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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | November 21, 2019

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“Memory Makes Us” A Prose Experiment

Ash Hauenschild

Kate Pullinger is conducting a literary adventure in Brisbane, and she needs your help.

Memory Makes Us is a collaborative multimedia project that puts the award-winning Canadian author in the hot seat, writing live before an online (and offline!) audience. Think about it – every incorrec’t apostrophe and mispspelled misspelled word will be published around the globe faster than a blazing backspace.

Memory Makes Us

It’s all just the latest venture from the Institute for the Future of the Book, a literary “think-and-do tank” with independent branches in New York, London and  Brisbane.

Of course, every good story needs raw material, which is why Brisbanites are being asked to donate a memory to the project. You can offer text, images or video from your own life. Those memories will then be woven into the project during a live writing event.

“The theme of memory is very rich,” says Pullinger. “Lost memories, forgotten memories, memories that surface unbidden when triggered by the smell of someone’s perfume, the sound of heels crossing a floor…”

I caught up with Kate at the State Library of Queensland, her bookish abode for the next week.

CD: Have you done this before?

Kate: No, I haven’t! But I’ve done live writing projects before… I think there’s something about writing that’s performative anyway, and when you do it as a live event obviously more so.

CD: So the computer doesn’t just save the final product; it actually records every little thing you do? Is that nerve-wracking for a writer?

Kate: That’s nerve-wracking, absolutely. I just have to hope that I maintain my composure and don’t start typing a whole heap of swear words… I was up worrying about that last night…

CD: In a collaborative project such as this, who do you consider the real author?

Kate: It’s a big, participatory piece of work, but I think the thing you do need is to give it a narrative voice. That turns it from a mish-mash to some kind of unified text.

CD: How do you do that?

Kate: Ask me at the end of the day on Tuesday! It’s not going to have a beginning and middle and end. It’s going to have middles.

CD: Are creative writing courses in general keeping pace with new technologies?

Kate: In general, no. I think it’s criminal. It’s a disservice to students. There are vast numbers of opportunities for writers, for new ways of thinking about storytelling, text, and writing… I’m an optimist.

CD: What advice do you have for writers trying to move into these experimental fields? The channels don’t really exist yet, do they?

Kate: No. Look at what’s out there; think about social media and how you can connect with readers. But you don’t have to become a technologist or a web designer. There are plenty of technologists and web designers around.

Kate Pullinger

The Details:

What: Live writing by Kate Pullinger

Where: State Library of Queensland

When: Tuesday, 9th July

Website: Submit a memory here!