Geo-Writing – Many Tales of One City

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I didn’t meant to do it. I’d gone to the organiser’s meeting for Brighton Digital Festival at the Old Market in my capacity as co-organiser (together with Grit Lit and Ethical-Seo) of the Flash Lit Fiction event on the 26th September. Then suddenly, swept up by the enthusiasm and creative energy in the room, and with the website deadline just 3 days away, I decided to also bring forward a completely separate project.

This became Geo-Writing. I at that point didn’t have a name – geo-tales, and geo-stories had been used. I decided on ‘Geo-Writing’ and hastily constructed a logo to incorporate a hint of grid lines and map markers.

Let’s explain the concept. Participants access writing prompts based on their geo-location (this is the digital bit) and then submit very short stories inspired by these. It might be ‘Seagulls attacking a couple’ at the bottom of West Street, or perhaps “The sound of splintering glass” just off New Church Road.

These prompts could either be worked on live, or emailed to use later, and my hope is that sometimes the prompt will be the main subject matter, and sometimes a minor background detail. My ambition is to build a “hallucinatory mismatched story jigsaw”. And yes, I’m copyrighting that phrase.

From my experience of creating Paragraph Planet I know there’s a strong community of Brighton writers out there, both published and aspiring-to-be-published. I also know there’s a generous, supportive spirit for collaborative projects too, so hopefully it’ll get some submissions. I’ve added some guidelines here .

So since that meeting at The Old Market, I’ve been working on the website; ensuring its responsive enough to work on various platforms and battling with styling, writing prompts and getting the code in place. I dream of geo-location, geo-location, geo-location.

I did have one particularly sticky coding moment when I had two web pages that wouldn’t ‘gel’ – a bit like having a couple of fancily-decorated train carriages in need of a coupling – but luckily a Twitter SOS brought an answer from coder Graham Lally of (thanks, Graham).

So with five days to go until launch, I know the exact latitude and longitude of the Brighton Pavilion (and am prepared to use that, unhelpfully, to any tourist that asks me for directions) and am looking forward to curating Many Tales of One City.

Richard Hearn

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