When Frank Lampard was appointed Chelsea manager in 2019, I felt a mixture of apprehension and excitement. Frank Lampard is, quite conclusively, without contest, my favorite association football player of all time. He’s the reason I became a Chelsea fan. By British standards, I was kind of a latecomer to soccer. I became suddenly obsessed with it at the age of 12, with most of my buddies having been passionate about the sport for years. One time, sat in the lounge of my grandparents’ house, I watched Lampard score a stunning long-range effort in a game we were watching on…

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

It’s always interesting to wonder how much our ancestors, predecessors, and younger selves knew where they were going. But equally fascinating, in my opinion, are those bold predictions from the past that hit completely wide of the mark. Not only is it a neat insight into the way the minds of the past considered their place in human history, but it serves as a reminder that no matter our achievements, we can never gauge our societal momentum with any real exactness.

2020 has been an eventful and chaotic year, so I figured I would turn my ear back to the…

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I think COVID-19 has made me even more introspective than usual. With less opportunities for new memories to be made, I find myself seeking refuge in old ones. What I find most striking are the ideas, mindsets, and modes of behavior that dominated my formative years but didn’t survive the jump to adulthood. It’s like being suddenly revisited by the ghostly visage of someone you saw die beside you in a horrible trench war many years ago- in this case the hairy, pimple-struck face of my high school self, circa the mid-2000's.

Today I’m going to write about what is…

And how good advice can be misinterpreted

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The consensus in the writing community, for the past few decades, is that less is more. Ernest Hemingway spearheaded this school of thought with his “Iceberg Theory”, the idea that the writer keeps the full picture to his or herself, presenting the reader with the bare minimum and being suggestive of the depth underneath. My Creative Writing professors were all unified behind this philosophy, and it was one that underlined every class I took, regardless of genre, from my first day to the day I graduated. It was the same when I went to study writing in the U.S.A. as…

Poetry Sunday

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she still wakes up early
and the light falls netted
on the bedsheets

cold light falling

we wrestle, she makes Corona-coffee
buttons her blouse for a Zoom meeting
head lopsided, remarks that
she’s put on too much weight
since the lockdown
and burpees in an as yet unopened PDF
are mentioned
as another of our recent neglects.

she’s snapping her fingers now
she’s singing Hamilton
she wants us to keep birds on the apartment building roof.

I want her back in bed with me
but I love her when she’s like this

I want to keep her this way- light…

It’s funny how some things play out. When 2020 began I had zero interest in The Last of Us as a franchise or its hotly-anticipated second installment. My money was headed straight for Doom Eternal and Ghost of Tsushima. But then I took a chance on The Last of Us Part 2 last minute, and I can say quite confidently that it’s my Game of the Year so far. We’ll have to see what the rest of the year brings us, but it’s definitely deserving of its critical status as a masterpiece- both in gameplay and storytelling.

It’s not perfect…

Blue Bell Ice Cream // Vowles, 2016

I’ve always believed- quite fervently, in fact- that if nation-states made decisions informed by a knowledge of history, they wouldn’t go far wrong. I also believe this is true for the individual- that we should each look to our own personal histories in order to create the best plan for our futures. This is something I do quite often when I write in my journal- I’ll try to identify situations in which I was happy so I can figure out the best way to get in that situation again. And vice-versa with situations where I was depressed.

I used to…

And how to improve your relationship with books.

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When people tell me they wish they could get more reading done, I find that what they more accurately mean is that they’re struggling to read a book cover-to-cover on a consistent basis. It’s an important distinction because it’s not so much the simple act of reading that’s causing them anxiety- but the commitment to a project of sorts.

I know a lot of people that say “I wish I could read books but I just can’t.” It’s a mindset that fascinates me- so much so that a couple of years ago I assembled a group of volunteers to take…

Suffering from Writer’s Block? I’ve got you covered.

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

I took a class once that focused solely on fostering creativity. Every week we’d engage in a different exercise aimed at provoking story ideas. One of the things I noticed about that class- and indeed many books on the subject- is that one of the most tried and tested techniques for creating ideas out of nothing seemed to involve combining various unrelated jumping-off points. For instance, combining the setting of “Jamaica” with the theme of “Loss of Innocence”, or the historical backdrop of “a British 1970s government housing project” with the narrative of “estranged brothers making amends”, or a “Game…

Michael J. Vowles

Freelance writer, occasional traveler, full-time ice cream taster. I run a blog at https://tumbleweedwrites.com where I ramble with enthusiasm.

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