Thursday, February 25, 2010

Prompts 25 Feb

Seance in Costa

John Lennon Glasses, at Last

Her pink phone

Or Africa

What's Going On?

Bikes Outside Boots

The Sandwich Bar is Just Down the Alley


How to Fall in Love With Your Wife

Taught Me to Fly


Flat White, Red Jacket, Litter Bin

A Barrista, Singing

The Frames, Saving for Lenses


A Small Cappucino and a Hug Please

Saturday, February 20, 2010

One Village at a Time

Changing the World

One Village at a Time

Alex Keegan:

My wife works for BT but has been working on secondment with Global-Ethics and One Difference. Global Ethics works by selling products and using all the profits to fund good work in sub-Saharan Africa. Recently Debbie went to see how just £7,000 can transform the life of a community by giving a village access to clean, safe water.

I became interested, not solely because I care, but because I can see a way to raise money, and directly understand the result. Supporting huge charitable organisations is, for me, soulless. They are all, no doubt “worthy” but I have no emotional sense of my money or my effort doing something specific.

I love the simple beliefs of Global Ethics and “One” and I want to raise as many of those £7,000 units as I can. To be able to start with nothing and end with a specific village, real people, and know we have changed lives and saved lives, that is just fantastic.

That’s where the “I” stops. Now about US.

March 22nd is World Water Day, and quite naturally Global Ethics will be holding various events. Here is OUR event, on behalf of G-E and ONE, us, Joe and Jane Soap, getting together to aim to build one pump, two pumps, four pumps, ten.


The idea is simple. It is aimed at both READERS and WRITERS. We want a thousand people to commit to just one 24-Hour effort on March 22nd.

Think, if 1,000 people pledge £7 (the joining fee) we have a Play-Pump. If we get 2,000 people and they raise sponsorship, of, say, £70 each, that would be 22 Play-Pumps, twenty-two villages, thousands, THOUSANDS of people whose lives we change for the better, forever.

HERE’s the DEAL.

Starting at midnight March 21st (00:01 on March 22nd) a group of writers start writing stories. They write one an hour, and they try to stay awake, writing, for as much of the twenty-four hours as they can. Sure many will need to take a break and sleep, but some hardy souls will last the 24 Hours (only the first six hours are tough) helped on their way by the knowledge of what they are achieving, and that they are being read (more on this later) and that at the end of it there will be an anthology of the best work, and their name, their achievement posted in perpetuity.

We have run such “crazy” marathons before raising money for various causes. In one we had a THIRTY hour marathon. Half a dozen hardy souls managed the whole thing and we raised more than ten-thousand pounds.

But that was an impromptu, shoe-string, just-tell-friends congregation. Think how different this could be with Global-Ethics and ONE behind us, and with some truly spectacular prizes for readers and writers.

I am visiting Global-Ethics on Wednesday 24th February to tie-up the prize-structure and some truly wonderful opportunities for supporters of “One Village at a Time” the marathon itself.

What Would You Have to Do?


1 Sign up as soon as possible, pay just £7 to join, direct to G-E or ONE.

2 Tell your friends what you are doing.

3 Beg steal and borrow sponsorship

4 Start at 00:01 and write a story.

5 Continue writing or take breaks, trying to write as much as you can.

6 Post on the Facebook and other forums and be enthusiastic.


1 Sign up as soon as possible, pay just £7 to join, direct to G-E or ONE.

2 Tell your friends what you are doing.

3 Beg steal and borrow sponsorship.

4 Read stories and comment (they will be anonymous)

5 Continue reading or take breaks, trying to read as much as you can.

6 Post on the Facebook and other forums and be enthusiastic.

We are in discussion on the specifics but G-E/ONE will be offering superb prizes in a number of categories, and one will be spectacular, involving shiny airplanes, and crossing the equator.

Visiting one of the villages and seeing the children, seeing them having fun on a play-pump, seeing all that beautiful, clean, safe water… that is a life-changing experience. It could be yours.

The Suggested Categories might be…

Best Story or Stories (General)

Best “African” Story or Stories

Best Poems

Best Motivator, Best Helper

Top Sponsorees

What Do I Say to My Prospective Sponsors?

WRITERS could ask for a fixed amount, or a payment per story, or so much a word, or could ask for so much “per hour I stayed awake.”

READERS could ask for a fixed amount, or a payment per story read, or could ask for so much “per hour I stayed awake.”

Prizes will be funded from Story Fees. I believe prizes are necessary as they give the writers a genuine challenge, a competitive field, and help raise energy levels.

But we want to raise money for the charity, AND have fun.

You raise money for the charity by

(1) Paying the joining fee and
(2) Asking Friends and Family to sponsor you.

If you then are entering a story or stories in the short-story writing competition “in the normal way” you would pay a fee for that, but note ALL entry fees will go to prizes. That is, if we collect £10,000 in entry fees, we will pay out £10,000 in cash or goods.

Payments will go direct to Global-Ethics/ONE

Please note you might write 2, 5, 10 or 24 stories. We hope you would send them all in, but you would NOT be required to enter every story in the competition!

As the maximum theoretically possible would be 24 stories at £5, I would suggest that any writer raising £120 or more in sponsorship would be allowed to enter his/her stories free.

Thus some contestants could raise money in £5 amounts, others raise money by persuading friends to sponsor them.

Prizes and Prize-Giving

This will be arranged, probably in London, by Global-Ethics

Look on Facebook for:

GROUP: One Village at a Time

EVENT: One Village at a Time

Please, only join the group and/or the event if you are prepared to actively participate. Firstly, pay that £7.

Don’t “just join” the group or the event. Putting your name on the list tells us that you are serious and want to build these Water Pumps.

There will be a lot of news forthcoming in the next week. Prizes will be firmed up, the Prize Day will be announced, and details of the anthology will be confirmed.

Please SIGN UP. When you sign up, post your targets as a reader or a writer. Please post and say, “I have signed. I pledge my £7. I will raise sponsorship and I am aiming for £X,XXX
We can build a Play-Pump

We can build another.

We can change the world ONE VILLAGE AT A TIME

Thursday, February 04, 2010

0530. Deadline 0700

Victory Dive
The Plural of Girlfriend is Trouble
Good Idea, Bad idea, Happy Xmas
Treacle Tart, Custard, Tart
All Cats Are Grey in a Sack
Things to Do With an Oblate Spheroid
Walter Raleigh at Home
Will you please be quiet, please?
And if the World WAS Flat?
Pomegranate Eggs
Chocolate Coated Wire Wool
Henry the Ninth
Between Rock and Folk is a desert
Elvis Lives and Was Seen Wandering at EotW
Sand, Piper, Sandpiper
How Penguins Stink.
Nora Batty’s Underwear
A story beginning, “Now I’ve made it, I can do anything..
In a Jiffy
Girl With an Earring, Pearl
But I don’t Like It
Zinc & Castor Oil Cream
Three Interesting Things About Eczema
Shroud, Banana
Thin Ice, How Not to Fall Through

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

11 PM Prompts 00:30 Deadline

Understanding Urine
Party From Prague
A story beginning, “The lid will be stainless steel
Slow Boat to China
The Importance of Integrity
Professor Flambag and the Cleaning Lady
Tea With Sir Lancelot and King Arthur
Chimes, Pain, Rain
Yellow, Green, Blue
A story beginning, “Perhaps I shouldn’t have
The Children Are Playing
Desert Island
Best American Shirt Stories
How High is a Chinaman?
Mellow, Yellow
Noon, Prompt
The Good Mother’s Handbook
Sleepy in the Corner of the Eye
The Best Thing Before Sliced Bread
Happy as Ding Dong David
Purple, People, Purple
Father Maloney’s Glass Eye

6PM Prompts (730 Deadline)

Maybe somebody will actually write and submit a flash...

Google “bollock”
At Home With Matt le Tissier
Fun With the Squirts
The Marshmallow Wars
Creepy, Chocolate and Three New Positions
Winston’s Amazing Wang
A Child of Our Time, in Time
James Bond is Gay says Rosa
Google Eyeball Cheese
The Ancestor’s Tale, The Ancestor’s Tail
I Love Rosa Kleb
The First Commuter Train
Flood, Floods
Daylight Saving Time. Daylight, Saving Time
Walking Up Everest, My Love
How Should Bathrooms Smell?
Dead Famous, Famous Dead.
Chicken Little For president.
The East Wing
Midnight Prompts
Driving in Darkness
Pinocchio’s Secret
Write a story updating or subverting a famous fairy tale (e.g. Cinderella)
Why Plants Turn Brown and Die

Frantic Flash Prompts at 0800 Wednesday


Monday: Abergavenny Thursdays v Sheffield Wednesday
Tuesday is Soup
Friday on My Mind
Saturday, Saturday, Cheese
All Garlic No Meal
Pigging Out
The Chef is in the Saucepan
More is Always Too Much
Blood on the Table
When the Teacher is Redundant
Dead Baby Soup
Sitting in Tesco Car Park
The Surgery
Charity Fatigue
Chocolate or Sex?
Useful Ways to Die
Premature Emasculation

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

6PM Prompts 19:20 Deadline

A story beginning. “You put yer left leg in”
A story ending “You pull yer left leg out
Less is More
Eyeless in Gaza
Armless but Dangerous
Legless, Drinking with Dylan
Footless and Fancy-Free
Toothless, but his Bite still Hurts
Apple, Apple, Apple
The Hiroshima DVD
If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things
Aspects of the Navel
Even Fighters Die
Able to Look, Doesn’t See
Banzai! Banzai!
Talking to Mr Fuckukami
Albert’s One-Eyed Bed Snake
Monocular in aspic
Travels With My Girlfriend’s Monkey
Why Rubber Trees Grow in Straight Lines
A story beginning, “They departed, the Gods, on the day of the strange tide”
Write a Zombie story without the word Zombie, or blood
Going North
A Rainy Day in Manchester, a Cafe, Julia
M, M, M


I posted this today on the excellent blog of Tom Conoboy

Hi all, in the Boot Camp "gridding" process, language has a PAR mark of 10 whereas opening is 11, character and theme and plot 12, pace 12-13 and ending 12.

Why do I appear to "downgrade" language when I so love it, and occasionally write (myself) in a writerly way?

Because a great story can be great with fairly ordinary language. Adequate, of course, suiting the purpose, of course, and perhaps, though apparently "ordinary" (think Raymond Carver) it is actually very polished language.

In that latter case we score for "invisible excellence"

But beginning and intermediate writers and many well-published authors(and BLOODY BANVILLE) need to understand, as Vanessa says, that language is ALWAYS the servant to the story, never the leader.

In BC we would also have the case that if language par was for a fairly arty, "languaged" style then 99% of BC stories would always be marked as (linguistically) UNDER par and the result would be writers adding bells and whistles to try to gain higher marks. UGH!

No, we first learn to write good stories, led by character and meaning, in whatever linguistic weight/complexity serves us at this time.

We then learn to lose the cliches, the stock phrases, the redundancies and accidental repetition or bad, accidental internal rhymes.

and we slowly attain a gentle flow, a more natural, smoother flowing narrative. BUT this could still be (at first glance) "unlanguaged"

A year or two in we are using a single perfect word where once it was a sentence or half a sentence, and we have learned flow and rhythm, pace and pacing, when to hold the reader's hand to the flame and so on.

But IMO this should ALWAYS be, a natural "emanating" thing and never IMPOSED.

I believe character, voice, tone, plot, AND language should spontaneously rise up and come from us. Every one of my quotable lines was NOT engineered, and 90% of them were never edited.

The ability to XXXXXX the right phrases (I'm trying to think of a nicer word than vomit) does NOT come from trying (this is why I LOATHE Banville's Booker winner as pretentious shit (I'm holding back here).. it comes from EATING

eating poetry (you don't need to understand it or be a poet, eating stories, eating songs, eating adverts, eating photography

eating all the arts and most deliberately trying NOT to work them out but let them work on you.

I am working-class, from a bookless family, missed years of school, left at fifteen, read Mickey Spillane and Dick Francis, never did serious literature before the age of thirty (and then not much) but learning to be open to things allowed me to get a feel for language.

as an aside, Tom, I find your ability to read (speed wise and depth-wise) astonishing and I feel intimidated by your academic abilities!

Precisely HOW that happened I don't really know, but it's something about going naked as a reader, almost allowing yourself to be f----, I mean seduced by the writer.

I know that the unconscious or subconscious is a thousand times the writer the conscious ever will be.

I tell Boot Campers to argue, analyse BETWEEN stories, but then to forget everything when they write. Strangely, each story they write has a small step gleaned when analysing but "erupting" and not placed when free-writing.

If that's random, so be it. My preferred way!


1505 (1615) Prompts Deadline 1730

Black Boots, Brown Boots
A book, but not as we know it, Jim
Cat in a hat
Beneath the Rubble
A Sanctimony of Popes
Moon, Bird, heat
A house full of trees, A hundred horses
His secretary is crying
Very little blood
The ploughman and his plough
After the singing, after the crying
Flat White
Gold letter on her front, she sound Polish
Sorry, is that yours?
It’ll be another couple of minutes
After Making Love We Hear Footsteps
If all men are rapists, then all women are typists!
The stars beneath our feet
Black Wednesday

0730 Prompts Tuesday Feb 2nd

Deadline 08:50

Going Back to Miami
How did she ever get to be this alone?
How sad the mouse loves the elephant
How to Be Alone
I am thinking about my father, my mother
I don't like football any more
I remember others summers
Pencils, beer-mats, matchboxes, pens
Stand By Me
T S Eliot on His iPod, Dante in His Bag
The Death of Ivan
The Smell of Cooking Meat, High on the Night
The Smile Upon My Face
The taste of purple, the smell of priests
The Tolstoy i-Pod
The Vaguely-Happy Barrista
The Waste Land
There appears to be no ridge, no way for it to hold
Various Methods of Appeal
Watching people rise and scatter

0615 Prompts Tuesday

Deadline 07:35

When I walked beside my father
I smell bacon
I was a snowman, born in July
Lady Sings the Blues
Leaving Soon for Lancaster
My School Cap Flying
Of course elephants can jump
One Or Two Batteries May Work
Peel it back
52 Ways of Looking at Love
A Change is Gonna Come
A wide street in Beijing
A wooden chair in the corner of a cold room
About your credit score
Around the bottom of the tree, but not the tree
Attic Dreams
Boring Letters Home
Fighting Towards Italy

Monday, February 01, 2010

21-30 Prompts a Little Early

You just get extra minutes.

Deadline 22:40

A.M. 180
An honest man here, probably
Books to the wedding
Burn one down
but anyway
Chop Suey!
Element of light
Especially when it snows, if it snows
Faith may be they anchor
Great things
He lived next door, a child
I dreamt about Claire, Oh God, and rose at four
I seem them on shelves, on window-sills
I Spy
It's alright ma (I'm only bleeding)
Just a day
Just give 'em whiskey
LACW Hall. S, can't you see your tattered dress...
Of the sea, to the sea
One man, one hundred thousand dead, how cool is that? How it should be
Our Bovine Public
Standing on the last star
Tail-End Charlies
The Blower's daughter
The dead depart? To where?
The Loneliness of a tower crane driver
The smallest cage
Toilet paper
Torn on the platform
True false, fake real
Waving Flags
We fight for diamonds
Where did you come from, down what light?
You were not there


Deadline 20-45

Something About a Leopard
The Reservation: Celebrity Chiefs
The sea sings because it is moving

The Angry Priest
The grass needs cutting
The simplicity of it
The train is empty. It doesn't want to leave
There is a sign of night, clouds
They're sending for a van
To Protect the Quality of Our Coffee
Unrelationshiply making love
Waiting for morning, for breakfast
We lie, in bed
We smoke a silent cigarette, look at the rain
When I was a child, I imagined.
Which of the Gods Made Them Quarrel?
Who's afraid of Jane Austen?
Wondering about small American towns, dusty roads
Your body is too sharp

Prompts at 18:05

Deadline 19:20

Lost Without His Brother
Love broke out
Madame Curie
My father was claustrophobic
No sense of rush, just being

Not really worth considering
Now there is no table
One brick, then a second, then three, four
Only still water reflects

Pickard woke me
Pigeons gathering on wet slate
Problems with Greek
Slowly the women file forward

The A-Z of useless platitudes
The road to your place, they are digging it up
Scan it in and fax it
The Last Thing You Read

12:40 Prompts


How old men walk, I hate it so
I am trying to remember, trying to believe it
He asked them, "Play the Birdie Song"
A glass door flashing

A Sad House
A Tea-Room Garden, a single bee
He wakes crying
I believe I could believe
I have something not to say

I wanted to love once more so I could die
If, dear
In The Court of the Red Queen
It will be something to talk about at least
It would be nice to have the time
It's like a wound that opens and then opens

It's square, but more round than that
Let us compare our lives, our separate sadness
Let's face it. Or not
Locked in
Long, slow railway stations, the darknesses

The Real Thing February 1st 0530 Prompts

Deadline is 0645

Please email "I'm in" if you are doing this session (same goes for evry session) (


A tin-roofed shack, no phone
After the Coma
It could be perfect but a leaf falls, falls
It was in a poem, or an advert

Back to my high, empty place
Blessings, Effendi
But then, who does?
Calling Down the Money

Dog in a bath
Don't give it a thought
Flanagan Starts Running

He didn't have a belly-button
He left her photographs of sad caravans
From Thursday to Friday