The second of the two teams awarded The Writing Platform bursary fill us in on their progress: Caden Lovelace and Laura Grace applied for the bursary individually and have been paired together by the selection panel who felt that their shared areas of interest, along with their enthusiasm for working with a new, previously unknown, partner would make for an exciting creative journey.
As briefs go, The Writing Platform Bursary’s remit is a broad and exciting one: we’re tasked with creating something that makes use of existing digital tools, and brings “new ideas and solutions for the wider writing community.” Daunting, but full of possibilities. Together with technologist, Caden Lovelace, I’ve spent the last six weeks digging deeper into this challenge, throwing around concepts of varying degrees of terribleness (in the firm belief that quantity beats quality in brainstorming), drinking plenty of coffee, and generally enjoying that magical first stage of making things – coming up with crazy, impossible ideas. And then, of course, you’ve got to actually make something. That part’s harder. As I write this, we’re just about at the half-way point in the Bursary timeline, on-track to reveal our hideous progeny/delightful creation at Bath Spa University’s MIX Conference in July. We’re excited.
One of the most enjoyable parts of this whole process has been the experience of creative matchmaking, as facilitated by the wise judges of this year’s Bursary. Caden and I had never met prior to winning but, as we’ve discovered, our literary interests and touch-points are rather scarily simpatico. Equally, our individual points of focus have proved nicely complementary: Caden tackling the problem from a technologist’s point of view – with an awareness of both the possibilities and restrictions available to us. Leaving me to both indulge some flights of fancy with the narrative side, and explore the product’s user experience from an author’s point of view – something I’ve found really inspiring. It’s interesting to think of a piece of fiction as a ‘product’. Who will use it, and why? How will they use it, and where? It opens out a narrative experience beyond text, into something to be used, prodded, played with. Something that can fit into a reader’s life in a new way, and can exist more concretely in the ‘real world’.
Living in different cities has meant that, for the most part, we’ve had to collaborate remotely – with long email threads forming the basis of our process. As we’re still at the delicate building-and-refining stage, we’re not quite ready to reveal specific details of what we’ve come up with (sorry!), but here’s a taster of the points of inspiration that our emails have covered (hint: what we’re working on is hidden in there somewhere…):
– Stories for mobile devices
– Italo Calvino
– unresolved detective stories
– narrative-led lucid dreaming
– shape-shifting/responsive stories
– Richard Linklater
– social media as one vast intermeshed narrative
– conversations with future selves
– stories that take years to be told
– Umberto Eco
– location based stories
– macro-locative stories
– archaeologists of the future…
– (We’ve also discovered a mutual love of lists.)
For this first blog post, we were asked to describe “the journey so far”. The experience of story as a journey, and as a destination, is something we’ve been particularly interested in – we’ll be expanding on this in later posts. More abstractly, the Bursary’s brief of exploring “new ideas and solutions” has been an invitation to set sail, to take a risk on creating something that might work, and might not. Whatever the result, we’re enjoying exploring an exciting territory – the place where stories meet technology, and anything can happen. And, as Henry Miller put it, “one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”