Well, I’ve been a bit quiet of late, but I thought I’d come back with a little post about Pure Slush’s mammoth anthology, ‘2014: A Year in Stories’!
Some of you may already be aware of the premise of the project. One story for every day of 2014 penned by thirty-one writers, each with one set date to flow their story on throughout the year (mine is the twelfth, so my stories take place on January 12th, February 12th, March 12th, etc). And one man, Matt Potter, is pulling all these stories together.
So, how did I get involved?
I’m not the best at getting myself ‘out there’. Mid-2012, Gill Hoffs, whom I’d come into contact with through the Glasgow Writers Group, suggested I submitted a piece to Pure Slush for their upcoming ‘real’ anthology. After much nail-biting and brainstorming, I gave it a go. Remember, at this point I’d had limited contact with the writing community, barely shown anyone my scribblings and most certainly never got in touch with a publisher, let alone contemplated doing so. But I did it, and that put me in touch with Matt Potter (whom I had previously ‘met’ at the book launch for Gill’s ‘Wild’ anthology, but was so intimidated by his sheer confidence and outgoing personality that I shied away from making conversation!)
Roll forward a few months from the publication of ‘real’ (which contained my first published piece, “A Curious Fellow”) and I noticed the call-up for an upcoming Pure Slush project through a Facebook post. After finishing up at the day job I took myself to the café in Waterstones bookstore on Argyle Street, Glasgow, pulled out my laptop and began drafting ‘January’ and ‘February’ there and then.
And then I got nervous and started doubting whether I could pull off twelve pieces of fiction. No really, up to that point I could count on one hand the stories I’d barely completed to first draft level, so I was genuinely unsure of myself. It’s an ongoing theme in my life.
So I saved the drafts and left it a little while before I plucked up the courage to message Matt. And sure enough, I’d missed the boat.
But a few months later I got an email inviting me to get involved as there’d been a drop-out. The drafts from earlier in the year were still sitting on my laptop, so I pulled them out and gave them a dusting down before passing them onto Matt. I was given the ’12th’ as my date, which was odd as it was the date I’d pencilled in when I originally looked to get involved (the 12th is my birthday and I consider it a ‘lucky’ number, in the loosest terms of the word ‘lucky’…)
I didn’t have all twelve pieces planned out, so I began sketching in the ideas for them. As Matt and myself began editing each story on a one-by-one basis, I found myself somewhat glad that I hadn’t constrained myself (or the overall story) by locking in any plans. I’ve always preferred having a vague idea that fleshes itself out as it grows in its ‘own’ direction.
As we worked through one month’s edits, the next month would begin to shape itself in my mind and on the page. One thing I like about writing this way is that, as the writer, there is still an element of surprise in it for me. Knowing from the word ‘go’ exactly what twists and turns are coming up unfortunately bores me to tears. I’ve always wanted to enjoy the writing experience as a reader, by not quite knowing what’s next around the corner… Even if I am the one at the driving wheel.
And now that the first stories are out there I can reveal a few things about my contribution to this project!
Most of the stories are based in South-East London, the place I was born and lived for the first twenty years of my life. Despite living in Glasgow for over twelve years I can clearly picture many a street which the characters find themselves on as they’re only few minutes from my childhood home!
Sandra’s flat is that of an ex-friend of mine (the ex-friend was even more complicated than Sandra is!) It was a place where much discussing, eating, drinking and over-emotional moments occurred. Sandra herself as a character is an imagined amalgamation of various people I have known or simply heard about through others. She’s a very fun character to write due to her dramatic nature and she’s quite the polar opposite of the unnamed protagonist of the stories. Wherever she goes she brings with her a touch of soap-opera!
One thing that I’ve not mentioned before is that some of the characters have been with me for many years, and that elements of the back story come from ideas I’ve played with for well over a decade. I find it rather satisfying that these characters and their stories are coming to light for a very interesting project indeed, and my only hope is that I can finally do them justice!
But that’s all I’ll say for the moment… There’s another eleven months to go!
For a taste of each month, click on the links below:
Contributing writers are as follows:
2nd Townsend Walker
3rd Derek Osborne
4th Gloria Garfunkel
6th Lynn Beighley
7th Andrew Stancek
8th Rachel Ambrose
9th Gill Hoffs
10th Susan Tepper
11th Jessica McHugh
12th Shane Simmons
13th Michelle Elvy
14th Len Kuntz
15th Michael Webb
16th James Claffey
18th Stephen V. Ramey
19th Gay Degani
20th Sally-Anne Macomber
21st Mandy Nicol
22nd Margaret Bingel
23rd Darryl Price
24th Teresa Burns Gunther
25th Matt Potter
26th Gary Percesepe
27th Nathaniel Tower
28th Kimberlee Smith
29th Vanessa Weibler Paris (11 stories)
30th Joanne Jagoda (11 stories)
31st h. l. nelson (7 stories)
Stephen V. Ramey is reading and reviewing each story on a day to day basis on his blog! http://stephenvramey.com/2014-2/