Today I’m at the Rawthmill’s Coffee House at the RSA in Central London gathering nearly stories from Fellows working and hanging out here.
NEXT THURSDAY, MARCH 7th, I’ll be here again – and then hosting an ‘Enlightenment Evening’ where Fellows meet and mingle over a meal. I’ve been meeting some fascinating people and their nearly selves too.
“Last year I nearly… stayed in a safe and secure corporate role. I was down to final interview on a role I had always wanted. However I also had a redundancy offer. I nearly took the job but knew I would always wonder what if…
So I withdrew from the interview and took the redundancy. I haven’t regretted it for a moment. I wonder whether I would have regretted taking the job? I would probably have berated myself for not being brave enough to walk away.
When I was a child (about 10) my mother had planned a day Christmas shopping in London. Very last minute she brought it forward a day. We had a good day and she took us to show us Harrods.
The following day, at the time we had been outside, the time we originally planned to be there, the IRA bomb went off. My mum’s reaction was, of course, absolute horror. I think it is her reaction that keeps the event so vivid in my mind.”
Paula Sheridan firstname.lastname@example.org
“I nearly…abandoned University to become a pro footballer. I decided to stay at university and pursued career in education. I often wonder what football career I might have had.
I might have contributed more to society staying in education, but I still occasionally think I made the wrong choice!”
‘I nearly… changed the world, but will likely never feel that I have done all I could to make it happen,”
James . james.sancto@wemakechange,org
This summer I finally became a Doctor of Nearlyology. I completed my practice-based PhD in digital writing at Bath Spa Uni. Many thanks to my supervisor, the wonderful Kate Pullinger, supportive and talented fellow Phders, and my other supervisors, Philip Hensher and Donna Hancox. My thesis, Nearlywriting Nearlyology included an 80,000 novel WHAT DIDN’T QUITE, part of a transmedia fiction which also involves songs, soundscapes, live workshops and performance. The novel was praised by my examiner, the author David Almond, and a range of other readers of different ages and backgrounds. Last week, just as I was sat in a cafe trying to get motivated to send the manuscript out to more people, David kindly emailed me this wonderful quote which I immediately put on the front of the site.
“Chris Meade is an artistic explorer. It’s great to see his work come to such vivid life. The Nearly Project is fascinating, playful, serious, wide-ranging, truly thought-provoking. What Didn’t Quite is beautifully written.”
Heartened by that, I now want to put Nearlyology further out into the world. Sadly my research at Bath Spa suggested that the publishing world is currently fearful of transmedia projects. But the text works in its own right as a print novel. I was advised to approach ‘conventional’ publishers but not mention the transmedia elements which might put them off. That flies in the face of my thesis which argues how writers today should feel free to compose using whatever media they wish on the basis that the end result can somehow be made and distributed in digital or analogue form. After all that work, I want to enjoy amplifying and expanding my story world in all sorts of ways.
So for now I’ve made TIME LIMITED DIGITAL EDITIONS of the latest draft of the novel and my contextual research which you can download from www.nearlyology.net as PdFs or read online for free. Next I’m planning to give the text a good revise and produce an e-book, a series of paper mini-booklets, a full album of Nearly Songs with the Ifso, launch THE NEARLY SHOW, a podcast interviewing all kinds of people about their nearly lives, and I’m keen to be Nearlyologist in Residence in different venues, gathering stories, running workshops and doing live performance with the Ifso Band.
I would value working with others on this. I’m still looking out for a publisher to do a print version, and I’m very interested in all kinds of creative collaboration – with digital producers, agents, artists, writers… I’d also love to do a pop-up Nearly Store somewhere.
If you’re interested, please get in touch.
Here are more nearlies gathered at the Poetry Café Nearly Night and the Nearlywriting Workshop at Ruby Rose Café, Crouch End. Thanks to all who attended and participated.
If I’ve missed any, or if you’d like to add more, please do send them in.
I nearly…made a cake this afternoon instead of coming here. The cake can wait. This couldn’t. Thank you!
I nearly… had a very serious head injury that almost certainly would have killed me when I fell out of a Range Rover (don’t ask). Instead, I hit my back and the impact my back took lessened the impact on my head. I was in hospital for a week with a minor head injury and just got out in time to go to university.
I nearly…went to Chile just before the coup – I could have been one of the “missing”
I nearly…married the wrong man.
I nearly…didn’t say what needed to be said but then I said it. I don’t regret it.
I nearly…was in Liverpool St Station at the same time as the 7/7 bombings.
I nearly…wrote a rude review of a journal issue I was published in because I didn’t like the editorial but then I chickened out.
I nearly…thought, like so many, that I couldn’t use the word “depression” since I was so highly functional. Then one day I did and allowed myself to completely crash. That’s when I started to live. So now I’m the exact opposite. I use these words, depression, mental illness, OCD, so that others around me can reflect on their own ‘nearly’ stage. We spend so much energy nearly living. I’m not nearly as scared as I used to be.
I nearly…got a job that – secretly – I didn’t really want but I still wonder why they didn’t take me. I was the best qualified candidate.
Ich habe fast… English vergessen… but I remembered it.
I nearly…went to Oregon and joined a commune of thousands wearing orange and red.
I nearly…got kidnapped by Scientologists, but was saved by a spaniel.
I nearly…listened to myself after high school and studied english literature. Instead, I listened to my family and engaged into economics, accounting and marketing, being a “useful” career rather than an “exciting” one. When I grew tired of it I moved in another country so I could listen to myself at last!
I nearly…had fun, but then my head stepped in.
I nearly…got kidnapped in a supermarket. But my mom noticed and had someone bring me back to her. Apparently I nearly would have lived in Spain.
I nearly…died before my 1st bithday because I weighed half a bag of sugar!
I nearly… got killed by a low-flying goose on Monday.
I nearly… jumped off the top of the building I worked in, feeling pressured about the job even though I loved it – and nearly didn’t recover from the feeling that I’d taken the wrong path when I did leave the job.
I nearly…mistook falling for unhappiness, for a lack of somewhere to stand. However, when you think about it and give yourself time to feel the wind in your hair, “falling is a lot like flying” – Toy Story 1994 (version of a quotation).
I nearly…spent my life trailing an ideal of what I was supposed to be halfway across the world. Funny how things turn out.
After a highly enjoyable series of Nearly events last week, we’re recovering and considering what next. We’d be keen to do the The Nearly Show in different venues, including salon style in private houses. Let us know if you’re interested. And whatever you think of what you’ve found here, do please write to us, tell us your Nearlies, keep in touch.
Well, that was a blast. Thanks to all who came to last night’s Nearly Show at the Poetry Cafe, to the band, PoSoc staff, nearlygivers and especially to the young poets who read their winning poems of Nearlyology. A packed house and lovely atmosphere. I’m overjoyed. Here are two snippets and some picks. We started with a Nearly exercise in the cafe then went downstairs for songs, extracts, poems, nearlies and the scattering of nearly dust. We’ll do it again at the Ruby Rose Cafe in Crouch End THIS SUNDAY JUNE 17th at 3.00, and there are still spaces on the Nearlywriting workshop, Friday 15th at 2.00. CLICK HERE TO BOOK A PLACE.
You can read all the winning poems of the Young Poets Network Nearlyology Challenge HERE.
I’m in residence at the Poetry Cafe today gathering nearly stories – and performing the Nearly Show with the Ifso Band here tonight.
Here are some gathered so far:
“I nearly.. g.ot a job today. I’d been promised it too.”
“I nearly…joined a top youth football team but I decided to go to a lower level team as I was guaranteed to play every match and be one of the top players in the team.”
“I nearly chose to love the other girl…but i didn’t and now I am still with the same person. I don’t have regrets because I chose who I chose but I do wonder what if…”
“I nearly got myself stuck in playing “the game” – the bullshit job sucking my life force, but I’ve managed to avoid any disapproving judgements and am now happy squatting and skipping by the med, growing my own veg.”
“I was nearly a stand-in for James McAvoy, but went to Rome instead.”
“I nearly… became a professional dancer/performer. I had been going to classes since was 5 and people had often suggested I should transfer to stage school but I was too academic, and we simply didn’t have the money. Then when I was 14 my chronic illnesses reached a crescendo, it simply wasn’t possible for me to keep going. I was in too much pain. It eventually meant I had to leave school, which had meant so much to me. But I turned to writing, published my first poem when I was 14, about sickness, and parallels between growing up and the rhythm of dance continue to inspire me.”
“I nearly ate guinea pig on holiday in Peru.. I’ve regretted ever since that I didn’t.”
“I nearly…died of a drug overdose in my third year of university. It was a life changing moment. I turned my life around.”
“I was nearly conscripted into the South African army during the height of apartheid, was selected as an officer cadet and attended a 2 week training camp in the bush. Then the commander gave a lecture on skin colour equating to friends vs foe!”
“I nearly… spoke to Paul Weller (an idol) when we were alone in a lift on Drury Lane. I didn’t want to bother him, wanted to be “cool” and couldn’t think of the ‘killer Q”. He saw my gaping mouth, like a suited goldfish, winked at me, then walked out at his floor!”
“I nearly drowned my own cat.” The Poetry Cafe user who told me this said she was six years old at the time, loved the cat and wondered what would happen if she didn’t pull it out of the freezing water it had fallen into. She’s never told anyone about this before.
“I nearly bought an Arcade cabinet for a computer game
“I nearly..hit my brother; he nearly went through the front door.”
“I nearly…allowed myself to be a dancer. I will now.”
This powerful poem arrived today from Laura Potts.
Laura Potts is twenty-two years old and lives in West Yorkshire, England. Twice-named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year and Lieder Poet at The University of Leeds, her work has appeared in Ezra Pound’s Agenda, Prole and Poetry Salzburg Review. Having worked at The Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Swansea, Laura was last year listed in The Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She also became one of The Poetry Business’ New Poets and a BBC New Voice for 2017. Laura’s first BBC radio drama Sweet The Mourning Dew aired at Christmas, and she received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018.
The sun slit a knife through the womb-wet night
and bled like an egg, like a budburst head:
in the swell of the sweat on the belly of the bed,
broken-throated then and red, you said
the clench of winter let the roses grow instead.
But time has fled with jenny wren and left
the meadow dead. And overhead a mouth of moon
has called the mourning on this room, and soon
an ever-bloom of moss will clot the loss of you.
For the years between us are wide as a child;
and the tears as wet as a wound.