Category Archives: Creativity

So keen to embrace creativity, passion and enthusiasm – whether in business, travel, writing or any of my interests. Grateful to some new friends who are showing me so much about how this process works, and how to nurture and respect the creative spark in so many parts of our lives.

We run the streets

We run the streets

Darkness. A physical silence. The noise of them had passed, the sudden throbbing and pulsating pain of it – all gone. A slow drip from a broken pipe. Dark puddles on the concrete floor. Broken glass everywhere. I lay still where I had fallen then slowly turned my head. Night reflections of the city. Yellow and orange, inky black.

I close my eyes, trying to feel my body. I can taste the blood in my mouth. I see one of them again, dark shadows, fist raised.

It wasn’t personal, it wasn’t me. I just happened to be there. I raised myself up, looking around. I knew they had gone. Swept on by each other, feeling the rush, railing against the world. But I looked anyway. Pale smoke in the dark distance, there was a faint smell of petrol.

I remember parking, going to the store, picking up groceries. I had talked with him, I always do. We have talked most nights for years, I still don’t know his name. I had often though of asking, but it never seemed right.

Did I sense anything? Like those machines that pick up changes in the atmosphere, tornado warnings?

There was the usual tensions, the constant backdrop of bad news. Bad TV – riot pictures. Bad radio – interviews with nervous politicians. Nothing special.

He had seemed uneasy, fidgety. Maybe he felt something.

“You OK?”
“Tired that’s all. Just tired of it all. No energy. No business. No point.”

He looked around, scanning the street.
So did I.

“It’s late – you shutting shop?”
“Yes – you’re the last for today.”
“Well, good luck.”

I had paid and crossed the dark and empty road. Behind me I could hear him pull down the heavy metal shutters. The rattle of the chains. I didn’t look back.

I remembered reaching the car, putting my bag down, looking for the key. Hearing them in the distance, my heart jumping. A car alarm. Glass breaking. Seeing them running the street, yelling. Sweeping towards me, like flood waters channeled by the road. Dark clothes, so fast. Swarming. Moulded into a single presence, mindless, uncontrollable, powerful and full of malice. No chance of appeal. There had been nothing, then in a blur they were on me, brutal shocks, blackness and it was over.

Now it feels so calm. The storm has spent itself. No tension.

I stood up, slowly, wiping blood off my hand. Just scratches from the broken glass. Twisted wrist from the fall. Nothing broken. Maybe a tooth. Groceries strewn all over the place. Mindlessly I started to pick them up, put them back in the bags. I felt cold, alone. Helpless. I started to shake.


Notes from the Word Hoard

The way the exercise works is explained here.


protest or just run
broken glass everywhere
caught up in everything
holding up the law
break in your hands
in the noise and darkness
swarming down the roads
writing on the walls
and everything breaking
to want just you
Broken glass everywhere * Selected


I chose ‘Broken glass everywhere’ and the short story turned out to be very close to the image. I first thought of running in the physical sense, and then in terms of ownership.

Leaving space for people

In the Arts

Another great evening last week discussing creative writing with Gary Mepsted. One of the main subjects that comes up consistently is that of leaving space for the reader.

This is extremely important in creative writing – if we provide all the answers and explanations the reader will become bored. Give them the space to work things out for themselves, and leave them with a sense of satisfaction – ideally the emotion would be ‘I didn’t expect that – but yes, I understand”. People are also absolutely prepared to have many minor things left unresolved, a beginner writer like myself is too often tempted to make everything too neat.

In photography I am also learning that without a story that allows the viewer to participate the photo is a meaningless snap. A friend often describes this as ‘context’ – she will ignore a pretty scene of a boat drifting by, because there is no story. She will be facing the other way – finding images and stories amongst the graffiti on the wall.

This is true in business and also in my life.

In business we have been designing and implementing a comprehensive dashboard this month. I have all of the financial information nailed, its just a question of presentation. But one of the metrics needs to be a measure of satisfaction and engagement of our staff. I passed around a simple graph that a friend who runs a search company had found very useful – a simple graph that asks you to plot where you are on two axes – one is how clear your role / tasks are – and the other is how much freedom you have within that role.


The idea of course is that without the freedom you simply won’t be engaged – people need space to contribute – they want to chose the best way to get things done, participate fully in the way they accomplish the tasks the company needs them to complete. They need space to express themselves.

In life I am learning now to make sure that I respect peoples space – i think I have always had a temptation to try to control too much. A friend I met recently is just a brilliant example of this – she wants to live life to the full – but expects to control nothing, to enjoy the weirdness and excitement with what happens if you pursue your passions and learn from those you meet on the way.



Connecting the dots


I was out walking in the rain this morning when I took this simple image of rain drops.

As I walked on my mind turned to a phrase that is used so commonly – “connecting the dots”. And I started trying to connect them, and thinking what we really mean by this phrase.

So what are the dots? In my new child-like world and in the context of this post they are something very special, something that adds to my understanding, helps me improve in one of my main passions, raises my excitement level or adds to my interests. I think of them as gems.

In practical terms I see them as either ideas or people –

  • Ideas – like how to improve a specific area of my company, or a subject to photograph, or a thought for a new travel venture.
  • People – people who are experts, who share their passion – or make your stomach tense when you are with them, or surprise you with their loyalty, openness and friendship.

How can we make and sustain these connections? By changing our behavior so as to find them, value them and bring them into our lives in a sustained and repeating way, rather than encountering them once – and then moving on. Some examples :

  • In Business – through processes. We take an idea – perhaps through a presentation or meeting we attended, a project that succeeded or failed or a customer that came across us for particular reasons – and we build a process that ensures we take advantage of that idea in a repeatable and sustainable way. We need to both implement the idea – bring it back to the business – but also make that experience repeatable and sustaining through incorporating it in a defined and appropriate way. Connect the idea to what we do in our companies – make it a part of how we work.
  • In creativity – through reflection and thoughtful analysis. Yes we need to continually seek out and learn  from experts to   ensure that we see and can become inspired by the work these talented people create, but then we should reflect on what their expertise might mean in our own lives and actively explore areas where different ideas intersect with each other.
  • In our personal lives – through attitude and bandwidth. This might be through exploring social networking, attending new  types of performances and shows – or going on courses to build personal relationships with talented people and fellow students. By not allowing ourselves to become lazy and complacent.

Why should we do this? Doing so increases our excitement, improves the quality of what we do and makes us more open and full of ideas. It preserves those gems over time – by connecting them we learn to remember them and stay connected, rather than feel inspired just once and then lose them over time.

What does this mean for me? I think it means I need to

  • Find as many gems as possible. I intend to do this by making sure I am always looking, pushing myself into new areas and unfamiliar territory –  always staying open.
  • Look always for new connections, new ways to keep these ideas and people connected so that I can benefit from their impact and expertise in a sustained way, and hopefully add my own thoughts so as to raise the bar in everything I do.




Burning the candle

I am really enjoying the chance to touch base with the more creative side of myself, something that during the last 10 years I had really let slip.

Not just going to shows, but participating and pushing myself in areas which I find difficult and challenging. I am loving a creative writing class in Brighton, and have also started photography again. With all this has come new friends, and I am really enjoying being around people who love the night and can lose themselves in creative projects.

I took this photo last night and I think it captures something of that kind of atmosphere – late night working, deadlines and passion for what you do that breaks down barriers and conventions – which is so attractive and exciting to me.