Until I fell into a Manchester writers’ bubble, I didn’t know there were people who read their stories aloud, who performed the work they had created.
I’m lucky to count so many talented writers as friends, and to have the opportunity to hear great writing in all its forms.
There’s three main nights I want to mention here, although this is only scratching the surface.
First is Bad Language; which I would run home from, dying to write. It’s where I saw the most honest account of mental illness I’ve ever heard, where I have been scared and amused and filled with awe. It was also the first time I stood behind a microphone and read my words to an audience. (Yes, it is terrifying).
Then there’s Tales of Whatever, which takes pub conversation to another level. This time there are no notes, and the stories have to be true. Tales is for the curious, the people who like to make up stories about strangers. I’ve read here too, and enjoyed it more – even though it’s by nature more personal, it feels less vulnerable as it’s more similar to everyday life.
And now the new kid on the block, The Real Story. Sprung from a website, this night merges the two formats to make something even better. The stories people tell here are true, but they are also written down; carefully crafted. It appeals both to my journalistic roots and my love of beautiful prose.
If you live nearby and haven’t been to see any of these events, I’d heartily recommend it. And you might just find yourself up on a stage one night too.