Do you believe in ghosts? In case you’ve missed all the pumpkins in doorways, it seems that All Hallow’s Eve is approaching. It’s got me thinking about invisible monsters – things that hide under the bed and go bump in the night. 

Darkness hides all sorts of things: ghosts, monsters, shame, guilt, fear. Getting out of bed when there might be something in the wardrobe is to show strength in vulnerability. Speaking up for a cause you believe in, only for spiteful bullies to respond – the monster in an activist’s life isn’t hiding under the bed, it’s hiding in social media accounts full to the brim of hateful words. Or sending your creative work out into the world, only for the world to remain oblivious – the poltergeist in a writer’s life doesn’t throw stuff, it ignores you completely. 

Online vitriol is getting worse, for women and minorities in particular. The keyboard warrior feels safe in the invisible dark and is rarely called to account.

Ghosting happens all the time. It’s the friend who never calls again, the publisher who never replies. And always the message is silent but clear. 

We can do better. Let’s show solidarity to someone who bravely speaks up, or send a positive message to someone about their work. It’s these small acts that shine light into the dark corners of fear and self-recrimination. 

And in turn, the ghosts and goblins will retreat, knowing they are not welcome. Who you gonna call? You know it…

Howl at the Moon

October’s full moon is coming in a few days and it’s called the Hunter’s Moon. How’s that for creepy, welcome-to-the-darkness vibes? And if the sound of howling joins in, well.

I’ve always been fascinated by wolves – maybe it’s Little Red Riding Hood’s fault, but this fairytale baddie captured my heart. Their social nature, enigmatic eyes and predatory skills are fascinating and beautiful. The wilderness in those howls sends shivers down the spine (as well it should).

It’s probably also Riding Hood’s fault that the species has been hunted almost to extinction, with the last wild wolf in Ireland said to have been killed in 1786 (long after they’d disappeared from England and Scotland). 

So it’s no surprise that I’m delighted to hear about re-wilding projects throughout Europe, as conservation experts bring back the apex predators. Not everyone is pleased, needless to say, and many farmers are up in arms (literally, no doubt) as they try to work out how to keep livestock – well – alive. But I wonder if we’re also falling back into our medieval roles to believe in superstition and cry wolf. 

This enemy has teeth, that’s the problem, and too many are still in our midst with sheep’s clothing. The haunting, hunted creature is also in my mind a lot recently with frequent news of credit cuts and foodbank pressures; billionaire rockets and Pandora Papers. Enough.

The wolf is at the door for so many. And killing it is not, and never has been, the answer.

Shivers down the spine…my reading of Wendy Pratt’s poem ‘Now the Wolf is in the Cul-de-Sac’


It was National Poetry Day this week. Twitter was awash with gorgeous poems – the sheer volume of sentences and stanzas was a bit overwhelming. Because sometimes it’s just one word that hits home. A word to finish a stream of thought that tightens the throat and stops the breath.

Words have power. I don’t understand the alchemy of it but it’s magical. So without further ado here’s the poem that never fails – never – to stop me in my tracks.

The Committee Weighs In
by Andrea Cohen

I tell my mother
I've won the Nobel Prize.

Again? she says. Which
discipline this time?

It's a little game
we play: I pretend

I'm somebody, she
pretends she isn't dead.

Happy 1st Birthday!

It’s my blog-aversary this week – Shedwriting is one year old! The baby blog is learning to walk and talk now. And it’s taking on its own personality.

This thing started off as a way to nudge me into the light. For someone who spent much of their adult life hiding in the shadows, I felt it was high time I stepped forward and tried out a bit of visibility. Pass me the microphone, I stated confidently, I’m ready to speak up. But when the light shone in my face, and people looked at me expectantly, I found myself wide-eyed in shock, and didn’t know what to say. I usually wanted to shuffle back into the safe shadows and take a breath. 

But this blog was also a way to hold myself accountable that this writing thing was something I planned to do with my life. My inner critic had warned me to avoid stepping into the light, anxious about people pointing and laughing, telling me it was safer to stay in the background. But I set aside those fears and did it anyway. I suppose the bottom line is that I’ve given myself permission to be a writer.

And here’s the thing: it worked. I’ve learned how it feels to have no views, little engagement and even negative reviews. If I’m serious about writing, I’ll need resilience tricks like this. Most days I’m standing in that light and shouting into the void, not sure if there’s any point. But some days I know that at least one person has heard, and that’s worth all the sweaty fear and trembling that comes from putting yourself out there.

It’s also worked in pushing me to show up and do the work. I’ve been intentional for fifty two weeks, sitting at my desk and wondering what to write. I’ve connected on Twitter (another shocking thing for one such as myself) with lots of other writers, I’ve started a monthly newsletter. And if someone had told me this time last year that Shedwriting would have a piece in The Simple Things, be a contributor to BBC Radio’s Thought for the Day, and have secured an agent, I would have scoffed. 

I’m a writer after all. Who’d have thought?