Robert Rigby – Keeping It Short

Today’s guest post is by Robert Rigby. A prolific author, dramatist and song writer. We are delighted that Robert has contributed three stories to our Lit Bits series of short reads – ‘When Harry Met Dali’, ‘The Silences’ and ‘Each Little Bird.’

‘I was sitting in my dressing room after the show when I heard people outside my window shouting, “Max, Max, give us Max!” So I went outside. And it was raining!’

A Max Bygraves joke, which he may well have pinched from his hero, Max Miller. A joke, yes, but it’s also a story, a very short story with a beginning a middle and an end.In a few words it paints a picture, in artistic terms it might be called a sketch.

An artist friend of mine has been working recently on oil ‘sketches,’ trying to capture what he says is the almost impossible task of painting moving water. I think the sketches are fresh and beautiful, even though he maintains his mission remains unaccomplished. I asked him if the paintings were preparatory work for a bigger painting.

‘No,’ he said, ‘for me sketches are works in their own right, although they may inform a later work. Obviously, they are quicker to complete than a bigger work and perhaps they are painted more experimentally and with more freedom, but every sketch is a finished piece of work, once I decide it is finished, that is.’

One of my very short stories for the Other Publishing Company’s, Lit Bits Collection, When Harry Met Dali, explores the theme of creating images from memories, painting a vivid and permanent picture in the mind that can be viewed or stored away as required.

I’m interested in Art, and images, the narrative within a piece of art (not that there has to be one), and from a writer’s point of view, in painting pictures with words. And since that conversation with my artist friend, I’ve seen, more vividly, the similarities between short stories and sketches.

Short stories, too, are comparatively quick to complete, and mine certainly were written more experimentally and with more stylistic freedom than is usual for me. And they are finished pieces of work. It’s also possible that one of my short stories may inform a future novel. It happens often enough, the late Alan Sillitoe confessed that Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was made up entirely of a number of short stories. You can clearly see the joins when rereading the novel, but it worked, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning is a twentieth century classic.

I’ve enjoyed the challenge of the literary ‘sketch,’ of saying everything I wanted to say but keeping it short. So there will be more, because in the words of the late Mr Bygraves, ‘I wanna tell you a story…’

Find out more about Robert Rigby and his work at:  www.robertrigby.co.uk

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