Friday, August 19, 2011

My guest blog post: Noticing

Every Day Fiction's Flash Fiction Chronicles blog asked me for a guest blog post quite a while ago and I just couldn't think of anything to write about. And then a few weeks ago I had a strange experience and it struck me that this was the thing for FFC... My guest blog post on Noticing is now up on the FFC blog. A taster:
A few years ago, I was told off by a fellow short story writer  for not carrying a notebook around with me. I had foolishly assumed that when an idea came, if it was “good enough” I would remember it. I was already then at an age where memory is not as sharp as it was. And there is so much competing for our attention that ideas don’t stand much of a chance of being retained.
Read the full post here>>

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Upside down world

It may be seen as ridiculous to be worrying about short stories - about fiction, about the arts in general - when looters are smashing windows around England, burning down buildings. It's a scary time. I feel it's been a scary time for quite a while now. How can I ask you to sign a petition to show Radio 4 how you feel about cuts to their Afternoon Reading slots when there are cuts that deeply and tragically affect people's ability to actually live? I can't really answer that question. I can only say that just because I spend a lot of time here talking about short stories, about fiction, about writing, doesn't mean I am not also doing other things, privately, that I don't shout about, to help in other ways.

I am finding it very hard to write this blog post. All I can say is that I don't consider the Arts "trivial", a "luxury" that should be put aside, that doesn't in some way save lives too, or make lives better, or hold a mirror up to our lives to show us who we are, who that Other is whose skin we can't normally get into, whose shoes we have never worn. Yes, this is partly because it's what I strive for, it's what I do... but it's also where I get comfort, inspiration, stimulation. It's what challenges me, opens my eyes, doesn't let me rest easy, coast along. Short fiction is my choice, but of course it's not the only choice. The thing is: if the Afternoon Reading is being replaced by more news... what's next? At what point will there be no choice?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Dirt Story

I thought hard about the title for this blog post... did I want to attract the kind of readers I never normally attract??! What is this all about? Well, on my first visit to the excellent Wellcome Collection, a place which bills itself as "a free visitor destination for the incurably curious, exploring the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future", to see their exhibition last year on Skin, I found the artworks and exhibits they had collected were really inspiring to me as a writer.

Then... I was asked by Danny at the Wellcome Collection blog to write a 2-part blog post about fiction inspired by science...

And then... I heard about the new exhibition, 'Dirt' (on til end August) and i thought, What if I write a flash story inspired by the exhibition and offer it to Danny for the blog? To my delight, he agreed. And the result, a short short story called Her Dirt, is now published on the Wellcome Collection blog. A quick taste:

She keeps her dirt, and at first her dirt is enough. But then it isn’t. So she takes to taking.

There is history here. A clean clean child. Or, rather: demands for a clean clean child. A pure-white home, a childhood washing and re-washing. Do you need to hear of distant mothers and of even further-spinning fathers?
You can read the rest here this is the first piece of flash fiction to be on the WC blog - please feel free to leave your comments there and let them know if there should be more!  

On the subject of MORE short stories... the petition against the BBC's planned cuts to short stories on Radio 4 is nearly at 6000 signatures. The fight is not over, please sign if this is something you care about. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Off to London

I'm off to the Big City today, various bits of business and pleasure - including the launch of Rob Shearman's third short story collection, Everyone's Just So Special! I hope the forecast temperatures don't actually manifest, sweaty London is not my idea of fun.

But I also hope I will have a chance to swing by Foyles, the new home, for August, of the PhotoStories exhibition. Here's me standing by my PhotoStory, We Watched Him on Our Screens, when it was exhibited at Saatchi's.

Rob Shearman also has a PhotoStory in the exhibition, as do Adam Marek, Clare Wigfall and 11 other fantastic writers. (The typographs are available for sale.)

Ok, I'd better go. Bye!