A word from the King

I’m currently reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, a great book about the life of the writer and his thoughts on how to write a story. I came across a passage in it that I thought sums up the writing process well (or atleast, his process) and thought it was worth sharing.

“I want to put a group of characters in some sort of predicament and then watch them try and work themselves free. My job isn’t to help them work their way free, but to watch what happens and then write it down.”

“The situation comes first, The characters -always flat and unfeatured – come next. Once these things are fixed in my mind, I begin to narrate. I often have an idea of what the outcome may be, but I have never demanded of a set of characters that they do things my way. On the contrary, I want them to do things their way…if I’m not able to guess with any accuracy how the damned thing is going to turn out, even with my inside knowledge of coming events, I can be pretty sure of keeping the reader in a state of page-turning anxiety.”

And for those shortstoryers out there (me included), here are a few bits of advice I came across coupled with a list of publishers…

http://ideastap.com/ideasmag/the-knowledge/how-to-write-a-short-story-and-get-published

Hope some of this is helpful.

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Over Steps and Stones

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I’ve just finished the last chapter of my project, exploring and writing about the Christmas Steps area of Bristol! You can read it and the rest of the chapters here.

I’ve got more urban journeys lined up for the Spring including a trek down the Avon Gorge and an amble around the new business district that calls itself The Enterprise Zone, so stay tuned!

Greenwich Disability Resource Centre

When I was living in London in 2010, I had a job supporting a visually impaired person in their role as manager of a local charity. The charity was based at Greenwich Disability Resource Centre, a venue for people with varying degrees of physical or learning disabilities. Although I only worked directly with one individual, I got to know many people there, both staff and service users, and suffice to say, a few characters too.

However, the centre was fairly run down and a date had been arranged for a major refurbishment, which would involve the temporary relocation of the service to another area.

Before this happened, I got permission to take some shots of the building as a personal memento, but ended taking pictures of many of the people there too, mainly at their St George’s Day celebrations.

Looking back, I feel quite humbled that I was able to capture a snapshot of life at the centre and at how welcoming people were to the idea. I’m not even sure if the centre still exists now as it doesn’t seem to be listed on the Greenwich Council website so I feel like these pictures have an extra special quality to them.

To view the series, please visit my Flickr page.

Talking cranes

It’s a locally-known thing that the old industrial cranes on Bristol’s harbourside used to talk to each other. It started happening while the Industrial Museum was being transformed into the present day M Shed and many a passersby were entertained and informed about what the new museum would have inside.

A couple of years on and apparently the staff at M Shed still get asked whether the cranes are going to strike up a conversation again. As a result, one of the curators has set out to make it happen and I’m pleased to say that I’m one of the writers who has been tasked with putting together a new set of scripts for them!

I’ve been working on the final drafts and the plan is to get them up and running before the end of the year. I won’t reveal anything else yet, but instead here are a few pictures of a recent trip up in one of the cranes where we got to see things from their perspective.

(Update: I am now working on a new set of scripts especially for an upcoming exhibition at M Shed. See here for a new post all about it)

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Thanks for picking me up

I feel drunk, except I’ve had no alcohol, only short, bittersweet glasses of tea; ubiquitous refreshment on the streets of Istanbul. It doesn’t help, however, that I’m stood up in a Dolmus, the taxi-cum-buses that chug about the city, picking up anyone anywhere who flags them down en route. My friend, Colin and I, clutch at the handrails and grin at the madness of it all as the driver bumps and jerks his way through the traffic. It’s just one more moment in a sea of experiences that have happened today and, thinking back, it’s no surprise that I feel the way I do.

First off, it was Carsamba market, with its never ending tunnels of clothes and groceries that filled up my eyes and ears with colour and chatter. Then there were the crumbling buildings of Balat that caught my imagination, an old Jewish neighbourhood, where washing lines are strung out across the streets and children roam as free as the stray cats that call the area their home. And I’m frankly still a bit fazed by the shoe-shiner who reeled us in with his thank-you-for-picking-up-my-brush routine and offered to polish our shoes out of gratitude only to snatch a 20 note from my wallet after asking for a donation. In hindsight, however, it simply added a little extra adrenalin to the mix as well as reminding me that not only am I tourist here, but a very fortunate one too.

The sheer variety of experience has been a constant as we’ve explored the ever-changing quarters of the city and by the end of each day my head has been left spinning with a heady mix of information overload and travel-inspired glee. It’s this combination that has led to such a feeling of intoxication and it’s something I know will only continue as we are dropped off at a gondola station where we await a carriage up to the Pierre Loti café overlooking the Golden Horn and the cityscape at dusk.

Tomorrow, the hangover will surely kick in as I board the plane back to England. But I’m hoping that I can take home at least some of the sense of adventure that has characterised this trip, so that I might better appreciate the colours, sights and sounds that are everywhere in my own city, albeit in a less exotic fashion. That way the trip never really ends.

(Written for the Telegraph’s ‘Just Back’ travel writing competition)

IdeasTap

I recently signed up to IdeasTap, a creative network for people of all things artistic. I know there are countless websites out there to register and promote your creative interests, but I was impressed by the amount of resources there are on offer here including jobs, creative briefs, artist interviews and even funding applications.

I’m by no means using the site in its entirety, but it is becoming useful for opportunities and the ocassional short story competition that comes along. Recommended reading (and joining) for anyone who’s looking to develop their creative interests.

http://www.ideastap.com/

Bridges project at Trinity Arts Centre

I entered a writing competition back in December, as part of the Bridges project, run by the Trinity Arts Centre in Bristol (see Crossing a Bridge for details). Sadly, no prizes were won for my efforts, but my piece is now available to read on the Trinity website along with the rest of the entries.     

Despite being unsuccessful, I really liked the idea that I came up with and rather than letting it go to waste, I have decided to improve upon it and make the new version my next submission to Ether Books as I feel it deserves to be out there!