2011 has been a difficult year for my art, as I struggled against the weather at the start of the year (photo shoots were cancelled) and then time ran away through my duties on Sanctus 1 leadership and the SUB service at Greenbelt Festival. This pattern continued into 2012.
As an antidote, to keep my creative hand flowing, I started writing short stories. Inspired by Fat Roland and the underground writing community in Manchester, I started to use the snippets of time on commutes to formulate short stories. I enjoyed the mental work out and new creative challenge of these. My work has often featured words, so this is just an extension of my love of language. It will no doubt lead to some odd places.
Hear Me (v2)
On the back of last years feedback, I’ve reworked Hear Me and turned it into a short story in the guise of an unhinged letter. I printed out 10 copies on parchment paper and distributed those at the spooky 31 Oct 2012 Bad Language Manchester event, for people to read and/or take away. For those that didn’t get to see it, here’s a PDF (348Kb) of it.
Tweet to Critique
Next up was a quick poem for the website of Artzu gallery. Inspired by a Tim Garner picture, I wrote a poem where each line could be written in a tweet (140 character limit). Artzu liked it enough to publish on their site and reward me with a complimentary beer at the gallery. Nice.
My third story was prompted by the encouragement of Dan from Bad Language Manchester after meeting me and hearing me read at the launch night for Quickies (see The Shift below). With a 500 word limit this was another competitive entry system i.e. no guarantee of being accepted. This time I decided to write outside the world used in my first two stories. Not a massive amount of planning in this work – more of a reactive piece to get something visceral and dark for an anthology whose theme was ‘Bad Language’. Unfortunately, it didn’t make it in, but I got some good feedback for next time.
The second story was inspired again by Fat Roland, who had started a new writers group called flashtagmcr. Their first anthology “Quickies: Stories for Adults” was a challenge that I thought would be fun. This time the word count was a little higher (400 words), but I would be up against other writers in an open submission competition, with only a limited number being selected. As well as not knowing the other members of flashtagmcr, the works are judged without knowing the author, so it would provide a chance for my work to be judged independently and honestly. I decided to write a story that would expand the world I had delved into in ‘An Unexpected Trip’ (see above), so used the same character and experimented more with the idea of shifting infrastructure…with a bit of added romance/spice thrown in for good measure. Another first for me was the chance to read the story out loud, in front of a mike and to a live audience (scary, embarassing and lots of fun)! To read the story you need to buy the book, available in print or kindle version (beware – the 35 stories it contains are adult in nature!).
An Unexpected Trip
My first piece of formal writing since English Language GCSE in the 1990s! I’d been hearing about a great little Mancunian blog of short stories inspired by photographs – I finally got round to reading some and was inspired (linking stories and images appealed to my visual side). On the way back from the Future Everything exhibition one lunchtime, I was getting soaked by the rain and took some photo’s on my mobile phone. My mind started whirring about a spin (pun intended) on the Alice in Wonderland section about falling down a rabbit hole. Blending this with the challenge of walking over British pavements without one coming loose and splashing your legs meant that my mind had started generating a story. Read it at 330 Words.