Ten Years Today

Ten years ago today, at 12.51 pm, a massive earthquake struck the Canterbury region of New Zealand. It was centred only 6.7 kilometres from the centre of the city of Christchurch, which suffered severe damage. 185 people died. Countless more were left homeless, terrified, psychologically scarred. They were now the reluctant custodians of a ruined city. […]

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My Mother has Dementia

My mother was diagnosed with dementia almost two years ago. My father found her spooning marmalade into a wine glass. That, along with her slurred words, her frustrated struggle to form coherent sentences, and her propensity to sleep most of the day were early clues. After a puzzling few months during which none of us […]

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The Memory of Place

For the last 21 years I have holidayed at the same beach on the Coromandel (a peninsula in New Zealand’s upper North Island, beloved by Kiwis for its beaches and holiday homes and summer activities). Eighteen of those summers were spent with my ex-partner and his family, with my daughter added to the mix when […]

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The Joy of Sadness

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” -W.B. Yeats I want to say a brief word today about the importance of making space for sadness. I’m not going to give a lecture about being brave enough to face our sad feelings in order to work […]

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Look at the World

I named my blog after the New Zealand bellbird (in Māori, korimako) – and not just because my last name is Bell. I have always loved birds: for their beauty and intense fragility, the sense of freedom they represent, and for their song. The bellbird is particularly gorgeous. The explorer Captain Cook wrote of its […]

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Love poems aren’t just for Jack and Jill

When we think love poems we tend to automatically jump to the heteronormative position, in which opposite-sex sexuality and relationships are presented as the norm. But literature is rich with poems about love and sex in all its varied LGBTQ expressions, if we care to look. Today I want to share three of my favourites. […]

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The Pantser and The Second Act Sag (Or, more things I have learnt writing a novel)

I’ve finished my first novel, and plans are underway to publish it. As I bask in the afterglow (AKA the thank-feck-that’s-over, Netflix-saturated, crap-magazine-reading malaise), I’ve been reflecting on the novel-writing process and what more it has taught me (You may also want to read my earlier post, Ten things I have learnt writing a novel). […]

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Escaping Ourselves

“But if these years have taught me anything it is this: you can never run away. Not ever. The only way out is in.”–Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao If you’ve pottered around my site for long enough you will know that I’ve been writing a novel. It’s finished now, and I’m in the […]

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Point of View: How to Choose?

Today I thought I’d tackle the perennially difficult topic of point of view (POV). I’m not an expert, so I’m not going to offer “expert” advice. I’m simply going to share my own experience. I don’t think I need to list and define the various narrative POVs: Google “point of view” and you’ve got it […]

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Ten things I have learnt writing a novel

I’m giving my manuscript a final proofread before submitting it to a potential publisher later this month. It’s been years in the making, this novel. It has sat, untouched, for months at a time. Life has gotten in the way, including setting up my own editing business, raising my daughter, becoming single, rebuilding a life, […]

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