♦ The previous day at Eroticon 2014 had ended with a cocktail party to which I’d managed to buy Crush a ticket. After train shenanigans, he showed up shipshape and Bristol fashion and we headed to the bar. It was a great evening and I’m glad he was there as he got to say hello to old friends and meet exciting new ones and I frankly enjoy dragging him into my sex-based social world. He did so well there, too! The sheer amount of secret geeks he caught with his top was impressive.
The morning wake up was full of sleepy sex and sneakily snapped Sinful Sundays, making me only just on time for the first session and only managing a breakfast of yesterday’s sausage rolls as I left Crush lying in. But never mind! It was a lovely sunny morning to spend all day inside talking smut.
Again, I was conflicted. The flash fiction workshop sounded right up my street, but in the end I decided I could already kinda do flash fiction and so I should probably focus on an area where I need more help. So I took a seat in Kay Jaybee and Lucy Felthouse‘s Step up: making the move from short stories to novels. I’d met them both before a couple of times, notably at the awesome Kinky World Book Night held in Cardiff last year (which I briefly wrote some NaPoWriMo poems about), and they’re lovely guys, so friendly and encouraging. It was a bit of a shame that their self-introductions were so long as I already knew a bit about them and it took a fair bit of time out of the bulk of the session, but when we got to the crux of it, it was full of helpful advice. Short stories are a brilliant apprenticeship, we were told, for novels and Kay and Lucy even thoguht they were harder to write!
I’m not sure I agree, but I haven’t written a novel yet, so perhaps I will when I have. In fact, we were told to write down a reason or two that we hadn’t yet written a novel so that we could discuss them. Time was a big factor for me and we were advised to set aside time every day or at least in a routine so that it becomes a part of everyday life. My other main problem is that I’m just not sure I can write enough content, specifically plot and “stuff happening” to fill a novel. Plus, I feel like it’s OK for a short story to be a glimpse, a mood, an idea, a narrative where we know we’re not getting the full picture, a flavour. Whereas I feel like novels are the whole story, a fullness, you need a complete story with all the trimmings and not just a flavour or a feeling.
Whilst those points were not directly addressed as such and I still came away a little unclear on them (running out of time was a major factor of the session, again leaving me wishing for less, admittedly pleasant, introductions), I did come away feeling more confident. Do things that scare you, we were told, and also told that writing a novel still scares these novelists every time.
The next two short sessions didn’t really grab me. Sex toy reviews are a big interest for me, but I’d be assured that the session was more for beginners than for me. While anonymity obviously interests me, the idea of writing anonymity guidelines in-session really put me off. Luckily I met a few people from Kristina Lloyd‘s aforementioned Fiction in a Flash long workshop in the break who assured me that she’d welcome people in for the second half.
I nipped in and scribbled down some notes still left on the Powerpoint before the session restarted in earnest. Based on the previous ideas of starting in media res, of implied plot between the lines and behind the story, of a key image or visual heart, of yearning, of the twist or turn and of sexual specificity in describing what makes the encounter meaningful, we were given a very unusual collection of writing aids.
The idea was to look through these nail varnishes and wall colours and find a name that evoked something and that we could use to prompt a piece of flash fiction. With names like Ruby Pumps, Savage Ground, It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere and Cat’s Paw, there were a lot of wonderful images that sprang to mind. I’m definitely going to be looking at these sources for inspiration in the future! It’s interesting in that when I was thinking of where to find prompts for my Very Short Stories, I’d actually stumbled on the idea of hitting “random” on Gatherer to find Magic the Gathering cards that might work as they often have evocative names. It’s a similar idea that I’m glad to see actual proper writers doing too!
We then used our selected names, I picked “Down Pipe”, to decide what elements based on that would appear in our proposed story. I had images of rain, brickwork and vertical space, of blow jobs and tumbling down the rabbit hole. The harder task was to pick some things that would certainly not happen. I struggled, but managed that they don’t leave the room and it doesn’t stop raining, as well as a few other things. Before the end of the session, we were asked, which of these might actually happen anyway? It was a fantastic session and I’m quite sad to have missed the first half, especially as I enjoyed Kristina’s session so much last year too.
With the pause for lunch comes a pause in my writing! I’ll have my post about Sunday afternoon at Eroticon 2014 up soon, though, so don’t go away! ♦