Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Nearly Feedback

My PhD is in its final throes and I've been gathering together some of the feedback I've been sent privately re. various Nearly workshops and events I've organised over the past few years as part of the process of composing my transmedia novel, What Didn't Quite.

There's information on lots of these activities at www.nearlyology.net but this blog seems a more suitable place to put these comments.

Firstly, I asked  Philip Jones, the editor of The Bookseller, for a quote about the current state of digital publishing.

"It was good to see you at the Zero To Hero event at Rich Mix recently. You may remember I told you then I'm writing up my Creative Writing PhD at Bath Spa which is on transmedia fiction and asked if you might be prepared to give me a brief statement on your view of mainstream publishers' attitudes to digital/multimedia/transmedia work? I need to cite an expert source such as yourself for opinions I've heard expressed by different people in publishing."

Here's what Philip sent me: 


"experts warn that currently publishers still only publish work which they can see succeeding as a paper book alone; any digital elements will probably need to be self-funded and considered by the publishing house to be potentially useful promotional gimmicks but not much more. 1 So the publishers offer little incentive to writers to make digital elements intrinsic to their core work, as these will be stripped out of the printed version. This concentrates the mind on writing a good, conventional story, but is not inspiring for forging new hybrid literary forms."  

LILY MCLEISH ran a wonderful Nearlywriting Nearlyacting workshop for me at the Intimate Space, Hornsey, in 2015. Afterwards I asked for comments from participants. Here's what actor actor Nicholas Gerard Martin sent in an email 13/02/2016

Great to hear from you! Hope you're well and happy! I hope this isn't too late, but I thought the workshop was great and a totally new and original world for me. It felt that the possibility for exploration of ones psyche was almost limitless. Cathartic, investigative, and curious. I particularly liked the improv as the nearly detectives. Exploring the sorts of characters and their objectives or private needs that could lie behind a 'nearlyological' narrative was quite a beguiling experience. Thank you for the it, and hope all is well!

I received these thoughts on the Nearly Workshop from Lily McLeish:

In theatre during the scene analysis we often talk about events - moments when all the intentions of all the characters in the scene change. They are physical shifts that we read onstage. Very much like in life. We are constantly changing our intentions to what happens around us. Fo me what was incredibly interesting was to start to see how the events that nearly happen are just as important as the events that do happen. Someone almost saying or doing something may not immediately have an impact on another person in the room but the nearly event for that person who almost dared to say or do the thing will stay with that person and shape the person’s further actions. I found this most interesting in our exercises on nearly touch and the painting improvisations of something nearly happening but then reversing the event. 

The writing of our nearly biographies and seeing our lives as a set of choices. I found that the routes a person almost took say as much about us as the routes they did take. We often consider the things we have done. Our CVs are full of them. But to look at all the things we almost did and be proud of those, understand those, gives us a greater understanding and in a way is almost more insightful in understanding a person’s life. I like the idea of thinking about the person we are and then imagining all the versions around us who we nearly are. This data exists around us all the time. In some areas probably greater than in others. Some nearly selves might be as high as 60% or 80% depending on how near we were to doing. But some might be at 5% and we don’t even think about them until we start looking at our nearly selves. Some things are active choices, other things dependent on outside events. 

Exploring the emotions that surround nearlyness. Regret, desire, the possibility of something, hope, a dream, the loss of something, sadness of not experiencing something. It was interesting to explore these emotions through movement and improvisation. We improvised the idea of having a second self. Imagining taking a different route from our nearly biographies and exploring that self. Are we really that different? Or would we be the same person just with a different title? Would we really talk, move and think differently? It felt like a very rich subject to explore in improvisation and also a great starting point for narrative. 

**
I performed with Carol Laidler and the Ifso Band at the Earl Haig pub in Crouch End. 
In the audience was artist Bee Peak. Here are her comments: 

**

Dear Chris

I have been nearly going to email you on a couple of occasions

We enjoyed the Night of Nearly. I was intrigued by the characters &  by the end of the evening was left  interested in the characters &  looking forward to following their story. Yes I suppose the show did feel like work in progress but I’m all for that. I really liked your ukulele songs they had an immediate quality –good & amusing lyrics & thought the style of them melded well with the readings.

I suppose what would intrigue me would be to see how it develops and leading to some kind of conclusion.Possibility of a parallel story when all the nearly events happened (like woman looking out of 1st floor window & seing old friend & him coming in to their lives again & how this might change the course of events) Don’t know how you could do this.
I loved a Carol Shields novel (sorry can’t remember which one) where to read the alternative version you turned the book upside down and it was printed on every other page. I suppose you could have two different typefaces & RHs the Novel & LHs back of page the NearlyReally version.

Interesting about people vocalizing their Nearlies during a show. The fact of having a small stage  necessarily makes the division between performers & audience. Even as an ex-thesp I find I am mostly resistant to audience participation.You has a very gentle, relaxed approach with no pressure to participate but because of the stage it gave the audience a more formal showcase for their words. I liked it being on the small platform. However it might be interesting to see if different participation would be forthcoming if you arranged chairs round in a circle with the three of you distributed among the first row of the circle.

It might be an idea to put in the publicity for another evening the question –what nearly happened to you & that it would contribute to your ongoing work  –maybe you did do that in your email about the event. Can’t quite remember.

 Thing is it does need a bit of ruminating on – I found a) first off I couldn’t think of a single thing
 b) then dredging around found the incident of nearly meeting Paul at the squat party as my only example which I actually thought might be pushing the Nearliness
c) then only on the way home did I remember how I nearly stole a policemens helmet..over forty years ago ! I will write it up or tell you but not now.

Friday

You may well have read Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit. Recommended to me by Jack. I was reading it this morning & in a chapter dealing with mazes & labyrinths was struck by a passage which you might like:

‘ To write is to carve a new path through the terrain of the imagination with the author as guide –a guide one may not always agree with or trust but at least be counted on to take one somewhere. ‘

Look forward to the continuing journey.

All the best
Bee

**

Extraordinarily I had already used exactly this quote from Solnit in an essay for the PhD. 

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