Writing

People Love Stories

Everyone tells stories. Everyday we talk, describe, ponder, gossip and imagine life outside of our own experience.

We tell simple stories, ‘My mother always said…’

We tell secrets, ‘Don’t tell anyone, but…’

We make each other laugh, ‘I stood on his toe and…’

We put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

We find ways to survive, to learn and be enriched.


Inspiration is a funny thing. For me, it can come in a second of eye contact with a stranger.

It can come from years of listening and putting pieces together.

It can come from a place or light falling at a certain time of day.

It can come from a name or a juxtaposition of one thing with another.

It can be heartbreaking and heartmending.

It can come from hours and weeks of crafting and polishing and rearranging until – aha! That’s what I’ve been looking for.

The key is to write it down. Don’t let it go. Catch the idea. Use words as best you can, never fearing that they are imperfect. At least then you have your ball of clay.

Try some of my free reads to see the variety of work I produce. Everything has its place from poetry to flash fiction, from diary entries to reviews. There are no rules about who you can write for, everything feeds in to make sharper, richer prose.

Fourth Churchill Barrier, Orkney. Gabrielle Barnby

At the moment I am writing... a new novel set on Orkney. I’m just fleshing out the details of the plot,  getting into the heads of the characters and planning my research.


At the moment I am reading… Magnus by George Mackay Brown. Everyone has gaps in their reading, but there’s no excuse for not trying to fill in what’s missing.

Deadlines are good things. Set them. Try your best to keep them. Okay, you might break them, but keep up momentum. Get to the end.


Get things finished. Whether it’s a poem for a present or a submission for a magazine. Work. Re-read. Work. Re-read.