Bruce holding my hand at Leeds Arena 2013

No writing news for you this time – because last week was all about the music. ‘The music’ being Bruce Springsteen’s Friday night gig at Villa Park stadium in Birmingham.

Leeds Arena 2013

I have seen Bruce live numerous times over the years – but the last gig I went to was in Coventry in 2016, so it’s been a long wait for this tour. Those of you who follow me on social media will probably already know that I held Bruce’s hand in 2013 when I was on the front row at Leeds Arena, and that I’ve never stopped mentioning it since! That was a milestone gig in many ways – it was the very first gig at the newly opened arena and the sound was amazing. It was also a ‘small’ venue, as Bruce normally does stadium gigs in Europe. And although I’ve been down at the front a good few times over the years, that was the first time I’d seen him where there were no barriers and we could just rest our elbows on the stage. When Bruce reached down and held my hand it was a very emotional few seconds for me. Apart from the fact that it was a bucket list moment after being a fan for close to thirty years at that point, it also came at a difficult time for me personally, as I’d recently suffered two very close bereavements. Up to that point, 2013 was shaping up to be the worst year for a long while. I realise that in the scheme of things it will seem like something and nothing to the rest of the world, but it was very special to me!

Villa Park 2023


Anyway, what about last week’s gig you ask? It was FABULOUS of course! I was on the front row again, albeit right out at the side of the stage. I met two lovely (and ardent) Bruce fans from Wrexham, who kindly let me share their spot on the rail, and there was a lot of singing, dancing and smiling, and a few emotional tears. The friend I went down to Birmingham with had queued for hours to get in early, and was – deservedly – on the front row in the centre. This time it was her turn to hold Bruce’s hand, and I was absolutely thrilled for her!

Not so long to wait for the next gig this time, because in another seventeen days we’ll be doing it all again when we head down to London to see him at the BST festival in Hyde Park!


Just a quick reminder about the Publishing and Producing Anthologies free online event on Thursday 29th June at 17.00 – chaired by Adam Feinstein.

“Learn the secrets of putting together an anthology. In this exciting event brought to you by Together in the UK, you will learn from 4 different examples. They are:

Professor Marius Turda: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/cultural-history-of-race

The Other Side of Hope: https://othersideofhope.com/print-editions.html

TogetherintheUK: https://www.victorinapress.com/product/hear-our-stories-writings-on-migration

Christopher Fielden on: https://www.christopherfielden.com/books/81-words-flash-fiction-anthology.php “

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/publishing-and-producing-anthologies-tickets-623621417447?keep_tld=1

Writing Tips…

Here’s another extract from my short story course, The Heart of the Short Story. This week we are looking at Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory.


(adapted in part from Wikipedia)

The Heart of the Short Story course will hopefully equip you with many of the techniques and skills needed to create tightly written stories which contain and convey much more than the sum of their parts. Most of your story’s meaning and complexity should exist below the surface, as explained by Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory.

Hemingway’s biographer, Carlos Baker, believed that as a short story writer Hemingway learned “how to get the most from the least, how to prune language and avoid waste motion, how to multiply intensities, and how to tell nothing but the truth in a way that allowed for telling more than the truth.” Baker also noted that the writing style of the “iceberg theory” suggests that a story’s narrative and nuanced complexities, complete with symbolism, operate under the surface of the story itself.

Hemingway said:

“First I have tried to eliminate everything unnecessary to conveying experience to the reader so that after he has read something it will become part of his experience and seem actually to have happened.”

“A few things I have found to be true. If you leave out important things or events that you know about, the story is strengthened. If you leave or skip something because you do not know it, the story will be worthless. The test of any story is how very good the stuff that you, not your editors, omit.”

A writer explains how it gives a story gravitas:

“Hemingway said that only the tip of the iceberg showed in fiction—your reader will see only what is above the water—but the knowledge that you have about your character that never makes it into the story acts as the bulk of the iceberg. And that is what gives your story weight and gravitas.” Jenna Blum in The Author at Work, 2013

Hemingway’s story, ‘A Clean Well-Lighted Place’, which on the surface is about nothing more than men drinking in a cafe late at night, is in fact about that which brings the men to the cafe to drink, and the reasons they seek light in the night—none of which is available in the surface of the plot, but lurks in the iceberg below. James Joyce said: “He [Hemingway] has reduced the veil between literature and life, which is what every writer strives to do. Have you read ‘A Clean Well-Lighted Place’?…It is masterly. Indeed, it is one of the best short stories ever written…”

You can read it here: https://www.wlps.org/view/2546.pdf

The story I return to throughout the tutorials, ‘Hills Like White Elephants’, may be the best example of Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory. Hemingway uses it to full effect, and the results are dazzling. https://www.onelimited.org/ss-hemingway-02

Next time we will start to look at editing!

Word of the Week…

The German word for light bulb is Glühbirne, which literally means ‘glow-pear’. How perfect is that?

But Glühbirne wasn’t actually going to be this week’s word. This week’s word is Kuddelmuddel, the charming German word for ‘mess’.

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