Bugged – and on it goes….

We are gobsmacked, delighted and now a little bit scared by the quantity and quality of writing coming in. Our main Bugging day was less than a week ago and we already have 70 submissions. And this is good work that’s coming in, not just any old rubbish*. So this post is just a quick one, to show you some of the work that has come in to date.

Today we bring you poetry and prose from Helen Addy, Andrew Bailey, Lucy Jeynes, Jo Field, Brenda Ray and Ruskin Brown – all in this lovely file with the catchy name of July 7th. We hoped that Bugged would bring you new material for your writings. I think we are doing so: surely, ferret theft and toilets in Norwich are amongst the things you wouldn’t normally consider as subjects. Truly, there is nothing you can’t write about.

If your name is not here, don’t panic. We haven’t been able to read all the work submitted so far, so you might yet appear in the next week or so. We’re expecting a little dip in submissions but we do hope you will prove us wrong. Some are submitting several pieces – which is fine! Don’t forget to submit via our Submission Form, and to attach it rather than paste it into your email.

If you’re dithering over whether to send us something – please do. Bugged is a community of writers creating and sharing. We know how much generosity it takes to offer it for the blog or anthology, especially if you are beginning your writing career. But it is an absolute joy to see the variety of responses we’re getting – some funny, some heartbreaking, some plain weird. All of them are original and clearly based on a real overhearing. Keep’em coming – we want 100 before our next post on Saturday.

Coming soon… our first response from one of our ten core writers, and news of book launches from others who are taking part. Keep Bugging!

*If you think your own writing does fall under the heading of ‘any old rubbish’ then ignore that nasty little self-doubting voice and submit anyway. Honestly; all writers doubt their own talent. Get on with it.

Advertisements

Superbugs!

Bugging aids...

Blimey. Some of you didn’t sleep last night; you were up writing your submissions for Bugged. As it happens, the earliest people to submit were all poets. We are showing you six of them – Stephen Beattie, Annie McGann, Kate Noakes, Sarah James, Paula Ward and Helen Addy.

WordPress is itself a bit of a bugger and won’t allow us to format poetry properly (now they tell us!) So these poems are just a couple of clicks away – but they are worth it. Click here on our file called (inspiringly) 2nd July to read the poems and see the quality of work we’re attracting. Some of these poets wrote directly from their overhearing, including it right in the body of the poem – others used it just as a spark or starting point. They give us a range of voices, all rather contemplative. What a fantastic start to Bugged – we are delighted, moved, and if we’re honest, a bit relieved that some of you really are sending work in. If you are thinking of writing something very different, don’t be put off – we can do funny, light, bawdy as well as serious, thoughtful, wistful!

Of course, most of you haven’t thought of submitting yet; you have till August 15th, and you can do your overhearing any time from now on. There are two common queries so far. First, how do you submit? Answer – go to the Submission Form page, downloading the form and emailing submit@bugged.org.uk. Note – it’s ORG, not CO.UK or .COM or anything like that. Second – ‘if you didn’t hear anything interesting’ or you missed yesterday for any other reason, don’t panic! You can do your overhearing at any time, so long as your work is with us by noon on August 15th. Look at FAQ for word limits and other queries. And bear in mind that we won’t be able to acknowledge every entry, or tell you when it’s up – just keep your eyes on this blog and we will tell you when the next post is coming.

There will be another post on Sunday (including a topical tennis poem) but keep listening, keep writing and keep submitting – we want to be swamped by brilliant new work. Thanks so much to the precocious Buggers who submitted so early. Keep checking back here for new writing – and keep Bugging.

Now then prose writers…. where are you?

Brilliant bugging – so far!

Just a quick update on the evening of B-Day. Reports of successful Bugging are coming in thick and fast – including this lively blog account and many many overhearings, sent on Facebook and Twitter. It’s brilliant – at last we have a real sense that everyone has been out there: leaning on lampposts in Lampeter, lurking in the lanes of Lancaster, shuffling in the streets of Sheffield… etc.

For our blog from this morning, which may have passed you by (including tips on how to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear) look here. Our favourite Buggings from today include:

“‘I never buy red shoes.”

“I went in there once to see if I could borrow an old man.”

“and then she said, ‘You do know I’m leaving, don’t you?'”

“You can’t post something like that. What would the postman say?”

We’ve also had some lovely photos of likely Bugging locations from Janet Jenkins… like this one….

The hills are alive, with the sound of private conversations.....

If you didn’t hear anything – or you forgot – or you come to us late (where were you?) then you can still take part – go and eavesdrop tomorrow, or the day after, but get your writing to us by August 15th. And if you are super-speedy and have already finished a piece – look at Submissions for how to submit. Obviously.

We are having a ball – how exciting to hear all your reports from the frontline. Keep them coming – as comments here, as Facebook or Twitter updates, and keep your ear to the ground till bedtime!

Dramatic Overhearing

With just a week to go now before B.O.D. (Big Overhearing Day) we’re still receiving a lot of eavesdropping jewels through Facebook and Twitter. Here are a few:

  • “I sold that organ for £50.”
  • You can’t kill them. The worst you can  do is hurt them. So just jab it in.”
  • “I’d already had a tattoo by 11.00 this morning.”
  • “I knew all about it before anybody told me.”

Now any of these would make a good starting point for an imagined conversation, and they’re quite fun to write. Initially, you can just create a couple of characters, put them in a particular location, give one of them the overheard sentence as a starting line, write what  the other character says in response, and let it go from there. It’s freefall writing, really,  not thinking about it in detail, almost letting the characters speak for themselves and seeing where the conversation leads. A bit like overhearing in your own head. But if you want to take this further than simple conversation, and develop it into a piece of dramatic writing, there a few points you’ll want  to consider:

  • you’ll  need to fashion a plot, so that the dialogue tells a story
  • find a way of differentiating between the way the characters speak, so that we get a good idea of of who each character  is.
  • find a way of letting us know the setting through the dialogue, in a way that doesn’t sound forced or unnatural.
  • there’ll need to be a conflict of some kind, or a dilemma or problem that needs to be solved. This will form the basis  of the plot
  • you’ll want to bring the story/drama to a resolution. This may not necessarily mean solving the problem, but will give the reader a feeling that the piece is complete.

He shouldn’t have trouble overhearing

If you think you may want to write a script after July 1st, then have a go at one  of the following exercises.

You have to flesh out the ideas with specific setting, characters and situations. You don’t have to resolve the conflicts or the dilemmas, but should indicate a solution. The piece should also have a satisfactory ending, and not just stop. Also, when you’ve written it, try reading it aloud with one or two friends, to see if it really does work.  Speaking aloud is, after all, what drama is written for. You can also check that it does last for 5 minutes.

  • Two characters. One is trying persuade the other to do something that he or she is reluctant to do.
  • Two characters. One has something the other wants. It doesn’t have to be a physical object. Persuasion and/or trickery should be used rather than brute force.
  • Two characters. One has some news to give the other, that she or he is reluctant to give.
  • Three characters. Two of them are in conflict over something, and a third tries to help.
  • Three characters. A has a secret. B wants to know the secret, and persuades C to find out what it is.

If you’re happy with your piece, then send  it in, and we may post it on our examples page.

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!

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