Tuesday, 18 November 2014

This week the Comma Press Short Story course begins. The course is hosted by Madlab, an organisation coordinating a fantastic schedule of events and activities, all centred around technical and creative innovation and invention. I am thrilled to be leading the writing course this time. I'm particularly looking forward to meeting the course participants, and beginning the process of writing and learning together - exploring the brilliant, diverse and exciting things short stories can do.

One of the most challenging parts of the course preparation so far has been creating the reading list. During sessions we will study several short stories from the masters (contemporary and classic) - examples to help us develop our own narrative structures, character, voice...  But how do you reduce all the incredible, jewel-like examples out there to a reading list of just twelve stories? And how do you overcome the temptation of personal favourites in pursuit of balance and variety? (At one point, my list featured three (three!) Hilary Mantel stories...)

After much agonising and coffee, and a bit of guidance from Comma Editor Ra Page, I just about got there. And I'm really looking forward to exploring some fantastic work by writers including Hemingway, Conan Doyle, Carver, Joyce, Mansfield, Adam Marek... (and I still sneaked a Mantel on there!) with the group. But casting out so many amazing stories was painful so I am hoping we can compile a working list of go-to short stories that course participants will add to as well with their long term favourites and also stories they discover and fall in love with along the creative journey.

But more than reading, I'm excited to begin the writing process with the group - seeing what stories we bring; creating unexpected narratives, pushing ourselves to try something new and sharpening our writing skills together.

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