This time two years ago Flash Fiction Armagh was a germinating seed. We began with no cash behind us at all, but we made up for that in goodwill and community spirit. We started charging £5 at the door, our goal to someday be able to pay our writers. A year later, when we had a bit of cash built up, we looked at the best way to divvy out the proceeds and decided to publish The Bramley – An Anthology of Flash Fiction Armagh. We paid for each piece of writing read at our events and which now appeared in the journal. It wasn’t a large sum, but it was better than nothing, a token.
At the start of this year, we realized that we had enough stories in stock to publish The Bramley – Volume 2. We dusted off the shoebox* from under the bed and realized we were able to pay twice what we’d paid the last time – still not a huge amount but enough for a main course lunch in Mulberry Bistro.
And we had money left over.
Going forward, we had planned to realize our dream of paying writers to read at the events. Perhaps we’d at least be able to cover travel expenses…
Then the coronavirus hit. We’d an event lined up for May – it was cancelled… no… postponed…
Same thing with our slot at the John Hewitt Society Summer School in July. The Flash Fiction in the Orchard is now uncertain because the Armagh Food and Cider Festival is under review depending upon what happens with the lockdown.
So there we were, with a stash of cash, £800.00 to be exact, and no events to spend it on.
At a time when many people have had their income cut, it felt like that money was burning a hole in the shoe box.
We thought of dividing it equally between all the writers who had ever read at our events, but that chopped the lump sum up into tiny meaningless amounts of money – about £5 per reading. It wasn’t worth the effort, to be honest.
And then we noticed a call for donations from the Hospice. Many of their regular fundraisers, like walks and marathons, have had to be cancelled due to the current crisis.
We considered it the perfect solution. We’ve always said that Flash Fiction Armagh is about building community among writers and between writers and readers (our audience.)
By donating this money to the Hospice, we are supporting our community in its time of need.
Many writers and audience have had someone connected to them need the hospice services. Many of us, have sat by those beds, and held hands with loved ones during the last goodbye, knowing that the Hospice gave them the care and dignity they needed when they needed it most. It seems fitting that now, in this strange era, when we might not be able to sit by the beds of our ill relatives, that we can donate to the Hospice.
When this COVID-19 crisis is over, Flash Fiction Armagh can start afresh to build up our coffers. We did it once, and we’ll do it again. Perhaps we’ll get a run of sales on The Bramley, and there’s volume 2 coming soon. We’ll be selling through Amazon, so we won’t even need the money upfront to buy copies to sell at events. Yes – we can do this!
Today, Flash Fiction Armagh is proud to announce that we have donated £800.00 to the Southern Area Hospice in Newry.
I want to be very clear about this. We – not I – we at Flash Fiction Armagh, as a community, have made this donation – the writers, the audience, the people who bought The Bramley. You should all be very proud of yourselves because today we sprinkled a little bit of Flash Fiction Armagh magic where it is needed most. In the words of Helen Keller:
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
*By “shoebox” we mean “bank” – we’re not really keeping all that money in a shoebox under the bed… our bed is a divan. There’s no room for a shoebox under it!