If you’ve not been around Canary Wharf recently, you might have missed its intriguing literary initiative, Short Story Stations. Launched last year, the project sees vending machines installed around the financial district that allow office workers, commuters and other stressed-out ‘here’s the projection for Q3’ types to press a button and get a short story dispensed to them. Not only that, but the stories can be ordered in one of three lengths: one, three and five minutes’ reading time, so you can factor in a bit of quality literature around your lunch meeting/squash game/trip to the massive Waitrose. To date, more than 100,000 stories have been printed off.
Now the team behind the project want you to be part of it. Short Story Stations is launching a competition to find great tales inspired by lockdown. You can submit your entry up until May 31. The stories should be fictional, but have at their heart something drawn from your experience of the last weeks. That could be a new skill, a new understanding, a struggle or a win. Anything, really, that has come from lockdown and self-isolation. The stories have to fit within one of the three lengths (as a guide, a one-minute story can have up to 2,600 characters, a three-minute story can have between 2,600 and 4,800 characters and a five-minute story can have between 4,800 and 7,500 characters, including spaces. The maximum story length is 8,000 characters, including spaces).
There’s an adult category (not ‘adult’, obvs) and an under-16s one. The ten best stories in the latter will be featured on the Short Story Stations as part of the Summer Family Weekend later this year, with the overall winner bagging a £150 Canary Wharf gift card. The ten best stories in the adult category will appear permanently in the Canary Wharf Short Story Station alongside the likes of Charles Dickens and Virginia Woolf. The winner of the adult category will receive a £250 Canary Wharf gift card, something that neither Dickens nor Woolf was able to boast about. Entries will be judged by a panel of experts, plus a barely literate hack from Time Out.
So get thinking, and writing. They say everyone has a novel in them, and that’s probably rubbish. But I do reckon everyone has a story to share from lockdown, even if it’s only a minute long. Good luck!
Feeling creative? Be part of a lockdown photography project from the NPG and Kate Middleton.
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