That’s right, we had Sam Twyford-Moore sit down with Chief Obstructer David Henley and co-conspirator Alice Grundy to talk about the gritty and illuminating Seizure experiment that is The Obstructions. This podcast includes what’s happened so far, what worked, what didn’t and where it’s going next.
But perhaps you haven’t heard of The Obstructions before? Or just need a refresher? (Don’t worry, STM, DMH and AG did too). Then read on because we’ve mapped it out for you, starting with Zero.
Obstruction Zero is STM’s piece ‘Highway’, an extract from his short story collection, which you can find here. DMH and Co-Obstructer Rod Morrison then set the first challenge: STM has one month to rewrite his opening piece taking into account the following obstructions:
- The main character be changed to female
- The piece be written in the third person
- Introduce a companion character to help bring some behavioural conflict.
Resulting in… The 1st Obstruction.
DMH and RM said:
“STM has done well with the first round of obstructions. He began a little rockily … but he soon got into a rhythm and mastered our challenges.
The obstruction of switching genders was not as difficult as we hoped. Nor did it push STM far enough from his comfort zone of graduate life. The third-person obstruction was also too easy, though the many sections of character introspection (not to mention Renee’s monologue on her mother’s car) suggest that STM is still attached to the familiar ways of storytelling”
So with the aim of kicking the project up a notch, the next challenge was set. For The 2nd Obstruction, STM was to:
- Write, not speak. He must freestyle into a recording device and then transcribe the story.
- Forego all exposition.
- Reset the story in an unfamiliar locale
- End with a ‘narrative tug’ or a question that needs answering.
A month later, STM delivered The 2nd Obstruction, ‘Self-Control’. During discussion, DMH and RD said that “STM came through again, delivering to us what we think is his best piece yet. It’s fresh, it’s met the challenges head on and is highly readable.” But they also had a lot more to say, so check out their discussion and critique when you read STM’s mouth-watering fiction (okay, that was a really bad food-related pun). And though they loved it, they set The 3rd Obstruction with only one aim: STM was to ‘Plot out the damn thing like a synopsis’ and ‘include notes on the basics: story, character, settings, chronology, plot ect’.
But then, disaster struck and the words of those who are pulling the strings ‘what happened next shall remain lost in the sands of time, we will just abbreviate to say that we rejected what STM sent us, not once, not twice, but thrice’. DMH and RM then conceded that ‘learning how to talk coherently about your work isn’t easy. Condensing and abbreviating is instinctually abhorrent. But, being able to get other people engaged and wanting to read is vitally important to a writing career’.
Would you agree, STM?
In any case, this is The 3rd Obstruction.
But it was here that the project went wayward. If you listen to the podcast you’ll hear all sides of the story and find some answers.
So for now, we await The 5th (and final) Obstruction.