On Tuesday it should have been the September 6×6 Reading Café at Hanley Library. Jan and I have been running this event for quite a while and four times a year we put out a call for submissions from local writers. Six writers are chosen and each piece has to last no more than six minutes. There is no theme, we love a wide variety of writing, and so long as it’s family friendly we accept any genre−except poetry. This is because there are so many other opportunities for poets to strut their stuff− poetry slams, open mic evenings in pubs, reading events organised by writing groups− while we poor novelists, playwrights, short story and non-fiction writers don’t have the same opportunities. Flash fiction is an exception to this rule as you could argue that it has definite elements of poetry about it.
This lack of opportunity for writers of prose was our impetus for setting up 6×6 and it’s gone from strength to strength. Not only do writers bring along new stories but we also encourage anyone who’s published a new book to come and promote their work.
6×6 is always a great evening. We attract a good audience and have built up quite a core of regulars.
Our first session this year was in March.
Then the world changed. We were locked down and it looked as if 6×6 would have to put on ice indefinitely.
Jan and I however had not reckoned with librarian Emma George. She’s been a great support to us from the very start and she wasn’t prepared to give up on us. Emma suggested that for our next scheduled session, this September we would go on line.
My slot for filming was on Tuesday morning and I’d decided to read from “Island of Fear” the third in the series of the Adventures of Letty Parker, which was published on September 3rd. I chose an exciting passage where the ship Letty, Jeb and Mango are travelling on is boarded by pirates and spent days rehearsing.
As time the time grew closer, I grew increasingly nervous. I’m not keen on being filmed at the best of times and added to that there were all the protocols to be Corvid secure to go through. And I had to drive to Hanley, which since the start of lockdown, I hadn’t yet done.
Timing my arrival with second guessing the amount of traffic wasn’t going to be easy, but in the event it worked out okay and I arrived with time to spare. Parking was a little more tricky. Not because there were no spaces, but because I was out of practice.
I was also a little worried about having to phone Chris, who was in charge of the project, to ask him to come and let me in. I kept checking to see that I hadn’t forgotten my phone and that I’d put his number into my contacts, but when I got there he was already waiting by the door. Then hand sanitising and up to the Tolkien room, at a social distance naturally, before signing consent forms, taking a deep breath and starting the filming.
It all worked super smoothly. Chris was so supportive and calm, the filming was less intimidating than I thought it would be and I read my piece, then recorded the intros for the other readers in just under half an hour. Then it was home for a large cup of coffee.
All in all, it was a good experience and one that I think we’ll be repeating in the months to come.