26 noticeboard

News and announcements for 26ers including the Wordstock line-up, an early shout-out for writers with a Christmas spirit and 26 in Norwich.


26 for Norwwwwich!

Take a virtual trip to Norwich on a dedicated website

You’ve heard that 26 writers from 26 got deep into Norfolk, working in partnership with Writers Centre Norwich and UEA, sharing in the city’s recent literary success as England’s UNESCO City of Literature.

You’ve heard about the gala launch in Norwich, fronted by WCN director, Chris Gribble and Norwich City Council leader Brenda Arthur. The project’s editors John Simmons, Sara Sheridan and Elise Valmorbida gave readings of their own poems – now published with a rich collection of poetry, fiction, journalism, drama and creation stories on a dedicated website.

Start with an interactive literary map designed by map-maestro Rodney Mylius. Click on a curly scroll to reveal creative works inspired by the first Masters of Creative Writing, the first woman published in English, the first regional newspaper publisher, the first sonneteer, England’s first Hebrew poet, the original Hansard, the founding father of Anarchy, the remarkable woman on the £5 banknote…And no, she’s not worth half a Jane Austen.

You can discover the pioneers of thought and literature who earned Norwich its UNESCO honours. You can read wonderful writing by 26 26ers and 26 UEA students. You can tap into the fascinating stories behind the stories. Go on, take a virtual trip to Norwich, for the love of literature. And tell everyone about your trip.

Elise Valmorbida


26 Poems for Christmas

A shout-out for writers…

Roll up! Roll up! Fancy getting involved in a Christmas project? Yes – you read that right. Even though it’s August, we’re looking for 26 writers (of course) to each write a 62-word sestude based on a Christmas drawing or painting.

In 2011 we ran the hugely successful 26 Stories for Christmas project. It centred around an online advent calendar of Christmas short stories, which were illustrated by graphic design students.

We’ve decided to run the project again – this time using illustrations drawn/painted by children involved in two very worthy charities – Teenage Cancer Trust and It’s Good 2 Give.

The deadlines will be tight and your 62-word piece will be your Christmas donation to these children, many of whom are going through the most difficult time of their lives. We hope we’ll raise lots of money for our two causes.

If you’d like an application form then email Sara at 26@sarasheridan.com. You need to be able to complete your sestude (edited and ready) before the end of September so check your diary and make sure you’ll have time to fit in this exciting and very worthwhile project. What are you waiting for?

Sara Sheridan



Join us on Saturday 9th November

The weather’s been lovely and you don’t want to think about autumn yet, we know, but September is nearly upon us. So in an effort to prolong your festival season, here’s a date for your diary. 26’s day-long fiesta of literary mayhem, fondly known as WORDSTOCK, is back for the third year running and the show rolls into The Free Word Centre in London on Saturday 9th November 2013.

You’ve had a long, hard summer of it – Glastonbury, Womad, Latitude, Wilderness – but let’s face it, you won’t find better loos anywhere else, the food’ll be extraordinarily good, you won’t be miles away from the main acts and there’s absolutely no camping involved. Sounds like your kind of festival experience? Here’s the best bit.

Headlining this year we have…

Kate Mosse OBE
The internationally-renowned author, broadcaster and founder of the Orange Women’s Prize for Fiction (now the Bailey’s Prize), will be discussing the tricky transition from 700-page novels (including the bestseller ‘Labyrinth’) to short stories for her new collection, which is due to be published in October.

David Parfitt
Ever dismissed thoughts of script writing for films as unrealistic? This could be your big break. David, the Oscar-winning producer of Shakespeare in Love and chairman of Film London, will be hosting a ‘Dragons’ Den’ of film scripts, inviting serious pitches from writers on the day. There are conditions and you’ll need to prepare in advance but this is for real!

Dick Mullender
Dick is a former Scotland Yard hostage and crisis negotiator. He now trains people (not just hostage negotiators) in to how to listen. He’ll be explaining how words betray us, giving a masterclass on how to listen, and will share the challenges of writing a self-help book (his is available on Amazon).

And yet more …
We’ve planned a series of mini workshops to provide you with tips and ideas for the day job. You’ll have to choose between sessions covering creative writing, collaborating with designers, what literary agents actually do, and how to run a workshop.

Creative mayhem
A collective short story will be one of several interactive projects throughout the day. We’ll also be hosting the ever-popular 26 annual book swap (bring a book you love and pitch it to someone else) and there might be some bibliotherapy on hand if things get a bit tough. Oh, and there’s going to be a fabulous lunch, lovingly prepared by the excellent Unthank Supper Club. And then there’s the grand finale. Our lips are sealed …


So hurry on over to http://26wordstock13.eventbrite.co.uk/ to make sure you don’t miss out, then join in the conversation on Twitter at #26Wordstock13.

Alastair Creamer


Jump right in

How to create and run a 26 project

I’ve been lucky enough to create and run two projects for 26: Throwaway Lines and 26 Miles. Projects are the lifeblood of 26, a visceral expression of our DNA.

We’re keen to encourage more people to come up with ideas for potential projects. You don’t have to be on the management board to do so. You don’t need to be an old timer. And it doesn’t matter if you’ve just joined.

So, how do you go about it?

First, have a good idea that’s relevant to 26. One you can pitch over the phone in a few short sentences. Test it on your friends in the pub – preferably at closing time when you’re at your least articulate. Think about collaborations. We’re currently working with The Letter Exchange, a group of lettering artists, on 26 Words. In the past we’ve partnered with photographers, filmmakers and designers. Your project needn’t revolve around 26 participants, but doing this helps to build our identity and keep the numbers at a manageable level.

Second, write a one-page summary of your idea and, send it in an email to Rachel Marshall. Rachel will share this with us on Basecamp – the online space we use to run 26 projects. The one page summary should include: Your idea, how this will work in practice, what form it might take, how much it might cost, and an idea of timescales.

We’ll review this, and if we think it’s a goer, we’ll get in touch with you and ask more questions or simply give you the thumbs up. If we’re not sure, we’ll let you know why.

Once you have approval, and we agree a budget (tip – most are run for next to nothing), you can get started. We promote new projects in the 26 newsletter, at events like Wordstock, and via all-member emails. You’ll need a core team. This will include you as the project manager/curator/editor/dogsbody, a member of the board as project sponsor/editor and usually two other people who will also act as editors.

You’ll need to sort out who’s going to take part. Make it random. Give everyone a sporting chance. Make sure they can commit to your deadlines and will promote the project on their own social networks. Go back to your timeplan and share it with everyone. Make sure everyone can hit to your deadlines and looks on this as if it was a proper paid job. Suggest drinks – this should be as much about enjoying the journey as the final result.

Then get cracking. Keep your sense of humour: people will miss deadlines, forget the brief, and drop out. Some will do all three. Keep the momentum going. You’ll be chasing work at 11pm on a Sunday, writing email updates over lunch, and waking up at in the middle of the night wondering why the hell you ever unleashed this monster.

But stick with it. It’s tremendous fun, very rewarding, and you’ll make some great friends along the way.

Andy Hayes


On the circuit

26 Treasures talks in Edinburgh

26 sallied forth to the Edinburgh International Book Festival earlier this month to talk about this year’s 26 Treasures exhibition at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. John Simmons, Simon Parsons and Sara Sheridan were chaired by Jamie Jauncey in front of an almost sold out audience in one of the big blousy tents on Charlotte Square. This made us happy as we were up against big hitters like Andrew Marr in the tent next door. The discussion covered the project’s sestudes but ranged from the writers’ personal responses into the wider issues of the exhibition – the shift in freedoms and rights for 20th and 21st century children that have altered the nature of childhood. After our event at Felixstowe Book Festival in June we’re hoping to spread the words of our 26 writers further on the book festival circuit in 2014 – it’s a great way to meet readers and writers and let people who might not have come across our projects hear about what we’re up to.

Sara Sheridan

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