The intention for National Flash-Fiction Day (NFFD) was to encourage writers, publishers, readers and the general public of the UK to engage with the form of flash-fiction in a diverse range of ways through print, spoken-word performances and online.
At the time of making the original bid a number of events were already organised, all of which took place, but in the time between the bid and the actual day on 16th May, a large range of extra activities emerged.
Physical events took place in Edinburgh, Carlisle, Leeds, Hartlepool, Manchester, Liverpool, Abergavenny, Cardiff, Shrewsbury, Derby, Oxford, Trowbridge, Winchester, Southampton, Brighton and Dublin. These included reading/open mic events, workshops, flash-mob-flash-readings, slams, exhibitions and competition finals.
Eighteen competitions were run to coincide with the Day, including events in USA, New Zealand and Australia, with many announcing their results on 16th May itself. Another five have also been created, inspired by the day, with deadlines to come during the year. Many of the competitions provided prizes, and all have involved some sort of online publication, physical presentation on the day, or publication in printed anthologies. In many cases this publication was not limited to a small number of winners but has seen the publication of dozens of the entries. The top three pieces from most of the competitions are also being gathered together for publication in a free e-book which will shortly be released by NFFD, entitled I Can Show You The World and other stories.
In the southwest of England a group was created by Rachel Carter especially for the Day, called Flash-Fiction South West. The results of their competition were turned into a print anthology entitled Kissing Frankenstein and other stories. This group will continue beyond the day running flash events and competitions and creating publications.
Likewise, the Once Upon a Time competition, run in the UK by Susi Holliday and in the USA by Anna Meade, having collected 88 flash-fiction fairy tales, will soon be available as a print anthology.
NFFD itself also created an anthology which came to be titled Jawbreakers after the submitted story from Jen Campbell. This featured a number of paid commissioned pieces, including Tania Hershman, Vanessa Gebbie, David Gaffney, Jonathan Pinnock, Valerie O’Riordan, Simon Thirsk and Jenn Ashworth. It also included freely donated work by Ali Smith and Ian Rankin, as well as over thirty pieces gathered by an open call for submissions. As a result of the way it was put together this book now features writers at all stages of their careers, from those seeing their work in print for the first time, to established names, and everything in-between. It is now available in paperback from the NFFD website, as a print-on-demand edition from CompletelyNovel, and as an e-book from all branches of Amazon. The book was launched at the Southampton event on 16th May, has had a subsequent launch event at Blackwells in Manchester on 8th June, and further events are currently being planned to be held in Foyles in Bristol and London later in 2012. It is also currently stocked in Waterstones in Brighton.
In addition to the print anthology, NFFD organised a number of online publishing opportunities for writers. These started, in the build-up to the day, with prompts being provided through Facebook, Twitter and the NFFD blog, to which writers had just a few days to respond. The resulting pieces were published on our NFFDFlashes blog. Pieces created at NFFD workshops were also uploaded to this blog.
In the week leading up to the Day, we opened up worldwide submissions for a ‘pop-up journal’ called FlashFlood, also hosted on a blog. Seven editors took a day each to read and approve submissions, resulting in 144 pieces being posted on the 16th May, one every 10 minutes from midnight to midnight. The editors have subsequently agreed to make this publication a regular one throughout the year, on a 3-4 monthly basis.
On the day itself, a four hour window was devoted to writing and publishing stories on a blog entitled The Write-In. Over 200 prompts were provided by a number of volunteers and were uploaded for writers to respond to as many as possible in the time allowed. All submitted pieces were then posted. This produced over 100 pieces of flash-fiction from all over the UK and the world. The prompts have been left-online for writers and workshop facilitators to use.
Additionally, a number of online projects were set-up, initially in support of the day but with the intention of continuing on afterwards, as well as FlashFlood, these included 1000words (providing images as prompts for stories) and Flashpoints (site-specific writing).
As well as producing new work, NFFD sought to promote the existing work of flash-fiction writers. As such, the website has expanded to over 150 pages, featuring profiles of more than 70 writers (64 from the UK and 9 internationally) with samples of their work and links to their publications, blogs, websites etc. This includes both high-profile and the unknown writers making no discrimination between them, and has helped to create a real community of flash-fiction writers. The site also includes pages for 18 magazines/websites/publishers, video clips of writers reading their work and links to flash-fiction e-books,
On the day itself, we were also able to promote the e-book publications of our writers with Jawbreakers and eight individual e-book collections being provided for free download on Kindle throughout the day. This resulted in the download of approximately 1200 e-books. We were also able to provide a copy of the Brisbane-produced pamphlets compiled by Photocopier Press for the day on the NFFD website, which is still freely available.
We were pleased to secure a wide range of press coverage including articles in local and national papers including The Guardian, interviews and features on BBC Radio Solent and BBC Radio Bristol and coverage on BBC Radio 4’s iPM programme. Added to this, we received a huge amount of coverage on websites and blogs – both personal and professional.
The response to National Flash-Fiction Day was over-whelming, with the majority of the activities listed above being organised and run by volunteers who were simply happy to be involved in such an exciting event. As a result of the day flash-fiction has raised its profile in the general consciousness, and it has been commented by the people involved that they feel as though flash-fiction writers have finally come together in a community of their own. With this now formed, moving forward to other events and publications is now easier and more likely.
Also, as a result of the day, there has been a lot of interest internationally. As commented above we had events and publications created to coincide with our day occurring in Ireland, USA, Australia and New Zealand, and NZ are now holding their own NFFD on their shortest day, 22nd June, for which we will be hosting another online writing event. In addition we received expressions of interest from France, Portugal, Cyprus and Hong Kong. As such, plans for next year are to make the UK’s NFFD part of an International Flash-Fiction Day.
With that in mind, we are very much looking forward to making this year’s Day an annual event, with many of the volunteers who were involved this year making plans for 2013 already. The aims of the Day have not just been met, but greatly exceeded, with hundreds of writers seeing their work published, performed and publicised, and the general public being made aware of the form through print and broadcast media as well as in person. The enthusiasm generated for flash-fiction, in the writing community and beyond, has been much larger than our expectations. In this respect, this year’s event has created a bedrock on which future years can build.