On Creative Writing

by Rosemary Hutchinson

I'll make a start.

Incidentally, before I get properly underway, the author I have imagined below is not me, not Rosemary Hutchinson. Nor is the photograph of the young man at the foot of this page a picture of anyone who exists.

This is a made-up story, and the picture is a made-up picture.  Everything which follows is entirely from my imagination. 

That said, in this story, why did the writer's daughter create the photograph of the young man, do you think?

Here goes. 


My daughter showed me how she'd used artificial intelligence to produce that image of the young man below. It's a created photograph of a person who does not exist. It's all beyond me. She tells me that she made it on the Internet. I expect she likes the look of that young man, as do I. I have to say there is something about him. But that person is not real. He has never been flesh and blood, she says. 

My wheelchair is real. I can hardly move in it these days.

I am a woman over eighty years of age, blessed to have arrived for an added day in Kidlington, forever happy they say, indeed excited by every new dare that comes my way. Today I am challenged by my daughter to write something. But this time I'm instructed to do so creatively, whatever that may mean. More adjectives, perhaps? But she makes it sound such fun, so I'll give it a go. Let's see.

Do you know the word amanuensis?

Please visualise that word set in inverted commas. You can look it up. It's what my daughter is — she writes things down for me because I can no longer use my hands, but I can still speak. There's only one rule : every word she writes must be mine. She's not allowed to add ideas of her own nor to make things up. But I expect she does.  

"No, I don't, Mummy," she speaks back to me, in double-quotes, but she replies so very softly with no exclamation mark, I'm sure she's being truthful. My daughter became aged sixty-one last week. It was Tuesday, we had some birthday cake together. 

At the top of this page you'll see me in my wheelchair, turned away. I'm actually hiding my face from you. I'm a little embarrassed, not so much about what I look like, but what I write like. I've not done this sort of thing before, creative writing. Mostly I've written only family letters to my sister. But since I lost ability in my hands, my sentences have been moved along on my behalf, inked by a different but familiar and loving hand, my words carefully blotted, sealed, stamped, then popped into the letterbox, just as I used to do when I could run around.

However, in this present case, I am not allowed to seek from my daughter any imaginative ideas, for to do so would be against the law it seems. I must think for myself. Furthermore, she says, she is going to write this up on her computer for everyone to read. She wants to encourage creative writing, she'd especially like younger people to give it a try, to get started early, not as I have done. You don't have to go out to do it, she says, you can always stay at home and write and travel anywhere.

So, what's to write today? 

The Catholic priest was the only one in the room with a suntan. 

Gosh. This is fun.

I just made up the bit about the suntan. 

But conjuring up that image did bring to mind my wedding day when I was only eighteen years of age, my husband one year older. He died a month before this twentieth birthday, of pleurisy. We had not long moved to Kidlington among the first wave in the diaspora northward from the University. He remains in the churchyard at St. Mary's, in the shadow of the spire, he knew little else of the village. 

The priest who conducted our marriage ceremony in our college where we'd met as students had just returned from Africa and, come to think of it, he was actually still tanned a little from his travels. It's funny what you remember. It was midwinter in Oxford, our few guests, all close friends, of course, were pale, indeed ashen like the peeling paintwork curled around us, the off-white flakes barely clinging to the chapel's ancient walls. I'm getting into this. It's coming back to me.

There was no photographer. Strangely, no photographs of my husband remained, none came to light after our move to Kidlington, they must have all been lost. We had no flowers. I would dearly have liked — I mean, I would absolutely have loved — daffodils and mimosa. But a few months later I arranged those same flowers on the ground for quite a different purpose. It had been a bitterly cold morning in college, none of us could have imagined such little time together, abrupt, cut short; for me, a lifetime ahead without him, our beautiful girl born two weeks after he was called away. 

I am tired now, my dear. Let's do this again. I wish I'd got to grips with all these adjectives of yours when I was younger. It helps. I'm sure it helps. I'd encourage my friends to have a go too. Write that down for them, while I remain to think of it.


Mummy always said that he had looked so very young that morning in the college chapel on their wedding day. Handsome, so happy, he had blue eyes, dark brown hair, hardly noticeable were the beginnings of a slightly darker stubble around his chinline; he was so full of hope for the new life they would spend together. 

Together, once more.


This is not a picture of a real person. It is an artificially created image designed to match the description given to her daughter by the imagined author of the above article. 

Rosemary Hutchinson is a resident of the village of Kidlington, Oxfordshire.

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