Wisdom Sayings of the Heart

We all have aphoristic sayings stored away in our memory bank. Sometimes they spontaneously pop up at the right time in conversation. Often they help us to make sense of a particular event, or they may caution us to act more carefully. Either way it is good to know that deep down in each of us there is a wellspring of wisdom sayings.

Assuming there is truth to this, it would be to our advantage to test the waters so as to determine the quality and pragmatic value of such inner wisdom. In other words it may be to our benefit to examine our personal aphorisms for their practical good. But first we need to recall them, and what a better way than to write them down in order.

To assist you with this operation, I’ve provided a list of aphorisms below, and I’ve taken the liberty to form them into a concise yet traditional manner. Some of these sayings will be familiar to you no doubt, and even though many of them are embedded in Western culture, in truth, they are what you might call universal in scope.

Challenge yourself: Choose 5 aphorisms from my list that personally resonate with you the most and share them with us in the comment section below. Click here to access a copy of my aphorisms in Google docs, or if you prefer to hear them instead, then click here or on the image above to listen & view them through video.

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Creative Writing Tips #9

“Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Welcome to the final episode of Creative Writing Tips. I am your host, Jason Youngman. It has been a pleasure putting these talks together. Writing about a subject is a great way to learn and stretch oneself. For those of you who are interested in following up with more writing tips, rest assured, there are a lot of programs online you can avail of. For starters you may want to check out The Creative Writing Penn with Joanna.

My objective for today’s podcast is to present somewhat of a challenging writing exercise that will help you dig deep into your soul for your own personal truth. For generations many have allowed institutes of various kinds to shape their intellectual and moral principles. Such defining characteristics and ideals no longer make sense to some of us. Instead we may accept whatever beliefs that make us feel good, and even allow celebrities to fill our minds and hearts with empty sophistry. But after a while the novelty of such ideas can wear off…

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

 

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Creative Writing Tips #8

“The individuated soul which has seen and participated most in truth shall come into its earthly birth as a philosopher, or artist, or some musical and loving nature.”
– Plato, Phaedrus

Welcome to the 8th episode of Creative Writings Tips. I am your host Jason Youngman. Today I would like to kick things off with a creative writing prompt. A writing prompt can consist of a simple topic question designed to help the writer enter into the writing process with ease. Ideally, it provides structure, focus and flexibility. Thus they are neither too broad nor too narrow to work with.

My writing prompt is about dating. The objective is to write a few short paragraphs describing yourself, knowing full well that a potential dating partner will find it and reach out to you. In other words write up a short bio about yourself that would attract your ideal companion. If by chance you are already with that person, then write it as though you have yet to meet him or her. Should you consider yourself too old for romance, then pretend that you are in your prime. Keep in mind this is meant to be a creative and playful activity.

Now before you break out your pen and paper, let’s go through my own write up as an example. This may help to provide some perspective, if not entertainment, and give you a rough idea of what the end product might look like. It is also my intention to comment on some aspects of my bio, which may help you shape your own draft.

The first paragraph reads like so: I am an INTJ who enjoys one on one conversation with good communicators. I am pretty much open to conversing about anything, including psychological, philosophical or spiritual ideas. If you know the difference between agape and eros without having to look it up then we’re probably good to go. 😉

So here in the first paragraph the foundation is laid and the parameters are set. The gate is narrow but there’s a whole lot of space for creative & constructive interaction. Let’s proceed into the next paragraph: One of my most meaningful objectives in life is…

(Click here to listen to the entire podcast, which is about 5 minutes in duration.)

 

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Creative Writing Tips #7

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

– Scott Adams

(Click on the the media player to listen to the entire podcast. In the event that you are unable to access the audio please be courteous and let me know.)

Growing up my mother used to bake bread every other week. Watching her make it from scratch was amazing. Robin Hood Flour was the base ingredient. Butter, milk, sugar, salt and yeast completed the list. How they all came together was the witches brew to me. The look on my mother’s face as she would knead the dough was one of hard labour. It made me want to alleviate her suffering. So she would cut off a piece for me. It felt similar to play-doo but you couldn’t make it into the same kind of shapes. Once the dough reached the right texture and elasticity it was placed in a large bowl and covered with a cloth. There it remained for several hours, out of reach and not to be tampered with. However, when mother wasn’t looking, I’d take a glance at it every now and again. What joy it was to watch the dough slowly rise into the round & soft belly of a pregnant woman. When it could grow no more my mother would cut off pieces from the dough, and roll them up into balls. Next she would place three of these dough balls side by side in a buttered baking pan. Then they were placed into pre-heated oven. Soon you could smell the bread throughout the whole place. My mouth waters at the thought of it still. Eventually the kitchen table would be filled with baked bread. Each loaf was just as beckoning as the other. The temptation to sink my teeth into their buttery crusty tops has yet to subside to this day. Without stretching this story any longer than it ought to be, the point that I’d like to make here is this: My mother had her bread baking down to an art. That is she knew how to bake the bread just so. It was perfect and she never missed her goal. But what if she attempted to get creative or experimental with her baking? Would the bread have turned out the same way?

This leads me into the topic of today’s podcast. What is the difference between art and creative art? My reason for exploring this distinction is in hopes of better understanding the concept of creativity, and as creative writers it may be to our advantage to stretch our understanding of creativity. So with me today is a kindred soul to help broaden our knowledge of creativity. Her name is Dee Rapposelli! Dee as in John Dee, for those of you who admire the magic of creativity. Dee is a professional writer and fellow creative. She deserves all the kisses in the world, so make some room in your heart!

Click on the media player above to hear the entire podcast.

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Creative Writing Tips #6

“People are not disturbed by things, but by the views they take of them.”

― Epictetus

(Click on the the media player to listen to the podcast as you read the transcript below. In the event that you are unable to access the audio please be courteous and let me know.)

This is Jason Youngman, your host of Creative Writing Tips. Welcome to the 6th episode. Today we are going to touch on the notion of cognitive distortions and how they can negatively affect our writing. Let’s jump right into things. Cognitive distortions are ingrained tendencies of thinking that skew our perception of things. Everybody is affected by them, and they can significantly hinder and bias our writing. Therefore it may be prudent to get into the practice of locating them, so as to remove or lessen their impact.

You may be familiar with the idiom: Making a mountain out of a molehill. Well this is a good example of a cognitive distortion. It demonstrates the sheer force of irrational thinking, by needlessly magnifying an issue into unrealistic proportions. Another term for this kind of thinking is called catastrophizing, which can be helpful if your goal is to write some kind of gloom and doom, end of the world saga; however, when we get into the habit of magnifying the negative and minimizing the positive elements of life, we could end up fabricating some kind of mountainous barrier to our writing.

So besides catastrophizing, becoming overly obsessed about minor things, what other cognitive distortions can a writer be on the lookout for? How about overgeneralization? This thinking error has to do with drawing a general conclusion based on insignificant evidence. If something bad happens to an individual then he or she expects the same thing to happen over and over again. With this kind of irrational thinking we make the assumption that all people or things are alike based on one example. We are over-generalizing if we say I am unable to write at a coffee shop because a customer spilled her latte over my laptop, therefore people in this district are clumsy and must be avoided.

Another distortion may come about through comparing ourselves with legionary authors such as Jane Austen or Stephen King. If we constantly compare ourselves with that of the greats, taking notice of how we never measure up to them, then we may end up feeling disappointed, which over time may take its toll on our motivation to write. On the other hand there is nothing wrong with availing of role models so that we might emulate the principles that enable them to bring brilliance to their work.

Being overly self critical about our performance can also put a damper on our progress. Some years ago, while participating in a creative writing circle, I can recall feeling inadequate about my output, which somewhat squeezed the joy out of the experience. You see, I was wasn’t keeping up with the rest of the group in regards to my production, my word count, and so I found myself thinking thoughts such as you must be really slow, or if you were a natural writer like the others then you would be much faster. This kind of thinking triggered discomfort within me, and in turn affected the quality of my writing, which reinforced my pessimistic thinking.

In other words our thoughts affect our emotions, and the way we feel influences the way we behave, and our behaviour affirms our thoughts. Getting caught in this kind of loop is no laughing matter. It can sabotage our ability to create and take away from the joy of writing.

We may never reach a point where we are completely free from cognitive distortions. At least being aware of these tendencies can help us to offset its crippling cycle. In areas where we are being disparaging about ourselves, we could elicit kindness in order to restore balance. For example let us say that we berate ourselves every time we discover we made a spelling mistake, instead of stirring agitation within ourselves, we could use this opportunity to lookup the origins of that word. In the process of becoming more intimate with its use, we will not only come to know its spelling, but we will have gained more kindle for the imagination.

In the next episode we will attempt to expand the concept of creativity by comparing the notion of art with creative art. Joining me will be a professional writer and fellow creative. Her insight will no doubt rock our world! You’re listening to Creative Writing Tips. I am your host Jason Youngman, encouraging you all to expand the parameters of creativity!

 

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Creative Writing Tips #5

“Deliberation (consilium) is a certain sort of inquiry that proceeds from certain things to other things; this is the work of reason.”
– ST II-II Q49 A5

(Click on the the media player to listen to the podcast as you read the transcript below. In the event that you are unable to access the audio please be courteous and let me know.)

Welcome back to the 5th episode of Creative Writing Tips! I am your host Jason Youngman. Today’s show is going to be rather theoretical in nature; nevertheless, it’s a necessary step in the evolution of becoming a great writer.

How do you balance yourself between activities that demand your time, focus and energy? It is not uncommon for change, new pressing needs, to come along and take you off course. So you find yourself in a situation where you need to re-evaluate and re-assess your priorities. Perhaps you have been smooth sailing for so long that you have forgotten how to manoeuvre through rough seas.

To deal with such obstacles it’s often a good idea to get back to the basics. By basics I mean your base for reasoning or trouble shooting. My base or foundation for thinking is composed of 4 elements, namely: Intention, deliberation, decision & execution. This logical sequence is often applied when considering a significant change in life. Allow me to run you through this 4 step process in view to removing obstacles or impediments from our path.

1. Intention is a tending towards some actual thing. It is not a wish, but is more like an aiming of an action towards some purpose, some end.

2. Deliberation can be rendered as a careful consideration of the course of action intended.

3. Decision is your conclusion or resolution. It confirms the way you are to proceed once you have thoroughly considered the reasons behind your intention.

4. Execution is the action or the carrying out of what you intend or plan to put into effect.

To demonstrate this process let us say you want to be a writer. But does this ‘wanting’, in and of itself, justify the cause? Of course not. So what do you have to do to assert yourself; i.e. tend towards a particular action? We must consider if this a wise course of action and whether or not it is within our power to achieve the desired goal. So you must deliberate to determine if becoming a writer is within your control, and by what means is best to attain your objective. Once we have fully examined the matter we will arrive at some kind of conclusion, which will largely determine how best to proceed, so naturally a decision will follow from this juncture. Assuming you got the goods, the potential and the means, including the fortune or environment by which to thrive, then the next stage entails putting your money where your mouth is. In other words you put into action what you intend to do.

If only we could put our life in order as easy as that. Now that would be something to marvel at. So what would you do if you had to clean the dishes after a large dinner party? You start by scrapping and rinsing off the leftovers from the plates. In other words we begin by creating space for ourselves to do the work.

The same principle applies here. We start by carving out some time to seriously think things through to the end. Ideas will continue to float around in our head like clouds unless we get down and touch the ground in order to make them sound. In other words, if we are serious about creative writing then we have to make our wishes real; i.e. ground them in reality. Therefore ‘intention, deliberation, decision and execution’ is a practical way to pin down our wishes so as to make them real.

To conclude allow me to summarize the soul of this lesson. The greatest obstacle that we are likely to face when it comes to writing, or pursuing any significant goal for that matter, may not be something exterior and outside of our control, but may very well be our self, our lack of in-depth thinking. In the next episode it may be a good idea to discuss further impediments to the process of writing, such as cognitive distortions or thinking errors. Until next time, this is Jason Youngman, your host of Creative Writing Tips.

 

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Creative Writing Tips #4

“The undercurrent of creativity flows steadily, and sometimes it is still. Working with these forces can complement our goals as writers, and help us to avoid wasting time.”
– Jason Youngman

(Click on the the media player to listen to the podcast as you read the transcript below. In the event that you are unable to access the audio please be courteous and let me know.)

The technique to be discussed in this episode is probably the most transformative exercise of the season. It consists of locating the top emotional states that are conducive to being the best version of you. So if one of your major objectives in life is to be an excellent writer, then you’re going to want to cultivate emotional states of mind that are instrumental to attaining results.

For instance some writers will listen to music in order to put themselves in the right frame of mind for generating ideas. Now should you ask them what this state of mind is like, chances are they are going to provide words that are emotionally charged, such as enthused, tranquil or engaged. Now many of us know that music is not the only means to prepare us for such emotional states of mind. Some people will go for an invigorating walk, meditate, or do yoga in order to get into the groove for writing.

The main thing at this point is to figure out which emotions help you remain in your writing flow. Try to locate the emotional states of mind that are useful for being productive as a writer. List at least 5 emotions but go for more if you can. Here’s 60 seconds of reflection time to jot down your answers on paper.

What did you make of the elevator music? That was me singing with my acoustic guitar. Can you guess the emotional state that I was experiencing during that recording? Aha, you got it, that’s the key to opening the door to creativity. E – M-o-t-i-o-n. Emotion. E represents eternity and motion represents the movement that flows from eternity. Sounds rather poetic doesn’t it? And yet, behind every act of excellence there is a beating heart, a desire to turn towards what is naturally good, complete or in perfect harmony.

How about yourself? What emotions did you come up with? As for myself I am inclined to say that ‘flow’ is the ideal state for creativity. This generally means getting completely absorbed in an activity, as in heart and soul with concentrated focus. However the emotions that resonate with flow seem to fluctuate. For example, when the flow is fast then we may experience excitement and invigoration. But when it’s calm or slow then we know tranquility and peace of mind.

Depending on the velocity or intensity of the flow we may have to gauge our actions. So for instance if you experience tranquility, this may be a good time to reflect on what you need to let go of so as to clarify and improve your writing project; whereas when you are experiencing the strong currents of flow, it may be a good time to write as fast as possible with little consideration to grammar or syntax.

There is a ton of stuff written on the concept of flow so we don’t need to elaborate on it here. The main thing is to be mindful of the particular emotions you experience while you are fully engaged in the writing process. Ideally we want to exercise a way to get into the creative mode, sustain it, and produce results.

Being able to recall such emotional states of mind is conducive to entering into the flow, but it’s not sufficient in and of itself. It is also helpful to get our bodies into gear. That is why some writer’s go for a stroll or practice yoga in order to enter into their writing space. In fact some of us come up with our best ideas while dancing.

Imagine your body as a receptor for the muses. If it’s tight and rigid, then it’s going to be closed off to its influence. But when it’s nimble, relaxed and flexible, we are effortlessly in-tuned to whatever unconscious stimulus that might emerge. To be fully engaged in an activity, to embody that practice, every part of us has to be involved in the process, not just our brains.

In the next talk it may be prudent to discuss what might need to be removed from our writing space in order to maintain a balance between our creations and our ability to produce such creations. The principle behind this lesson is to avoid burning the candle from both ends. This is Jason Youngman, your host of Creative Writing Tips, until next time, happy writing.

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Creative Writing Tips #3

Get down and touch the ground techniques for creative writing is an introspective way to activate the imagination and elicit ideas to keep our pen flowing. Click on the orange button of the media player below to listen as you read.

“Withdraw into yourself and look, if you do not yet therein discover beauty, do as the artist, who cuts off, polishes and purifies, until he has adorned his statue with all the marks of beauty.” – Plotinus

(Click on the the media player to listen to the podcast as you read the transcript below. In the event that you are unable to access the audio please be courteous and let me know.)

Welcome back to the third episode of Creative Writing Tips. My name is Jason Youngman. It’s mid September, 2019, and all is well with the world. Today we are going to reach for the jugular vein of creative writing, so as to transform a supposed negative experience into a positive one.

Let’s get pumped in order to jump right into the swing of things! Could you rub your hands together to create some warmth? Rub your hands faster, faster, faster. Feel that burn? No burning sensation you say, keep rubbing until you feel it… Then run your hands gently over your face. Allow your facial skin to absorb the heat as your mind settles and becomes tranquil.

Now it’s time to make some magic for your creative pen. Think back to a time in your life when you reacted with embarrassment to someone. Perhaps that person said something in a public place that triggered intense emotional discomfort. Choose a memory that has surfaced in your mind from time to time over the years. A memory in particular that sometimes leaves you feeling distraught, powerless or ashamed.

Next, compare your negative memory with one of my embarrassing experiences: During my first year at University one of my Professors asked if we had any questions about the course. This was the last day of class for the semester and so he wanted us to dialogue about the course content. He spent around 10 minutes trying to get us to engage, but there were no takers, so the hell with it, I took the bait. Yes Jason, his eyes lit up with relief. Dr. Prickly, do you recall the first day of class when you spoke about the significance of coffee and how it relates to people on all levels of society? His face opened into a pool of frustration as he surveyed the room. Yes Jason, matter of fact I do, he spoke quietly, while slowly walking towards me, and based on the facial expressions of the students in this room, it’s consequentially certain that you are a burnout.

Let’s stop the story for a moment. Now try to feel the friction you felt in your hands while rubbing them at the beginning of this talk, and magnify that intensity tenfold. Very good, now transfer that sensation into your face in order to feel the blood redness of my embarrassment. To make the situation worse nobody wanted to change the subject, so the good Professor spent the rest of the class explaining every facet of how coffee impacts our lives, from the way we create laws right down to how people socialize at coffee shops. The funny thing about this ordeal was that it was his best lecture ever, probably in his whole career for that matter, but somehow he perceived me as some kind of instigator.

As much as a part of me wanted to have slapped his face into a red chilli-pepper, the man gave me an incredible gift, and now this gift is yours. As you rewrite your embarrassing memory, slowly implement absurd changes into the story. For example, we could depict Dr. Prickly with a pink dress. Go all out and explain in detail how his chest hair would protrude through the centre opening of his cotton filled d size bra. Don’t hold back on how his high pitched voice would make the students worm in their seats. Can you hear Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star being played in the back ground? Of course you can, just imagine it happening, and continue to overlap the scenario with all kinds of ridiculous features. As you rewrite your story just keep adding outrageous stuff. Continue to interrupt the memory until it becomes like a corrupted digital file that can no longer be played on your computer.

And that my friend is how we can use creativity to transform even the most appalling experiences. For creative writing is truly liberating, so write your own gospel everyday if that’s what it will take to purge your-self from mental slavery. Get down and touch the ground to transcribe your words in the sand if it pleases you, and watch the world open to you in ways that you can only imagine! The word is a living and breathing fire, use it wisely my friends. In the next episode we’ll take a look at how to kindle the fire of creativity. You’re listening to Creative Writing Tips. My name is Jason Youngman, until next time, happy writing.

 

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Creative Writing Tips #2

“Remove from your soul, therefore, all that is superfluous, straighten out all that is crooked, purify and illuminate what is obscure, and do not cease perfecting your statue until the divine resplendence of virtue shines forth upon your sight.” – Plotinus

(Click on the the media player to listen to the podcast as you read the transcript below. In the event that you are unable to access the audio please be courteous and let me know.)

Get down and touch the ground techniques for creative writing is an introspective way to activate the imagination and elicit ideas to keep our pen flowing. In the spirit of Plotinus withdraw into yourself and look, ‘if you do not yet therein discover beauty, do as the artist, who cuts off, polishes and purifies, until she has adorned her statue with all the marks of beauty.’ By entering into a mental space that allows for a freedom of thought, a non reactive mode of existence, we enter a stream of sorts that naturally carries us along without resistance or contention. Here we find a ground of being in which potential lives and breathes unhindered, forever yearning to bud through creativity, a perennial wisdom by which our souls are replenished, and a song by which all things harmoniously dance.

As we wait for the elevator technician to show up, the conversation begins to glisten with anticipation of another kind. At first her laughter is shallow with nervous scraping, but soon it deepens and permeates the entire space. Maybe this is a dream, so I focus all my attention on that which naturally beckons me… her lips. Her lips are no longer dry or tightly pressed together. They are moist and soft as gentleness. Heaven have mercy, ah, the bewilderment of the heart, now her eyes are blinking in slow motion, and her smile removes all sense of self. There is a layer of mist growing thicker on the mirrors, concealing her thousand reflections. We have fallen back into the womb of life with only one singular intention, and love is its name.

Thank you Ralf for the incentive to follow up with the elevator story from the last episode, which happens to be 100 percent fiction by the way. However, some of our shared experiences will be drafted into this series, so hold on your hat me old trout.

Danke schön, Georg, for helping me to bring the muses into play. Everybody listen closely to what Georg wrote me: I listened with great joy and increasing admiration to your first episode, Jason. It´s fantastic! You appear like a pro!

He goes on to say: All in all a perfect synthesis of entertainment, instruction and making it a personal experience.

Well Georg, I am ever so grateful for your encouragement.

My third and final shout-out before we get things underway is to my brother Moe. Thank you tenfold for your faith in the life giving power of the word. For by, through and with it, all things participate in creativity.

This is the second episode of the Creative Writing Tips podcast. I am your host Jason Youngman. It’s early September 2019. One of the more beautiful months of the year here in Atlantic Canada. Soon the leaves will turn colour and mother nature will prepare us for the long cold night of winter. Parents are happy because their kids are back in school. It’s an occasion for new beginnings for many of us.

Anywho, my objective for today’s podcast is to get your creative juices flowing. That is to introduce you to a way to turn an ordinary experience into an engaging one, by using creativity to shake up the mix and transform it into some kind of wonderful.

Now before we get things under way I would like to say a few words about my personal style. Being Canadian and all some of my jokes are not going to phase you, so if it sounds like I’m saying something really absurd, then that might be a good indication that humour is being applied. So let’s put the show on the road.

Over the years I worked at some call centres. For the most part we receive phone calls from Americans. As your customer service representative it was my job to troubleshoot your cell phone and internet issues. Most of you were happy as a pig in mud to get me on the phone because of my communication skills and proficiency with English.

But do you want to know what made your phone calls with me all the more enjoyable? It was my ability to tell you a good yarn. A yarn you say, what the hec is that! A yarn is a story you make up that is suited to the person or group you are speaking with. In other words I was creating stories for you on the spot. For example it could be about living in an igloo – a dome shaped house made out of hard snow – or how it was my turn to carry kindle to work to fuel the wood stove to keep us all warm up here in our one room call centre. Yes that was me pulling your pinky finger, and the stories would get more and more ludicrous as the time went by, until you realized that there was no way such events could be true. Meanwhile your technical issue was in the process of being resolved and your stress level was diminished.

And that ladies and gentlemen is the gist of today’s talk, namely how to use creativity to turn a seemingly ordinary event into a positively constructive one. But how do we get our pen into motion here? Once the story has been vocalized then it’s usually a breeze to get it down on paper. Another option is just to keep adding onto the story. Make it your goal to gradually stretch it out so that it takes the listener or reader longer to know that he or she is being fed a good old fashion yarn.

In the next episode we’ll take this technique a step further. We’ll choose a negative experience and turn it into a positive one. By turning the negative on its head we are bound to make discoveries, and create content by which to keep our pen flowing. My name is Jason Youngman. Your host of Creative Writing Tips. Until next week, happy writing.

 

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Creative Writing Tips #1

“One is distracted by this notion that there is such a thing as inspiration, that it comes fast and easy. And some people are graced by that style. I’m not. So I have to work as hard as any stiff, to come up with my payload.” ―Leonard Cohen

Because most of you – at present – who frequent my site are also blogging, I thought it might be a good idea to share one of my inventions or techniques for keeping the pen flowing so to speak and naturally coming up with fresh ideas to share and write about.

Click on the media player above for an intro and spoken rendition of this week’s blog, or click here to download it in mp3. This is the first of a series of talks on creative writing, so how they come into form largely depends on the sort of feedback you provide. Continue reading

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