Le CouveNt Project Description
In a wild, uncharted world, populated by predatory beasts and multiple subspecies of humans, a settlement goes about its daily life; harvesting crops, exchanging goods and resolving inner conflicts. The people that live there are much like us. They have all of our virtues, some of our vices and a fraction of our technology. They struggle to survive, and try to expand their territory. Occasionally, strangers come upon their land. In some cases they are integrated into the society, in other they bring its ruin.
Fear Gorta & The Hominin Clade is a collection of interwoven short stories, set in a fictionalised Auzits. Imagine a time resembling the Neogene period, were early homo sapiens and huge carnivorous, flightless birds coexisted, but were civilisation has developed, and has architecture much like the 14th to 17th century buildings found throughout southern France.
Aesthetically, the Cantal and Aubrac hills are the perfect environment for the tales. During the residency, I will explore areas such as the cave of Abime of Bramabiau, and feature them in the stories. The convent will be one of the main locations, and the geography of Auzits will be mirrored in the setting.
The following statement is the reason for my approach: I want to discuss fundamental aspects of human behaviour and society, such as corruption and the distribution of resources, without addressing issues specific to modern technology and globalisation. A primitive yet civilised past enables this.
The tales will not focus on the element of fantasy. They will be psychological character studies of the strangers who come upon the town, as well as those who leave it, and the challenges they present. As the stories unfold, they will show how the strangers relate to the wild, and how the inhabitants are at odds with it. Overall, the series discusses how our savage past influences the modern day.
For example, the first story, Fear Gorta, talks about a dying beggar who comes to the settlement during a famine. His rehabilitation puts the settlers at odds, but ultimately, unknown to them, he is the only one who can end the famine. In the second story, The Hominin Clade, a daughter of the settlement's founder becomes obsessed with wild humans, and joins an excursion to study them, with devastating consequences.
The stories will be told in a stripped down, concise and believable way. I'm an advocate of brevity, My main influences are Albert Camus and Cormac Mccarthy.
I write on a daily basis and understand how long it take me to develop an idea, from the point of its foundation to the final draft. When I have time to devote myself to the process, I can complete a 4,000 word story in three days.
When I come to the residency, I will have the complete structure of the narrative arch, running through the stories, already planned out. While there, I will adapt this plan to the residency as I work upon the project.
During my stay, I will write at least twelve short stories to a total length of no less than 40,000 words. At the end of the residency, the completed collection will be handed over to my editor, Florian Duijsens, to prepare it for publication.
The le CouveNt Grant Program will be cited and thanked in the preface of published book. As I send it to publishers, I will crowd fund the costs of self publishing it.
The Cultural Exchange
As part of my contribution to the cultural exchange, I will hold writing workshops for local institutions or visitors, such as schools or youth centres. During the workshops, I will present texts, talk about their individual merits and get the group to discuss them. In addition to this critical element, I will give the group short exercises. These will result in a finished product, such as a piece of flash fiction or a poem.
I would be able to give one workshop a week. A series of classes with a single group could be arranged. It may be possible to incorporate ideas generated during these workshops into the stories.
During the third week of the residency, I will record one of the stories as a spoken word piece. That particular story will feature a musical element, such as a choir or a song. I would like to collaborate with Sergio Piterbarg on the recording of the story, composing the music and collecting field samples. In addition to writing, I play the auto-harp. I will bring it with me for use in the recording.
In order to utilise the wealth of artistic talent present at the residency, I will organise weekly readings of the stories and discuss how the project is progressing. Afterwards, I will invite a critique of the work presented. As well as receiving feedback, I will be open to new ideas.
Lastly, I will collaborate with the other artists attending the residency. As well as offering my stories for inspiration, I will write a piece of flash fiction, or creative non fiction, about at least one of the works. The art produced by these collaborations could be displayed in the gallery space. This may result in an exhibition.
Breakdown Of My Proposal
During the residency I will:
Write a book consisting of at least twelve interconnected short stories set in Auzits, Aveyron and and Aubrac hills. The finish book will be at least 40,000 words long.
Record a short story (around 15 minutes in length) in collaboration with Sergio Piterbarg.
Hold weekly writing workshops with visitors, local institutions or fellow artists.
Collaborate with fellow residents on projects to illustrate my stories, and interpret theirs in writing. I will produce at least one piece of flash fiction or creative non fiction per collaboration.
Arrange weekly reading of my work, followed by an open discussion.
Organise a reading of stories from the completed book for the local community, towards the end of the residency.
After the residency, I will publish the book and donate 25 copies to the le CouveNt Grant Program.