This weekend I attended my first Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol. The festival was founded and organised by Jude Higgins with much assistance from fellow author Diane Simmons and a band of volunteers.
The festival began with relaxed arrivals with people checking into their rooms at Trinity College and setting up on the green and chatting in the sun. Dinner was picnic-style, bring-your-own, with a vendor selling amazing looking spanakopitas, olives, etc. (she closed before I could buy anything, or I'd testify to the quality) and another offering Indian head massage (I experienced twenty minutes of bliss). From early evening there were readings from flash fiction magazines Ellipsis and Molotov Cocktail as well as the National Flash Fiction Day anthology, followed by an open mic.
During the day Saturday many workshops were on offer, from "Historical Flash Fiction" with Nuala O'Connor (sadly scheduled at the same time as my own "Prose Poetry" session) to "Writing Funny Fiction" with Meg Pokrass and Jude Higgins to "Flashpoint South Africa" with Peter Blair (another session I was sorry to miss as I was running a session on flash fiction and prose poetry with Michael Loveday). There was glorious food on offer for dinner from Bath caterer Made by Ben, and in the evening the readings resumed, beginning with short readings from the day's workshop presenters and proceeding to include several anthologies.
Sunday's schedule was a condensed version of Saturday's: workshops in the morning, readings in the afternoon. I attended one workshop on Saturday, Ken Elkes on "Finding Your Voice in Flash Fiction", and one on Sunday, Meg and Jude's "The Novella in Flash", both instructive and inspiring.
The above picture is my embarrassingly small book haul (I tried to be conservative as my bookcases at home are literally overflowing). The festival bookshop was full of books, pamphlets, and magazines, a real resource for anyone interested in the genre.
What made the whole festival so successful was the atmosphere. There was no sense of hierarchy between participants and presenters, instead a sense of a community created by a shared passion. I met many wonderful people I hope to stay in touch with, and I'm already thinking about what I might offer next year so as to earn a place. Congratulations to Jude, Diane, Meg, and everyone involved--I had an excellent time, and I'm both inspired to return to writing more flash fiction as well as full of ideas for what I want to write about. Thank you! For anyone interested in joining me next year, follow Flash Fiction Festival on Facebook, Twitter, or the website.