We name this book…

 

Popping our cork. As it were.

 

….BUGGED!  The first of our two launches took place today in Manchester, where we were honoured to open the Manchester Literature Festival programme. Our readers came down from Edinburgh, up from London, east from

 

The littlest Bugger of all

 

Wales, west from Derby… they were Jenn Ashworth (right, with McTiny), Cathy Bryant, Dorothy Burgess, Emma Morgan, Susannah Hart, Emma Lannie, Liz Loxley, Ian Marchant, Lynsey May, Angi Holden, Alicia Ogg, Calum Kerr, Valerie O’Riordan and Phil Williams. Every one observed our dire warning to stick to a 3-minute reading – although for the prose writers this sometimes meant cutting their work in half. We made’em laugh, we made’em cry, and most importantly we made’em buy books.

We’re not finished yet – we opened Manchester Literature Festival, and we close the Birmingham Book Festival next Thursday evening at the Ikon Gallery. Programme Director, Sara Beadle writes:

“The Birmingham Book Festival was very excited by the initial idea of Bugged. It remains one of the most fresh and inventive writing projects we’ve heard of. The Birmingham Book Festival focuses on interesting ideas and writers who think, write and talk about the things that are really challenging in our times and relevant in our lives. This year’s programme is no exception, with the likes of Fatima Bhutto, Gareth Peirce, Dominic Sandbrook, David Shukman, John Lanchester, Jonathan Coe, and Lionel Shriver amongst a cast of many others. Aside from the authors we are featuring, there is also a broad workshop programme (including a dark afternoon within Ikon Eastside’s new installation,  Hitchcock’s Hallway), and events in partnership with The Drum, Punch Records, Birmingham Libraries, The RSA, SHOUT Festival and 7 Inch Cinema.”

“It is our pleasure to close our eleventh Festival with the launch of the anthology and we can’t wait to hear the results of this eavesdropping experiment. We are sure that an evening with Bugged and its writers will prove hilarious and no doubt moving, if the early indications are anything to go by. We have watched in admiration as the project has gathered momentum and are proud to be hosting a public celebration of its success.”

Want a copy of the book? Here’s how.

  • The best way is to buy it direct at the Birmingham launch. No postage!
  • Or… order direct from us to get the special edition version (chunkier, nicer, quicker – and the same price) until we run out. If you submitted work to Bugged – whether you are in the book or not – the price is £4.99, plus postage. If you didn’t, it’s £5.99 and serve you right! Email submit@bugged.org.uk and let us know how many you want, where to send them, and whether you want to pay by PayPal or cheque.
  • Once we’ve run out of special edition copies, buy the standard version (lighter in weight, but still lovely) at the same price from CompletelyNovel or Amazon – ignore the ‘out of stock’ warning, which appears because it’s a print-on-demand book. If you order from these sources, you’ll be waiting longer for your book – about a fortnight… but it’s still a gem!

Now then…. Birmingham, are you ready for us?

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Eavesdroppers Anonymous

No: you're being Bugged

Frankly, you’re not helping. We two Buggers-in-Chief are trying to write our own pieces, but we keep getting distracted by the new work coming in from you lot. It’s varied, it’s exciting, it’s a bloody good read. So we have put all our creativity instead into the title of today’s selection. Click, then, on the splendidly named July 21st where you will find words from Benjamin Morris, Roz Goddard, Sam Burns and Colin Henchley.

Your overhearings have been gathered on a hen night in the local, on the bus, on a ‘boring and delayed train journey’, at Shadwell tube station or on a narrowboat for the first time. One of you listened outside the village school, one during a break in Switzerland – and one was inspired ‘partly by overhearings…. partly by the Pomp and Circumstance quilting exhibition’. And we hear from some of you that Bugged got you writing for the first time, or starting up again after a long break. If so, then we’re glad but we just reminded you of what writers do – like children crossing the road, we all just LOOK and LISTEN. Keep writing regularly and don’t be afraid to send us another piece before the deadline on August 15th. (If you just joined us and this makes no sense at all, look here for the basic rules.)

Poet and eavesdropper Marvin Cheeseman took this one...

Some of you have long writing careers under your belt – Roz Goddard, for instance, is a former poet laureate of Birmingham. But as you’ll see, her first Bugged submission is a short story, and others are also writing in forms which are not their ‘first language’. Is your found material forcing you to experiment with new forms and new styles of writing? Is it taking you in new directions? Jolly good.

And some of you are submitting work for the very first time. We know it can be a bit nerve-racking and we thank you. So the key idea of Bugged is working – voila, a real community of writers sharing their nasty little habit and creating something from it. It’s like Eavesdroppers Anonymous. Thanks too to those who are sending a few words with your submission form to say, ‘I’m really enjoying the project’…. ‘Bugged is such FUN as a challenge’….’I had such fun writing these.’ Serious writing can, after all, be very good fun. Keep having it – and keep it coming.

You have till early next week to send the next bout of writings – but we’ll try to get a blog up on Sunday that showcases some of the work from our core writers (see blogroll, right). Playwright Steph Dale has done her homework – so have David Gaffney, Mil Millington and Ian Marchant. We’re just beginning to think about the pieces that might make it into the Bugged book, launching on 14th October in Manchester and 21st in Birmingham. Read on, MacDuff…

The Garden of Bugged Delights

There’s been a wonderful  response to our competition, and many of you have written in telling us what it is that delights you. Among the delights you’ve told is about are: warm pavements, trees, red shoes and the smell of books.  There’s still a little time to send these in, although the competition does close at midday tomorrow (Sunday 18th June). Not long after that, the name of the lucky winner of a copy of The Writer’s Block will be announced.

What delights us of course, is reading the many excellent poems, stories and scripts you’re sending in, and you can read a further selection of these here,  July 17th , where there are poems, a story and flash fiction from Jon Andriessen, Jan Arnold, Bob Hill, Alison J. Littlewood, Andrew Philip, Fran Martel and Bosey Manumba. We’ve also been receiving more pieces from our core writers, and we’ll posting some of these shortly. The only core writers we have to have a stern word with are a certain Jo Bell and David Calcutt, from whom we’ve heard nothing, despite repeated emails and texts demanding they set a good example and send in their pieces.  Rumour has it they haven’t even started writing yet. Shame on them. They really ought to know better.

Poetry! Prose! Prizes! Prozac!*

A month and a day to go to the Bugged deadline, and we hear keyboards clicking all over the country. There’s loads of good writing to enjoy today – it’s really getting tough to decide what to leave out.

Two of our core writers have coughed up – Ian Marchant’s is a prose piece, and David Gaffney got so carried away that he gave us a series of three micro-stories based on different overhearings. We’ll post both of these soon. Jenn Ashworth, who only gave birth last week, is getting on with hers too. Congrats to Jenn not only on the arrival of McTiny, but also on the announcement that her second novel Cold Light will be published by Sceptre next year.

The best of the recent submissions from readers and writers across the UK are bundled into today’s selection, titled (in our usual blockbuster style)  July 14th. We have work from Ray Morgan, Peter Wild, Sarah Gallagher, Norman Hadley and (in extract) Christine Howe. What have you especially enjoyed so far? Let us know in Comments.

We’re loving Bugged. We are stunned by your enthusiasm, your talent, the variety of your work – and also by the difficulty some of you have in following our simple rules. So here it is you naughty Buggers: NO, you can’t submit work and then withdraw it because you wrote ‘bumblebee’ when you meant ‘wasp’. NO, you can’t write 1056 words when the limit is 1000 words (we have Word Count too). YES, it has to be a Word file (ending in .DOC). We really don’t accept .RTF files, Mac Pages files, or anything else. If you haven’t got Word, then you need to convert it before you send it to us. The tiresome business of making a living means we just don’t have time to convert them for you, or to contact you about doing so. Use our Submission Form, and make sure you’ve put your own details in there – name, address etc. This

Small but perfectly formed

way, we can print them all off in the same format on August 16th, install ourselves at Bugged Towers with a big tin of biscuits and a large gin, and argue about which ones go into the book.

After that stern telling off, here’s a spoonful of sugar. We’ve got a copy of The Writer’s Block to give away. It’s a little fat book whose every page has a spark idea to get you writing. ‘Virus’ is one. ‘Write about your greatest childhood fear’ is another. To win it…. well, since Jo is currently reading J B Priestley’s Delight, we want you to tell us what delights you. Tell us via Comments, here on the blog – in no more than ten words. The one that delights us most before Sunday morning will get the book, and be announced on the midweek blog.

[*only for those of us who have to choose between these submissions.]

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!

Start writing with your ears

Welcome to BUGGED, a fantastic new writing project for the UK in summer 2010.  This is how it works:

1    On July 1st 2010*, go forth and…. eavesdrop! Wherever you are – in the British Museum or Bradford bus station, in your office, the pub, on the train – listen in to conversations and fragments of speech around you. Be discreet. Try not to get punched. [* if you missed July 1st, fear not. Any day will do, so long as you meet our deadline – see point 3].

2    Write a new piece of work based on what you hear. We want poems of up to 60 lines, stories up to 1000 words, flash fiction up to 150 words, scripts up to 5 minutes long. Our favourite recent overhearing is ‘I think it was the turtles that did for her eventually.’ Yours may be tragical, farcical, touching or mundane. You don’t have to quote your overhearing directly – it might just be a starting point for your piece.

3 Submit it to us by email after July 1st, and before August 15th (read the small print first). The sooner the better because….

4    …the best incoming work will be posted on this blog. The earlier it arrives, the better chance you have of beating the crowd. Some very fine writers are already sharpening their pencils – see 5, below.

5 The very best of the work submitted will be published in a printed anthology, alongside well-known names like Jenn Ashworth, Ian Marchant and Daljit Nagra. The book will be launched in October at Manchester Literature Festival and Birmingham Book Festival, and you’ll be able to buy it online.

People talk in public....

So clean out your ears and get ready for July 1st. Spread the word so that we have the best pool of writers to draw from. Some of you will write lighter stuff, some will write life-changing material. Some of you have been writing for years; some just started. We are ready for it all. Our Examples page has some Bugged-type work from writers we know, or click on these poems from Ray Morgan and Bugged co-editor Jo Bell.

Join our Facebook Page (Bugged), or follow us on Twitter (as BuggedProject). Get talking to each other. Where are you planning to listen in? What have you heard lately on the bus or in the queue for a coffee? Send us a picture of a good place to eavesdrop – tell us about your funniest or most tragic overhearing – let us know that you’re taking part – and pass on the news to your writing contacts. And keep those overhearings real please. Why make them up when there is so much real-life material?

....and in private!

This is a new kind of writing project. We want to showcase the very best writing, so that established writers can enjoy a new challenge, and new writers can get into print alongside well-known names. But we also want to have fun, and to create a thriving community of writers. Come on in…. and bring your notebook.

Jo Bell and David Calcutt