The Summer of Bugged

Ah, hello. Come on in. What kept you so long?

Going to a festival? Take your ears with you

Bugged is just over a week old, and already there are hundreds of us on board for the liveliest writing project of summer 2010. To all the newbies, we say Welcome – whether you found us through the Guardian Books Blog, or other kind links like this one from Claire Conlon which also includes other writing deadlines. If you just found us then have a look here to find out how Bugged works. Find us on Facebook (we are a Page, called Bugged) or Twitter (as BuggedProject). Get listening, get talking.

For those old lags who have been following us since… er… last week, thank you for helping us to spread news of Bugged. You’ve already shared some marvellous overhearings – perfect material for sparking off a poem, a story or a script. Some are comical:

“She’s got a boyfriend at last.”
“That’s good!”
“Yes, but he’s short.”
“Oh I am sorry.”

Some are intriguing… ‘What’s the only word in the English language that ends in MT?’ asks a pub landlord. Answers in the next post…. or find Bugged on Facebook to read the answer.

But there are potentially tragic ones too. ‘I’ve been pregnant before, it was no big deal,’ says a schoolgirl on a bus. Another person says, ‘When it was over I didn’t wash for six months afterwards. I lived in a toilet and drank alcohol.’ There are huge stories behind these tiny soundbites. Make sure that your work does them justice, brings them alive – and keeps them anonymous.

Most unsettling of all, a conversation about Bugged itself was overheard on a bus today. We hadn’t foreseen that we might be victims of our own surveillance team.

Keep those overhearings coming in and do have a bash at our nano-survey to tell us where you’ll be on National Eavesdropping Day.

Jo Bell

Bugged – it’s alive!

Bugged has obviously struck a nerve in a nation of  creative nosey parkers. We’re not even a week old and already hundreds of you are following us. We’ve been picked up by the excellent Literary Platform and others are showing interest too – let us know if you see us mentioned anywhere.

If you missed our first post explaining how it works, look here – but essentially Bugged encourages all writers (great and small) to eavesdrop discreetly on July 1st, and to write something based on their overhearings by August 15th. The good stuff will appear on this blog, and the very best in a book alongside our ten core writers (see the Blogroll, right). Be tragical or comical, moving or uplifting. And be as good as you can be.

I couldn't help overhearing....

We love the overhearings you’ve sent so far via Facebook and Twitter; keep them coming. We especially liked: ‘Yes, we’re rabbit-sitting. They’re paying us in cushions and umbrellas’…….. ‘He opened the car boot and it was full of somebody else’s clothes’…………….. and, ‘She brought her granddaughter back some pebbles from the Firth of Forth, then in the middle of the night she was worried they might be radioactive, so she got up and boiled them.’ We also like the philosophical dialogue overheard in a shop car park – “We’ll only have enough money left for food and booze.” “Do we ever really need anything else though?” “True.”

Summery conversations...

All have great potential to start off a story, a poem or a script. If you’ve not heard anything quite so inspiring, have a little practice with one of these. Play with viewpoints – are you the grandmother, the granddaughter or one of the pebbles?

Our examples page now has ‘overheard’ poems from Alwyn Marriage and Lorraine Mariner. Our Small Print page to see our word limits for prose, poetry and scripts. If you’ve not come across Flash Fiction before, have a look here for a discussion of its strengths and weaknesses.

Is anyone listening? David Calcutt and Jo Bell

There’s a month to go till the big eavesdropping day, and it will be a damn boring wait unless we talk to each other. So do find us on Facebook (Bugged) or Twitter (BuggedProject) to share overhearings and and interesting links.  Established writers – tell us about your websites and work so we can promote it to a captive audience.

If you’re a new or first-time writer, don’t be put off: there will soon be exercises and tips to get you creating, from David Calcutt and others. And if you have a writing group or online community, why not encourage them to write something from an overheard or ‘found’ statement?

We’re glad you like our idea – pass it on!