When you picture a writers’ open mic, you envisage a daunting looking stage and a room full of judgemental artists, notepads at the ready. So you can imagine my surprise when Fictions of Every Kind turned out to be exactly the opposite.
Held at Wharf Chambers in Leeds City Centre every two months, Fictions of Every Kind offers writers the chance to get together and share, listen and be inspired by each others’ work. The events include an open mic for writers to share their work, followed by readings from professional invited speakers (of varied writing specialisms) and then a band performance to wrap up the night. The format seems to be going down well so far – at the event last week there were over 50 attendees. As Fictions of Every Kind say themselves, “it’s a lonely life, being a writer,” and having the opportunity to get together in a conducive, collective and supportive environment with like-minded people is not just a great event: it’s a community.
The event offered writers a five minute slot to get up and read a piece of pre-prepared writing in front of the audience, loosely based on the theme “Relativity”. A record number of eight writers were brave enough to sign up, and were rewarded not only with a surprise treat from the merchandise table but also with the kindness and support from the writers around them.
A variety of themes and topics were covered, ranging from suicide to gender conformity to the question “what is normal?” Each writer offered a different style, subject matter and voice, and it was a treat and privilege to listen to such a range of talented writers. Perhaps it would be a nice touch for future events if open mic speakers were encouraged to put their websites/blogs/writing up on the Fictions of Every Kind Facebook event page as I would have loved to see more of the writers’ work.
There was plenty of time to socialize in between each “section”. As a newbie to the group, I only met one or two new writers but at the next event I’m setting myself a challenge to speak with at least five new people! In such an open, creative environment it feels almost rude not to mingle with your fellow writers and get to know the people around you.
The first speaker of the night, Zoe Lambert, author of the War Tour, was brilliant. I have previously attended workshops led by Zoe and was surprised yet thrilled by her experimental reading. Set in 2070, Zoe addressed the audience as if she were a keynote speaker at a scientific conference, giving us an insight into her parents’ study on “collective consciousness.” Her alternative piece was unusual, but really made me think about human empathy and her work was well-received by the audience. The unique environment of Fictions of Every Kind gave Zoe the creative freedom to experiment with her work and try out a new piece with a receptive audience.
Next up was These Men. I’ve heard acapella bands before, but nothing like this. Not only was their timing, pitch and harmony faultless, but their songs were awesome! With their talent, it would be easy to “sell out” and do an Overtones-style set to please a mass market crowd, so it was great to see them experiment with their own fresh tunes that were sprinkled with comedy. The humour in their songs made the whole crowd laugh out loud, and having a band showcasing original material at the event demonstrated just how varied the art of writing is. Though I had thoroughly enjoyed the readings, most of the pieces had erred on the “dark” side, so this bit of light relief was spot on.
The final professional speaker of the night was Avril Joy. Once again, the audience loved her work and she rounded the night off in style. Here is a link to the ten things she loved about Fictions of Every Kind. You can also watch her perform Black Holes Are Out Of Site here.
The next Fictions of Every Kind event is being held on 29 June, on the theme of “Transformations” (though I wouldn’t worry about the theme too much.) If you fancy reading a piece, or just coming along and listening to others and taking in the creative environment, visit the Facebook event page here.