Wednesday 1 October 2014

Pictures That Tell a Thousand Words

So today I have a super exciting project to share with you!

As I guess you've pretty much figured out by now, there's nothing more in the world I love more than storytelling. Whether it's listening or writing, admiring or creating, I feel like the essence of storytelling runs through my veins - it's almost as though my entire life revolving around the principle of it.

To me, it's simply magic.

When I write, I'm not really even aware of what's happening, and I usually 'come to' about four hours later looking down on 5000 words I don't entirely have the recollection of writing. It feels like these stories and ideas come tumbling down from the deep crevasses of my mind, passing through filters of meaning and sentiment and swirl into golden plumes of  dialog which channel through my fingertips onto a keyboard or through notepaper and pen, without my conscious intentions having much to do with it at all.

I often like to muse upon my own life as if it were a piece of fiction written by someone else - there certainly have been some very strange, wonderful, beautiful and sometimes tragic things that have occurred in my near 22 years on this earth, and it actually makes it easier to understand the bad, and more difficult to get big-headed or lost in the clouds with the good, when you perceive them as fundamental character-building events along a plot line leading toward something great.

I tried (in vain) to keep up the '30 Days of Fiction' challenge on here for December, but due to overwhelming commitments and even greater excuses, I simply could not find the time do so, which was quite sad as I'd been looking forward to this day, the 1st October, to triumphantly punch the air with a fistful of short stories and shout 'huzzah!'

But this was why I was so excited to hear from Gatherly (fave people ever) as they approached me with a new collaborative creative writing idea.

The idea is to pair up a photographer who supplies a series of context-less photos, and a writer, who's job it is to interpret those photographs into a one thousand word piece of writing; Photos That Tell a Thousand Words.

I honestly did a little dance around my room when I got the email, it could not be more perfect.

And so I was paired with the talented photographer Cleo Glover, who provided seven 35mm photos (which can be seen in this post) and that very day, just from looking at the photographs, the story sparked into life in my mind.

Within a couple of hours, it was complete.

'...There was a wildness about her eyes and a hesitance about her step as if she'd just discovered some dark secret of the universe in the rails of beat up leather jackets and hand me down shirts.'

Find the full story I created through these picture on the Gatherly site here -I'd love to hear what you think!

The inspiration for this piece came from various different places, but most strongly perhaps, from my love of vintage. I've always so enamoured, somewhat obsessed even, with the idea that the very clothes you wear could have a story that your wildest dreams couldn't even conjure. 

Charity shops, thrift stores and vintage emporiums are among my favourite places on earth,because it absolutely blows my mind to imagine the previous life of each item in those shops, what series of events, and circumstances and owners caused for them to meet in this one particular shop at this time?

Imagine if that old camera over there had belonged to a window-washer from Cardiff who'd accidentally left it behind in a hotel room one family holiday to Cornwall and it'd been kept by the maid who'd given it to her grandson who then went on to develop a love for photography and studied it at University where he met and fell and love with a girl who was the previous owner of that skirt over there?

Needless to say, my mind kinda goes into overdrive. 

But perhaps the most exciting thing of all, is when you actually get hard evidence of the person who'd previously owned something. I once found a packet of sugar in a bag I bought in a vintage store once and my favourite was when I bought a copy of the book 'Self' by Yann Martel from a second hand book market, and inside discovered two 35mm photos of what I guess, were the friends of the previous owner.

And so with that memory in mind, I set about to create a fictional narrative of a middle-aged woman who decided on a whim to take a look inside a vintage shop on her lunch break, only to come across a satchel which stirred something in her memory, and inside, seven photos that she'd taken of her own childhood, and that one fateful summer where she'd felt truly alive.

Anyway, head here to find the story, and definitely check out the wonderful people at Gatherly - I have some more exciting projects planned with them soon! - and in the meantime peruse Cleo's beautiful photos on her website.

Also, what did you think of the story? Let me know!