Please Remain Calm

Panic? Us? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...... ha ha...

We were feeling rather pleased with ourselves this morning. We had definitely told all of you who ARE in the Bugged book. We thought we had also managed to inform everyone who didn’t make it into the book, with an email which we hoped would convey our pride and thanks.

But no. There was, of course, a failing in our cunning system of address-keeping – and of course it showed up only at the last moment. So to the few of you who were waiting for our decision till the very last moment, we apologise from the heart of our bottom. One or two of you may have fallen through the net even now – so if you haven’t yet heard from us….. then I’m afraid to tell you that you aren’t in the book. We read and discussed every submission, and on the way to our 54 final choices we made some very difficult decisions!

More of this soon – and if you are disappointed not to be in the book, you may yet appear on this blog as we select new material to post from the backlog. In the meantime, this is just a quick update to say thanks to all of you who submitted – normal service will be resumed later this week!

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Carry on Bugging!

Is this the secret of Jenn's productivity?

Do you ever feel that you are not sufficiently dedicated to your craft as a writer? Consider, dear Buggers, the steely self-discipline of Jenn Ashworth, who did her overhearing and started writing her Bugged piece whilst actually in maternity hospital. The most important result, known in her award-winning blog as McTiny, is thriving and so is Jenn’s writing. Her second novel Cold Light is set to follow her first, A Kind of Intimacy, onto the shelves of the bookshops next year.

The other result of her stay in hospital, The Wrong Sort of Shoes, is included in our short selection August 23rd along with poems from Alison Brackenbury and Jennifer Copley. These are frequently-published names and we’re delighted that they submitted to Bugged. If our selections seem female-heavy, that’s because the Bugged population is exactly 2/3 women; are the men shy, are they bad at eavesdropping, or does this reflect the genuine proportions of the writerly community?

Don't hang up your listening equipment....

Now – about that book. We’ve used the great e-community to find you lovely writers: and we’re using technology to make a book which will attract new readers. Print-on-demand publishers make self-publishing easy, but they have drawbacks for the individual writer. If you are a brilliant writer who doesn’t fit into the conventions of publishing, this method allows you to get into print, market yourself and become world-famous by sneaking in the back door. However, the sad truth is that many writers who are turned down by publishing houses are not brilliantly unconventional. They are simply Not Very Good. Their manuscripts are not ready for a wider world, and without a publisher to design and market of the book, they are not going to become world-famous after all.

The Great Book of Bugged, professionally edited and designed, should give our writers a leg up and access lots of new readers – starting with fellow Buggers who didn’t make it but want to support those who did! Forgive us if we haven’t yet contacted you to tell you which group you are in – it is taking us a while to get through everyone but you will know by the end of the month.

In the meantime we are still choosing and posting work from the hundreds of submissions you sent us, and will blog again at the weekend. Whether in the book or not, you are free to send your submissions elsewhere (but please mention http://www.bugged.org.uk) . If your fingers are still itching to write, have a look at the BBC’s excellent Writersroom for opportunities and advice – especially for scriptwriters. And tune in at the weekend to read our tenth core writer – that Stuart Maconie off the radio. We think you’ll be surprised to see what he wrote…

...and don't let your keyboard get rusty!

The end of the beginning

The Finnish? Not yet!

Right all you hard-working Buggers, you can stop now. No really. What? You can’t stop? You can’t stop listening to people around you, and writing new material? Good. That was the point. Bugged was invented as a reminder that good writers notice the world around them. So don’t stop listening, don’t stop writing.

Give those big ears a rest

But you can stop submitting. Our deadline has passed, our inboxes are no longer overflowing, and our latest (but by no means last) selection includes new work from Lynsey May, Emma Purshouse, Sara-Jane Arbury, Marilyn Francis, Janet Rogerson, Susie Wild and lone representative of the male sex, Rob A Mackenzie. Click on the natty title August 15th to read a particularly fine selection of work to make you smile, blush or wince: and have a look here to see a colourful word cloud based on our blogs so far.

In the last six weeks, we received over 300 submissions. In the next six, we will make your work into a book that does justice to all who are included – and appeals to a wider readership. The blog has featured ‘the best of’ and the book will feature ‘the very best of’, but also will include new material from our core writers and much work that we couldn’t post on the blog for reasons of space or balance. It’s your job to help us spread the word – especially if you’re in it – and if you are, you’ll know by the end of August. You will all be itching to pre-order, and we’ll let you know how to do that soon. We’ve self-funded this project, paying commissioned writers, designers and publisher. Book sales are our only hope of making some of it back, so please buy the damn thing!

Helen and Emma - lucky girls eh?

Meanwhile, there are still prizes to be won; today, magnificent awards (left) for the first and last submissions. The first was Helen Addy, whose poem dropped on to our virtual doormat at 07.20 on 2nd July; the last was Emma Lannie, whose short story arrived three minutes before the deadline at 11.57 on Sunday. Ladies, expect something small and disturbing in the post this week.

The posts will keep coming, including work from our remaining core writers Jenn Ashworth and Stuart Maconie. We’ll be posting links, showing you the websites and publications of some of our contributors. There will be writing tips to keep you going if you’re a new writer, and to challenge you if you’re an old hack. What else do you want to see? A Top Ten overhearings? A map of Buggers across the UK? Resources for writers? Let us know in Comments. Don’t go away…. don’t leave us here in cyberspace….

And now, the end is nigh….

…..or at least, the submission date is nigh. Last-minute submissions are coming in and this time, the choice has been not just difficult but heartbreaking. We have had so much good stuff that we can’t post it all. But all is not lost… read on to find out what will happen to those just-missed submissions.

Bleak but heartfelt

It’s the twelfth of August and we have an appropriately Glorious choice of work, in a bumper selection called with our usual style August 12th. Click on that date to find work from Emma Morgan, Valerie O’Riordan, Val Thompson, Catriona Child and Susannah Hart. Here we have blindness, mutilation, drunkenness and racism in one happy bundle.

What happens between the submissions closing on Sunday, and the launch of the Bugged book on October 14th in Manchester (or 21st in Birmingham)? Will we disappear into the ether? Will we Bugger, dear Buggers. This blog will shift its focus. We will continue to post your work, and we have contributions from Stuart Maconie and Jenn Ashworth up our sleeve. But we’d also like to make it more of a forum for you. We’ll showcase some of your websites and blogs; highlight interesting sites for writers and readers, resources or organisations for writers at all levels, and live literature shows where we can meet up in the real world. Since our main Bugged groupings seem to be in London, Birmingham and the North West, we’d love to hear of forthcoming events there. We also want to hear from some of you about your writing processes, and how Bugged has changed them or shaken them up. What would you like us to include? Post your ideas here on the blog via comments, or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

We still have a little pile of Bugged prizes to give – so there will be more writing challenges to come. The closing date for submissions is Sunday, at noon. If you are cutting it close, be extra sure that you’ve saved the submission form in Word, that you’ve put all your details on it including your Earth address, and that you send it to submit@bugged.org.uk.

We’ll sit down next week with a pile of print-outs, a bottle of gin and a pair of loaded pistols to decide on who will appear in the Bugged book. It will be processed and printed at CompletelyNovel, and we will have physical copies in October. We would love to send one to all who appear in it, but we just can’t – we had to fund Bugged privately so you’ll have to cough up for your own! But we will do our damnedest to make it affordable and attractive.

Tune in on Sunday for the final pre-closure selection. This is not the end, but it is a good moment to say THANK YOU. We hoped that Bugged would bring together experienced and novice writers in a shared guilty pleasure, and it already has. According to you we are ‘inspired and inspirational’ – we have ‘reminded you to listen to the world around you’ and ‘given you permission to creep about listening to people.’ It is frankly a wonder that none of you have been arrested. If you’re looking for something to relax with after writing your piece, why not treat yourself to a copy of David Calcutt’s new book The Map of Marvels?

Racing Towards the Finish

It’s 7th August which means that there’s just over a week to go before the deadline for submitting work to Bugged, which is noon on Sunday, 15th August. So there’s not much more to say other than if you are still working on something to submit, do make sure you send it to us on time.

There are two new posts here today. The  first features work by Phillippa Barker, Angi Holden, Rebecca Audra Smith and Tim Woodhouse – three poems and a short story. You can read their work here Best of Bugged August 7th.  The second is a piece by another of our core writers, playwright, essayist and long-time “Archers” scriptwriter, Mary Cutler, which you can read here Core Writer August 7th. There’s work by just two more core writers to come, and we hope to be featuring those in the next posting. And more selections from your submitted work of course.

Thank you to all those who have also contributed to our competitions, and we hope you’ve enjoyed taking part in those, and congratulations to the  winners. We hope you’ve enjoyed your prizes.

Early birds and bright sparks

Be prepared for eavesdropping....

So, the early birds are sitting smugly on their laurels, whilst the procrastinators rush round the house looking for a pen and shouting ‘Less than a fortnight to go!’ Today’s selection includes the Goldilocks writers – those who submitted not too late, and not too early. We have poems from Suzanna Fitzpatrick and Rosie Sandler, and a short story from Catherine Fearn, in our excitingly titled August 3rd selection. And there’s another thrilling prize to be won, so read on, dear Buggers….

There’s also new work from two more core writers – David Calcutt (co-host of Bugged) and Leila Rasheed (fresh from her honeymoon, so well done for focusing). We thought long and hard about the title for this document – we decided on Core writers – August 3rd. Leila’s piece has inspired this visual response by artist Helen White….

Now – that prize. Here at Bugged Towers we have snagged a copy of The Five-Minute Writer, which is full of useful spark exercises for all kinds of writing. As usual you have to earn it. We were tickled to notice that the BBC news site, which shows a constantly updated list of ‘most searched for topics’ was displaying the following three subjects this morning: KNITTING – POETRY – WATERCRESS. So your challenge is this: send us (via Comments on this website) a paragraph including those three words. The one that makes us laugh, cry or spill our beer with its creative brilliance, will get the book. Deadline for this little mission… ooh, let’s give you till Saturday shall we?

You can now book for the first Bugged launch in Manchester on October 14th here (it’s free, but it would be nice to know how many are coming). There is plenty of other great stuff in the programme for the Manchester Literature Festival, so look through the other events too. The Birmingham launch is on 21st October – more news of that soon.

There’s still plenty of time to send us your piece of writing based on an overhearing. If you need instruction, the basics of Bugged are here – ignore the bit about July 1st, you can eavesdrop any time. But don’t forget to submit via our Submissions Form – we can’t accept even the greatest masterpiece otherwise!

Arrivals and Departures

There are many, many good things arriving on the Bugged website today.  Not just one, but two selections of new work, and a competition.  The first selection is from the latest batch of submissions from writers from all over the UK, and in this one features work by Cathy Bryant, Maggie Doyle, Lynda Nash, Suzanne Phillips and Rodney Wood. You’ll find their writing here Bugged July 29th . And the second is more work from our core writers, and there you’ll find a script by playwright Steph Dale, another story by David Gaffney and a story from the first of our editors to complete her piece, Jo Bell. You can read their work here – Core writers – July 29th

And now for the competition. One of our editors – not the one who’s work appears in this post – has a new novel coming out next week. It’s fantasy adveture story called The Map of Marvels, and tells the story of a boy who goes on a series of fantastic, magical, and sometimes terrying  journeys. And, as many of your overhearings have involved you going on some kind of journey, we’d like you to send us a single sentence describing a journey of some kind. It may be an actual journey you’ve taken, or a dream journey, or one you’d like to take. But the idea is to send us just a single image from that journey, in one sentence. The competiton closes on Tuesday 3rd August and the writer of the one we like the best will be sent a copy of The Map of Marvels. And if you suspect that this competition is just an underhand way of plugging the book – it is.

Finally, we’d like to say thank you to Bugged Writer and photographer Janet Jenkins who’s been inspired by the project not only to write overhearings but to take photographs of them as well. It’s one of her photos that illustrates today’s post. Birdbugged. Thanks again, Janet.