Fear and Loathing in Liverpool

I’m noticing a pattern starting to emerge. Two Tuesdays ago I went to this new writing group, read a short 100 word story to the group (badly), had about 5 pints and spent Wednesday hungover. Yesterday I went to the next meeting of the group, read a longer 2,000 word piece to the group (not quite as badly), had about 7 pints and have spent today hungover. (I also have some kind of bug, so not feeling too clever today). Next week I’ll probably read out half a novel and drink enough to get me admitted to the emergency room.

What is it about writing and substance abuse? I don’t get inspired when I’m drunk, but somehow, feeling sorry for myself the next day always gets me working on something. Bizarre. Maybe self-pity is the key to it all.

The group use weekly prompts for us to come back with something written around that subject. Last time it was advertising and I came back with half a short story about someone working in the arse end of advertising, starting to get a bit older, frustrated that the younger generation have different values than he does. It went down quite well. This week the theme is hedonism and I intend to work this into the second half of the story. It’s an interesting challenge writing on demand in that way. I like it. I wrote the 100 word story mentioned above because of a prompt on a writing forum. I wrote some micro-fiction in the same vein, and my story ‘Ice Cream Man’ was from a prompt – although admittedly it was to write a horror story that featured an ice-cream man (don’t ask) and I obviously strayed more than a little from that idea.

Most of the people in the group write poetry. I’m not a huge poetry fan, but I have to admit that some of them are pretty good. A lot of witty, whimsical stuff, a bit like Roger McGough, but perhaps better in some ways. The thing that stunned me last night was one of the guys who does this – and he really is good at it – admitted he’d never read any poetry before and in fact doesn’t really read much beyond the odd footballer biography. My god. How on earth he’s developed the ability to write so well when he’s never read anything to base his ideas and style on I don’t know. It’s a bit like a blind kid painting a cathedral (to reference Raymond Carver).

There’s also a guy there who is primarily an artist and he is doing something really interesting in the next month or two. He’s running with a project called ‘Free Art’ and is placing around 50 or so pieces of his work out around Liverpool for people to just take. Before I had the collection together, some of the stories in Oblivious were put out in a free literary journal thing that we, in fact, left lying around Liverpool for people to just take. So you can see why I have an affinity with the idea. He’s putting together a website for the project now so as soon as he has it up, I’ll post a link on here to it.

Well, the hangover is wearing off, but I just ate 2 profiteroles before realising the cream inside them had gone off. So expect the strange bat like creatures to start descending on me at any moment…

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