Here is an exercise I’ve been refining for a while, and which I shared in my creative writing group last week. It’s silly and liberating and, perhaps because of that, gets fantastic results every time. The reason – it takes you through some difficult writing transitions (eg from memory to detail), but also the set stages means it becomes impossible not to use concrete details. Go epic, enjoy (and feel free to share your writing in the comments)!

How to Write a Love Letter to a Kitchen Utensil
by Sarah Salway

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Writing love letters to spatulas or coffee machines may come easily to you, in which case, ignore these instructions and just sit down with pen and paper and let the magic commence. Otherwise, let’s look at a tried and trusted formula…

  1. Begin by saying what it is you want as a result of your beloved reading this particular letter. He/she/it/them should know from the start that this is a love letter and not a note to ask if they could be a bit quicker when boiling water, or to stop needing to be cleaned so often. A start may be something like, “I was thinking today about how very much I love you, and how I really don’t tell you that enough.” CHEESY IS GOOD, especially if talking to a cheese knife!
  2. Think of a shared memory. The special thing about the two of you is your shared history. What’s different between you two and, say, you and the oven or the fridge? For example, begin by saying, “I still remember clearly the moment I saw you in the shop. You were in a box of other spoons but somehow you stood out. I knew immediately that I had to have you. I left briefly to try to summon up my courage and to question whether I had enough money. But it was no use; I was totally tongue tied when I pulled you away from the others. Could you really be mine this easily?”

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3. Now for the meat of this piece. What exactly are the things you love about him/her/it? This is a seamless shift from the memory above to right now. You can say something such as: “And here we are ten years later, I’ve got rid of three wives in the meantime but you have always been steady and there for me.”

4. Tell him/her/it all the concrete things you love. I would make a list first, or freewrite. Some suggestions would be physical characteristics, character, all the things he/she/it does for you. Why you love him/her/it? Then simply turn your list into sentences. “I love the whiteness of your exterior. I love the way you light up when I open your door. I love how you are full of treats that never fail to cheer me up. I love the shivers you give me when I stand too close to you. I’m so grateful for everything you do for me, from keeping me well-nourished but also never moaning if I have another beer.”

5.  Explain how your life has changed since meeting him/her/it. “These last few years have been the happiest of my life. I feel that with you I always have my best friend by my side.”

6. And now end with a line that really sings out your love. “I can’t wait to grow old with you.” “My love for you will never end.” “You are my best friend and soul mate and I will love you until the end of our lives.”

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You can of course use exactly the same stages above for a real person. In fact, do and I dare you to send it.

 

Open a castle door, and you never know what you might find inside! I’ve just had a wonderful afternoon planning my creative writing workshops during the Chiddingstone Castle  Literary Festival on Sunday 5th May.

Part of the joy is that we’ll be in the castle library –  where else? – and I’m already planning inspiration around all the beautiful books we’ll be surrounded by..

and the views surrounding us, both inside and out…

and, of course, personal obsessions…

and did I mention the tactile glorious books lining every wall…

There are two workshops in the library, and they are £25 each:

10.30-12.30 – Getting inspiration for your writing, and

2.30-4.30 – A practical workshop on how to get your short stories and poetry published

You will need to book tickets – numbers are limited and places are already going because this is a very special venue. Click here to get book your place, and I’ll see you in the castle!

I’ve been honoured to be asked by so many people for a copy of the poem I read out at the Tunbridge Wells TEDx day, so I’m happy to share it here. It was made of the Oxford English Dictionary‘s words of the year from the last nine months – Vape, post-truth, selfie, squeezed middles, omnishambles, toxic, youthquake, Big Society and … well, look at the end of the poem for the ‘word’ for 2015… a little challenge for a writer.

I hope you enjoy it. And if you fancy doing a TEDx talk yourself, I’ve given some tips here. It’s not compulsory to write a poem.

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Icarus vapes over a dictionary (2014)
by Sarah Salway

The weather was post-truth that summer, (2016)
we lounged in our gardens,
took selfies in lycra. (2013)

Those sunny Sundays,
even us squeezed middles (2011)
could imagine ourselves gods –

with music breaking through walls
and us dancing,

a rest from the omnishambles (2012)
of so many toxic headlines, (2018)

and if sometimes we looked up
in the hope
that it might never end,

perhaps we were waiting
for the promised youthquake (2017)
who would build us a Big Society, (2010)

a term many of us still liked the sound of
but few had ever understood –
if we were completely honest …

face-with-tears-of-joy_1f602 (2015)

And yes that last one was the Word of the Year in 2015!!

It was also a joy to see alternative words put up by the people who attended the day of talks, including more positive words that we WOULD LIKE to remember 2019 with. Here they are. I’m going to have to make a new poem, I can tell.

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NB, Thank you to Simon Pearsall, the wonderful cartoonist who drew that cartoon at the top during my talk. It was a reference to how I use words in the same way as a builder uses bricks.

I’m so proud to be part of the Blackthorn Trust family as a trustee. This charity, situated in Barming near Maidstone, has been called an ‘oasis’ or ‘sanctuary’ for people at points of crisis in their life, whether that is mental or physical.

And as it’s based on Steiner principles, celebrating the change of seasons is important to us. This morning we celebrated Candlemas, that time halfway to spring, by gently lighting up the soil to wake the garden. The gardeners had dug a hole…

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Which we – staff, trustees, volunteers, co-workers, friends – all then filled by going round in a circle ladling in hot wax…

Our ‘earth candle’ will be lit this afternoon and will burn for several nights. It was a beautiful way to celebrate the light returning and acknowledge stirrings in the soil, and as always the importance of rituals.

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It’s also exciting to see the stirrings in the garden as our beautiful physic garden, designed by Marian Boswall, is coming into fruition. It will be officially opened on June 8th, and you are all invited. Come and celebrate with us!