On the whole, you’d be better off without these.

An expectation is a future disappointment. Not inevitably, if you take each one in turn, but collectively it’s certain, especially if you expect something out of another person. Sometimes an expectation needs to be met – a rare circumstance, usually necessitating some kind of formal contract. Here disappointment may be avoided by a very careful statement of the terms and an assurance of comprehension on all sides. We want engineers building bridges to have exacting standards. But for personal needs and desires nothing can set you up for a good crushing like expectations.

So if you can do without them I would definitely recommend doing without them. They have no impact I can discern on your ability to achieve, aspire or progress and living without them is extraordinarily liberating.


A belief is a direct leap from the unknown into being certain. A belief is always considered justified, otherwise why take it? An unjustified belief is seen as something other people have. It could be based on their faulty perception and misunderstandings or their sheeplike gullibility. But no belief is based on facts, otherwise it wouldn’t be a belief.

Uncertainty is the best you are ever going to get about most things, other than proven facts, and even then you are going to have to decide upon the viability of the source of your information. Equipped with your massive grab-bag of uncertainties you will still have to decide what to do.

But there’s good news. Uncertainty is the great creative space, the endless vistas of possibility. There is room in uncertainty for everything and a chance for almost anything. No matter how long you wait or study, the chances are you’ll never know for sure, although it pays to educate yourself as best you can. Knowledge is valuable. Certainty meanwhile is a form of death, admitting no possibilities but one (one which is in doubt, otherwise you wouldn’t have had to believe in it in the first place).




Someone decided November had nothing in it so everyone should write a novel. If you’re doing this you may decide to google a bit of advice at some point or you may be heading into it for the first time and wonder what’s the best way to go at it.

After thirty plus years of writing here is my only writing advice for the creative phase of construction.

Take a few minutes to get into your best state, your happy place, full of and reminded of all the things you really like, stories you love, images, feelings. Then imagine a single moment of something that seems very intriguing. Write down what’s happening. Continue until the month of November has ended.

At that point you might try looking at other things you could do with what you’ve got. But really you can write very successfully just by doing that. One moment at a time.


That question I put at the end of my last blog – a variant of “What will you do?”

I put it there because I read so many blogs that end with the invitation to do something and it perkily, saucily, automatically, full-of-itself just trotted out of my fingers into the keyboard with the presumptive smugness of a Chequers deal.

I hate those things, I just realised.  Hate. With a deep conviction.

It’s enough I stopped by your blog to check out your thoughts. Now you’re canvassing me for free entry into my mind as well? It’s like all those surveys, polls, questionnaires, justafewquestionstoseehowwe’redoing! feedback. Those false declarations of  “we love to serve you so much…”

Those things are obligations. I pay for one thing – the thing I wanted. I didn’t pay for an obligation, no matter how tentatively presented, plump with honest entreaty. It was cute when Innocent started doing it. It’s abusive now everyone’s doing it. The very value of it is diminished by care fatigue and, on the wake of that, cynicism. It’s a perilous route.

Big corporations with massive turnover: if you want me to fill in your survey, give me 30 percent off. Otherwise, no dice.

Unless I suspect you’re using the information to do something horribly disciplinary to your staff. Like supermarket delivery people. But that feels like I’m ticking a box to make sure you don’t hassle them more than it feels like you’ll give them a bonus, for some reason. Please don’t take us into  PhilDickian future full of staff feedback forms. I beg you.

There are questions worth asking, of course. So many. Usually those are the ones everyone squirms to avoid. I don’t see you sending me a survey about how I’d like you to re-shape your production systems to save the world and stop flogging stuff nobody needs.

If you read this far you already gave enough.



I’ve decided to blog once a day. The blogs I have most admired and enjoyed have all been brief, to the point and regular. Therefore today I am re-purposing this old blog, in which I rambled about various things writerly. It will be shorter, hopefully sweeter and more digestible.

One of the best presents I got lately was my husband’s old Surface. I had a big fancy gaming laptop which he had given me a while before, but it was too heavy to carry far and very over-spec for me. So I gave it to him and he gave me his old Surface with a new keyboard. Much more portable, and it runs all I need. It also exactly fitted in my favourite handbag.

I am hoping that now I have learned I’m no longer 30-something that I can repurpose the old me in new ways that find fits with other lovely things in life. What will you repurpose today?