4 June 2015

Looking Back At Bridgetown

For those of you that remember 2013 you may recall that these were the days of the Tales From Bridgetown blog. This was a project occasioned by my acquisition of a set of fairy tale dice.

The guilty parties... Guilty of helping make something AWESOME, that is.
When I first looked at the dice the very first thing I thought was: "You know, it would be a shame if I never used these for anything." This was why I decided to take the dice out every Sunday, roll them, and write a story that included all the images I rolled.

I don't know what my intention was beyond that. I did think that one of the "rules" would be to only spend two hours on each story. That went out the window pretty quickly. I also imagined that there would be no continuity in the stories. This took a while to go out of the window. I wrote five stories before circling round in the sixth to deal with one of the characters a second time.

The process of producing the serial taught me a lot. Notably the difference between expectation and reality when it comes to "fun, creative projects". You expect that you will sit down at 1PM every Sunday, write for 2(ish) hours. Then you will read your work aloud once before publishing it. This is a happy fantasy (like a fairy tale, haha!).

Not every Sunday is free for such activity. What if you want to do Nano? Or do some kind of non-writing related activity? Heaven forfend that you should let down your audience. My audience, by the way, was me and Sue. I don't think I have ever met or talked to anyone who has followed the serial from beginning to end.

From talking to my father I have learned that this is how serials used to work back in the old days (by which I mean circa the 19th Century). It appears strange in the age of the word processor to think of a writer just banging something out for a daily newspaper. It's hard to imagine these days seeing work in print that you had barely enough time to think about, let alone craft.

The serial writer of a century ago would have to hand off his work to an editor. The editor would maybe have time to omit a few of those unnecessary words and then it would be off to the presses, out to the world.

Writers these days are encouraged to hone, hone, hone until their work is a polished jewel of magnificence.  We are quick to forget that such a process is the most decadent of luxuries.

I produced Bridgetown to a personal deadline. I am proud to say that I never missed it. Tea time every Sunday it was Bridgetown time again. This was a serial intended, at some level, for children. I did not want to disappoint a child and I didn't, to my knowledge.

I accomplished this by very early on writing up a "buffer" of eight stories. I would put the stories into the blog and schedule their release. Then if I happened not to be able to write one week a part of the buffer would be chewed away.

The other reason for doing this was that for a short while my good friend Justin Wyatt allowed himself to be pulled into this madness. He provided several truly beautiful illustrations for the blog.

One of Justin's Bridgetown illustrations.
If anything Justin is worse at the 2-hour limit thing than I am. Although I found myself surprised and delighted by the work he sent me I had to agree that it was never the result of two hour's work. Justin is a man who believes that if a thing's worth doing it's worth doing really, really well. In the end we both agreed that it was better to leave the pictures until he could be paid for the amazing work he was doing.

I kept plugging away, because it was my stupid idea and I wanted to see it through. I would tell people the stories were there but I don't have any idea who read them outside of my own household. The blog has about 4000 lifetime views at the moment and I'm happy with that. Like so much other stuff I didn't undertake the project, in the first instance, to become famous. I had the mountaineer's philosophy, I wanted to see if I could.

2013 was a somewhat tiring year but it was one I'll never forget.

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