Category Archives: creating



In the crucible of my skull
a sunfish swims like a lost moon

a bruise throbs to be heard
above malign mutterings

There’s a flicker of mischief
In a nymph’s bog-green eyes

The unexplained slalom of a sleigh
rips snow off a silent roof

In the crucible of my skull
the junk of long days glows red
as it melts from trivia into story
in the Eden of my imagination

This is based on the ReadWriteWord prompt, to write a poem using many of the words in the wordle cloud above. As well as using the words I wanted to capture some of that rather magical feeling that comes when an idea suddenly starts to germinate into a poem… as happened when I started reading these words.


The creative brain

“The scans imply that there is a very consistent pattern of brain activity linked to creativity: a pattern of heightened senses and self-expression with a lack of conscious control.”

This intriguing combination of factors is quoted in a fascinating article over at Not exactly rocket science on what happens in the brain of a musician who is improvising.

Not perhaps surprising, but it’s somehow satisfying to have confirmation of some of the tips for people trying to write:  pay attention to the world around you and to yourself and your own experience. And then switch off the bit of your brain that blocks inappropriate behaviours and the bit involved in planning and methodical thinking…. and wait and see what happens!

I wonder what they’d get if they scanned the brains of writers experiencing writer’s block – probably hyperstimulation of the controlling and censoring bits!

Creativity and constraints

Creating is a strange process. Something that holds you back from creating something one day can actually be a huge spur to creativity, once you get past being held back.

I’ve always felt that being a rather incompetent pianist was a real disadvantage in composing songs. It rather restricted the mood of what I was writing – so I could write slow pieces with delicate textures, but not wild and dramatic outpourings of notes. Not that I wouldn’t have liked the wild and dramatic, but I just would never have been able to get my fingers round the notes, even with the help of multi-layer recording!

Anyway, I finally decided that I want and need to write some songs, and that my piano skills will have to do! I’ve been working on one song which is slow and delicate, and I can play the accompaniment myself but I would also really like to set a poem that I wrote a few days ago called heartsong. Which is wild and passionate – about harps and wind and song, and I knew my piano skills aren’t up to composing the sort of music I want to write on their own.

So I needed to get some ideas from somewhere to make up for my inability to play the piano well enough. In a very short time my research came up with: the true aeolian harp (i.e. a wind harp), Chopin’s Etude Op25 no 1 (called the Aeolian harp), a piece by Henry Cowell called Aeolian harp which involves sweeping the hands directly across the piano strings, and the aeolian mode.

So much inspiration! At the moment the Chopin seems to be perfect for the mood of what I want to write, so I want to see how I can draw on the elements of it that I love in my own piece. I have found the midi files and the sheet music, but it’s still very challenging to start messing around with a masterpiece!

If that doesn’t work I’d be really interested to try something involving stroking the piano strings directly – even a pianist as incompetent as me can do that!

Here’s a gorgeous recording of the Chopin: