Monday, 26 September 2011

Ghost Writing

Over the last couple of weeks the Society of Authors has been running a Twitter-based collaborative writing competition: write a story in five tweets. Each Wednesday a well-known author posts an opening line as a single tweet. Tweeps then post candidate second lines, from which one is chosen, and the process repeats for the third, fourth and concluding parts.

With a limit and structure of 5×140 characters, the challenge is how to tell a story, moving it forward and wrapping it up, in so few words. A good exercise and a lot of fun — something like a crowdsourced version of the game Consequences — regardless of whether or not you have any lines chosen.

Last week's story, the second, was a ghost story whose opening line was given by Sarah Waters. The next four lines selected were contributed by Maria McCarthy, Daniela Sacerdoti, Allegra Holbrook and me:
My house is a jumpy house. Doors fly open. Windows shudder. There are sighs. Don't come calling! My house has something on its mind. Things have been disappearing: clingfilm, favourite socks, the gas bill. A woman died in this house. She's reclaiming her space. That woman is me and this house is mine. I've tried to tell you, but you're not listening. I watch your baby sleeping in her cot. You think she is yours. You think you know her. Look closer. Look into her eyes. Not what you expected to see? Wiser, darker and older than they should be. As old as the house. She has something on her mind. She's here to take back her space.
So now you know: if you see the hashtag #soatale on a tweet there's a story in the making, not an obscure and allusive experience report on Service-Oriented Architecture!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Photo and Prose Poem: Sky Divers

You wake. You wonder at the gimps in the sky, strung out, beads on wire. You wonder at the pounding in your head. You wonder, as you come to, sit up, look around, at the dead urban space around you and the lightness of your wallet. It's morning, sunrise, you've spent the night in the company of concrete, beneath an overpass, near trains. You didn't reach the station.

You are in the city of peace. It is spring. Your head holds the rhythm of a good night out. Your wallet agrees. Oslo sentralstasjon is a few hundred metres away. Your concrete bower was a place to stop for no more than a moment as your thoughts swam in tiredness and alcohol. One moment led to another led to slumping led to slumber. Calls were missed, the vibration of your phone soothing you in your sleep.

You stand. It's time to go. Somewhere there is breakfast, with aspirin and friends. You thank the divers for watching over you, with a promise to return in more sober moments. The station is that way.

"Sky Divers" was first published on Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure. I took the photo in Oslo, April 2011. The fiction came a couple of months later.