Last month I was in Dubai and led just a two hour workshop for writers, which I called Pitch Perfect. One of those students was Kristina Aaronson, and today, her first piece is published in the Weekly Telegraph. That really is amazingly quick. To make the pitch, sell it and for it to appear in just a month is unbelievable. Perhaps it is because it really is a super piece of writing, about her interactions with Emirati women at Sheikh Zayed university, where she works. Way to go, Kristina!

Read her super piece here.

Why I travel

May 8, 2008

I just wrote a post on my The Book Cooks blog recommending a book by John Lee, called Writing From the Body. In it he explains how writers need the space and silence in which to think and let the ideas and inspiration tiptoe back into your prose or poetry. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls this Filling the Well. Well, I have just filled my well to the brim by visiting my old ‘homes’ of Dubai and Muscat. How I love the Middle East. It’s as if something starts to unpick the seams of my heart as soon as the plane dips down over the Persian Gulf to descend to Seeb or Dubai. Then, while I am there, every single one of my senses drinks, breathes or simply absorbs every experience in the greatest detail. I keep my journal in my bag and with me at all times, and write and write and write. The inspiration cascades through my veins like a waterfall. I notice everything. It is as if my body is on high alert. How the birdsong is just like someone learning, painfully, to type for the first time. How the overriding smell of Dubai airport is a blend of unwashed socks and dry ice. How the new moon looks more like a skinny smile than a crescent in this hemisphere. Twelve days and countless experiences later it was over. I boarded the plane to return home at midnight yesterday after a final glorious evening by the Creek, one of my favourite places in the world. And it was as I sat eating crunchy fattoush, while flat water taxis puttered like petrol mowers and lamps fluttered into life on the berthed wooden dhows that I realised the seams of my heart had miraculously stitched themselves back together.

Writers need to find sources for their muse. I have just spent 12 days in the delightful company of mine. Where do you find yours?