divine Beauty by John O’Donohue that explores how music pulls you out of time. This is how musicians do it – they’re not mind readers, they simply tap into the timeless realm at the heart of the soul, and the music does the rest: Continue reading “Music opens a secret door in time to eternity”

What I Learned About Joy on the Sofa

Surprising things happen when you stop running away

Life is mostly an exercise in escapology and humiliation. You want to be happy. You don’t want to suffer or experience pain, but life rarely cooperates. The harder you run from the inescapable, the faster it pursues you. The monster is always one step ahead, waiting around the next bend in the road. It knows all your tricks and bolt-holes. It knows you better than you know yourself. Continue reading “What I Learned About Joy on the Sofa”

The Difference Between Pain and Suffering

At the heart of every pain is an open space

Everyone knows that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional. It’s not always easy to remember, but recently I had a surprising breakthrough just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse – which may be the point. Six years ago my health collapsed and I began collecting auto-immune disorders as a hobby. It’s basically inflammation and it gets everywhere – and I mean, everywhere.

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Getting the most out of Morning Pages

The key to making free writing work for you

I’ve struggled with Morning Pages for years. I would do them for a bit and then quit. Start again. Quit again. Repeat. Then last week I finally worked out why: I understand the problem with Morning Pages and I know how to fix it.

Continue reading “Getting the most out of Morning Pages”

On the Journey of Life Be Everywhere You Are

This is a beautiful passage from Divine Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by Irish poet John O’Donohue on the importance of taking the time to slow down and smell the roses. Life can’t be swallowed in one big gulp… you must sip and savour…

Continue reading “On the Journey of Life Be Everywhere You Are”

A Confession: I’ve lost my voice

and how I found it again…

I’ve lost my voice. It sneaked off when I wasn’t looking. One day I realised I was no longer telling the truth. Every time I sat down to write a blog post or work on my latest book, a tiny part of me died. I knew there was something I needed to say – but I couldn’t say it. I kept writing, but my heart wasn’t in it.

In a favourite of life’s ironies, the problem came up because I’m writing a book about how to free your mind from the blocks that interrupt the flow and stop you from writing freely. Or I would be – if I wasn’t blocked. The trouble is I know exactly what I want to write, but I’m not convinced I should be writing in the first place. So here’s the truth:

Continue reading “A Confession: I’ve lost my voice”

Alan Moore on the magic of fiction and imagination

“I traffic in fiction. I do not traffic in lies.”

Alan Moore reminds me of an Old English Sheepdog with a wry twinkle in his eye. You just know he’s got a juicy bone hidden somewhere. He’s best known for his comics, like Watchmen and V for Vendetta, and for the fact that he hates the movie versions with a passion. Hollywood, he says, “spoon-feeds us, which has the effect of watering down our collective cultural imagination.” Moore is an artist driven by the art rather than the market. A writer, storyteller, magician, rebel, iconoclast, and psychonaut who, like William Blake, believes the reality of imagination is paramount. Moore’s new novel, Jerusalem, is out later this year.

Continue reading “Alan Moore on the magic of fiction and imagination”

Brexit Identity Crisis: or How to Be British

no irish no blacksTo be British is to be confused about who you are, or at least conflicted. But maybe that’s just me. I grew up listening to my Irish father bemoan the British, who were, as far as he was concerned, a bunch of troglodytes. I suspect he was only partially joking. As an immigrant, he grew up in an era of overt racism and discrimination. Job adverts declared “no Irish need apply”, and signs in boarding houses read “No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs.

Continue reading “Brexit Identity Crisis: or How to Be British”

BREXIT: the beginning of the end or the start of something better?

I wasn’t going to write about Brexit but my country is tearing itself apart and I can’t look away. We’ve strapped ourselves into a rollercoaster that’s coming off the rails. It probably won’t end well – at least, not for the poor. But then, it never ends well for the poor. Continue reading “BREXIT: the beginning of the end or the start of something better?”

My First (handmade!) Books

I started self-publishing early and, as it turns out, I was writing fantasy and science fiction right from the start! My first books were small but ambitious, and lavishly illustrated. In Write Like a Beginner I shared one of these stories – Creepy Castle – which wasn’t really a book, more a couple of sheets loosely tied with pink thread. But the stories in this post are something else – they’ve got proper covers and everything. May I present: The Book of Giant Stories and Life on Mars.

Continue reading “My First (handmade!) Books”