I’m pleased with how well I’m engaging with my online writing course at the moment.  I’m hoping that I’ll get through quite a bit this week as I’m off work.

There’s a focus on character at the moment – we started by watching a video clip and noting down a few details about the people in it.  This formed the start of our character sketch.  After looking at some examples of character development we were asked to expand a little on it.

Character Sketch (first draft)

She sits, leaning forward on the metal bench.  Her fingers are anxiously rubbing at the purple silky sleeping bag cover on her knee.  She is clearly waiting for something, or someone.  She looks nervously left and right down the street, peering past the people who are cluttering up her view.  She sits alone on the bench but she is squashed into the corner, as if she feels she shouldn’t be sitting there.  As if she isn’t really allowed.

She sighs deeply, as if resigned to the disappointment that clouds over her blue eyes.  She reaches into the large shapeless canvas bag which has been sitting at her feet and pulls out a notebook.  Adjusting herself, she rests against the back of the bench, shakes off her shoes and tucks her feet underneath her.  Fingers flick through pages until they reach on which is pure, unspoiled and ripe for words…

Friday 19th June, at the park entrance

I really thought he’d show.  I know that’s foolish.  He’s disappointed so many times before but I believed him yet again.  If I head back now I’ll have to face the music, hear them say they told me so, laugh at my stupidity.  I don’t think I can bare it.  I don’t think I can return.

Her eyes drift away from the paper.  She casts a final wistful glance around then she slips her feet back into the ruby slippers, flings the bag on her back and the sleeping bag under her arm.  The path guides her towards the river, slowly winding aimlessly through oak trees.

She puts down her belongings and swings her legs over the riverbank.  Taking off the ruby slippers, a tear slowly rolls down her pale cheek.

Suddenly she comes to life.  Her ruby slippers are violently flung into the water and she is screaming, “Screw your over-the-rainbow shit.  I’ve fucking had it.”



Continuing with the online writing course, we are looking at where we write:

Worst place to write

It’s really busy and cramped, noise clatters around me.  The hostile metal of the station bench pushes against my bones, acting as a wick for the cold that surrounds.  Feet rush past; high heels click clacking as they rush for the train.  There is too much going on.  The thoughts in my mind are fighting against the pain in my joints.  Voices invade my space along with the bodies they belong to.  Pushing and jostling.  I move away from the torturous seat and go in search of coffee.

Best place to write

There’s some gentle background music.  Acoustic probably.  I’m cocooned in a blanket, cosy and warm as I sidle up to the radiator.  The chair hugs me, supportively.  I reach out for the pot of tea as I run words over my tongue.  Testing them.  Choosing them.  Rejecting them.  My laptop sits on the table next to paper and pen.  I flick between the two mediums although everything will end up electronic in the end.


After a couple of failed attempts at online courses (both free – one was too heavy and the other was too reliant on video clips which I can’t see on my phone thus limiting when I can access the course) I’ve started another Future Learn course, this time it’s ‘Start writing fiction’.

One of the first tasks was to write 50-100 words including…

…one fact, three fiction

So, it’s Monday lunchtime.  I’m standing by the river, sun shining on my back as I gaze at the ripples.  Gently, ducks bob by, their tranquillity slows my heart beat.  I know appearances mislead and their feet are paddling furiously but I let myself believe the beautiful lie.

…three facts, one fiction

Distractedly gazing at the computer screen, my mind ticks over to the weekend.  I’m off to the countryside where I hope the sun will shine and revitalise my soul.  Just need to get through a few days in the job from hell.


Then a quick look at the writer’s notebook:

The writer’s notebook

Collections of facts and fictions

Brief observations

Enchanting words

Snippets of inspiration

Whispers of stories

Ghosts of characters

Unimagined worlds

Lodging within

Cardboard covers


Then we looked why different writers write.

 Why do I write?

I write to create a world, to make sense of the world.  I write to develop characters, further my understanding of them and myself through them.  Writing is a lens to see the world through.  It helps me to focus on details which are so easily lost in the universe.  Words allow me to frame ideas, understand my thoughts and explore within me.  I use words to shine light on crevices that would remain in the dark.  Writing allows me to listen to myself.  Writing can be meditation, reflection, observation.  Writing is a journey into other worlds, other ways, into yourself.

I’ve always written.  I wrote story after story as a child.  I dabbled in haiku and acrostic.  I wrote my own newspapers and magazines.  As a teenager I indulged in dark, dramatic, miserable poetry.  Written in notebooks that never left my side.  Written in the margins of my maths work.  I reached a stage where writing was no longer consoling me, it was holding me hostage to the depression that blackened my day.  I took a break.  I am returning to writing, more mature, less brooding.  I am a different person.  I am a different writer.