an ordinary mystery.

Friday, November 14

So I want to write about my pumpkin-spice-infused visit to the States last month (I don't think I've fully adjusted to being back in rainy Glasgow yet. Such a good trip and such lovely friends). Before that though... I wanted to write a small something about the literary magazine I’m involved in setting up at university.

It’s called Quotidian (meaning ‘ordinary’ or ‘everyday’), and will be launching online in Jan/Feb 2015 with poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction and beautiful images from students across Scotland. (Cue part where I look directly into the camera and say in a velvet voice: ‘If you’re a student studying in Scotland and are interested in writing then check out our website at double-you-double-you-double-you-dot…’ Ho ho. Just kidding*). Anyway! Just to say: keep an eye out for the magazine. I hope you'll like it. And here's a fun thing that happened relating to it:

On a drizzly Wednesday afternoon earlier this week, we (the 'Quotidian team') took a group of students (willing volunteers) on a ‘mystery field trip’ to help them gather some writing-inspiration. It was a ‘mystery’ in so far as we didn’t tell them where we were going until we’d stepped off the bus, got our feet wet walking through puddle-filled car-parks, and crossed a busy road or two till we found ourselves staring at...

IKEA!** Land of the Everyday. (The obvious location for a writing workshop, right?)

The idea of the day was to try and encourage everyone to look at ordinary things with fresh eyes. To slow down and notice – really notice – the things that most of us, most of the time, don’t really pay attention to. As one writer's put it: 'it's not so much interesting things but unique ways of seeing ordinary things that makes the most original and satisfying fiction' (words: Lesley Glaister). Hear hear. (Although I think her words apply to all writing, not just fiction).

We sat in fake kitchens, we noticed clocks and lace curtains and identical bookshelves. We watched people testing out mattresses, we got lost when we strayed from the arrows. (We did not eat meatballs.) We looked closely, listened deeply, tried to see the 'familiar things' all around as unfamiliar, as new and unusual. And some pretty good writing ideas were born (we sat round a fake fireplace when we all came back together again and chatted about what we’d noticed.)

A jolly fun day. Here are three things I spotted:

[one.] Mirrors. Lots of them. I kept catching myself just walking ‘out of frame’, like my reflection was made of the same stuff as Pan’s shadow. Like it didn’t quite belong to me. Like it wanted me to chase it.

[two.] A red-jumpered three-year-old sitting in a shopping trolley being fed chocolate by a (seemingly body-less) arm as though he was a little monkey in a cage.

[three.] These Characters from Red Riding Hood toys (above) with tiny eat-able grannys. Slightly disturbing I think. (But if you buy them, one euro goes to UNICEF apparently. Good to know that even if your child is traumatised, at least someone else’s is benefiting).

Stay tuned!


*(Seriously though: if you are a student studying in Scotland interested in writing for us then you can find out more: here. Or @quotidianmag on twitter.)  

**Is it IKEA or Ikea? I always want to capitalise it… but I’m not sure if that gives the impression I’m shouting. (“IKEAAAAAA!!”)

1 comment:

  1. This was such a good idea!! (Going to somewhere like IKEA and observing the everyday)
    I wish you the best of luck with your magazine! I don't live in Scotland but if I did I would be a part of it :.)



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