This is a piece of fabric I bought while on holiday in Banjul, capital of the Gambia. We spent a day in the city in order to visit the Methodist Church where a new generator had been purchased by the congregation in New Malden. The cloth celebrates the Methodist Church in the Gambia and I became fascinated by the Gambian tradition of wearing fabric to acknowledge and promote many different things. I remember seeing a woman in Albert Market wearing traditional dress with a matching head wrap in bright, printed fabric. When I asked if the cloth was for sale, I was told it was worn in support of a political party. While logos and designer brands have become part of popular culture in this country, it seems that wearing anything to indicate allegiance to a political party is limited to a badge or rosette.
I was prompted to make this post after visiting the West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song exhibition at the British Library. There you will find a whole range of artefacts that demonstrate the interlinking nature of word, symbol and song including texts, drums, shell-stories and, of course, fabric. It’s well worth a visit.
I’ve been invited to deliver several flash fiction workshops in the coming months and I’m delighted at the prospect. To give you an idea of what I’ll be covering, please see the outline below:
Flash fiction, keeping it short
Everyday lives are packed with tasks and activities that leave little time for reading or writing at length. Flash fiction has the ability to fit into the breaks and provides satisfying stories with all the elements of a longer piece of fiction. ‘Keeping it short’ is an interactive workshop that explores opportunities to incorporate flash fiction into your creative life and will use examples to share:
- Flash fiction at its best
- Starting points for writing flash fiction
- Ideas about the definition of flash fiction
- Websites and journals that publish flash fiction enabling writers to reach a wider audience
What do you think? Have I got all the bases covered?
The Minster’s Western Front (Wikipedia)
I was in York at the weekend, attending a wonderful conference where I also delivered a workshop. Participants attending ‘Flash Fiction: keeping it short’ came from across the phases of education, all with an interest in developing writing for themselves and their students. I shared a range of prompts aimed to get those less experienced in writing flash started. These included:
- Looking at classified advertisements for inspiration
- Getting ideas for writing from Dulux colour cards (this prompt originates from Calum Kerr, Director of National Flash Fiction Day)
- Using pages from small, illustrated notebooks to focus the mind on purposeful word selection
- Drawing upon a photo to think about the story behind the image, from the photographer’s point of view
- Describing stereotypes from ‘Come Dine with Me’ to create characters you love to hate
- Self publishing mini books by folding and cutting a sheet of A4 paper
- Finding markets for your writing: a selection of websites and magazines that accept flash fiction.
I’d like to thank everyone that came to the workshop for engaging so readily in the tasks, for being willing to share the outcomes from the prompts and for the feedback provided. Read the rest of this entry »