Writing in a Digital Age –

Brilliant summing up of last weekend’s conference by writer and journalist Molly Flatt


who herself made an impassioned call for words not gimmicks as writers and technologists etch out mutual ground. An inspiring and thought provoking two days. Set up by Rebecca Swift and Jon Slack of The Literacy Consultancy  the conference covered both business and creative ends of the digital discussion.http://www.literaryconsultancy.co.uk/events/literary-conference-2013/2013-programme/

more anon no doubt


Week 9: The End of Books…

This week we will be looking at Writing About You Work in preparation for your critical commentary essay assessment element and Multi-Modal Story telling, Digital and E-Literature. With regard to the former you are required to submit a 1000 word essay critically reflecting on your creative writing practice [your responses to 4 out of the 5 experimental modals of creative writing presented on the course]. You should identify the key strategies presented with each model and how you have adapted and interpreted these for your own work. You should reflect on and assess your work according to the works’ achievements in adhering to and/or developing the original author’s strategy, using references and demonstrating the depth of your understanding of the methods and context of the work through close textual analysis, self reflection and critical comment [don’t forget to reference the Everyday Life Theory we covered too].

Multi-Modal Story telling, Digital and E-Literature

Digital literature is a term is used in a number of ways. It can mean anything that finds itself presented in computational form; it is the preferred term for any new writing that is generated and designed to be read digitally – in North America the term E-literature is favoured for this type of work. Basically both terms refer – in their purest sense – to work that is ‘digital born’ representing both a strategy and form of new writing that sets out to make use of the non-linear narrative capabilities of digital language. Veering away from the constraints of singular, linear cause and effects narrative relationships to more complex, network neonarratives. The latter can be said to represent the a paradigm shift in the way we understand the world and seek to make sense of it through stories. [An amusing and interesting aside – http://youtu.be/nJmGrNdJ5Gw]

Here’s an article from the NEW YORK TIMES  that provides a good introduction to e-literature. It is published in 1992 – so practically ancient history – but very interesting both for its description of what this ‘new’ art form is and could be – but also as a historical object.


The form began with hypertext

“”Hypertext” is not a system but a generic term, coined a quarter of a century ago by a computer populist named Ted Nelson to describe the writing done in the nonlinear or nonsequential space made possible by the computer. Moreover, unlike print text, hypertext provides multiple paths between text segments, now often called “lexias” in a borrowing from the pre-hypertextual but prescient Roland Barthes. With its webs of linked lexias, its networks of alternate routes (as opposed to print’s fixed unidirectional page-turning) hypertext presents a radically divergent technology, interactive and polyvocal, favoring a plurality of discourses over definitive utterance and freeing the reader from domination by the author. Hypertext reader and writer are said to become co-learners or co-writers, as it were, fellow-travelers in the mapping and remapping of textual (and visual, kinetic and aural) components, not all of which are provided by what used to be called the author.” Extract from above article in NY Times.

Early Hypertext fiction used a writing environment called Storyspace – which you can have a look at here


A significant trend in more recent work in this field explore the narrative possibilities that exists in the convergence between new multimedia and writing. Exploring exciting new storying possibilities as sound, image and text combine to make new story worlds that reflect our own increasingly complex, multi-connected lives.







On Chris Joseph’s site I recommend tube lines [first left on grid] and i wake at eight [near the bottom far left] – lots of other great work on their too.

It is clear to see how the experimental and new writing writing strategies we have studied on the course lead us here…

Week 6: Small is Beautiful / Micro Fiction


This week we are turning our attention to micro fiction. Whether it’s flash, just short or macroscopically micro we are interested in what makes good short fiction great.

There is much flash fiction about. David Gaffney has made a bit of a name for himself with the form and much of his subject matter makes a good match for our investigation in to theories of Everyday Life. Here is what he has to say about how to write it:


here’s where you can read two of his flash fictions from his Book Sawn Off Tales via Amazon’s Look Inside option  Your Name In Weetos and the Lost Language of Hairgrips. [more coming in printed form via hand outs in class]

And here’s somewhere to read more flash fiction and another short by David Gaffney Happy Places


He also performs words with a fellow writer – short fiction is growing a broader audience through quirky, imaginative performance presentations.

I also thought i’d throw in this link from MJ Hyland. A Guardian How To Write Fiction missive with a more general fiction writer in mind but nevertheless with some great tips and advice.


Week 4: Prose and Journal Poetry / Exploding the Moment

Seminar Aims:
• What makes a prose poem poetry? Become familiar with the forms and model of Prose and Journal Poetry
• Introduction to the idea of Exploding the Moment
• Share and critically reflect on location field exercise material.
• Discuss ways of drafting this material for Project 2.

• Consider the way language is used through heightened imagery and emotional effects to create a poetic quality within prose poetry that ‘make it qualify’ as possessing poetic qualities.

  • On descriptive language.
  • Experiment with the idea of Exploding the Moment in writing.

• Share and critically reflect on location field exercise material.
• Discuss ways of drafting this material for Project 2.
• What do you hope to know at the end of this module? Identify your aims for the module. Write them in your notebook for review later in module.


Read     Extracts from Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau and Extract from A Generative Device by Joseph Conte

Write    Project 2: Complete first draft of a journal or prose poem

Week 3: Cut Up / Aleatory Writing [continued] / Prose Poems

This week we will have a look/listen to your Cut Up works and discuss what effects are being generated by the various approaches and technique adopted. Please feel free to share some of your work under this post as comments. Be great to have some on here as part of the module work-in-progress archive.

Here’s link to a doc on Gysin with a William burroughs V/O – very beat. very cool. and gives some insight to the methodlogy


And here’s another link to a really interesting site with a special piece on Cut Up by Burroughs.


We will also consider the reading and what Bok considers to be a Poetics of Chance. We will also have a look at the some of experiemental writing strategies offered by Hazel Smith in the Chapter 1 extract hand out from her fascinating book The Writing Experiment.


Read: Extract from “Adjunct: an Undigest” by Peter Manson

adjunct – prose poem

Do: At a location of your choice and over the course of a specified duration, record conversation, ambient sound, printed text, and other sensory materials in as much detail as possible in your notebook and bring to next seminar. Start collecting material from the TV/internet/radio/advertising/newspaper. Bring to seminar.

Week 2: Tracing The Invisible Threads of Life

Attempts to theorize the minutae of everyday life are destined to be problematic at best. Geater minds have tried and slipped but in the trying perhaps make the path for the next traveller a little surer. The search for something is often lauded as equal if not greater than the thing that is itself searched for and if this is true it were never more so than of the search for a standup, conclusive theory of everyday life. But where theory may stutter and falter under the weight of its own need to provide an all encompasing explanation creative writing may have the edge.  In its diversity, it polyphony, it ability to capture. convey, illuninate and engage. So as you consider Ben Highmore’s clear assimilation of the key theoretical approaches and perspectives on the subject in his Everyday Life and Cultural Theory:An Introduction or reflect on the primary source texts in his reader [highlights for me includes Barthes essay on Plastic] you can think about how this quest to find a way to render visible the invisible threads of our everyday existence – – might open up your own world. How you might [re]discover the mundane and passed over, the forgotten, the unnoticed and yet to be considered in your own life and that ofthose you see around you – unique yet familiar lives, full of ordinary extraordinariness and see what impact that illumination may have on your writing.

Debord ‘Alterations’ Extract – Discussion Questions

EL = Everyday Life

  1. What is the purpose of studying EL?
  2. What needs to be transformed and why?
  3. Why is Debord concerned with demomstrating EL is right here?
  4. Debord compares EL with the search for the Yeti. In what ways does this illuminate the problems of defining EL?
  5. EL is not..? What is it not?
  6. What connection does Debord see between the notion of EL and revolution?
  7. How does a denial of the existence of EL leads to a society of alienation?

Week 1: What is CW? What is Everyday Life Theory?

This first week is concerned with orientating ourselves in the subject and direction of the module and becoming clear about how this module will be assessed. Key aims are: To become familiar with the module schedule, aims and assessment; To set some ground rules for the seminar; To define creative writing and critically consider its problematic nature in both practice and reflective analysis; Introduction to close reading. Questions we’ll consider are:

  • What types of creative writing are there? What is creative writing?
  • What types of creative writing do you like to read?
  • What informs you choices of reading? Reviews, word of mouth, other?
  • Where does creative writing come from?
  • What is the role of theory in relation to practice.

In the seminar we will provide a close reading of Chapter 1 of Francine Prose’s, Reading Like Writer.

Useful brief guide on close reading here: what is close reading? 


Please read:       Debord, Guy. Perspectives For Alterations in Everyday Life [1961] reprinted in The Everyday Life Reader p 238-240

Highmore, Ben. Introduction to The Everyday Life Reader 2002 London: Routledge [Available on Google books]

And the Introduction to Highmore’s Everyday Life and Cultural Theory: An Introduction [Available on Google books]

Acquire a hardback notebook and a magazine and bring both to week 2 seminar with a ruler and scissors or pencil to experiment with the CUT UP technique.

‘Positional Vertigo’ launch – much fun!

Thank you to all at Askance for a great night on tuesday and a great publication. So impressed by the quality of the book and the writing. Great to hear some of the short stories read by the other authors.  My Story ‘Carried Away ‘ is subtitled Love, Loss and Tequila. It was Awarded Runner Up Prize in the Askance 2012 Short Story Competition. The story won a small cash prize and will feature in an anthology called Positional Vertigo. More details are on the websiteProceeds of the sale of the anthology will go to support ACT a charity that offer patient support to two main hospitals in Cambridge – Addenbrookes & The Rosie.


I am delighted to have won this prize and that my first print fiction publication is about a subject and a place very close to my heart. Over the years I have had many reasons to use Addebrookes and The Rosie and know how hard times of illness can be for individuals and families. When you are dependent on others for support and uncertain of your future you place yourself in the hands of well meaning strangers and say a little prayer. Charities such as ACT play a vital role in providing real support for patients and help them come to terms with the seismic changes – temporary or long term – that ill health bring to their lives.


Carried Away is a story loosely based on my own experience of miscarriage. Not so much the tequila – although I’m sure wine played a role somewhere – but more the palpable, visceral sense of grief that comes with losing a wanted child at any stage of pregnancy and the difficulties of marking that loss for someone you loved and that you knew in your imagination but never met.”

You can buy your own copy and support new writers and ACT here: Buy ‘Positional Vertigo’ Truly It’s really rather good! Enjoy! E- book coming out in January 2013.


Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) is a technique used by robots and autonomous vehicles to build up a map within an unknown environment (without a priori knowledge), or to update a map within a known environment (with a priori knowledge from a given map), while at the same time keeping track of their current location. [wikipedia]

This blog is a small blip in the world activity to build a map of our lives interfaced with networked technology…



RIP Robert Hughes – Nothing if not accessible

There was a time before Robert Hughes when the why’s and wherefores of 20th century art where known only to a few. This time may henceforth be called BRH [Before Robert Hughes]. His flag ship BBC series the Shock of The New[1981] and subsequent book revealed the people, ideas and discourses going on in works that shaped and responded to the last century in a way that was exciting and accessible. Although Hughes brand of art history/criticism was populist I suspect this was a matter of pride for him as he cared about people knowing just how great and revolutionary in ideas this art was. He cared more about this than the derision that was sometimes levied on him by the art world establishment – including many of my own art history lecturers at the time. He was an outward facing, media friendly expert in a time when these were a rare breed [John Berger a notable exception whose seminal 1972 TV series of Ways of Seeing [+ book] which I still recommend to my undergraduates]. But perhaps it was the bigger issue of the changing face of the academic and their engagement with public life that engendered a peak of snobbery even in the early nineties – a decade after the programme aired – when I was still an undergraduate.  I certainly found his approach spoke to me in a way many of the other historians/critics didn’t. After absorbing much of Shock of The New I sought him out again later in life and his collection of writing Nothing if Not Critical [1990] nurtured a life long personal, deeply emotional connection with many artists and their work. Hughes informed and fuelled an enthusiasm for art – for thinking about it, living with it in a way to which I continue to refer and feed off to this day. RIP RH.