I’ve been commissioned by Glasgow Life to write and read a story inspired by the Kelvingrove Bandstand. On the 31st of July as part of the celebrations for the Commonwealth Games, I’ll be onstage with fellow writers Christopher Brookmyre, Zoe Strachan and Alan Bisset, (7.30pm and free to all – please come along) reading out the story.
I’ve spent the last few weeks scratching my head – I used to go to the bandstand to see bands years ago and always loved it. I’m reading Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography and discovered that a well-known vaudeville star shot himself in the park in 1919. I was tempted to follow that thread but the bandstand wasn’t built until 1924. One morning I woke up and still half-asleep wrote a story in my head about a boy who finds a baby. When I tried to write it, however, it didn’t seem quite as strong. In fact it seemed awful. And so I was beginning to fret about it. One morning last week, I woke at 6am and sat down at my computer and started to write without any ideas at all. By 7.30 I had the whole story (although I only wrote the first 3rd) and by the end of the week I’d written it.
I think you need a certain amount of stress or you would never write anything. But sometimes you just have to trust your subconscious and let yourself fall without a net. The writing that I have been most happy with has come about through the process of actually writing. Often I’m asked if I think an idea will work and I reply, write it out and see. Ideas are like peeping through a spyhole into another world. You have to open the door and actually go out.
Anyway, enough sermonizing (is that a word? Does it have a z or an s?) I’m off to teach American high school students about the joys of radio drama. What the Bandstand story has reminded me, however, is how much I love writing short stories.