the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

Map of My Heart

on March 1, 2014

At the Wimborne Writing Group, maps have recently been used as a stimulus for creative writing and members have produced an interesting range of creative outcomes. This got me thinking back to a time when I was working in school and used a picture book by Sara Fanelli to develop ideas for writing.  Here is the front cover of the picture book, and as you can see, it is intended for younger children but visually stimulating for all. Inside you can find a variety of maps from the map of my bedroom to the map of my stomach.

Drawing upon this idea while delivering a writing workshop with a class of eleven-year-olds (during that period of the summer term after year six SATs) I asked the children to draw a map of their heart. I still have a copy of one child’s work and it leaves me fraught whenever I look at it. The heart is dissected by scar lines and the two halves are held together with sticking plaster. It is speckled with question marks: concerns about the future, the suggestion of insecurity in relationships. The point of the heart has a tiny section for food and drink, where in other examples great sections were dedicated to chocolate bars or ice-creams. It leaves me with a worry that the pupil might  have been expressing an eating disorder. Other sections show the usual preoccupations with make-up and shopping and there is an area dedicated to writing stories.  Alongside the large outline of a heart there appears another smaller one, rather like a beat that resonates with wishes for a different future. I hope that any input I delivered enabled the pupil to work through some of these concerns, perhaps allowing creative writing to be catalyst for change. It still seems remarkable that an exercise around map making could enable a child to share concerns  so readily and it reminds me of my responsibility as a practitioner to  take care when tapping into the emotions of others. (At the time, I was able to share these with the child’s class teacher, who was aware of the family circumstances.)

On a lighter note, today I discovered another use for vintage maps, this time decorating a bangle. Included in the programme for Dorset Women’s Day was a workshop delivered by Cath Coffin on making a tree of life pendant and she also held a stall offering items for sale. I was delighted to purchase the piece of jewellery pictured below:












It shows the Dorset coastline, featuring Weymouth and I hope it will be an acceptable gift for someone who is not reading this blog! If you’re interested in purchasing similar items, Cath accepts commissions and can be contacted via email: Here is a photo of her stall with other items of jewellery.

Cath Coffin


















For more information on International Women’s Day, click here.










4 responses to “Map of My Heart

  1. sophieduffy says:

    I love maps. One of our best ever purchases was the big world map (from IKEA) which is in our kitchen. We’ve each put a star (colour coded) on the five countries we most want to visit. It’s a great talking point and has generated a lot of political discussions etc. And I love the idea of a map of the heart. x

  2. suesteph says:

    That’s a very poignant story. And I love the map bangle too – will definitely check her site.

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