Stone Doorway – Picture a Story

August 30th, 2017

Stone arch door bristol

Use this picture to help inspire your writing, describe it, ask yourself where it leads too, wonder who built it and why.

The Horse and Deer – Picture a Story

August 17th, 2017

Horse and deer sculptures at Country File Live

Look at the sculptures in this picture – are they just sculptures? Do the creatures know each other? Who made them and why? Think on these questions or any others you can think of and get writing :)

Picture a story is a series of photo prompts I post to help fellow writers… get writing. The photos are all and can be shared and used with the writers story but please state that you got the image from me :)

Eyes In The Sky – Picture A Story

July 30th, 2017

We are watching you - all ways watching you

Use this picture to help spark a story idea – what are the cameras watching for? Are they protection or oppression? Do they even work?

Beetle Attack – Picture a Story

May 28th, 2017

Jean and Mary being eaten by a giant stag beetle in bristol

Use this photo as story inspiration – is the beetle real? Is it eating or caring for the children? Who is the “bad guy”?


April 6th, 2017

(First published on my personal blog Snell-Pym)

Today I feel like a failure, today I feel fat and not ugly so much as plain with frizzy hair and glasses. Today I looked at the things I make and think… they are all a bit naff. Today I am the failed scientist and the untrained artist, today I am FAILURE.

Today I am the stuck at home, non housework doing, burnt cooking mum, I am the can’t spell, can’t concentrate hack filling in forms to apply for events/jobs that I know wont want me, not daring to apply for the acting roles as I’m too fat, too old, too short, the wrong physical gender, I am the failed to get my kids to the things they want and need to go to, I am the fail parent with a trail of failed careers.

Today I finished knitting DNA, and worked on a mermaids tail, cut out and folded a micro-zine I drew and scanned and made, I helped Mary write a story and she made a cover for it to be a book, Jean helped me find my unfinished knitting projects and I finished the basis for some little easter rabbits. I typed up a poem and ordered polymer clay to make little creatures with. I put away a giant papier mache sculpture I made for the visually impaired and checked that the brain I am making is drying ok, there were piles of paintings I had to move, piles of my paintings – I can’t see them as good, I can’t compare to the other artists that I see locally, my stuff just… does not quiet cut it and yet… it is the headline picture for the group.

Today I feel like a fraud, I feel like I am pretending to be good, to be amazing, when I am not. I am just me, a lost, lonely little me. A few days ago I performed at a launch event, people came to tell me how animated and full of energy I was, they said they liked my work, the world was full of chances to grab and take and I did… but… I stood outside the venue looking at the door, wondering if I was truly supposed to be there, weather I was an interloper, I had to battle mind doubt dragons to go in and whilst I talk, whilst I feel alive at the creativity around me, I look at the crowd of amazing people and think how wonderful they are and how drab I am. And I feel the press of eyes and the expectation and I want to run, I want to hide, I am the extroverted introvert or introverted extrovert and sometimes I think I have wasted my life.

Today I sit writing this drowning in craft supplies I need to put away, this week I have designed many new workshops covering science, art, writing, specific themes and the environment. My old injuries ache with the clammy cold weather and I long for summer but know I have much to do but I can not stir, my head still rings from the head injury I had coming up to two years ago now and I feel thick, stupid, clogged, my c-section scar is hurting, skin burning and sinus pain is king. It is nothing to the physical pain and discomfort I have suffered in the past, I’m a little inflamed and virally that is all. I fail at not moaning, at not feeling used up and rung out.

Today I think of all the people who have helped me and I know I have failed them and worse I have not always passed the buck, I have been too busy or distracted or lazy. I walk past the homeless and realise that it more than two years ago that I did any proper charity work, even though an event I acted at this month has just raised over £400 for charity, I had to claim my expenses – I have a loan to repay and things I need to get to – I failed at money management – I struggle with numbers now, I did not used to. I had to take the money but not because I would starve because I wouldn’t and that makes me wither inside. Am I greedy?

Today I told my husband – I told him how when I write down the things I have done they sound fantastic and great, or brave and selfless – when I know it wasn’t like that, it was clutching at straws, it was trying stuff, it was itself often failure. My life has twisted and turned and looped da looped and I am giddy.

Today he told me I am extraordinary and that most people – are not. He told me that people are in awe of my work but these words hurt and puzzle. He gave examples and I am like “no that is just because they have had to survive differently, they want to do stuff, creative stuff, science stuff.” And then I was angry about how their potential is being lost, how my potential was lost, about how my husband would be the better home maker and can’t be, how society traps people in rolls and classes and demographics.

Today I survived, I live and so does my family, and for that I am truly in awe and fearful of a harsh and unrelenting world. But sometimes… sometimes survival is not enough and that is only because I am lucky, I have capacity, I have safety nets, I have family and friends and love and food and shelter. I am higher up the triangle of needs – but that should not be the case. Potential maximum should be achievable for all, with no judging as to what that is, no expectations of what a successful life is, no squinting and muttering when a sideways corse is taken. Failure should not be seen as well… failure. It is the experimenting, the living of life, it is were the discoveries are made, if you don’t try you can’t fail, but if you don’t fail have you ever really tried?

Today is not today anymore, today is now tomorrow and I feel the ideas scritching in my brain, they have been gone a long time, I have to rest lots to let my brain heal – it healed enough to give me ideas again. Proper new fresh ideas, but my health has always been shoddy and I have lost so much time, and I can’t go fast, I can just be. So I pool and collect the ideas, and hope they will get their day. Somedays they erupt into the world and the world laps them up, other days… not so much and I gather them back in for another try, on another day.

Today is new, I still feel hollow, but that will pass, it always does, and the void will be filled with colour and patterns and thoughts and then I’ll accidentally create a thing or things or a thing of things. Until then there is hugs and coffee, and admin.

Tower Cross

March 9th, 2017

The bridge was fragmented arches
Three of them, crossing the river
With grey stone feet
Growing slimy from the water
The spill and stuck around them

Remnants of a tower still rose
On one side, but not it’s twin
Nothing but decay
Little windows stared blank eyed
At clouds shattered by row boats


People still lived here, in the shadows
Behind jagged triangles of wall
Make shift tents, hardly holding together
Moth eaten and thread bare

They never sort the shelter of the stones
Beyond the gate bridge stood the city
Devolved and reverting
The people knew the horror of it

A tower and a bridge
In ruins – guarding
The Hall of Ghosts
No one wanted the resurgence
Not of that evil

The boats carried seeds
Encouraging natures engulfment
A warm rain added deadly ripples
To the tranquil stream

The Homeless Moon

March 6th, 2017

The street loomed in the silver light
Or rather it lurched as it luminesced
Moon beams reflected a muted rainbow
Just at the edge of perception
A reflexion of it’s own subtle glory
Hung distorted in the river’s ripples

A lonely figure wrapped in trench coat
With broken seams jerked like a lost puppet
Caught on every word and miss-remembered cues
A hope burned within the creature
That one of the candescent windows
Would open and beckon them in

Frost began to rim the moon
Diffusing the light to a crystal shimmer
Spreading out and clogging in the air
With ice that hurt the lungs to breath
The light now was nothing but glitter
Obscuring the murder of Unknown


February 20th, 2017

Ghosts snagged at her, pulling at the jumbled memories that made her up. She wasn’t sure where she was or what was going on but the catches and snatches she recognised as dangerous. The ghosts did not make any sounds, she could not make any sound, they did not seem angry or violent, more like water rubbing away stone, they were erasing her. She knew that, and unlike water they were not harbours for life but somehow alive themselves.

Struggling against the fog of forgetfulness she tried to rise but there was pain, it was short and sharp and seemed metallic, it smelt of rust, the whole world smelt of rust. What she could see now she had prized her eyes open was not metal and it was not red, instead a star field glittered above her with icy plumes of cloud. She could not tell if the cloud was from her breath or tumbling in the sky or… far far away in space, nothing but remnants of a beginning lost in time.

The pain had subsided. She tried to move again – fire this time. Fire or ice, a temperature extreme pierced her and consumed as if lightning had struck and bloomed outwards. She was nothing now but white hot ash. She was sitting, hands palm flat against flat waxy blades of grass, soft until you catch the edges just right. The ghosts were there still, she could feel them like blind worms eating the core of her, moment by moment she was disappearing.

With the cracking of glaciers she wrenched her mouth open, her skin splintered with fracture lines propagating from large gashes to the finest of crazed glazes. At last she screamed, there was nothing but her breath. The breath was a vortex of power pulling and tugging at the ghosts, their lacy fingers of nothing wedged deep in her cortex, it was not enough to save them. They spun into the whirlwind and the air funnel whisked them up into the clouds and stars, they seemed to take the cold with them.

All she craved was to lay down in this new found warmth, to close her eyes once more and dream in safety, but there was no safety here, this she knew, it was one of the few things she knew. In the night she could hear the echos of the ghosts, they had carried the broken bits of her with them, would she need those bits back? Would they ever fit the gaps?

She pushed herself up into a crouch with joints popping with exquisite pain, she was covered in fragments of cloth that ripped softly and fell as she moved. Her sinues twanged and she look up through strands of dirt encrusted hair. A valley lay before her, a camp, with men cooking, animal dung smoke clogged the sky masking her stars, around her the landscape was in change, she was in melt water. She had… slept?

Something was wrong, something was very wrong with her, she smelt the meat as they unwrapped it unconcerned from the oil skin, she heard their movements and she hungered, there was little blood, they had bled and dried the meat to preserve it for the journey, they’re sledge was stuck in the mud. Here there should have been no mud but there was, the landscape was thawing. She… she remembered it freezing?

She shook her head, she needed that meat, it was all she could think of but instinct was strong, they would attack her if she just appeared. She did not stand, that would alert them, she crept forward, matted hair pushed out of her eyes, she pushed the digging implements away, ice cutters? Ice cutters in a wild awakening land they did not understand and now she was to take their food, she had to eat, all she could think of was meat, all she wanted was the iron of the blood, the warmth… of people.

She scurried erratically towards the encampment, she seemed the rich red of the earth, ochre they had called it, they had painted her hadn’t they? Stained her with the blood of Earth, it had all been changing, yes then the world had been locked itself in ice and the peoples begged for the spring to come once again but no god had listened and so they had taken the stranger, the girl.

They had killed her.

Now the spring was coming and she had awoken with the landscape they had freed her too, the light of the fire hurt her eyes, but she had to have the meat, they had already dropped it into the boiling bag. She ground her teeth, too close to sustenance all caution gone she plunged through the startled group and grabbed the bag, scalding herself, her waxen flesh adding to the cooking smells of meat, she barely noticed.

Screams and spears followed her into the night, but wide eyes of fear told her that they would not follow her into the changing wilds, out of the fire glow she fished the meat slithers out and chewed their sweet toughness. The night looked dark and dangerous, she wanted the people, wanted their warmth, but they had garrotted her and thrown her into the ice whole and then filled it with water to freeze or melt as the spirits saw fit.

Those she had loved had betrayed her, had turned her over after dressing her for a wedding, she thought there was love – there had been laughter and joy but not hers as they had wedded her to the winter in the hope she’d bring the spring, she the stranger, she the outsider. Betrayed. Expendable.

She’d wanted to be with them then hadn’t she? She had wanted to stay, wanted their warmth, and they froze her… Dropping the bag she clutched her matted hair and screamed horse and sore into the darkness. They would hunt her now she had awoken, she’d had a name once, she could not remember it but she did remember how to kill, she needed warmth, she needed people. She heard their clumsy stalking and smiled, she was still hungry.

The Tinsel Dragon Cat and Mary Elf

January 5th, 2017

The tinsel dragon cat beckons

The Tinsel Dragon Cat was lonely and felt quiet rightly that it did not have enough tinsel so it called to the Mary Elf, a little rainbow of a thing that hopes here and there and everywhere and never EVER stops talking.

Mary Elf attends the Tinsel Dragon Cat

The Mary Elf attended the great Tinsel Dragon who was once again in it’s most comfitable of guises as the young cat Lithium. Mary Elf listened with care to the instructions of the Tinsel Dragon Cat.

Mary Elf and Tinsel Dragon Cat plan their mischeif

The instructions where simple… go forth and fetch all the tinsel that abounds across this fair and mighty land and bring it back for a snuggly bed was to be crafted.

So the Mary Elf went and had many adventures over great lakes that others called puddles and scoured vast deserts of “the super market”, onward the little rainbow bounce trekked until the was a montain to scale of stairs scattered with toys which she had to tidy.

Until she bought home much tinsel for the Tinsel Dragon Cat to sleep upon. So pleased was the dragon in it’s guise as little Lithium the pusskin that with paw and claw Mary Elf was Knighted most valiant in all the land of Front Room. There was much rejoicing.

Tinsel Dragon Cat anoints Sir Elf Mary

The End

graffiti glory

September 16th, 2016

Dream Big Wall art Bristol

In a funk, refusing to think as the world has dragged you down so deep into a fug that you ain’t ever getting back up and out of it. But there it is, on the building.


And you laugh ‘cos you are no longer a kid and the kids are around you looking at it all as if it is wonder as if it is splendour and you’d have thought them imbecilic even back then when you were a kid, but in your defence you always felt guilty about such misaligned thoughts.

UWE building ary

You feel old with arthritis in your joints but you are not old and you know you are not old but you are not young either; not like these kids around you… these undergraduates but nor are they young like your children, like your babies who you know are missing you and you try to remember that this is not a selfish thing, but you know it ain’t exactly selfless either and that is OK.

And the wall art, not even street art, is safe and neat and philosophical and you like it in spite of yourself, in spite of the grump you want to be. It makes you gooey inside and you strive to be like all the others and you see the flower and you think of Mulan and dressing as a guy and the baseball cap and padded shirts from your youth and you hate the hipsters for stealing it all and making it expensive and you hate the hipster haters for hating on others for expressing themselves and you feel refreshed; but somehow washed out.

Philosophical wall art UWE

They say the flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all and there was a legend about dragons hidden in a room and there is a dragon and it’s supposed to mean stuff but it doesn’t it’s all just mind games and the same thoughts keep skipping through your brain in a loop that is tangled.

Flaming dragon wall art UWE

There is a chain, they’ve chained the dragon like they’ve chained your mind and the soul can’t help but follow the mind and the body you are pretty sure has been eaten by the damn dragon that started all this in the first place.

And then it gets real mythic and possibly even mystic and you spot gods hidden amongst it all as if waiting as if preying on the would be prey-ers, you know what these gods are up to but you dare not step in their way to stop them from plaguing the Freshers and transfer students because everyone needs to be shook up by a god when they start university. But Zeus, dude, where have your eyes gone?

Seriously not the ravens again – wrong mythos, honest!

Zues wall art UWE

And then he appears, blue and true and a mix of it all, a laughing Buddha, not a reclining Buddha, not the one you have in your head but the one you were given a statue of on your wedding day, the one that sits on the shelf of computing books, the one with all the kids. The red statue the toddler kisses announcing it’s a nanny baby because it looks like her nanny covered in babies and you’ve explained and explained but she’s never going to get it.

And you hope that means Karma is going to kick some arse but then you hesitate and wonder if it is you who has got all the myths and legends and religions and philosophies mixed because you know they are all pretty much mirrors and copies of each other, a mash of ideas and collection of ideals, they are all overlapped and entwined and twisted around and through. An Endless mess just waiting for an unpicker, and dreading a hack.

Blue deity wall art UWE

But then you look on it all in its glorious fusion and you think UNITY and you find UNITY written on the walls and unity might well be the words of a prophet but you can’t quite recall which one and the way you were going is blocked and marred by those smoking tobacco mixes you dare not inhale because babies grow in you and they do so unminded and you don’t want the contam.

And you know the hostility you face if you whisper your needs and the gratefulness you felt at the smoking ban and how it meant you didn’t have to give up work; not because of the baby but because you couldn’t breath with the foulness before the baby let itself be known.

Unity wall fresco at UWE

And the hostility is stupid, no one listens to what you say let alone gets what you mean… I mean… they… they think you want it all banned and taken away and harsh penalties when you don’t. You ache inside from the pain of misunderstanding because banning things never makes it better it just drives it under ground and prohibition happens and everyone’s a criminal and the gangsters rule.

Illegal is cool and you are left between two warring groups, a drugs war, a war that leaves the vulnerable lost and the rich still get richer and it’s like killing the caged bird but the pictures – the neat safe pictures, the clean not quite true picture; they saw a bird saving the caged birds. Saving their little silhouetted backsides, flocking together. But who feathers whose nest and are they going to fly away? In the same direction?

Birds and bird cage wall art at UWE

Only time can tell and it is ticking ticking an irregular beat, a torture hell that time that changes the reference frame. The wild kids you knew the ones that said you were staid and old for your days – those wild kids… they are grey and middle aged, not in years but their minds have frazzled to a halt and they become the things they dreaded in their youth – the moaners, the whiners, the youths-aren’t-good-enoughers.

Epic bird cage building art

Now they say to you “grow up” and frown at your zest for life like somehow having kids is supposed to rob you of individuality, of your sexuality or your identity and that only the withered husk of Mum is left and you know that isn’t true because you have always been just you. But you were never right for them and they make you feel… they make you seem… they make a case that you are the bad parent with your lack of repression and with their rose tinted glasses they conveniently forget all they were and the stuff that they have done and that you are not wild but to their eyes you are wild; and only in their eyes because they have become so afraid.

And that fear makes them grip their little ones too harshly to their breasts and hide away from anything that does not conform and they want the child to be a moulded model and the child is not. The child is not a mini them, your babies are not mini yous and you’ve always known that, you want to see who they are as people but that makes you… not a Waitrose shopper, with pretension oozing, remember you are not losing and they… they can not have the perfection they seem to expect; and the downfall will hurt them.

Because fear is a mind killer, and they are so very very afraid, and they hide all that is good of themselves to become bland and nothing and to not DRAW attention.

They can never be.

Egyptian Queen wall art UWE

And all these thoughts drop from your mind as you wonder if you are going to make that assessment deadline and realise you have no drive, np push, because it is not as important as it once was and actually you planned it lots and maybe if you just barge through the smokers you can drop it off and it will all be good and you can nap in the bar in the comfy seats with the football blaring and the chips being over greased and wait for your friend to take you to the postgrad lounge for proper coffee or, in your case, decaf and you can think and talk about the future and as you pass them… the smokers – you see the non-smoking sign behind them and smile whilst not breathing and wonder if they know they stink and know that they do know and recall the bullying over that stench and how your parents tried so hard to quit because of your chest… and how your roommates were shits and didn’t care and smoked the smokes and smoked them like chimneys until you ended up having to use the damn wheezy pump and then antibiotics for the infections that followed and the eye drops for the eye infections and you think on the smoking hut that the youth club used to have and how that had worked really well… you didn’t have to go in and they could smoke and everyone was happy except some stuck up prissies who reckoned it would drag their kids down, when their kids stole and boozed and did drugs that the kids at the youth club couldn’t hope to afford.

And you see the queen with her nose turned up – there on the wall, the ancient ruler with an apparent duck on her head and you wonder “does she know?” and you smile at the thought of her saying “what duck?” and everyone going along with the delusion and you look around at the kids who are rushing past thinking this is life or death…. this exam this test this assignment is everything when it is not because you’ve faced death and you know what it was like to stare into the universal void but you concede they do not. And they probably wouldn’t get the reference either.

Once you did not know and so we must have patience and then you spot him smirking at the lesson you have learned and you feel like punching him except he’s a pacifist and… a brick wall.

Ghandi wall art UWE

And then it is done.

Handed in, finished and it was weird because you found in the queue you were full of the nervous tension of the kids around you, you did care you just thought you didn’t. And your heart sinks – for you realise that though you do not fit in this world of too shiny and safe and new, of youth learning, you do fit here more than you fit pretty much anywhere else except perhaps with your husband.

You feel light headed and go to see the ducks on the green just to get some fresh air as the weight of those left behind; those who had the talent but could not follow – those you left in the other world of non-uni, of working class working hard not smart, of slow deaths from industrial poison and all the rest of it – yeah, that.

A lot of them would have belonged here more than you, but they never got the chance, and you’ve seen both sides of the divide; this safe neat street art and the raw grit of graffiti with its prison time, and it is your two worlds or at least a subset of your worlds, and they try and war with each other but you need them to make peace and you say hi to the ducks, your back is hurting and your walking stick is out because your body broke making life and people laugh at you and your funny gait and you don’t care because you’ve found a bench.

It says “The Personal is Political” and you think “It has a point” and that is the starting point for your last assignment.

The Political is the Personal