Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Fictions of Every Kind: Cuts

Michael Stewart reads from his novel, King Crow, at Fictions of Every Kind; Cuts

People in the DIY community, people who put on shows, often speak of the 'nervous hour'. It's the time of night between you setting everything up for your night, and people showing up to pay in on the door. It's an awful time of night, and my 'nervous hour' normally lasts from about 3pm in the afternoon til about 9 at night....

Enough about that, though. Let's have a post-mortem of last night's Fictions of Every Kind.

It was a marvellous night. Bloody marvellous. Michael Stewart read from his new novel King Crow, and he was followed by Noah Brown, who read a specially-written piece, perhaps best described as a gory revenge fantasy against the bankers. Each set was different and unique, and they made great guest speakers. We were very lucky to have them.

Noah Brown reads his specially-written piece about the 'big society'.

At the end of the night, we were treated to some absolutely marvellous and very danceable klezmer from the superb Maquipacuna. Here's a picture of them klezmer-ing it up.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

"That's not my sweater!" "IT'S BROWN!!"

Over the last few weeks, brain and body having largely been occupied in trying to fit 28 hours' worth of 'stuff' into 24 hours' worth of day, there hasn't been much time for left over for reading or writing. If only I could waste less time sleeping, perhaps I could get a bit more done.

Since watching television is one of the things you can do whilst doing other things e.g. knitting, sorting and setting type, taunting the cat, I have recently been re-watching Seinfeld. For me, watching really well-written television is a good substitute for being able to actually read. Also, I am fed up of freeview, because it's only ever repeats of Come Dine With Me and I have now seen them all. All of them.

No post on Seinfeld could possibly be complete without tribute to the very marvellous Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who plays Elaine. This clip, in the episode The Busboy, had me laughing so hard my insides nearly fell out. I hope you enjoy it too.

I can't embed it because of stupid youtube, so follow the link here to watch it.

Currently re-watching

30 Rock seasons 1 & 2 while I wait for season 4 to arrive in the mail
Seinfeld seasons 1-9
Mad Men season 1
House season 1
Arrested Development season 2

Friday, 18 March 2011

It's not the winning that etc

Apparently it's competition season, or something. There are currently three big, reputable competitions that I know of open; get to work, because it's anybody's game. And when I say, 'anybody's game', what I mean is, 'anybody who's a really good writer'. Don't go scribbling teenage angst poetry on the back of a fag packet and send it in, because it won't win. Don't blame me, I'm only trying to save you a bit of hassle.

The Bridport Prize, which describes itself as "the richest OPEN prize", is being judged by AL Kennedy and has categories in short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. It closes on 30th June at midnight so get to work. No, June is not "ages away". It's a strong competition, so you might like to spend day and night obsessively writing and rewriting your work between now and then.

The Manchester Fiction Prize is also now open, under the direction of poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. This is an extremely serious and literary competition so you will want to be serious and literary too. Again, the rewriting. It closes on Friday 11th August. So that gives you an extra five weeks over and above the Bridport Prize to spend day and night obsessively writing and rewriting your work.

Lightship Publishing is running a first chapter competition. The prize is bloody brilliant (a year's mentoring from Tibor Fischer, Simon Trewin of United Agents, and Alessandro Gallenzi of Alma Books). Lightship's patrons include Hilary Mantel and Sir Andrew Motion, oh my days, so get to work. The closing date is June 30th, please insert your own joke about writing and rewriting because I've used all mine up.

Currently reading

They Knew Mr Knight Dorothy Whipple
A Mercy Toni Morrison
Man In The Dark Paul Auster

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Fictions of Every Kind: Cuts

There's not much to look forward to at the moment, is there? Times are hard and getting harder; every day seems to bring more bad news. Thousands of public sector workers are to lose their jobs, public services like libraries and leisure services are being mercilessly culled in an ideologically-driven scythe-happy free-for-all, and charities, voluntary sector organisations and arts organisations are losing their funding right, left, and centre. The coalition government has acted swiftly in cutting benefits and services to those who need them the most, and in devolving government responsibility from running schools onto the schools' shoulders themselves. The things they're doing are unfair and are going to take years to put right, and if ever you were going to pick a time to emigrate... it could be now.

March's Fiction of Every Kinds has the theme 'Cuts'. Writers and readers can choose to respond to the theme however they like; perhaps you prefer to think about physical cuts, or emotional cuts; perhaps you prefer to think about the act of cutting, whether that relates to hair, or bodies, or trees. Or perhaps you prefer not to stick to the theme at all (many don't.) You will not be thrown out if you don't.

At this month's FOEK we are very privileged to have readings from invited speakers Noah Brown, previously MC of Yes Boss!, and Bradford-based author and screenwriter Michael Stewart. Stewart is a multi-award winning author whose novel, King Crow, has recently come out on Bluemoose Books. He is senior lecturer of creative writing at Huddersfield University, and is director of the Huddersfield Literature Festival. We are very pleased to have him appearing.

Fictions of Every Kind: Cuts is on Tuesday March 22nd at The Library Pub on Woodhouse Lane, Leeds. It costs £3 to get in, and as ever, letterpressed "Words of Encouragement" cards (see illustration, above) are available as gifts for writers who brave the open mic. The night starts with the open mic at 19.30. See you there!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Letterpress errors [ " Letterprerrors " ]

Regular readers of my blog might know that I've been learning to Letterpress over the past few months. Letterpress printing is an old technique which involves setting lines of metal type, putting them in a printing press, and then imprinting and inking the whole shebang onto paper. It produces beautiful results quite unlike any other - the metal type often leaves a slight imprint into the paper, so that you can 'feel' the text with your hands. It's a lengthy and laborious process that used to form the mainstay of printing, but with the advent of computers, has fallen into disuse. These days it is mainly used by enthusiasts and diehards, and wordy nerds like me.

Currently I'm in the process of setting and printing a short story I wrote last year entitled 'A Stranger Came'. Letterpress seemed to be the ideal way to present this story - I'm doing a short run of about 90, which I will then bind myself once all the pages are printed. I expect the books to be finished some time in early May.

It's been an interesting few months, and I've learned loads. Here, in this blog post, I'm going to post a few of the mistakes I've made while printing, so that you can avoid making the same mistakes yourself - if you're going to try and operate a printing press, that is.

This is what happens when your lovely, expensive paper falls off the press and into the rollers.

And this is what happens when skin from the ink gets onto your typeset.

This is what happens when you don't line the paper up properly....

...and this is what it looks like when you do it right.

Currently reading

A Mercy Toni Morrison
The Hell of it All Charlie Brooker
Travels in the Scriptorium Paul Auster