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I’m making a movie!

November 2, 2016


Keep Me In Mind is a short comedy about lost love, second chances, and minor accidents.

Musician Martin is down on his luck: his band has split and his girlfriend Emily has dumped him. One day their paths cross unexpectedly, and dramatically. Will they rekindle their attraction? Will Martin win Emily back? And will he ever play the guitar again?

Check out our trailer at our crowdfunding site, and get regular production updates on Facebook @KeepMeInMindthemovie.



An open letter to parents of children who use shared pedestrian/bike paths

November 2, 2016

Look, I get it. You’re trying to protect a small person with no traffic sense, and not all cyclists slow down in these shared areas, the way they’re supposed to.

So it’s natural for you to yank your child out of my way and deliver a stern warning, eg “What if that had hit you?”

I’m just saying that there might be a more constructive approach.

First of all, I’m not a “that”. I’m a person. A person who spotted your kid from a distance and gently rang her bell so you’d have time to get them out of the way.

Believe it or not, I have no desire to mow down your child with my bike. I’m pretty confident I speak for all cyclists in this.

My point is that I’m not your enemy, and treating me as such (a) makes me feel awful, and more importantly, (b) gives your child a negative view of cyclists, which doesn’t help anyone.

So how about saying something like this instead: “We need to watch out when we’re using this footpath, because people on bikes use it too, and we need to make room for everyone so that we can all stay safe.”


My First Felafel

September 1, 2016

My first-ever piece of published journalism. Felafel

‘Bootcamp’ Exercises

August 17, 2016

I was away sick this week, so I emailed my class a bumper crop of exercises to take them right through the morning. 

Some people refer to this – doing a series of exercises one after another – as ‘writers’ bootcamp’. I’ve never been a big fan of this expression, as it doesn’t sound like much fun to me (I’m not the Tough Mudder type), and writing exercises should always be fun. 

Hope you have fun with these. 


What happened in this house?

Writing Exercise_Abandoned House

Your response can be in past tense or present tense, poetry or prose. 
Read the clipping below. Write a piece from the point of view of the thief. 
Writing Exercise_Clipping_Xmas Nativity
It’s nearly spring! Write a spring haiku. 
A haiku is a three line poem: 
Line 1 = 5 syllables 
Line 2 = 7 syllables
Line 3 = 5 syllables
Year’s first daffodil
Flower shaped like a trumpet 
Heralding warm days
Write about the last vivid dream you had, in as much detail as possible, including the emotions the dream created in you.
If you don’t remember your dreams:
a) Write about how it makes you feel when other people describe their dreams. Annoyed? Envious? Wistful? Nonplussed? 
b) Write about your favourite dream sequence from a movie or TV show. 

Write about an animal with special powers. How does its nature affect the way it uses these powers? Do the powers change its relationship to human beings? 
 Writing Exercise_Clipping_Psychic Pet
Read the following poem. Is there a place to which you long to return, the way WB Yeats longs for Innisfree? Write about this place (prose or poetry).  Include as much sensory detail as you can: sights, sounds, smells etc. 
Writing Exercise_Clipping_Innisfree
7) Write a piece (fact or fiction) that answers the following question. 
(Remember: it doesn’t have to be about a romantic relationship.)
Writing Exercise_No Good!


The Storymatic Returns

July 18, 2016

Last week I took my Storymatic into class – always a big hit. My cards were:

  • daydreamer
  • surprise party 
  • person who needs to remove a tattoo right away

and a wildcard directing me to select three more cards, which were:

  • offer is refused
  • safety deposit box
  • glasses


Here’s what I came up with:



Astrid took a step back. A moment earlier she’d been unlocking her front door, looking forward to a quiet Wednesday night of solitary Netflix and wine. It was her birthday, but she’d arranged to go out on Friday night to celebrate with her boyfriend Ethan.

Now she stood in the doorway, blinking in the light at all her friends and family, who grinned expectantly. And at Ethan, who looked nervous.

He stepped forward, took her hand and led her into the room. “Are you okay, honey?”

“I’m fine. It’s just…” She took off her glasses and polished them on the tail of her shirt. “You took me by surprise.”

“Yeah, that was kind of the point. You’re such a daydreamer.” Ethan chuckled indulgently, and to her mild annoyance everyone else joined in. “It’s one of the things I love about you.” He cleared his throat. She realised that the group had formed a circle around the two of them. She looked back at Ethan, who was fumbling in his jacket pocket. “Astrid, from the day we met, I knew there was something special about you… Ever since Granny died, I’ve been keeping this in a safety deposit box, for the day I found that special girl.” This couldn’t be happening. He was actually getting down on one knee. Astrid felt an asthma attack coming on. “Will you do me the very great honour of making me the happiest man on earth?”

Where had he got these lines from? In the midst of her panic, she had a vision of him watching rom-coms by himself, taking careful notes. The circle of guests had drawn close around them. She realised she was frantically shaking her head. Wheezing, she backed away from Ethan, struggled through the mass of people and fled to the bathroom.

Once safely behind the locked door, she took out the inhaler she kept in her shoulder bag and took a long, deep hit. Then she got out her phone and started googling. It didn’t take long to find the phone number she needed.

While she waited for the call to pick up, she reflected ruefully on all the lies she’d told. Making Ethan wait, stringing him along. Making him think she was so innocent, when her past was anything but.

At last, a gravelly female voice answered her call. “24-Hour Tattoo Removal, from ink to pink in a blink, how can I help you?”

“Hi, my name’s Astrid,” she whispered. “I have an emergency.”

“They’re all emergencies, sweetheart. How about you send me a pic of your tatt and I’ll let you know roughly how long it’ll take to clean up.”

“Okay.” She pulled down her skirt to reveal the extravagant cherub on her left hip, trailing a banner across her midriff, bearing in heavy Gothic lettering the words:




Paint Swatch Exercise II

July 6, 2016

During a recent DIY project, I added to my collection of paint swatches with wacky names.  I couldn’t wait to share these with my class. Instead of choosing a couple of swatches, I suggested that students pick up a new colour whenever their piece of writing started to flag. We all had a lot of fun with this. Here’s my contribution, with the paint colour names in bold…

Swatch Pic


Rose pushes the pram down the path into the park. The dawn sky is streaked with burnt apricot and perfect pink. Her breath puffs out white in front of her. She passes the merry-go-round, empty at this hour. She has no destination in mind; her only goal is to keep moving. If she stops walking, even for a moment to blow her runny nose, the baby will start screaming. Her whole life has contracted to two states of being: anticipation of his cries, and determination to get him to stop.

It seems a lifetime since he was conceived, but it’s only been a year. A year since Rose and her then-fiancé lay in bed, smoking, lost in a fantasy about their ideal honeymoon – three weeks in France, driving down the coast to visit his relatives. “You’ll be my Riviera Rose,” he teased, gently tugging her hair.

But then, the haunting hue of those two blue lines on the pregnancy test, brightly positive.

In a panic, Rose and Serge moved their drastically-downsized wedding forward to allow them enough time to prepare for the baby. It takes two to tango, but Rose has always secretly suspected Serge of secretly blaming her for their slapdash contraception. Right now he’s at home, sleeping as if stunned into unconsciousness by the sudden onset of responsibility.

Rose’s shoe has come untied. Shunting the pram back and forth with one hand, she crouches and tries to retie the lace one-handed, but it’s impossible. With a sigh she lets go of the pram. The baby lets out an immediate, piercing wail.

Rockabye baby, on the treetop,” Rose sings wearily. She wipes her nose on her sleeve and makes a mental note to buy shoes with Velcro fastenings.

Invocation Poems

May 12, 2016

This week I used an exercise from Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge’s magical book poemcrazy: freeing your life with words:


“I suggested we each go outside alone and wander until we noticed an object to bring back to class that might have a quality we needed or with something to tell us… Name it, I suggested, a real or made-up name. Next, describe [the object].What does it look like? Compare it to something else. Then ask it, Bring me a quality it has that I need.”

Invocation_Bark Poem_Shirl

Students brought back objects from inside and outside the Span building: a lime from a basket of home-grown fruit in the foyer; a flower, a piece of bark, a shard of concrete. One person wrote about the ‘death sticks’ in her cigarette packet, another about his gold pen full of ‘tales untold’.


What I love about this exercise is the way it makes us closely examine mundane objects and see their extraordinary qualities.

Here are mine (somewhat revised):

Invocation_Mileta_Paper Clip.JPG


Silver, shiny paper clip

Bendy but hard to break

Give me your flexibility

and your ability

to hold things together.


Invocation_Playing Cards_Mileta.JPG

Box of playing cards

Black and gold, white and red

Dangerous as cigarettes

Containing multiplicities

Heavy with gems and organs,

blunt instruments

and digging implements

Give me your sense

of endless potential

and elegant menace


Invocation_Mileta_Plastic Cup.JPG

Plastic drinking cup, luminous fuchsia

Dishwasher safe, microwave safe, recyclable

Give me your decorative usefulness, your

responsibility and possibility

for transformation.