Film still from Auditorium. Image courtesy of the artist.

One of the romances of writing is in the simplicity of tools required. As long as you are equipped with a writing device containing some kind of ink or carbon and a surface to depress it on – you can write – and carried with you, this action of writing can be undertaken almost anywhere.

But writing is hard or at least some writing is; emails, To Do lists and birthday cards aren’t usually that difficult but that’s because the language has been formulated for us and the outcome already known. The kind of writing I’m referring to and the kind that I’m interested in exploring at the moment are stories. The development of fictional places and characters that transport the imagination and carry the reader on a journey that is grounded in real experience and transformative in nature; believable and transcendent. This kind of writing I’ve discovered – for me at least – is hard, and the reality of writing is different to its quixotic reputations. I’ve discovered that writing is an exercise best undertaken whilst sat at a dedicated desk with dedicated time, a comfortable pen and an open Word document.

During a two-month residency at Blast Theory studios I began formulating ideas for a short story. I’m an artist filmmaker and narratives are an important part of my practice but I hadn’t written a story since school. How to start?

I began reading and researching. Single images, words and phrases bubbled up and I wrote these down and pinned them to the walls of the studio. These where followed by other thoughts, abstract expansions of the previous ones that I’d also write down and pin up. What appeared was a paper trail of ideas and reflections. A mind map that sprawled across the wall of the studio at Blast Theory; a web of ink, scribbles, amendments, diagrams and drawings that marked the start of an imagined location and the beginnings of a heartbeat for my two protagonists.

Directly following my residency at Blast Theory I went to Prague to undertake another residency that lasted a month. Taking the ideas that I’d developed at Blast Theory, I hit the ground running and wrote a short story called Playing Dead.

Playing Dead can be downloaded for free here.

Guest blog written by Abigail Sidebotham.

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