Wednesday, 29 February 2012

After The First Sleep

I read a couple of things recently about sleep, a subject I consider myself something of an expert on. The first was a news story about a man who had survived being trapped under snow in his car by hibernating like a bear. The second was an article about the sleep cycle, and how, up until the 19th Century, it was the norm to have two sleeps per night. So instead of having eight hours of unbroken sleep, people would sleep for four hours, get up, do stuff for a few hours, then sleep for another four hours. Yay.

I like the idea that segmented sleep is normal. It's how I roll. I just called it napping. But yes, a lot of my ideas happen when I wake after the first sleep - stories get written, plot problems get resolved, I make plans for world domination AND try to figure out how I can start my own baby sloth sanctuary in the spare room.

Apart from sloths, sleep and bears are also high on the list of my favourite things. And so I always think about hibernation during the winter months. Over this winter, I've claimed 'hibernation' a hundred times as my reason for not going out as often, of holing myself up under the duvet with books and notebooks and endless mugs of hot chocolate. I guess my version is a little different to that of a bear. (No cocoa for Yogi.) But the idea of settling in for the winter is not new, and seems to resonate with a lot of people. Entire traditions of storytelling have grown up from this same idea. Cold, dark nights, huddling round the fire under blankets, maybe doing a bit of knitting (ladies/fisherman) or scrimshaw (whalers/fishermen), and letting the stories slowly unfold.

There are always stories. So, even though I've been hiding away, I still have tales to tell.

A very short short story of mine has made it into a new e-book edited by Caroline Smailes, after she ran a competition to write 100-word stories that were inspired by songs on YouTube. All proceeds will go to the charity One in Four.

I've also had a couple of commissions, which is very exciting. More on them at a later date.

And I'm very happy to be involved with National Flash Fiction Day, which takes place for the first time on May 16th, 2012, and every year after that. As part of this, I'm going to be running flash fiction workshops in Derby City Libraries in mid-May (dates and details to follow). There are other things in the bag, too. All will be revealed soon. On the site at the minute are the winning entries from the very first NFFD micro-fiction competition, so if you want to get a good taste of flash fiction, pop on over and have a read.
There will be lots more NFFD news to announce in the next few weeks, too.

And later today, special-extra-leap-year day, Calum Kerr's Flash 365 is being taken over by other writers. (The lengths people go to so they don't have to change the name of their blog, eh?) I've got a story on there, as have Valerie O'Riordan, Sara Crowley, Vanessa Gebbie, Dan Carpenter and lots of others. Go! Read! Enjoy!

It's starting to feel a little like Spring now. Things are happening, things that have been worked on and thought out all through the dark of winter. Maybe today, Leap Day, is the day to wake up. And well, if I get sleepy, I can always take a nap.