If You Build it, They Will Come…
About good people doing good things
Back in October, a strange man approached me on Twitter and asked me to follow him.
Even though I had my own puppy and don’t particularly like sweeties, I did.
He beckoned me over and said he’d heard I was good at writing flash-fiction and he wanted me to join in with some brand-spanking new flashing idea he’d had.
Me? Good? Spanking? Flashing?
(okay, maybe he didn’t say “spanking”…).
Must be some other Rachel, I thought, but I decided to see what he had to say.
His name is Calum Kerr and I, for one, had never heard of him before (sorry Calum). He said he was organising the first ever National Flash Fiction Day in May 2012 and wanted to get a few fellow flash-fiction writers on board from all over the country. Did I want to be part of it?
Well, I love being asked to be part of something. I always say, ‘yes,’ and think later.
So I said, ‘Yes.’
And thought later…
When I got an email, a few weeks later, asking all writers to provide a short biography about themselves saying where in the country they were and a brief bit about themselves, I got a knotty, twisty feeling of doom and failure in my stomach. I left the email for a while, wondering what on earth anyone could be interested in about me! You see, I have no Credentials. I just like to write.
Another few weeks later, another email came, saying could those writers who hadn’t provided a bio about themselves yet, please do so.
So I looked online at the National Flash-Fiction Day site, read a few of the bios already there and got that knotty, twisty feeling of failure and doom again.
I didn’t belong there. Other people had Credentials. So I emailed Calum and told him I thought maybe I wasn’t what he was looking for to promote his venture. I said something daft and pathetic about how I’m not anyone – I’m just a mum in Devon who likes to write, I’ve only being writing for 3 years and writing flash-fiction for 2.
I get the ‘I’m worthless rubbish, you don’t want me’ thing from my mother. We don’t believe in bigging ourselves up. We’re much better at listing what we’re not good at. (Which is why Mum never got past the interview to be an Open University tutor…)
So, anyway, Calum would email me back and say, ‘Oh, okay then. What a shame. Maybe next time?’ Yes?
And this is where my faith in decent human beings was restored (and continued to be for several weeks)…
He told me to stop being so silly and write a truthful bio, and he would put up on the site whatever I came up with. He told me that numerous people had told him I was good at writing flash-fiction and that’s why he asked me to take part.
Thank you, “Numerous people”, whoever you are!
So. I did as I was told and this is what I came up with: National Flash Fiction Day – Rachel Carter
And then, what?
Well I looked at me on the site just sitting there and saw that other people were doing things in their own area, and I wondered what things a shy person like me (with no Credentials) could do in my own area?
By mid-February nothing much seemed to be organised for the South West and, noting that it was only 12 weeks until National Flash Fiction Day, I felt a bit guilty. So I decided that the least I could do was provide an online place where people from the South West could send their flash-fiction. It would be a way for writers to showcase their writing whilst also publicising National Flash Fiction Day and awareness about the genre.
I emailed Calum again and said, ‘How about I do this thing I’ve thought of?’
And he said, ‘Yes! Do it! Let me know if you need any help.’
So I did it.
I wrote a blog post and asked for readers and writers and 15 people offered to be readers immediately and people started sending stories immediately and emails were coming in every day and Calum promoted it on the site and people started trusting me to do this, to get this sorted, and – whoosh – I did it.
I did it.
I said if there was enough interest I’d make a published anthology (Interviewer: ‘I see. Have you ever done anything like before, Rachel?’ Rachel: ‘NO!’) and there was enough interest and the readers kept reading and the writers kept writing and I kept sorting and flapping and emailing and squeaking, ‘Help!’ and. And we made an anthology.
I did it.
We did it.
I’ve made mistakes (at least 3 people are nodding their heads now…) and I’ve learnt a lot. But, above all, I’ve learned that people are prepared to be helpful, supportive, reliable, and to be all those things for free, for nothing, simply because people like to do good things, to be part of things.
Thank you to those 15 readers who stuck with it – you’re amazing, thank you to all the writers who threw stuff madly down the Internet into my email inbox – including brand new writers and experienced, published writers! – thank you to all the people who have been available to reply to my strange, flappy emails: to my mum, to Martha, to Pete, to Gail, to Calum, to Elizabeth, and to Natalie ( – the world’s best retweeter!).
We did it. We have a flash-fiction anthology, written by writers from all over the west country to celebrate National Flash Fiction Day 2012.