A collection of sixteen medical manuscripts to edit, plus helping to judge entries in a national short story competition, plus starting to prepare a short story entry for another competition, plus work on the Heritage Lottery Fund application, have kept me fairly quiet this week… Well, to be more accurate, they’ve kept me fairly noisy with imprecations, but they’ve kept me off the streets. I managed to fit in more work on the drama script in between times and we might now have a male lead for the production… We’ll see. (I’ve even managed to snatch a few hours’ sleep.)

But most of this weekend has been devoted to storytelling activities: a great professional performance on Friday in Matlock, which was both enjoyable and educational (we can all learn by studying how top professionals do the job in any sphere of life); a brilliant workshop on Saturday, which made us all work hard and left me on a high; and a quieter performance in Buxton today, where I presented a story honed by what I’d learned during the previous two days. At the lunch break in the workshop I raised with the professional who was running the session the question that’s dominated my previous two blogs: why do storytelling and creative writing work synergistically? She offered the opinion that both are creative activities involving overlapping (to some extent identical) brain areas, so storytelling perhaps influences creative writing in the same way that free-writing exercises do. It’s an interesting thought and I think it’s part of the answer.

One requirement for both writers and storytellers is to read. I’ve recently been enjoying Rose Tremain’s novels and now I’m reading Ian McEwan’s 2011 novel Solar. The latter is much more amusing (less dark) than most of McEwan’s work but – though the writing is very different – it’s as stylistically accomplished as Tremain’s books. When you read work of such high quality and think about how the authors achieve their effects, your own writing is bound to benefit – provided you don’t just try to emulate their styles, which is a guaranteed road to disaster taken only by the terminally dumb.

Tomorrow I’m to chair a meeting of the various interested parties involved in local activities to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War. I have two meetings on Tuesday… and after that my diary is mercifully almost empty for a few days – so I might be able to get back to the work I want to do! We shall see.

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