Sunday, 29 August 2010

At the Edge of the Sea Festival

Yesterday I was on stage at Concorde2 for the first time. I opened At the Edge of the Sea Festival by reading my short story I'm from further North than you, which was inspired by a Wedding Present song with the same title.(The Short Story organisation Short Fuse was behind this idea and there were three more reading acts throughout the day.)The singer of the Wedding Present - David Gedge - said my story was naughty, but then it was his lyrics that started it all off ...

The headlining band was of course The Wedding Present, but I also enjoyed David's other band Cinerama (picture) and the Ukrainians among other bands. I think it's a great idea to mix literature and rock. Good news is that the selected stories will be published in an anthology that will be sold as Wedding Present merchandise. My story will most likely be illustrated in the format of a graphic novel.

I must confess that it was quite nerve-wracking to open up a festival - just ten minutes after I arrived. After my reading I felt faint and had to go and sit on the beach, at the edge of the sea.

Photo: James Burt

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Behave and Submit

Writers need to make it part of their routine. Yes, it's more fun to write than to read submissions guidelines and check for the eleventh time that you have numbered your pages, not written your name anywhere in the document and made sure the word count is right.

Tonight I've submitted five times. Five short stories to five different competitions/magazines. The chance is five times higher that I'll get a short story accepted than it was yesterday. If you just behave and keep submitting success will follow.

I had kind of forgotten,
despairing after having been turned down by nine agents/publishers.
But thanks to meeting up with authors Kay Sexton and James Dawson (who both had more than nine rejections before securing an agent),
I got my HOPE back.

" ... I've been draggin' my heels
With a bitch called hope ..." - Guns N'Roses, Garden of Eden

We need that bitch.
We need to submit to that bitch.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Black History Month Countdown

I was very happy to be part of the countdown to Black History Month at Red Roaster on Thursday. I'm not black, but I'm Swedish so I have a faint, I say faint idea what it's like to be different. But as I said during my performance: I feel more comfortable in Brighton than I do in my hometown in Sweden. Because in Brighton anything goes; it's easier to be who you are when people in the street are gay, black, Japanese or just have pink hair. I haven't performed for a while so it was good for my confidence to be on stage again and do my rants about escaping narrow-minded small towns.

The headlining acts for the evening was the poetess Akila and the funk/soul/rnb band Mauve.

The next events are Thu 16 Sep and Thu 28 Oct, 8pm at Red Roaster Cafe in Kemp Town. Join the Facebook Group here. Get in touch with the administrators if you want to perform.

There's also a challenge to write something on the topic of legacy. You don't have to be black, just share your thoughts on living in a mulitcultural place.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Alfriston to Cuckmere Haven - a walk to recharge creative batteries

In an earlier blog post I wrote about my creative meetings with my friend Sue. We're still meeting fortnightly to discuss our progress and support each other on our creative journeys. Sometimes you need to recharge your batteries though, so instead of an ordinary meeting we decided to go on a physcial journey. Walking, nature and good company is very healing.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Zoo Gun 91

Absurd? Bizarre? Surreal? Avantgarde? I love it when I'm unable to label something. It means it's original.

Yesterday I went to Zoo Gun 91 (normally called Glue Gun 91) hosted by The Young Hanoverians a.k.a. Chris Parkinson/Polymath/Rufus Moonshine & Amy Atkins/Gimley Whipple/Morag (excuse me if I forgot any names).

As I've been to Glue Gun 91 before, I knew it was worth going, even if I only got four hours sleep before, was in a bad mood and was facing a moral dilemma.

Glue Gun 91 is the kind of event that will alter your state of mind. It's impossible to be bored when swans die, bears dance, people have sex with dolphins and when there's a trial because a whale has been bereft of half its body. The housebound house band for the evening was the Land of Pointlessness (see first pic) that performed songs/raps about their cat.

The best moments are not captured in pictures though. I was too busy enjoying myself!

Last week I went to see A Bedroom Farce at Theatre Royal, but the day after I'd already forgotten about it. Glue Gun 91 is a perfect example that you can be thoroughly entertained by (not yet) famous people, and without paying a fortune.

It's inspiring to see how people like Chris & Amy put so much love and creative effort into what they're doing, making props and stage outfits. It's worth coming to Glue Gun 91 just for their original way of announcing breaks and encouraging the audience to clap and cheer.

Currently there's no fixed date for the next Glue Gun 91, but look them up on Facebook and join their group!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

To write on a theme and stick to a word count

Most of my short stories I've thought up out of the blue and written without deciding how long they were going to be beforehand. This is fine if you're writing for yourself or are so established that you are getting collections published.

Most magazines or competitions have rules though. You're supposed to write on a theme or at least stick to a word limit. When I started writing I hated that concept. I wanted to be free to write any stories I wanted, and make them how short or how long I wanted them to be.

Now I find it quite exciting to brain-storm around a theme. It takes me to places I didn't know before. It makes me write things I wouldn't normally have written.

I've been working on a story for almost two weeks, inspired by an exercise in the excellent book Short Circuit - a guide to the short story, edited by Vanessa Gebbie. The exercise was about setting. First you were supposed to describe a room in your house, pretending you saw it for the first time. Then you were supposed to place a person in the room whose mood reflected the mood of the room. Lastly you were supposed to introduce another character and through dialogue reveal their relationship to each other. I combined this exercise with an idea I got from reading a message on my radiator, left by a previous lodger.

I have no idea where to send this story, but a lot of competition/magazines have a word limit of 2000 words so I decided to aim for that. When the story was finished I had 2350 words. I had no idea how to cut it, but leaving it a few days and getting back to it, I could easily shorten the story to 1950 words. The advantage with a word limit is that you learn how to cut out the crap. At least if you're a novelist like me and are used to waffling and having space. It might be harder if you're a flash fiction writer and feeling forced to add words ... (Normally there's no lower word limit, but I suspect it's hard to win a competition with a 300 word piece. There a exceptions though. Tania Hershman is a master when it comes to short short stories.)

Next story I'm going to work on is for the Asham Award. The word limit is 4000 words, which is not a problem. The problem is that, unlike other years, they have a theme this year. And the theme is ghosts. I've never written a ghost story in my life, so this will be a real challenge ...