Yes, we know that B-day is an unfortunate title (that’s why we like it). With fewer than 24 hours to go, writers across the UK are getting ready to eavesdrop on Thursday, July 1st and to write from what they hear. If you’re not sure how it works have a look here. Now, if you walk about tomorrow looking like the gentleman above, people may realise that you are listening in to their conversations and throwaway comments. So we asked our friends on Twitter and Facebook for tips to avoid detection. Here are some of their suggestions:
- Borrow a ‘hearing dog’ for the day so everyone thinks you are deaf. Tony Keeton doesn’t explain how the person who owns the hearing dog is supposed to cope in its absence
- Pretend to be asleep (ideal on trains or bus journeys, unless of course you are a bus driver)
- Wear headphones – though they would need to be pretty bad ones, incapable of blocking out sound
- Pretend to be reading – Fran Martel reminds us that your book needs to be the right way up and you should turn the page occasionally
- It’s a bit late for this one – but you could try surgery and turn out like this gentleman (one for the strong of stomach, this)
There is, of course, a serious purpose behind Bugged. We certainly want to generate and showcase brilliant new writing, by means of a single shared happening. The best of the submissions will appear here and in a book, launched in October. But the most important thing of all is the one highlighted in this blog by a Bugged participant: writers need to pay attention to the world around them. We need to notice the things that happen. Our environments are full of distinctive oddities and idiosyncracies. It’s by transferring those details into poetry, fiction or drama that we ground our writing in reality and make it solid, and believable; these are the things that will make your Bugged submission credible. If it can be incredible too, then so much the better!
Final tips from David and Jo:
1 Listen well and discreetly. We don’t want you to get punched, and when you come to write your piece you will need to change names, places and anything else that can identify your eavesdroppee.
2 Remember that even a mundane fragment of conversation – ‘Five hundred pounds, it cost’ – can be made into a piece of writing. Work backwards – what was it that was worth five hundred pounds? A rare bird’s egg – the last sticker for a football album – the removal of a tell-tale tattoo? You are writers: you can spin gold out of straw.
3 Enjoy the day, and enjoy the process of writing. Start writing while your memories are fresh – and get your submission to us by August 15th. Details of how to submit will appear in our FAQ and a new Submissions page tomorrow.