Archive for May, 2010

Wordsparks #002: Cure for Writers’ Block

Thursday, May 27th, 2010



This morning, I sat down to write, intending to work on a story I’d started a couple of weeks ago, but I couldn’t find it. I can only guess it’s on the other computer, but that left me with a problem. I was unexpectedly catapulted into ‘White Page Syndrome,’ you probably know what I’m talking about, but in case not, here is some medical detail, because the Internet is a great tool for self-diagnosis after all. 



According to many eminent doctors, White Page Syndrome affects 97% of writers at some point in their life[1]. Unless they are fortunate enough to take dictation straight from God, but that brings it’s own problems, as Mohammed would probably agree.




Symptoms include, fidgeting, nose-picking, palpitations, shortness of breath, restlessness and an involuntary compulsion to do low-priority household tasks, like sewing up the holes in tea-towels and fishing goo out of plug holes with a crochet hook[2]. Some resultant behaviours are harmless enough – doing repeated ‘Word Counts’ on works-in-progress and formatting the page to how it would look in a book is admittedly a waste of time, but causes no real damage. But in extreme cases you can develop a full-blown ‘Fraud Mentality’: that you will never write again, you never were a writer in the first place, and why on earth would anyone be interested in what you have to say anyway…


Familiar, at all?


If so, here’s something you should try. This is my ‘In Emergency Break Glass,’ exercise, and I used it this morning after an hour and a half of drawing blanks for ideas and progressing through an accelerated series of symptoms. It may not work for everybody, but I swear by it, and I hope it works for you too.


Baxterbox – Online Shop…Now online!

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010



A shop for Mollie’s Publications and Recordings is now online!


It’s been something of a slow process, requiring a visit to West End Post Office with a pile of jiffy bag combinations, a very patient cashier and the repeated question of ‘how much to post this? …Or how about I do this? … Or this?’ but it’s all finally up and operational. A fully-staffed warehouse is poised to take your order 24 hours a day… sort of.


But it is fully secure thanks to Big Cartel, payments made via Paypal, credit or debit card. (If you’d liked to pay by cheque, please email


To visit the shop, click here, or navigate via the shopping trolley icon at the top of the home page.


Currently in stock are:




Before the Rain



Published by Flax in 2008 this collection of fiction features Mollie Baxter, Thomas Fletcher and Peter Wild


‘… An abiding characteristic of Mollie Baxter’s writing, that raises her tales into the level of real greatness, is her ability to pull off the unexpected. Rather than the road less travelled, it’s a road cleaved through the thicket. Every literary cliché, every predictable turn of phrase and plot transition is avoided and subverted. Her take on mental illness through the theme of colour (’Colour Fractions’) is one from an utterly new angle, as poignant and sympathetic, as it is inspired. What you think you see coming is not what arrives.’ Dogmatika Review March 2008



Wordsparks! #001: Rorschach Inkblots

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010


Here are some Rorschach inkblots – these images alone might be enough to spark a piece of writing. If so, go with it!


OR, play with questions:

          - What do I see?

          - What emotions do they stir in me?

          - What is your Inner Observer noticing as they watch you looking?

          - What visual associations do I make with, say the natural world or the 


          - What other senses can I tap into e.g. if these inkblots had sounds,

            what would they be?

          - What 3 experiences do I have that are in some way connected, however



OR,  read this Wikipedia article. This can be close or loose reading. (In close reading, you read slowly and carefully, taking time to process ideas, possibly rereading sections, or exploring subsections further. In loose reading you let the eye wander; on wikipedia you might notice hilighted phrases, that taken in isolation may allow unexpected connections or interpretations


E.g.    Thought disorder

          Ambiguous design

          Bilateral symmetry


Can you use these phrases to cluster more, until you have the start of a poem?

Thinking in Slices

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

square-cuts‘Thinking in Slices’ is a kind of ghost story. It was published in Flax’s ‘Square Cuts,’ anthology as a limited edition mini-book, but is still available free, for online download from the Litfest website.

Believe it or not I hadn’t realised the parallels it has with a certain film starring Alan Rickman and Zoe Wannamaker… it was more about my aspirations to one day learn the cello. Maybe writing about it helped it come true!


Extract from ‘Nailing Cats to Trees.’ (Work in Progress.)

Sunday, May 16th, 2010


She stepped off the bus unable to remember any of the ride home. All she’d thought about was how to put Ste’s invitation to her parents. It was important, she’d decided, for her to show that she had pre-empted their fears, but at the same time to play them down. Her argument was ready, refined to three stages: First, a calm, reasonable and confident approach.  Second, the statement of Ste’s invitation. Thirdly, the mediation: she was on top of exam revision, Ste was a good, responsible friend, they were going to pick her up and bring her back.

She pushed through the front gate, and almost collided with Dad who was coming out of the shed.

‘What’s up?’ she asked pinning herself against the wall to let him pass. Something was wrong; she could see it in his face. She watched him disappear round the side of the house. He was wearing marigold gloves and was carrying pliers. She carried on inside.

In the kitchen, water thundered into the sink. Lucy went in just in time to see Mum take Craig’s arms roughly and plunge them into the lather.

‘Scrub them!’ she ordered, passing him a nailbrush.

Typical, thought Lucy. In trouble again. Her brother was thirteen, three years younger than her. Craig spent a lot of time in the garden – they weren’t really allowed out of the house on their own except to go to school. Perhaps he’d been playing near the septic tank again.


The Wheelie Bins of Low Bottom

Saturday, May 8th, 2010


So, let’s see… what have we got?

LOW BONOM… LOW BOTTO…LOW BUTTON… and last but not least… OW BOTTOM.

Now, I speculate that this is to differentiate between the different households living in the converted farm complex – ingenious and rather amusing!

Upright Piano

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

piano-full-crop We played an Existence Gig at The Oakwood in Glossop on Saturday. A fabulous venue run by the most hospitable people you could wish to meet.


Had to share these photos though: In their beer garden is an old upright piano. It’s casing has been removed and it’s partially filled up with soil ‘to put some flowers in.’ I think it was Rae who assured us ‘It was like this when we found it,’ as if we might take issue with them for piano abuse! But doesn’t it look beautiful? (HORTICULTURAL NEWSFLASH: Cukes rather poor, gherkins are mad forrit – I have surplus plants.) Perhaps I should send them some gherkins to plant in it. Or nasturtiums would be quite nice…


The colours and textures are amazing, I reckon I’ll be using these images for posters. You’re welcome to use them too – if you could acknowledge them that would be appreciated.

Spanners in the works!

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

A technical problem is being sorted… I can’t upload this or last week’s post properly until it’s fixed. Look at this  instead, it sums up the situation perfectly and who’d have thought there was a website devoted to this…