Coming out of the back-end of a four year PhD is, by all accounts, a weird time. I'm in a curious limbo at the moment as I have submitted my work for examination but have not yet had the examination, so I'm not quite finished. There is preparation to be doing, of course, and I really should be 'keeping up with the field' as they say, but I'm also starting to turn my laser eyes to pastures new. I'm currently considering the PhD novel a completed final draft, so my creative juices have been keen to flow into new channels. And yet. There's this pandemic. There was this distracting election in the US. There was all those videogames and books I'd been meaning to consume.
What I needed was some self-imposed writing discipline but with a focus that leaned more towards the fun and frivolous rather than the serious and intellectual. Throughout October I maintained a month-long blog about animal encounters with each day's post documenting the previous day's flirtation with fauna. I covered real animals, like horses in fields, represented animals, like murderous creatures in videogames, and tangential animals like toads mentioned in art exhibitions. It was a lovely way of coaxing my brain out of PhD Land and encouraging a daily check-in with the wider world. I'll keep the whole blog up and live for the foreseeable and, if I get time, I might even convert it into an eBook of some kind. Maybe.
November has been a bit scattershot creatively, which is fine, but as December loomed with its promise of an end to this most trying of years, I felt the urge to be disciplined again. And I had a new idea for a longish piece of fiction; one of those that seemed to pop into mind almost fully-formed. Well, one thing led to another with these giddy synapses in my head, and I've decided to live-write the thing, every morning throughout December, on Twitch. I'm calling the experience the Dawn Chorus Writing Club and I'm hoping that other like-minded creatives will join me. Looks like I've already got the esteemed silly man Fat Roland on board, which is obviously delightful.
Here's how it'll work. Every morning throughout December, from 7am-8:30am, I will activate the live stream on Twitch and I'll start writing. You'll be able to see my words appearing on screen as I muddle my way through a scrappy first draft. Writing is normally a justifiably private affair, so it'll be a strange to be so exposed. All my poor plotting habits and spelling quirks will be on display, all my bad dialogue decisions and terrible attempts at creating likeable characters. But perhaps there will be something refreshingly honest about it; a demonstration of the dirty, grimy, frustrating craft of it all, rather than just the shiny finished product. Anyways, whatever it is, it'll be all a-happening on screen and if people want to read along then they are more than welcome to. More likely, however, is that other creative souls (and I don't just mean writers, despite the 'writing club' name) will also use the time to get some of their stuff done too. There might be some hardcore club members hitting it every day, or some casual visitors dropping in every now and again, or some secret shadowy types who take the recorded sessions and use them for their own 90 minute sessions at a different time of day. Regardless of the method, we'll all be in it together being hella productive and super supportive. Just imagine how good we're going to feel at the end of the year.
So, if you're reading this and feel you'd like to get involved, here's the link to my Twitch channel: https://www.twitch.tv/dhartleywriter We'll always have a quick ten minute good morning and hello at 7 (I will also aim to have a different hat/hairstyle every day for your amusement) and then we'll fire up the grindstone and put our noses to it. It'll be wholesome, it'll be wholegrain, it'll be a whole lot of excellent, I'm sure. And then, on New Years Eve, we can pop a few celebratory corks on a job well done, despite it all. See you there. xxx
Out of absolutely bloody nowhere, I've been floored recently by this exquisite minimalist electro album Mas Amable by DJ Python. You really need to listen to the whole thing, preferably on headphones, but this is the track that caught me: