As part of the Words Over Waltham Forest literary festival currently being held, there was an E17 Storywalk event yesterday.
Over two hours an audience visited six venues in Walthamstow and at each they heard a short story created especially to feature the place where they were standing, read out by the story’s author. the walk was free, but voluntary donations of a suggested £5 were collected for Lloyd Park Children’s Centre.
A couple of weeks ago, one of the authors unfortunately dropped out, and I was aksed whether I’d be interested in taking their place. Rather nervously, I agreed – my reasons at the time purely being to help the group out (of which I only knew one) rather than for myself.
The venue that I was given was Lot One Ten – a curious little antique shop less than five minutes walk from my flat. Due to current personal time constraints, I literally had about three to four hours to write my story, which I did last Saturday. So, that was the main obstacle out of the way.
However, the thought of reading my own work out to a group of strangers absolutely terrified me. I tried it out on my lovely mate – but I know he would have said it was good even if he thought it was crap! I didn’t get a wink of sleep the night before, and woke up a bit sniffly, which didn’t help at all.
It also didn’t help that the others reading their stories out were all ‘writers’ – unlike me!
Filled with trepidation, I wandered down to the library where the walk was due to start.
The authors and venues were:
- Emily Benet – Central Library
- Ken Barlow – Walthamstow Market (Ken did an amazing job organising the whole thing and acting as tour guide)
- Simon Munk – Paekakariki Press (see my old blog post)
- Dan Lewis – Ye Olde Rose & Crown
- Me – Lot One Ten
- Gabriella Apicella – William Morris Gallery
Each group had about 20 in the audience – and it was especially cosy on my one – but we fit everyone in.
The other five stories were fantastic, and I think we all relaxed after the morning group as the readings felt even stronger the second time round.
Poor Ken gave himself the short straw as his was the only outdoors venue. The first time round we were ambushed by a drunk piss-drenched Polish guy who demanded a tenner off the group to make him leave us alone. Luckily he was convinced to leave us alone without getting a tenner! I’d like to think that it enhanced the colourful atmosphere of Ken’s story. The scond time round it started raining pretty heavily and the wind really picked up – literally JUST for the time that Ken was reading.
All other readings were pretty uneventful in comparison!
I hope that anyone who did come enjoyed it – unexpectedly, once I’d resigned myself to the fact that I was actally there and just had to get on with it, I really, really enjoyed myself. And I met a great bunch of people, which helps! I’d totally be up for something like that again.
Paekakariki Press are printing a booklet featuring all six stories in the next 2-3 weeks, which some of our audience have already ordered. I’m very excited about this as I see it as my first instance of being ‘published’.
I must say, although he originally got me into this, I couldnt have done it without Simon’s help. He waded in and helped edit my brain-dump first draft and was brilliant at it!
So, despite my fears, it was a brilliant experience – what next?!!?