Sunflowers by Kate Jones

The Fiction Pool

Such was her overwhelming sense of making life comfortable for her child, she couldn’t even bear for him to wait for the sunflower seeds he was planting to sprout.

Watching from her wicker chair on the decking, she had seen the concentration on his face; his small fingers pressing down the oval-shaped seeds into the soft earth contained in the little brown plastic pot she’d bought him from the hardware store.

That night, after he’d gone to bed, she’d gone right out to the late night petrol station and bought one of the tall, fully grown sunflowers from the display by the cash registers.

Carrying it back to the car, it had struck her how unreal the plant looked in the artificial overhead lights of the forecourt. Almost like some kind of artefact taken from another planet.


This need, this desire, to please her child had come shortly after…

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Sitting at my desk this morning, searching for inspiration and trying to keep warm as I stared out at the wintery landscape, a blackbird on the tree outside my window nips at the orange berries.  There are very few left on the bare branches now.  The fat pigeons have taken most of them already, as I’ve sat here watching from my desk, trying to make words appear on pages.

The bird must be freezing; it has been sub-zero temperatures lately, and thin snow and ice lay on the garden, littering the branches of my blackbird’s tree.  Yet, I also envy the bird.  Its life appears so simple, so uncomplicated.  There are berries; he eats the berries.  He will come back tomorrow and eat some more, until all the berries have gone.  Then where will he go?  Maybe he will visit the generous gardeners who buy nuts and fat balls from the shop I work in in my other life, where I need to make money to support this habit of writing. The life when I am not at my desk, but dreaming of being at my desk.  Maybe the bigger birds will get there first, leaving the small blackbird to starve.

Even so, as I drag myself back to the page and try to make sense of the work I’m trying to make, today I envy that little blackbird his freedom and simplicity.

As I return to my writing, I try to remind myself to keep it simple, always.  To allow myself freedom on the page.  To be more bird.

Kate xx

ICYMI, I have a little flash up over at called ‘Arrivals’

It’s had some lovely comments left by kind readers, which make it all worthwhile : )

Manhviler sig selv

The Danish have a saying: ‘manhviler sig selv’.  Someone who “rests within him- or herself”.  Essentially, someone happy in their own skin.

I love this saying.  I found it recently, and like all things I’m afraid I’ll forget, I scribbled it down into a notebook to come across some day when I needed a hit of inspiration.

I’ve been restless lately.  Sometimes, it feels like I’ve been restless my whole life.  I often see this as a bad thing, as a fault or weakness.  Why can’t I just be like everyone else and stick to one thing?  I ask, often.

Why can’t I just be happy to rest within myself?

The thing is: though I love this Danish saying, and wish wholeheartedly to feel restful and at one within myself, I’ve come to realise that maybe I need to be restless in order to find what makes me happy within my own skin.

I don’t know if all of us are searching for what we’re meant to do with our lives.  Some  people seem to be content to sit in front of box-sets, a glass of wine to help them unwind from the day, unquestioning.  It sounds a really relaxing way to live.  I often envy such people.

And then I don’t.  Because my discontentedness and restlessness often drives me to make changes.  It drives me to get involved in things I might never have known about.  It drives me to make changes in my life to make it better, or at least more interesting.

It drives me to write, write, write about it all.

I recently saw a documentary about the writer Joan Didion, ‘The Centre Will Not Hold’.  I’m a big fan of her writing and reportage, and a line in the documentary struck me as relevant to my own feelings on writing: ‘She always writes to find out what she thinks, and what she feels’.

I will keep striving to reach this elusive manhviler sig selv; to rest and try to feel happy in my own skin.  But in the meantime, I’ll write about the adventures on the path to getting there.

Happy adventures of your own.

Kate  xx


The Many Faces of Success

When I was a little girl, if anyone should ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was always the same: A Writer.  The only slight deviation from this was ‘A Journalist’, but basically, I wanted to get paid for writing words of some sort.

It took a long time to realize some of that ambition.  I was in my forties by the time I actually got up the nerve to submit work, and the day I got an email saying a magazine would pay me for a feature I wrote was like a dream coming true.  I had always said I’d be happy to just see my writing published somewhere – anywhere – in my lifetime.

But it’s a fact of human nature that once you get over the rush of achieving one dream, another takes its place.  I didn’t just want one piece of writing published, I wanted more than that.  I wanted to make writing my job, my full-time career.

And that is where the dissatisfaction can start to set in.  Because if you look at the writers you admire, they often don’t just write.  Writing is their passion, what they may put down in the box marked ‘Occupation’.  But often, they teach, edit, wait tables, to make ends meet.  Because writing is so important in their lives, they are willing to work in other roles to still be able to feel that thrill of seeing their writing published.

I had a conversation with someone a while back, about being a “successful” writer.  It was interesting, because neither one of us had the same ideas about what “success” actually meant.

It’s obvious to say that a bestselling novelist is a success in their field.  But unlike many other types of work, there can be such a wide-ranging scope for writers that it’s hard to pin down.

Take my own writing life so far, for example: I’ve had a few features published in that online magazine now; academic-style essays on a couple of websites; several creative non-fiction pieces/essays; and too many small flash fictions to count.  I even came first in a flash fiction contest – the first time I entered it!

So, have I made it then?  Well, that depends.  If you could go back and ask that little girl sitting on her bed making magazines, she would likely say “Yes”.  It is more than she ever expected.  But the issue remains, like for most people who pursue any kind of art: paying the bills.  The truth is, there are so many literary magazines and websites out there that run with volunteers that they don’t have the funds to pay writers.  The promise of much talked about ‘exposure’ of your work is abundant.  But at some point, it’s nice to get paid for all that effort.

I have been lucky in that I have begun to get paid for some of my writing, but not all of it, and not vast amounts by any stretch.  I recently had my second piece of writing published on the fabulous online magazine Feminartsy.   I did a lot of research for this essay, which I enjoyed as it was a subject close to me: combining motherhood and writing.  (If you’re interested, it’s here: ).

I worked with the brilliant editor at Feminartsy, who gave ideas of how to improve the piece, and I edited and polished it some more.  Last week, it was published, for a fee.  Yay!  Success!!

But I realised some time ago, that in order to allow my creativity to flow and not bite my fingernails down worrying about paying the bills, other paid work has to come into the picture.  Editing, yoga teaching, proof-reading, shop work…all these things make it possible for me to pursue my main goal, my ‘life’s work’ as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it in Big Magic, her book on creativity.  Writing.  Seeing my work out there in the world.

Success may have many different faces; it can still be success.

Keep reading and writing!

Kate xx





Writing, Motherhood, & Duvet Days

Hi all,

Well, it’s one of those autumn/fall mornings, where I woke up with a little bit of a sore throat, the sky turned grey after the beautiful October sunshine we’ve been getting here. Taking a draw on the coffee to up the caffeine and steel myself for getting out of bed, I reflected on my plans for the day: getting my youngest ready for school; attending to some volunteer duties I’d promised; promoting my essay, which went live this morning (see below!); a freelance project I need to work on…

Then, the familiar croak of my daughter’s ‘ill-voice’. Nothing scuppers a days plans so swiftly as your kids staying off school sick. So, tucking her back under the duvet, unscrewing the lid of the always-sticky paracetamol bottle, I went about squeezing my day’s work into the time I had.

Ironically, and in a totally unplanned way, I have just outlined the basis of today’s published essay. Having often been told it was ‘impossible’ to do any creative work with children around, but conversely finding that my experiences as a mother has influenced my writing in countless ways, I recently undertook a research project to read up on some of the women writers I admired at key points in my life, to see where they stood on the subject.

I found this research to be enriching to my own writing, and it encouraged me to write this essay about it

Working with the fabulous editor and creator of Feminartsy was a great experience, and I feel she helped me pull together all the strands of my argument.  I hope you enjoy reading – I’m proud of this one! : )

Happy reading and writing,

Kate  xx



Falling in Love Again

I’ve always had a love affair with books.

Books, reading, writing.  These three elements made up my childhood, saw me through adolescence, followed me into adulthood.

Obviously, to be a writer, you need to read.  And read.  And read some more.  It’s really the only way to stretch your vocabulary, to learn new ideas, to discover what works and what doesn’t.

But here’s the thing: between reading and researching articles, essays, and stories online for both feeding into my own work, and in my editorial roles, I recently went through a dry period in terms of getting any book-action.  I could feel my attention drifting when I attempted to read something longer than a short story.  Seemingly gone were the days of curling up with a long novel, trying to stay awake to finish another chapter, and another…

So as with my experiments this autumn into letting go of technology disrupting activities, I’ve begin to make dates with books again.  Proper, long-term, paper-based novels, for reading throughout the darker months.

And I’m loving it again.  Like the first flush of romance, I’m losing myself between the sheets of a wide variety of reading material.  And the knock-on effect has been my own writing.  As always, once I started reading more, I started writing more.  The ideas have been flowing, and I’m excited to get back to the page…

Kate xx

Speaking of which, here is a link to a book review I wrote recently for thebookbag,

a great online resource for book lovers.


It only takes a minute…well 59 seconds really

The Alta Male

Have you ever tried visualising anything? Being rich, meeting the person of your dreams or anything else are all possible. Lots of us have and it is time to put the brakes on and stop.

Thinking about these things rarely, if ever, makes them happen so here’s a thought -change the thought around from having to doing. So instead of thinking about having think about what you need to achieve the goal…the doing part. This can often spark the mental change that you need to get to the having.

The added benefit is also that you never feel deflated when, after a month of visualising the new car you are still driving the old car. You free up some mind space in a positive way to work on achieving what you want to achieve.

Now I don’t have one million pounds in the bank or a brand new shiny car…

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