Thursday, 30 August 2012

Instant gratification

Ooh, it's good to be appreciated!

Sending marrows out into the world is so much easier than sending stories: boy do I hate the standard literary editor's statement 'we aim to reply within three months'.

I quite understand, oh beloved publishers whom I hope are reading my stories (five out there right now, and they're good, they're good!). I know you're overworked and un(der)paid.

But frankly even live lit is easier than the wait. And giving marrows away wins hands down for that easy immediate glow.

Thank you!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

The marrow of a story

Last week was hectic: the usual work stuff, preparations, briefings and meetings with new clients, an hour-and-a-half trip across country to see Hamlet, a last minute rethink and rewrite of the end of story about to go to press, a whole day on LV21 telling stories - and dinner with all our neighbours. It was great, and threatened to be just a bit too frantic.

Luckily for me, I topped and tailed the week with a day in the garden. For me that means the veg plot - it's my bit of the garden, and it's where I go for a dose of sanity and silence.

At this time of the year it's burgeoning. What a splendid word - fat and luscious with juice. And that's exactly what my courgette patch was full of - not courgettes, but burgeoning marrows which had escaped my attentions during a week of work.

So last weekend I put out a pile of ten marrows by the front path with a notice asking people to take them. All were gone by the next day.

Yesterday another ten had grown, so I took four and turned them into soup for the freezer, and put six out on the front path. This morning they'd all gone.

It makes me strangely happy to share my produce invisibly like this - to send something I helped to create out into the world - and though it may seem a stretch, it's a similar feeling to the one I felt when telling my story on LV21.

It was dark, so I couldn't see my audience, and they were silent except when one by one they came forward to drop a pebble in my metal bucket, to tell me to start reading the next section of the story. Even as I was standing there in the chain locker with my story in my hand, I knew that it wasn't my story alone any more - it was the audience's too.

When you publish a story, it leaves you. If someone picks it up and reads it, it's theirs, it's in their head and even as its writer you don't have any control over what it's doing in there.

I knew this, but being in the same space, in darkness, listening to my readers absorbing the story, was something very special. I could almost hear it moving through the air between us.

And the same went for the other ReAuthorers - Sonia Overall, Sarah Salway, Kay Syrad and Will Sutton (who took the photo above - thank you Will) - their stories flowed through the pipes and spaces of LV21 and created something really amazing. What a day.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Pebble story

In a minute I'm going to put a metal bucket, nine pebbles and nine small sheets of paper in the boot of my car, and then I'll drive to Gillingham.

I'm heading for LV21where I'm going to tell a story in the chain locker.

If anyone turns up to hear it, they'll be given a pebble (there are pebbles in the story, so it does make sense, sort of) - if they want to hear a part of the story, they put their pebble in the bucket. If they don't, they walk away.

I'll report back on whether this does engage my audience in the process of telling a story, or whether they walk out in disgust!

Oh, and this is another lovely ReAuthoring project, so there will be lots of other writers on LV21 today doing surprising things with words.