This week’s Hour of Writes prompt was ‘We stupid apes’, and it was chosen for a reason. The Hour of Writes folks were working with the Littoral Arts Trust as part of a conference taking place tomorrow, 28th August 2016. The Conference is titled, ‘Stupid Apes’ and is billed as ‘A series of short talks exploring the haphazard urges and creative thoughts that have led humans to dominate the natural world.‘ In addition to calling for entries, which will be displayed on the conference room walls, Hour of Writes asked if entrants would consider ringing in via Skype or recording themselves reading their piece, to be played as part of events.

 

I love the idea of my entry being part of something bigger. I think ideas are something you can rarely have too many of, and I often get inspiration from the collision of thoughts gleaned from disparate places. I wish I could be a fly on the wall, and see the attendees enjoying the writing that is displayed on the walls, or listening to them being read by their authors. I’m looking forward to hearing what the feedback is from conference goers almost as much as the usual marking and judging – this week by a guest judge tied to the conference itself.

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I’m also collaborating on a new book. Wonderling: 1981 is a young adult fantasy story that I’m writing with Danny Crow, who I met through York Writers. A few months ago, Danny asked me if I fancied writing something with him. I said yes. We chatted through some ideas and something magical happened: In the space of a couple of hours we had some really intriguing plans for a world a lot like this one, but with a unique twist.

We’re now 18,000 words into a first draft, and we’re muddling our way through a collaboration process. We have ‘the spaghetti test’ for ideas; we throw things around and if they stick, they’re in. We don’t have any solid plan for who writes what, we just started with the bits we wanted to write and are now alternating chunks that might be a chapter, or might be three. If one of us has a clear idea of where we go next, they write next. This morning I sent Danny two new chapters and left him with the book for a week while I go on holiday!

I’m really excited about this story. Because it’s young adult rather than middle grade, I can expand on my use of language and punctuation rather than keeping it all simple for ease of reading. I love the ideas behind the book, the characters are all coming to life and I get real pleasure from reading the next installment from Danny and reading it before it’s my turn again. Our plan is to keep going until we’re at the end of this first story (yes, it’s another series!) and then go back and edit the whole thing, again in collaboration. I’ll keep you updated on progress and perhaps share a bit more about the Wonderling universe as its created.

Writing can be a very solitary business, sitting alone at the keyboard for hours at a time creating things from your mind can leave you lonely and full of self doubt. That’s why I love to collaborate with other writers whenever I can, and in whatever ways I can. Building a network around me, whether it’s Facebook, Skype or sitting in my besties lounge whilst we both work on our own projects. It’s alllll good.