Guest Blogger – EMMA FILTNESS!: ‘Keeping it Local’ – Event

Hello fellow writers,

I am a Creative Writing PhD student, a part-time lecturer in English and Creative Writing, and Brunel’s Publications Officer. I came here originally to do the Creative Writing MA and loved every minute of it, so I stuck around for more.

It is shaping up to be a busy but fun start to the 2014 academic year, and I am here to tell you about some great community Creative Writing and Arts events that are happening at Brunel and in the surrounding area over the next month or so, with the hope that some of you might come along and maybe even take part! I have been working quite a bit lately with the wonderful Charlotte who is Arts Programming Officer for the local borough (Hillingdon), and she is keen to get Brunelians involved…but let’s start with me, me ME!

1. As well as teaching some of you for modules such as Introduction to Writing Fiction and Drama, I run a weekly Creative Writing class at Brunel’s Arts Centre. Classes consist of themed writing exercises, prompts and related activities suitable for all levels of experience. Classes are open to all Brunel students, staff and members of the local community. If you are an arts student at Brunel, you can come to the class for free (yes, FREE!). You may want to sign up soon, though, as places are limited (classes begin Tuesday 30 October, 6pm). These classes are ideal if you want somewhere to try out ideas and have the space to write without the pressure of looming deadlines and grades. I make a little anthology of work produced on the course each academic year, so these classes also give you the opportunity to see your work in print (I will even furnish you with a spare copy so you can give one to your mum). View the Arts Centre web pages to find out more, or email me (contact details below).


2. Charlotte is running Bigfest, a one-day festival in Uxbridge town centre on Sunday 28 September, 2014. There will be music, theatre, street performers, a food market and, most importantly, a live literature tent! Brunel writers and locals will be reading poetry or prose between 12 and 4pm. I will be reading a short story from my thesis (stories based on the life stories of little old ladies), Joe Norman who is an English PhD student, lecturer and Brunel’s Communications Officer will be reading a short story (once he manages to find one of his that is suitable to be heard by delicate, innocent ears and does not make people want to be sick) and Brunel Creative Writing MA alumna and local journalist Barbara Fischer will read to you from the memoir she is currently working on in which she recalls her time as a “hack”. Come along and listen (again, it is FREE!) or, if you are feeling brave, why not sign up to read a story or poem? If you would like to give this a go then email me soon so we can reserve you a slot (contact details below)


3. Charlotte has also set up an open mic evening at the newly-refurbished Uxbridge Library. The open mic sessions will run every other month or so, with the first one taking place on Friday 3 October at 7.30pm. You don’t need to book, just turn up, pay the teeny tiny £3.50 entry fee (it is free if you sign up to read/sing/strum), and listen to poetry, prose and other acoustic offerings from local writers and musicians. Again, if you are feeling brave and fancy reading, strumming or singing, then let me know and I will make sure there is a slot with your name on it. There will be some empty slots left for those of you that prefer just to rock up on the day and see how you feel…

Open Mic Poster

I should probably stop there before I wear out your eyeballs…if you want to know more about any of the above then please send me an email at

Please also keep an eye on the Brunel Library blog for information on the Brunel Author Series…thanks for “listening” and I hope to see some of you at one, some or all of these awesome local events!

Happy scribbling,


Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2014 Short Story Competition

Getting published as a writer in this day and age is increasingly difficult. With so much talent and competition around, it can seem like an impossible task! It’s important for writers to get as much feedback as they possibly can, and perfect their skills to make sure all their work is as amazing as it can be. Since the internet has become a vital tool in networking and getting noticed as a writer, online creative writing competitions are a great way to start off putting your stuff out there. This month the Writers and Artists Yearbook have once again launched their short story competition, designed to help aspiring writers hone their craft and the chance to be published on the internet.

The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook is offering one lucky winner a £500 cash prize, a publication on the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook website and a place on the residential Arvon writing course of your choice! Arvon run residential courses on a variety of platforms including poetry and screenwriting. Published writers are on hand to give ambitious novelists advice on everything they would need to gain confidence in themselves and inspiration for their writing.

Anyone can enter! All you have to do is write a short story for adults of up to, but no more than, two thousand words using the prompt “The Visit”. Then, once your masterpiece is complete, email it to with the subject line “WAYB14 competition”.

The closing date for the competition is 15th February 2014 and winners will be announced in March 2014. It’s a fantastic opportunity for all aspiring authors of any age, plus it’s free to submit a story! So whether you’re a would-be writer looking for a break or just wanting to dabble in creative writing for a bit of fun, this could be for you!

Visit for more deals. And get creative!

Hilary Nouwens

One line, a thousand thoughts.

Flash Fiction. Many use it as a writing exercise or warm up before moving onto bigger and more ‘serious’, i.e. longer, writing. But could this creative equivalent of heel digs and knee lifts actually be one of the most interesting platforms to express creativity?

One of the most prominent legends of the 20th century writing goes like this:

Some foolish writers take a bet with Ernest Hemingway for $10 each, (the equivalent of which today would be almost $500) that he cannot write an entire story in just six words. Hemingway, being Hemingway, immediately jots three tiny sentences onto this napkin, passes it around to his astonished associates and collects the entire winnings pot.

The famous six word story:

For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

What is it about these three sentences that makes the reader entirely satisfied that it is complete? It has a beginning, middle and end; involves a range of emotions; implies desperation, lost hope, unimaginable sadness and loss, all in six short words. It is stories like this that leaves me unconvinced that flash fiction is just a gateway to ‘better’ writing. There is an air of mystery about flash fiction that can sometimes get lost within longer stories. When you only have 10 words, or one line in order to tell a tale, there cannot be any room for filler.

One of the best flash fiction sites I’ve come across was completely by chance while messing around on the Internet years ago. The website says it best itself:

Most of the best stories that we tell from our lives have one really, really good part that make the rest of the boring story worth it.

This is about that one line.’

It offers true stories written by the public in just one sentence. One of the only conditions is that no fiction is allowed; all stories must be true. It is this concept, that as you are scrolling down the page, you are reading little postcard sized windows into people’s souls that makes the site so interesting and at times, so chilling. The only context given are the use of tags, the most popular include: childhood, love and humour, but also shame, break up, religion.

Some of my favourites:


Instead of him they sent back a folded flag, and when I was alone I tore it to pieces.


His efforts were so valiant; I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was front clasp.


I married my husband on our first date, but it has taken me more than 5 years to decide what colour to paint our dining room.

Queen Random

I stayed with her every minute while she was unconscious, but the very second she came to all she wanted to know was if the bastard who put her in the CCU was coming to visit her.

Ironic, huh?

My therapist thinks I should become a therapist.

When English teachers go bad

I used to demand a new world order in flawless iambic pentameter, but now I’d settle for one in sixteen-syllable haiku.

One in many

The poor janitor was only trying to do his job, and it was never supposed to include being threatened to be ripped limb from limb by grieving teenagers.


It’s going to be hard telling my ex-mother-in-law that she is now going to be my sister-in-law.


My grandmother called me the other day asking if I wanted any weed, because the man across the hall is selling it and she thought it was an excellent deal.


My mom thought I was pregnant when I sat down to talk with her, then gave a sigh of relief when I told her I’m gay.

There are plenty of different types of flash fiction, and plenty of ways to interpret them. One thing is clear though, as a reader and a writer, they are addictive. Flash fiction opens up a whole new level of writing, and it is surprising how much you can get out of just a few words. It’s clear from sites like that this type of writing is not just a way to psyche yourself up into writing something ‘proper’, and that these little sentences can have a bigger impact on a reader than whole novels. In fact, this whole piece of writing can be re written in just one sentence: ‘One day, like Hemingway, one line might pay for your bar tab.’

Bex Passmore