May, Mother’s and Valentine’s used to be the only significant national Days in my childhood calendar. (Back then Father’s didn’t need their own Day – pre-feminism it was Mother’s who needed recognition.) Now there is a proliferation of Days in the UK from the worthy, ‘NO SMOKING’ to the silly, ‘National Cleavage’. Rank commercialisation in the US has produced Days for log cabins, sunglasses and chocolate eclairs.
Writers now have National Poetry Day and National Short Story Day, and yesterday, 22nd June, was the second national Flash- Fiction Day. This is the story of how author and Creative Writing lecturer, Calum Kerr, turned his love of writing into a national event to celebrate flash-fiction writing and writers.
Calum began with a writing challenge – to publish a new flash-fiction every day for a year on a blog. After 100 short stories he wrote a press release (smart promotion), resulting in the coup of his stories – flash365 – being broadcast on iPM on Radio 4 in a Christmas Eve edition. Listen to his stories here, read by Diana Rigg, Rory Kinnear and Emilia Fox.
Yesterday, at the Bristol National Flash-Fiction event, (reviewed here) he explained how he’d been inspired by his friend Jo Bell, national Canal Boat Laureate, and formerly Director of National Poetry Day. If Poetry had it’s Day why shouldn’t Flash-Fiction? He checked but there was no National Day for Flash, so he created one.
Competitions were created and the stories published in a flash-flood on this website at ten minute intervals. Two anthologies of writing from the Flash-Fiction Days are available – Jawbreaker and Scraps. Yesterday events took place in Shrewsbury, Abergavenny, Bristol and probably many others – all created by volunteers without sponsorship. Calum also took a call from writer in the US who wanted to join in – so maybe next year this could go global.
If you want to write and place your flash-fiction here’s a list of web-sites and competitions from the National Flash-Fiction site.
After joining in Bristol’s free workshops and evening readings for flash-fiction Day yesterday my conclusion is that a successful writer needs talent and graft to craft their words but must publish, give readings and showcase their work to create opportunities. These days, with blogs, open mics and supportive writers’ groups it’s easier than it was. But, following Calum’s example, self-belief and acting on a bright idea can also achieve great things for writers.