Wednesday, 23 May 2018


The above quote comes from a writing exercise provided by the Glasgow Women's Library at their most recent, online, Open the Door event. The exercises were inspired by the work of Muriel Spark who was born 100 years ago, so I'm guessing it is a quote from one of her works. 

This is from the first exercise. You have to use one of the quotes provided to start a story, and just keep going until you're done. You can have a go too, you'll find the exercises here.

This is mine (with links to The Literary Gift Company and Etsy stores to buy the things in my imagined shop). Let me know if you do one of the exercises too, I'd love to see it.


Her ambition was to open a village shop and sell ceramics and transparent scarves, small stones with 'joy' engraved into them. Those things that nobody needs so everybody will surely buy... Or better yet, a shop tacked on to the little village library whose shelves are dressed in untouched books, while the librarian keeps somewhere hidden about her person stacks of the latest Lee Child, Lucinda Riley, Jojo Moyes, to be read in two weeks and returned to her. She would know where they'd go from there. Yes, a shop tacked on the side, not to disturb the librarian, but to sell scarves, printed with the pages of War and Peace, Clockwork Orange socks, Handmaid's Tale earrings, Lord of the Rings cufflinks, more. She would have the quietest coffee machine to be found and deep green sofas, scattered with cushions - the Brontes, Shakespeare, Austen, Byron - all would have a place in her shop. Every morning, somebody else (someone she had yet to conjure) would bring her scones generous as breasts, which she would split and toast for her customers, tidying the crumbs with a discreet Ewbank. Over her fireplace (filled with a bookcase of orange and red spined second hand books - the kind you thought you'd never find again) would be a large poster of the redacted Penguin cover of Nineteen Eighty Four, and she would call the shop Bookish.

She would have a shop cat, Virginia, who would sleep in the sun on a cushion on the windowsill, and she herself would wear shoes handcrafted in vegan leather, long colourful earrings and short punky hair, and on her Isolde Roth dress she would wear an enamel pin badge declaring 'BOOKISH.'

She would be trying to work her way through all the Virago Modern Classics but never getting past Frost in May because of all the friends she would make and all the busyness, and in this way, she was sure, she would barely need to make her way back to that place that had been home, that had had the heart leave it and leave it and leave it. In fact, little by little, she could perhaps take that place, that mother she had been, apart, close it down and go back again to how she'd been in her girlhood, before she'd needed to be things for others and could just be what she was for herself, totally, happily, bookish.


I loved imagining that shop. I could picture it as a place to meet friends for coffee and those scones, inspired by the ones you get in Nardinis in Largs at breakfast time. Lush. I cannot imagine dismantling my own motherhood though, I imagine I'm the type that'll be picking up my grandchildren and making them playdoh which smells a bit funny. I want to know more about that character, and why she's unbuilding herself. Maybe I'll find her again. What do you think her name might be?

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