For those fearing lockdown more than government mismanagement of the pandemic, July 4th is England’s Independence Day. (Apart from Leicester, where restrictions have been tightened due to a sudden surge in coronavirus cases.) If the response to the reopening of inessential shops is anything to go by, a mass of masked and unmasked people will flock to pubs, restaurants and hairdressers, but I won’t be among them. The former would never have been a priority, but I’ve hesitated over the third: I’m fond of my hairdresser, I’ve missed her through three missed appointments, but I’ve grown surprisingly attached to my lockdown hair.
It might have been dread of making it worse that stopped me hacking at my forelock with my hairdressing scissors. (Yes, I do possess a pair, probably not up to professional standard, from long-ago days when I cut my own hair.) What did it matter? Anyone I might be Zooming was in the same boat.
When I got the chance to submit a video reading for an online festival, the whole mop was at that ugly in-between stage of having left behind one style without yet having reached another. Plastering down the twisty bits with hair wax gave me an extra thing to worry about when I stood before the camera: would those awkward locks ping out of their moorings and distract the audience from my words?
My epiphany came soon after when, almost unthinking, I combed my fingers upwards and backwards from the edge of my cheekbones to my crown. Voilà! A wacky new hairstyle, totally unplanned! Instead of trying to tame the twirly bits, I’ve let it all go wild. Not a bad metaphor for bending without breaking when things go awry. The cliché is in my head already but, as July 4th is also National Meadows Day, I’m sticking with the theme of going with, rather than against, nature with a link to a post from last year about how we swapped boring lawns for gorgeous garden meadows.
I could have kept this post entirely frivolous, but couldn’t resist the segue from fringe to Fringe. Unfortunately it doesn’t work in America – which is a pity as this is partly a transatlantic enterprise – where what I call a fringe you call bangs. Whatever! My fringe can take care of itself for a while, and certainly until after the end of Buxton Festival Fringe.
Lockdown is bringing new opportunities, as well as closing doors. Right now, I’m excited to be taking part in Buxton Festival Fringe, one of the country’s largest open access arts festivals. Buxton is about an hour’s drive from where I live, on the other side of the Peak District National Park, but I wouldn’t have thought of applying to be part of the Fringe if a fellow volunteer ranger hadn’t suggested it.
Once I’d got my head around the submission process for my own event, I paid it forward, passing on the information to other local writers (and music makers). Time was tight, but I hoped one of these might result in a collaboration that would give me a space in a second festival slot. And then – perhaps running my fingers through my lockdown hair – it struck me it didn’t have to be local!
Sadly, we can’t accommodate all time zones but, even if you are unable to join us live, you can still take part in our Fringe events. Click on the heading to find out more!
Becoming Someone at Buxton Festival Fringe
Anne Goodwin invites you to explore identity and fiction with readings from her short story collection, Becoming Someone, and a fun literary quiz. Listen at your leisure, challenge your friends and family and then join her for a live virtual book group on 5 pm 16th July.
The art of the 99-word story
Learn to write a story in only 99 words! Follow our online tutorial and celebrate the results in a live session at 5pm on 17th July from England and the USA. Join us to play with words whether you’re an experienced writer or have never written creatively before.
We’ve a couple more of the regular challenges before the festival shindig; the latest is blossom. A perfect fit for our new enterprise and for National Meadows day. I could even stretch it to a tale of blossoming hair. But Charli’s post is also about writerly creativity, which takes me back to my previous post in my crazy coronavirus series and the convoluted path through lockdown’s first one hundred days.
Before sharing my 99-word story, I’ve nabbed a few fine phrases from Charli’s post that particularly speak to me about the creative process:
I’m giving shape to my truth, hoping to link to yours. Wallace Stegner says we can’t invent without experience. Fiction is rooted in every essence of our lives, no matter what name we give it. Charli Mills
The way to gain experience is to live, but that does not mean one must go slumming for the exotic or outrageous or adventurous or sordid or, even, unusual. Any experience, looked at steadily, is likely to be strange enough for fiction or poetry. Charli Mills quoting Wallace Stegner.
This flows so smoothly from last week’s theme: I got life. But why should I be surprised? Charli’s got this thing, whatever we call it! As fiction and knowledge flows from our experiences – from genuine happenstance experience rather than the manufactured kind capitalism encourages us to crave. Enough! This wasn’t meant to be another rant. My 99-word blossom story is about writerly resolve which comes from a serendipitous writerly resolution to painful times. Oh, and it’s sparked more pictures!
Early morning walks in the age of covid
In April’s August heat, big boots beat at dawn, but crusted paths could not absorb her ire. This government. The mugs who clapped it in. In May, composing ranting blogs, a deer surprised her, and frost-rimed buttercups disrobed a layer of chill. Society and season both awry, June’s downpours burgeoned slugs to gorge her garden’s fresh courgette blooms; across the fields thigh-high swards soaked her trousered legs. Yet her steps lightened. Each flower, each blade of grass, a seed of possibility, with every circuit, sprouting, inching higher. Home to breakfast not rocked with rage but inspired by writerly blossom.
Don’t forget to check out our event pages for the Fringe! Would love you to join us.