S is for Satisfied and why you shouldn’t be.

The superb actress, Miriam Margolyes
The superb actress, Miriam Margolyes

In a recent interview with the BBC, eccentric and brilliant actress, Miriam Morgolyes was asked a very simple question:

“Are you satisfied?”

Miriam has had a very successful career, gaining critical and public acclaim, including winning several prestigious awards. She has a wealth of experience in radio, TV, stage and film as well as completing a world tour with her one-woman show celebrating the female characters of Charles Dickens. She is now in her 70’s and shows no sign of slowing down.

Despite all of this, Miriam was genuinely surprised by the seemingly simple question. Her reply?

“Of course I’m not! I’m deeply unsatisfied and that’s how it should be!”

And of course, she’s right. Being satisfied would imply it’s time to sit back and relax. To stop looking for the next challenge, or the next way to improve yourself or your life. There is a pattern amongst highly successful individuals:

They are never satisfied.

This phrase is often used in a negative context, but why? No matter your age or goals, you should never allow yourself to be satisfied. Oh, you’ve achieved everything you set out to do in life and your 25? Great – now pick some more goals and move on. Maybe you’re 65 and you’ve finally worked out how to use a computer and the internet. Brilliant – now learn how to set up your own blog.

There’s always something new to get your teeth in to – no matter how big or small. Never stop learning, never stop improving. Never be bored, but most of all . . . never be satisfied.

What do you think? Are you hoping to retire, sit back in your comfy chair and say, “I’m satisfied?”

This was my 19th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and more songs with audio recordings. Next post – T is for Thief. There’s no such thing as a new idea.

Flash Fiction – A Word in Your Shell-like

This week’s piece for Phoenix Writers was 200 words to include a foreign word or phrase. Here is my Evolution-inspired slice of silliness:

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A Word in Your Shell-like . . .

Sitting on the stubble-like grass of the island, Darwin tried to get comfortable. He held up the completed sketch, comparing it to his subject.

“Hmm, Chelonoidis nigra . . .” he said to the large shelled creature before him.

He was startled to hear The Giant Tortoise sigh, as it lurched forward and used its tiny white teeth to snatch the pen from his hand, before petulantly spitting it out on to the ground.

It watched the pen skitter away across a rock, turned back to Darwin and said, “Why don’t you just say ‘Tortoise’ like everyone else?”

Darwin blinked.

The tortoise nibbled a shrub. “Oh, now you’re quiet?” he said, chewing. “3 weeks I’ve had to listen to you yapping on about this theory of yours. Try to get a conversation? Nothing.”

“But . . .you can’t talk.”

“Maybe I . . .evolved.”

“That’s not possible,”

The tortoise shrugged. “So, when are you going to stop worrying about upsetting the Christians and finish the book?”

Darwin became sombre.”I fear they will lose their faith.”

“They’ll be fine. Survival of the fittest, mate.” The tortoise winked, swallowing the last of the leaf. “Cheerio,” he said, turning away towards the beach.

200 words

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You can find all my flash fiction posts so far by clicking here or using the category button on the right.

I aim to post at least one new flash fiction piece every week – usually on a Sunday – so follow the blog by email, twitter or through WordPress to stay up to date. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments so please drop me a line – I try to reply to everyone.

R is for Red, White and Blue – a song about War.

War Memorial, Bradgate Park by Wayne Kelly
War Memorial, Bradgate Park by Wayne Kelly

I wrote this song a few years ago, not long after Tony Blair left office as UK Prime Minister. At the time it was becoming increasingly clear that he may have greatly exaggerated the truth to ensure that the UK entered the war in Iraq. Like many people, I was angry and shocked at his dismissal of the whole incident and the way he simply swanned off in to the sunset to accept his job as (get this) Peace Envoy to The Middle East! As a rule, I’m not an overtly political person, but I think citizens have a right to know if we have been misled – especially when such a decision can lead to the deaths of many people, on both sides of the conflict.

Anyway, enough prattling on, here are the lyrics and you can listen to a recording of the song here.

Red, White and Blue

Red was the blood that was spilled in the name of peace,

White were the flags that were waved, now beneath your feet.

And Blue eyed boys keep on dying.

Blue eyed boys have died for you.

What would you do for the red, white and blue?

Liberate or maim, it’s all the same to you.

Red, white and blue.

Said were the words that you used to change our minds,

Slight-of-hand tricks, the odds were all fixed, we were blind.

And Blue eyed boys keep on dying.

Blue eyed boys have died for you.

CHORUS

And all the while, behind your smile, you hide.

You make the break, before the ink has dried.

You lied.

How many have died for you?

Do world events or issues influence your work? What emotion evokes your best writing or art?

This was my 18th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and more songs with audio recordings. Next post – S is for Satisfied and why you shouldn’t be.

Q is for Quiet. It’s Always The Quiet Ones . . . Being a Writer

Writers - It's always the quiet ones!
Writers – It’s always the quiet ones!

As a writer we need to have the ability to disappear in to the background. To observe. To extract meaning from body language, action and reaction. To study human relationships. To unearth great dialogue. To ask the ‘what-if’ questions and let our imaginations run free. All in the pursuit of the story. Which means, we need to know when to shut up and listen to let our senses do the work.

That’s not to say we’re all shrinking violets, too introvert to go out in to the world – far from it. But most of us have a natural tendency to just hang back a little, take in the scene and happily fulfill our roles as ‘The Quiet Ones’.

What do you think? Do you find it easy to fade in to the periphery and enjoy watching the world go by? Are you secretly one of  ‘The Quiet Ones’? To help you decide, have a read of this short poem I wrote.

The Quiet Ones

They scrabble for note books to scribble down words.

Picking up phrases for stories unheard.

They listen intently, pretend not to pry,

But they’re collecting your business

To tell some more lies.

They orbit the action, observe the absurd,

They dine on depravity, reality interred.

You think you catch whispers and glances then gone.

The quiet ones are writers

And right where they belong.



This was my 17th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and more songs with audio recordings. Next post – R is for Red, White and Blue (song)

P is for Pigeon-Hole! Stop trying to put me in a box!

So many genres, so little time by Wayne Kelly
So many genres, so little time by Wayne Kelly

I think we would all agree that the Internet has brought with it a plethora of benefits for both the consumer and the producer of products, music, books and art.

As a musician, I can record a song in my garage and 5 minutes later I can have it online ready to be enjoyed by my masses of adoring fans (ahem. Well maybe just my mum and some weird bloke called Gideon, that refuses to leave me alone and says he knows where I live). The point is, there is potentially a massive audience that I can now sell or promote to directly.

The same can be said of books – never has it been easier to self-publish your work and release it to the public, eager to consume your literary genius.

However, we all know you can’t just throw it out there, willy-nilly. No. First it needs to be categorised, labelled and put in to one of the now countless genres and sub genres that have sprung up to worship the god of Marketing. It used to be Romance, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comedy, Crime and maybe Literary. Now, one look down the genre list of Amazon is enough to make you wince. And that’s before you get in to all of the cross-over and sub genres.

Don’t even get me started on music!

Being Typecast . . .

Don’t get me wrong – I love that there is such a diverse range of material to choose from – what I object to is having to get everything I produce to fit, very neatly, in to one of these little boxes. And once I shoehorn it in there . . . that’s it – I’m now typecast as the Horror Writer, the YA Author or the Indie Musician.

I’ve had some personal experience of this with songs I have written . . . being criticised for being too eclectic! We wouldn’t know how to market that, mate, they say. Shouldn’t variety in our output be a good thing? This is why many popular artists and albums of recent times stick very rigidly to one genre, one style, one sound to ensure continued success. Apart from some notable exceptions (David Bowie, Stephen King et al), our mastery of Marketing has been to the detriment of making interesting art.

From The Beatles to The BFG

Have a listen to Revolver by The Beatles, or take a look at the range of books by Roald Dahl – no two songs or novels are the same. They didn’t bother to hang around trying to categorise what they were doing – they just wanted to produce work that interested and inspired them and that’s why their music and stories still resonate today and will continue to do so for a very long time.

I know using genres and labeling your work is a necessary evil and now impossible to avoid – but don’t let it dictate what you produce for the rest of your career.

What are your thoughts on the rise of classification and the complexity of genre? Is it good for your audience and good for you? Am I whinging without good reason? I would love to hear your comments below.

This was my 16th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and more songs with audio recordings. Next post – Q – It’s always the Quiet Ones who are Writers.

O is for On My Own – Why we all need time alone

Megan On Top Of The World by Wayne Kelly
Megan On Top Of The World by Wayne Kelly

As Greta Garbo once famously said, “I want to be alone!” Cue sharp intake of breath from those around you as they stare in stunned silence like you’ve just told them Lassie is dead. Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration, but why is wanting a little quality time for yourself seen as being just a little strange?

How rude!

In today’s world of inter-connectivity, social media and being ‘plugged in’ at all times, it seems that the idea of deliberately taking yourself off ‘the grid’ for any amount of time longer than a toilet break would be insane. I would argue that is precisely the reason that you need to step away from all of the madness on a regular basis.

But what about the children?!

The other guilt-stone that will be thrown at you by well-meaning relatives and friends is that you really should be spending all of your free time with your family. Well, at the risk of being disowned by my own loved ones, I think that although the majority of your quality time should be devoted to family and friends, you really should make an effort to balance that with some well-deserved ‘me time’.

Ok, I’m on my own . . .what now?

That’s the fun part . . . it’s your time. Try to do something that’s difficult to focus on when surrounded by technology and family distractions. Could just be a nice long walk. Read a book. Listen to that album you bought 6 months ago, but haven’t made it passed track 3. Write – writing’s always good. Sew, paint, exercise. Here’s a good one . . . think. Yes, quality thinking time is one of the most valuable commodities known to man. If you’re anything like me, often the only time you really get to think something through is as your trying to get to sleep – a perfect recipe for insomnia.

Short bursts, big gains

In an ideal world we would get a few hours or a whole day to ourselves, but if you have a family and a busy work life, it’s highly unlikely that you will get much more than half an hour or an hour at a time, but sometimes that can be enough to recharge your mental batteries and spark some creativity. You’ll also feel refreshed and better able to give quality time to your friends and family. Make sure you encourage them to get some time to themselves and you will be amazed at the difference it can make to your life.

Nobody wants to be lonely, but sometimes being alone can do wonders for the soul. How do you get your ‘me time’ and how do you find it helps you as a person?

This was my 15th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and more songs with audio recordings. Next post – P is for Pigeon-Hole. Stop trying to put me in a box!

N is for Night Time of The Soul

Hand of Time by Wayne Kelly
Hand of Time by Wayne Kelly

Ever have that ‘wake up in the middle of the night, searching-the-soul’ type moment? I’m sure you have – it’s part of the human condition. There’s just something about the dark and the quiet that can do that to a person.

It was during one such moment, when staying in London as part of my job,  that I awoke with a start to find myself alone in a hotel room, away from my family and mildly hung-over. I was experiencing my very own ‘Night Time of The Soul’. Despite feeling slightly depressed and more than slightly dehydrated, the first verse of this song appeared, fully formed in my head.

Click here to have a listen to a recording of it, as performed by our band, The Wry Dogs.

Here are the lyrics:

There’s a place in town I secretly frequent

When I’m feeling down and my joie de vivre’s been spent.

There’s no sign in the window but when the time is right,

You’ll still go to the place called The Night Time of The Soul.


Hats off to the gentleman at the bar

With his lack of style and grace, he’ll not get far.

So he drowns himself in lager, to forget that he’s a father.

In the place called The Night Time of The Soul.


Sweeping up is a girl I used to know,

She doesn’t have a brush but doesn’t seem to know.

So she shuffles round the tables, reciting Aesop’s Fables,

In the place called The Night Time of The Soul.


I hear a ticking clock inside my head (tick-tock, tick-tock)

‘A broken watch for a heart’ is what my doctor said.

So sing with me, while you’ve got the chance . . . .


It’s not a place you ever should ignore,

When your hopes and dreams are littered upon the floor.

So when you hear me scream and shout,

I suggest you do get out

Of the place called The Night Time of The Soul.


So have a listen and comment below – what is your idea of The Night Time of The Soul? What keeps you awake at night – apart from wondering about the next short story or chapter of your novel?

This was my 14th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and more songs with audio recordings. Next post – O is for On My On – why we all need time alone.

M is for Maybe I Don’t Need To Know (inspired by Dreams of a Life)

Documentary 'Dreams of a Life' was inspiration for this song.
Documentary ‘Dreams of a Life’ was inspiration for this song.

Another song written with George Odom, ‘Maybe I Don’t Need to Know’ was inspired by the haunting and desperately sad documentary, ‘Dreams of a Life’. You can listen to the song here.

If you are unfamiliar with ‘Dreams of a Life’, it deals with the discovery of the body of young woman, Joyce Vincent, in her tiny London bedsit, 3 years after she died, alone and surrounded by half-wrapped Christmas presents. Nobody noticed that she was missing and the only reason she was found at all was because of being in arrears with her rent. The film examines how this tragedy could have occurred, using interviews with the many friends of Joyce inter-weaved with dramatic reconstructions.

It’s a powerful film that raises as many questions as it answers, including how a vibrant, sociable person could simply disappear without being noticed. It couldn’t happen to you – or could it? I would highly recommend it.

I was inspired to write this song because of one particular character – an ex boyfriend – who is racked with guilt that he didn’t stay in touch with Joyce, believing that he was simply respecting the boundaries of a very private woman. It’s heart-breaking to see him trying to deal with his complicated feelings towards a woman he obviously still cares for.

The post is long enough, without adding the lyrics to the song, but please have a listen and try to seek out the documentary – if you are in the UK, it is still available on 4OD here.

Has a true story or documentary influenced your writing? Have you already seen Dreams of a Life? Share your thoughts below.

This was my 13th post for the A-Z Blog Challenge. Follow the blog during April for more writing tips, inspirational life posts, short fiction, film-inspired articles and more songs with audio recordings. Next post – N is for Night Time of The Soul.

Flash Fiction – The Bank Job

This week’s piece was 200 words around the following prompt:

My Worst Job Ever.

Here is what I came up with . . .

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The Bank Job

Big Ray’s face darkened, cheek muscles twitching with barely contained rage as he prowled the small cell the two men now occupied. Len tried once more to placate his boss.

“I’m still learning, Ray. Where was my training plan? And as an employer, it’s your duty to provide the right equipment for me to do the job.”

“We’re bank robbers! You’re not at Waitrose now!”

“You’re telling me! I got safety shoes and a hair net when I worked on the fish counter!”

Ray simply glared at Len, forcing him to continue.

“I was in a rush. You said you wanted face masks – these Prickly Pear Peel-offs were on special offer at Body Shop – how could I resist?!” He picked off the last flecks of dried creme from his chin.

Ray took a step forward. “And what’s your excuse for the getaway?”

“I distinctly heard you say ‘high-powered vehicle!'”

“Yeah! Something like a Beamer or Vectra – not a bleedin’ tractor!” He grabbed Len by the lapels and rammed him against the wall. “I could be going away for a long time for this!”

Len squirmed before asking,”Would now be a good time to discuss my severance package?”

200 words

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You can find all my flash fiction posts so far by clicking here or using the category button on the right.

I aim to post at least one new flash fiction piece every week – usually on a Sunday – so follow the blog by email, twitter or through WordPress to stay up to date. I would love to hear your thoughts and comments so please drop me a line – I try to reply to everyone.

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