The writing process and the corrugated boiler flue

‘A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.’ Maya Angelou

I really really enjoyed watching ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ on the telly the other night. Emilia Fox was researching her family tree and discovered that her great-great granddad Samson Fox had developed the corrugated boiler flue, along with some other impressive pieces of equipment. Samson looked like an intriguing guy in the photos…big face, large beard, twinkly sort of eyes. The corrugated boiler flue helped him to become a multi-millionaire. I particularly liked watching Emilia’s growing affection for this great-great granddad of hers and his corrugated boiler flue. She even tramped across some sort of large overgrown industrial backyard to see one…it was big and sturdy and, naturally enough, corrugated. When she was shown a huge portrait of Samson she noticed that the nameplate underneath it was placed on a tiny corrugated boiler flue replica…the person showing the painting to her hadn’t seen this small homage. She also noticed a corrugated boiler flue painted on the decorated ceiling of a vast house Samson had lived in with his family. This tender interest in the corrugated boiler flue seemed like something from an Anne Tyler novel..I love Anne’s writing…her masterful use of detail and emotional honesty…and how she can be both straightforward and elusive.

When I give writing workshops I advise the participants to ‘cherish the details’. Small or large details (such as the corrugated boiler flue) can make a story seem more real.  The very things that seem too unimportant to mention may be the details that help bring a story to life. Another message in the workshops is that creative writing is an important and valid activity in itself. It can be therapeutic…a healing  ‘place to go to’.  A wonderful place to explore thoughts and feelings and dreams and questions. It can also be very entertaining. An adventure. Getting published is a wonderful bonus.

Went blackberrying today. A nice little autumn ritual.

Warm wishes,



THE WRITING PROCESS with Grace Wynne-Jones

7th October – 11th November 2011: Fridays 11am-1pm. €165/€150 members
If you want to book a place contact the Irish Writers’ Centre,
19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1 T: 01 872 1302 E: W:

These are playful, fun workshops that will empower your inner author and help you identify what furthers your own writing process. The workshops run over six weeks and include practical tips on handling your inner critic, experimenting with story ‘nudges’, plot, and character development and how not to be intimidated by technique.

Stories are also written during the sessions and shared in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. You will also receive input on marketing your work. Writing is an adventure! If you enjoy a good story, you can write one! Whether you’ve been writing a while, or are just starting out, this course is suitable for anyone with an interest in writing fiction. Facilitator Grace Wynne-Jones.

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