Pangolin Issue 53

Can I write a story in up to 29 words? That’s only two lines! Can I write five linked stories of 29 words? Why would I want to? For a writer who usually works on much longer pieces – and I do take my time over it, my first novel took me ten years, it’s a bit extreme to go for something as flashy as 29 words. Michael Loveday, who I met on an Arvon course a while back, is the judge of a five/twenty-nine competition that is currently open for business. So why not flex my writing muscles and try something different?

And what’s this got to do with a passion fruit? Well, hot on the heels of last year’s apricot harvest here in North Leeds, this solitary passion fruit made it to ripeness on our south-facing wall. For me, it meant surprise, a minor miracle, that something so tropical could come to fruition here. So perhaps writing a piece as exotic as a five/twenty-nine could also emerge from the less than promising substrate of my brain? Strange things have been happening with my writing already this year. In January, I sent off an article to Fiona Gell, the editor of Speaks Volumes, the in-house journal of The Leeds Library. It was published in February – if only all my submissions met with similarly prompt success. Encouraged, I have sent off an entry to the Leeds Writers Circle poetry competition – as a follower of Leeds United I know all about the triumph of hope over experience. The Circle is a beautiful thing, although we are a bit short of poets at the moment – perhaps that’s where my hope comes from.

On Saturday I went to a workshop on Reading Aloud for Writers, led by Pat Pickavance, one of our members. Here we learned to inspire and exhale, to open our shoulders and feel proud of our work. For me this was essential preparation for the First Page competition, part of the awesome Leeds Lit Fest. Let’s hope that my rendering of the first page of my second novel, the fruit of so many hours of writing passion, will impress the judges. Sadly, the fruit pictured above was too sweet, and lacked the tang of passion – very different to my novel, I assure you.

Writing Down Deep, the latest book from Jan Fortune of Cinnamon Press arrived this week. Subtitled an alchemy of the writing life, this condenses into book form a lot of what Jan is saying in her blogs and other writings on the theme of becoming your story, a concept which I find a teeny-weeny bit scary. It’s one thing to ‘spend time with my imaginary friends’, which is how I usually describe my writing to others, but do I want to become my story?

World Pangolin Day was on 15th February so did not coincide with my little offering this year. We are learning so much more about these creatures, who are well worth protecting. My next instalment is due out on 24th March. May I wish you an inspirational four weeks.

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