After a long break, Not for the Faint-Hearted recently resumed its regular monthly slot. Last week was the second 2012 session and about 18 people came along.
The Not for the Faint-Hearted (NFTFH) sessions are based around a series of visual 'creative writing' prompts projected on a screen. Everyone writes for three minutes in response - a story, poem, dialogue, limerick, or simply a description of what they see. Then everyone takes a turn to read something or all of what they've written. There is only one rule: you are not allowed to apologise for what you read. While some people recoil in horror at the idea of NFTFH, everyone who comes seems to enjoy it.
I started the group in October 2009 with Ellen de Vries. NFTFH was originally intended as an experiment in creativity. We wanted to see what happened when people took risks and presented unfinished work. We were surprised by how good the work we heard was.
For some reason, the stories people wrote in three minutes were better than many of the pieces I've heard at open mike nights. Three minutes gives people just enough time to come up with an idea and produce something simple around it. We don't do rounds longer than three minutes because the work that results is less interesting.
The attendees all seem to enjoy themselves and have a variety of reasons for coming. The thing that keeps me running the sessions is that I love the stories produced. In last week's session I heard almost 150 pieces. Some of them made everyone laugh out loud; all contained some interesting element. And when a story doesn't work, there's another one along moments later.
I don't know what to do with all the stories I've written at the sessions – possibly a couple of hundred. Some are too closely tied to the image to be interesting, but one has found a home on Myriad's Quick Fictions app. I might post some here, or bundle the best ones into a Kindle file, but that isn't likely to happen any time soon.
One of the most important things about Not for the Faint-Hearted is the Skiff. Without their support, it wouldn't be possible to run the night and I'm very grateful to them for that.