Looking Sideways

Man With Potential Selves by Sean Henry, 2003. Grainger Town, Newcastle.When did you last look at the world sideways? Or upside down?

Why would you need to?

Try it. See? What are all those weird shapes and colors that you hadn’t noticed a moment ago? Look at all the details that merged into the background when you were right side up! And check out the relationships between the details. What’s that smell? Don’t you find the view far more interesting and lively looking at it sideways?

Looking from a different physical perspective can give a wonderful creative boost.

Is it because of all that blood flowing to your head or to your elbow?

Travel is an easy way to look sideways. Surrounded by so many differences and impressions makes you ultra-alert, hyper-aware of details.

I had a sideways moment recently while I was on holiday, going into Newcastle on the metro. I’m not at all familiar with Newcastle and as I looked at the metro map, the names of the stations just popped out at me, crackling with ideas, images, characters and other worlds. It was as though the names had cracked open and were revealing something deeper.

Walls End – Meadow  Well – Monument – North Shields – Brockley Whins – Walkergate – Simonside – Four Lane Ends – Chillingham Road – Byker – Manors – Seaburn – Motherwell – Bank Foot – Pelaw

Writing Prompt

I didn’t have time to write then so I jotted down the station names. I knew right away how I was going to use them and this week will sit down to see what happens with my idea. It’s going to be harder work now because I’ve moved on from that particular state of mind but I’ll just have to look at them sideways.

Won’t you join me?

Write using the station names in sequence. You do not have to use the station names as such, or even as a place. You can translate them into an event or character, or use the spirit within the words, or interpret what might be the meaning or origin of the name in whatever way you like. Go with sound and change the spelling if that appeals. Feel free to split a name into two words. Or more. In other words, use the names as creatively as you like. Use all stations.

An extra challenge (because you’ll be so familiar with them) is to use the metro or train station names in your own area (if you’re not in Newcastle). These won’t feel at all exciting to you. But try looking at them sideways.

Feel like sharing a sentence you’ve written using one (or more) of the metro names? Use the Comments box below!


6 thoughts on “Looking Sideways

  1. Pingback: Seeing Strange: The Horse With No Eyes | Susi Lovell

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  3. This is a very cool idea! I’m curious to see what you come up with! It reminds me of tilting my head back when I’m on a swing and watching the world with the sky on the bottom.


    • I always love that swing effect! Perhaps that’s why I like anti-gravity yoga so much – all that upside down-ness! You’re right, I should post what I end up writing, or part of it at least. How about you? Are you going to give it a go?


  4. Man as potential selves. Well, I didn’t get that except that we’re moving into our own future and that’s potential. But I saw it (not sideways) as man as potential shelves. Lying there propped up on one elbow while the world walks past and plops things down on him, since he’s – available – that is, potential.

    Okay. When I look out the side of my eyes, meaning I stare forward but try to notice what’s lateral to me, I pick up on movement (we all do) better than when seeing straight ahead, and we see black, grey and white much better sideways than straight ahead too (variant populations of rods and cones from the centre of the retina to the periphery) so that’s another “sideways”.

    When I’m on the metro I sometimes look out the window as the signs for the upcoming and receding station posted in the tunnel fly past. By moving my head forward and then quickly back, I can sometimes read these, while hoping that no one thinks I’m in the throes of a peculiar convulsion. (I don’t do this very often any more.)

    And out of the corner of my eye is where I saw the ghost of the lady who haunted a previous house I lived in. But that’s another tale entirely.


    • Eek! Did you live in my house? I often see a lady ghost but never directly on, just a glance as I turn. Usually she’s just behind my left shoulder.

      As for your alternative sideways looking, you’ve reminded me of some really good exercises I used to do in dance classes for lateral vision (I was a clumsy dancer, always bumping into other dancers). Now I’ve thought of one that will be perfect for my next post. Thanks a million!

      Didn’t you rick your neck with all that fast looking forward and back?


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