NEARLYOLOGY if:book and IFSO Press

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Revised version of my presentation at the Free Word Centre now I'm a PhD student at Bath Spa and writing my transmedia novel about nearlyness - see www.nearlyology.net

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  •  I’m writing a fiction about Nearlyology, the study of what didn’t quite, about a man who nearly lives in Australia but actually lives in the outback of London, a woman who nearly has an affair and her husband who has always felt he was nearly a pop star. It includes a stream of other people’s nearlies to which I hope you will contribute.  And I’ve become a Nearlywriter. Which isn’t the same as not a real writer. I have been published - In the 1980s a play of mine won a prize and Penguin Books published a book about radical pensioner called Betty Spital. Years later BBC commissioned me to write a sitcom about her – which was very nearly made.  3 POETRY CAFÉBut I also got involved with Community Arts and worked in libraries opening up access to books to new readers and writers. I found this nearlywriting activity just as creative and rewarding as making it myself. I became Director of the Poetry Society where we set up the Poetry Café – and where I nearly met Bob Dylan (really nearly. Dave Steward himself later told me via Twitter that he nearly brought Bob Dylan round) , and then ran Booktrust, giving books to babies, and working with prize winning authors - fun but nearly scared me off writing myself.4 IF:BOOK When I left Booktrust I did an MA in New Media Writing and set up ifbook UK in 2008, a think and do tank exploring the potential for new kinds of digital literature. Making nearly books, nearly movies, nearly interactive encounters excited me creatively, as a writer as well as a Lit Devt. worker 5 BEACHMy mum died last December. It’s a sad time and a time of transition. I feel more ambitious than ever about making things happen, yet also more determined to enjoy life. And to do what I really want to do with the rest of it - which is: write. I’m feeling more creative than I have for years although everything also feels a little pointless without a mum to tell about it. But I’m less worried about being a “success”. 6 ME IN VAnAs the Nearly Manifesto says: Once others decided which were real writers deserving reproduction. Today we are all nearlywriters, able to amplify and illuminate words and pictures but responsible for deciding when our work is cooked enough to show and to whom to show it.  7 IN SEARCH OF LOST TIMI want to write but do I really want to write novels? On the MA I wrote a digital fiction with videos, puppetry, cartoons and songs. It felt natural to me. The result was www.insearchoflosttim.net, about a boy in the 60s communicating with the future through his cardboard time machine. We’re all nearly time travellers now. 8 BADGES Despite all the books on how to write killer plots, we don't lead novel shaped lives anymore, with beginnings, ends, moments of no return. We move about in the world but keep in touch with where we were, retain a community of old friends around us, invent virtual selves. On the other hand our lives are not disjointed like a stream of tweets. We need some kind of long form narrative to express who we are. 9 JIA-YU I’m a white middle class man. I’d like to make stories with people who are different from me. And without the constraints of conventional book production, let the work take whatever forms seem right. I’ve been working with dancer Jia Yu Corti on a Nearly Performance and workshop: NearlywritingNearlydancing. 10 MILLA Working in schools with if:book, I’ve seen how children love the illuminated texts of the iPad app, and the ability to put themselves into the stories they read. As a nearlywriter I like that too. Though I also want to be able to unplug when I want to, and be sure that I’m using technology it's not using me,  11 COLLABORATIVE WRITINGRecently in a cottage by the seaside I wrote a mystery with a group of writers – you can read it for free at www.beached.pressbooks.com. Using Google Docs we wrote together onto one page, like actors improvising, each bringing our experience and knowledge to the story, all able to help shape the whole story.  12 IFSOFLOWe’ll publish it on IFSOFLO.COM, my new site, a place for interested readers to taste our homecooked projects and collaborations, a limited edition digital publishing, and an important tool for the nearlywriter to have our own stable I think.13 ROBINI’m officially Nearlywriter in Residence at Hornsey Library where we set up the Unlibrary and then the if:book Café, a community of collaborators.  The Nearly manifesto says: “We learn constantly, approximately, way outside the confines of formal institutions; we are students of the Nearlyversity” The café is an experiment in the future of the book place now we carry our libraries with us on our phones and buy books online; it’s run by Robin, who nearly lives in the 18th Century.  14. We made STORY PARK a book with David Almond about a sea captain setting up a Story Park. School children send stories to the Captain who replies to them in person with individual feedback. I write the Sea Captain and we make a digital finale for each school mixing the school’s work with mine and David’s. Another kind of Nearlywriting.  15. SET POETRY FREE is a digital poetry anthology. The ifsopoets urge students to write and release poems into the wild, These are books you can write to and hear back from. Creative reading and nearlywriting made real. We’re only at the beginning of exploring how to make these kinds of literature happenings  16 BOLOGNA Now publishers are making all kinds of ebooks and Apps. I’ve been judge of the Bologna Digital Prize for book apps – nearlychildren’s books. To win you need more than technical wizardry – good stories, illustrations, animations and voices that work with the story.  17. NEW MEDIA WRITING PRIZE But the future of the book is about writers and readers, not publishers. The New Media Writing Prize can be won by anyone making great work to experience online. We don’t need intermediaries in the way we used to, just a laptop, collaborators and a URL that links to our work.  18. Poet Benjamin Zephaniah summed it up: “the important thing is to publish in people’s hearts. “  19. TINO Last year I was a participant in These Associations at Tate Modern by TinoSeghal an artist moving beyond the 20th century obsession with individual mastery to make a collaboratiove art of real human interaction. We walked, ran and swarmed, told stories to strangers, sang about a new ground on which we could flourish in the technological age.  20 MAN WITH BOOKSI want us to make work that grows from that ground.  The Nearly Manifesto says: In the analogue age we led linear lives with beginnings, middles and ends; in digital times we can be nearly many in various virtual spaces In the middle of the journey of life what we’ve done and nearly done begins to blur.  Far more things nearly happen than happen. The universe is held together by the dust of of human kind’s nearlyincidence. What have you nearly done that you’d like the world to know about you? Embrace the nearliness.  
  • And I’ve become a Nearlywriter. Which isn’t the same as not a real writer. I have been published - In the 1980s a play of mine won a prize and Penguin Books published a book about radical pensioner called Betty Spital. Years later BBC commissioned me to write a sitcom about her – which was very nearly made.  
  • But I also got involved with Community Arts and worked in libraries opening up access to books to new readers and writers. I found this nearlywriting activity just as creative and rewarding as making it myself. I became Director of the Poetry Society where we set up the Poetry Café – and where I nearly met Bob Dylan (really nearly. Dave Steward himself later told me via Twitter that he nearly brought Bob Dylan round) , and then ran Booktrust, giving books to babies, and working with prize winning authors - fun but nearly scared me off writing myself.
  • My mum died last December. It’s a sad time and a time of transition. I feel more ambitious than ever about making things happen, yet also more determined to enjoy life. And to do what I really want to do with the rest of it - which is: write. I’m feeling more creative than I have for years although everything also feels a little pointless without a mum to tell about it. But I’m less worried about being a “success”. 
  • As the Nearly Manifesto says: Once others decided which were real writers deserving reproduction. Today we are all nearlywriters, able to amplify and illuminate words and pictures but responsible for deciding when our work is cooked enough to show and to whom to show it.
  • Despite all the books on how to write killer plots, we don't lead novel shaped lives anymore, with beginnings, ends, moments of no return. We move about in the world but keep in touch with where we were, retain a community of old friends around us, invent virtual selves. On the other hand our lives are not disjointed like a stream of tweets. We need some kind of long form narrative to express who we are. 
  • I’m a white middle class man. I’d like to make stories with people who are different from me. And without the constraints of conventional book production, let the work take whatever forms seem right. For instance I workedwith dancer Jia Yu Corti on a Nearly Performance and workshop: NearlywritingNearlydancing. 
  • Working in schools with if:book, I’ve seen how children love the illuminated texts of the iPad app, and the ability to put themselves into the stories they read. As a nearlywriter I like that too. Though I also want to be able to unplug when I want to, and be sure that I’m using technology it's not using me,  
  • Last year in a cottage by the seaside I wrote a mystery with a group of writers – you can read it for free at www.beached.pressbooks.com. Using Google Docs we wrote together onto one page, like actors improvising, each bringing our experience and knowledge to the story, all able to help shape the whole story.  
  • We’ve published itt on IFSO.PRESS, home of the IFSO WRITERS and a place for interested readers to taste our homecooked projects and collaborations, a limited edition digital publishing, and an important tool for the nearlywriter to have our own stable I think.
  • I’m officially Nearlywriter in Residence at Hornsey Library where we set up the Unlibrary and then the if:book Café, a community of collaborators.  The Nearly manifesto says: “We learn constantly, approximately, way outside the confines of formal institutions; we are students of the Nearlyversity” The café is an experiment in the future of the book place now we carry our libraries with us on our phones and buy books online; it’s run by Robin, who nearly lives in the 18th Century. 
  • We made STORY PARK a book with David Almond about a sea captain setting up a Story Park. School children send stories to the Captain who replies to them in person with individual feedback. I write the Sea Captain and we make a digital finale for each school mixing the school’s work with mine and David’s. Another kind of Nearlywriting.  
  • Now publishers are making all kinds of ebooks and Apps. I’ve been judge of the Bologna Digital Prize for book apps – nearlychildren’s books. To win you need more than technical wizardry – good stories, illustrations, animations and voices that work with the story.  
  • But the future of the book is about writers and readers, not publishers. The New Media Writing Prize can be won by anyone making great work to experience online. We don’t need intermediaries in the way we used to, just a laptop, collaborators and a URL that links to our work. www.newmediawritingprize.co.uk 
  • I was a participant in These Associations at Tate Modern by TinoSeghal an artist moving beyond the 20th century obsession with individual mastery to make a collaboratiove art of real human interaction. We walked, ran and swarmed, told stories to strangers, sang about a new ground on which we could flourish in the technological age.  
  • I want us to make work that grows from that ground.  The Nearly Manifesto says: In the analogue age we led linear lives with beginnings, middles and ends; in digital times we can be nearly many in various virtual spaces In the middle of the journey of life what we’ve done and nearly done begins to blur.  Far more things nearly happen than happen. The universe is held together by the dust of of human kind’s nearlyincidence. What have you nearly done that you’d like the world to know about you? Embrace the nearliness.  
  • NEARLYOLOGY if:book and IFSO Press

    1. 1. NEARLYWRITING CHRIS MEADE www.nearlyology.net
    2. 2. Carraday The Nearlyologist
    3. 3. Freya
    4. 4. Jamie
    5. 5. What have you nearly done that you’d like the world to know about? • Really Nearlies • Yearning Nearlies • Nearlyincidences
    6. 6. How many whiskers away?
    7. 7. www.insearchoflosttim.net
    8. 8. I nearly…
    9. 9. collaborative writing
    10. 10. IFSOFLO PRODUCTIONS LITERATURE HAPPENINGS HOMECOOKED BY IF:BOOK Makers of Collaborative Reading and Writing www.ifsoflo.com
    11. 11. IFSOFLO PRODUCTIONS THE UNLIBRARY & THE IF:BOOK CAFÉ www.ifsoflo.com
    12. 12. thestorypark.blogspot.com
    13. 13. “the most important thing is to publish in people’s hearts”
    14. 14. “Thus we ask now, even if the old rootedness is being lost, may not a new ground be created out of which human beings and all their works can flourish, even in the technological age?” – Martin Heidegger / Tino Sehgal
    15. 15. @ifbook www.ifsoflo.com www.nearlyology.com

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