I've been in a story haze this week since the Sunday crunch to meet a deadline. But three early mornings later, my rough draft is hammered into shape - still under the word count - and it's finished. Till the next time I look at it, of course!
This is my entry for Leicester Writers' Club's latest competition on the theme of Metropolis. Without these competitions, it's doubtful I'd ever get around to writing stories these days. I need the theme or genre and I need the pressure. Only that pushes me through the foggy stage of creation where all seems hopeless and contrived. I once heard a writer say, 'all that doubt and despair - that's like the weather - you just have to ignore it and get on.'
I've had to be obsessive and uncommunicative to get it written this week but there is also the pleasure of it. Discovering images that appear from nowhere and knit the story together. Finding it's taken you somewhere you never expected. Inhabiting the voice and skin of another person - who sees the world differently to me.
Once these stories are done for a competition, I'm very bad at submitting them anywhere else. So I was delighted to have one of my stories, The Chatterbox, selected for a spoken word evening last night. The Short Fuse monthly event at the Y Theatre in Leicester is great fun, a cocktail of themed stories in a cabaret setting with a live audience.
So - 4 storytellers babbling beautifully on the Babel theme & the Last Mango in Paris was superb - warm funny sad surreal endlessly entertaining - till the last train beckoned. This performer, Shane Solanki mixes song, stand-up, slides and banter to draw us into his stories of life on the cultural rift. Mad e-mails from relatives, India's top skin whitening cream Joleen and a mesmerising rap-poem all featured. Believe the hype - he's not to be missed!
Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.
Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:
My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:
Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:
- Leicester, East Midlands
- As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring.