Archive for March, 2014

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330Words celebrated its fourth birthday last month.

Like all my good ideas, I had the brainwave for 330Words while doing the washing up. The site was conceived as a place for writers, new and old. A home for enthusiasts to test out the medium and a space for experienced authors to hone their skills and techniques.

Over the past four years, I’m adamant that 330Words has been home to some of the best short stories the internet has to offer.

Short stories aren’t easy to write. They’re lean beasts – they have to be – and flabby phrases need to be exercised, obsolete words cast aside. The mastery of short stories isn’t in the initial composition, but rather the hours spent rewording, sculpting and trimming. Every sentence needs to drive the story on.

It’s incredibly difficult to get a well-rounded tale across in 500 words. Let alone 330.

So, over the past four years, it’s been an utter delight to host your short, short stories on the site. I’ve enjoyed every single one of them; each tale had a unique way of approaching the constraints of the word limit. Some were hilarious. Some gave me nightmares. Some made me cry. I’ve read so many great stories from so many brilliant writers.

Every story made me want to write. And every story made me a better writer.

330Words has introduced me to nights like Bad Language, where I began to read out my work for the first time. It led to countless meetings with great writers, such as Fat Roland, Dave Harley, Benjamin Judge and Clare Conlon; together we created #Flashtag. Ideas and techniques from these stories have fuelled creative projects elsewhere, from the stage to my career.

But, the time has come. All good things must end and I’m moving on to concentrate on a couple of big projects that would leave me with no time to look after the site. And that would be a colossal shame.

So, without further delay, I’d like to formally welcome Trisha Starbrook as the new curator of 330Words.

One of the leading writers in the Manchester literary scene, Trisha was the winner of the #Flashtag ‘Short, Short Story Slam’ at Didsbury Arts Festival back in 2013. Since then, she has performed at First Draft, Ruined (for Manchester History Festival), Tales of Whatever and Bad Language.

She’ll do an amazing job here at 330Words and I wish her the best of luck. I’ll still be penning the occasional story for the site and I’ll still be involved in #Flashtag. I’ll still be reading on the stage and I’ll still be doing interesting things with words.

But that’s another story and I’m already over the word limit.

Words: 441

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Most days, it felt as though the office was brimming with wasps. Constant distraction and nerves shot to pieces. You could almost feel the grey hairs diving through your scalp.

Today was different.
Today was still.

A gentle whisper of distant traffic, interrupted occasionally by the grumble of a lorry or two. It was difficult not to work at the hurtling speed I was accustomed to. I felt like I was cheating time. I dallied over tasks and leant back in my chair. Normally I only lean back in my chair to animate my frustration, at the stupidity of those that plague my day.

For now, I couldn’t care less.

Despite my clandestine ignorance toward anything but her, I was pained by something. This wasn’t the hot poker kind of pain, from work. This was a slow knife, dragged purposefully, to reveal my caged confusion.

As the day nudged along, I was no nearer to solving the mystery of my crippled mind. Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, caffeine, water. I tried them all. Despite my efforts, I could not dampen the unease

I was supposed to be meeting her tonight. Not that I’d ever dream of cancelling but I didn’t want her thinking I was any different to our previous meetings.

We’d both acknowledged, via text, what a great time we’d had. Both saying how we couldn’t wait to meet again. If I went as though I’d forgotten to brush my teeth – hardly speaking. She might think I was losing interest.

I made my way into her flat and she told me to make myself at home, motioning toward the living room. A few minutes later, she glided in with two drinks, brimming like last time, and sat closer than before.

My nerves were less but the panic, swirling from my day, became paramount.
It was then that it clicked.

Last night, before we went to bed, she said “You go through, I’ll rewind this.”
My God, she still has videos.

Words:328

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