mildredSomebody said I should post early for Christmas.


My favourite quote of the week came from Eric Pickles on Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4). Pricked about his Paul Smith cufflinks, he replied they were ‘only thirty quid’ – that’s just under five hours work for someone on the National Minimum Wage -I wonder how many minutes for Mr Pickles?

Kowalski has some smart cuff-links to show off on his new Vimeo appearance….


A Christmas exercise for members of the Facets of Fiction Writers Workshops out here at Curthwaite earlier this month was to write a ‘summery’ piece.

There’s nothing wrong with writing that’s inspired by what’s going on outside your window at the time of writing, but having to conjure up for yourself the experience of summer in the middle of winter is a good wok-out for the imagination. It’s also a reminder that if we want to sell a ‘summery’ piece that will be published in the summer, we may well have to sell it during the winter months. Even online publishers may require a full season’s lead in time. Writing your Christmas stories in June, and your summer vacation ones in December might be the result!

An odd thought follows on from that, which is that when your readers get to read your summer story they could experiencing the actuality of what you have had to imagine. In fact, your imaginings will be, in a sense, challenging their realities.

It’s not only a matter of authenticity or credibility, those two coin-faces that we sometimes have to choose between, but also of which aspects, out of a multiplicity of possibilities, of any particular season we might wish to portray. This would be true of any locating label you might place a story beneath, but let’s stick with summer for argument’s sake. You might offer aridity, or humidity, a sense of lazy indulgence, or one of threatening oppression. You might show blue skies with Simpson clouds, or depressingly grey ones, as we had up here too often it seemed in 2012! Seasonality no longer needs mean any particular type of weather, nor any specific activity. The quality of a season might not be the aspect of your story uppermost in the reader’s mind, nor in yours, yet it still might be an association entirely bound up with the circumstances of the story, with its location in time and place, and with the imagined lives of the characters.

The exercise then looked not merely for the presentation of a stereotypical summer, but for the presentation of the illusion of a specific one, typical or otherwise to the characters living through it. Not such a tight perimeter then as the first glance might suggest. And of course, if you opted for an Antipodean summer, you could even have a Christmas in it!


At its heart though, the exercise is challenging you to impose your imagination on reality, to write against the conditions prevailing as you write, to cast your mind back, or forward: to write a hot beach day while experiencing a cold moorland one. So here’s another exercise you might like to try at home, when the wind is howling round your gables (or even those of your dwelling), and the snow is blizzarding in at 45° – write something ‘summery’.


On a different tack (thumb or sail), I have put the foyst Kowalskis on Vimeo. I hope you’ll drop by and take a look at them.

He’s still showing on YouTube, of course, as filmed back in November 2009 at Lancaster’s Spotlight Club! Unbound Press, which published the first collection of Kowalski’s Assertions, That’s What Ya Get! Has recently pulled the plug on itself and is no longer trading. The old feller, among others, is now definitively ‘out of print’, Except for the fact that I have a couple of dozen copies here for sale: If you would like one, £10 (to include pxp), will secure.

Kowalski’s venture in to print will not be re-printed in its current form, but I am hoping to bring out a new collection, and perhaps, who knows, I may talk some publisher into reprising and repackaging the first edition!