Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Pieces in 50 Words

A few months ago I attended Billy Muir's one-day Flash Fiction course at the Bristol Folk House. If writing flash fiction has some appeal, this is a great way to spend a Saturday — likewise Rosemary Dun's Writing Gym and Patricia Ferguson's Writing Short Stories, which I also attended last year.

The Flash Fiction day mixed writing exercises with reading and discussion of a number of short pieces. One of the exercises was to write about something in exactly 50 words. This was a good and challenging exercise in constraints, although one I'll admit I've only just repeated — after a fashion.

Billy ran the exercise with the class twice, first based on a favourite piece of music, second on a place. I chose Brian Eno's Thursday Afternoon, a long-standing ambient favourite, and Victoria Park in Hong Kong, where work has taken me a couple of times a year over many years.

Thursday Afternoon, Brian Eno
Sixty minutes, and almost nothing happens. Almost. Gentle, continuous and discreet, I listen alone. It's music for immersion. It's not for sharing. It's after midnight or before dawn. Nothing disturbs the house or the neighbours — even when it's up to eleven. The hour is late or the hour is early.

Victoria Park, Hong Kong
Formation T'ai Chi, walking round the running track, stretching on the climbing frames. Half six in the morning and I'm the youngest in the park. The retired hang out en masse on the paths, exercising their morning rituals. I'm running off jet lag. Half six and I'm readying for work.

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