Nov 20, 2010
The Beatoff Generation: Our Future Books Shall Bleed From Your Shelves Like A Hardback Elixir Reddened From An Embarrassment Of Grammatical Riches
This is a manifesto.
2011 is the year of the Beatoff Generation, a collective of writers converging on the city of Manchester and yet looking past its bricks like herons scouting for prey beyond the tower blocks where the tower blocks are rivers and the herons are what I just said they are in the middle of this sentence.
Writing is our oxygen. Words are our blood cells. Pages are our imaginations and pens are, well, they're just pens, really. We are the sycophantic courtiers of narrative: our protagonists are our emperors and we bow down with short stories, nascent novels, cultural reviews, blog projects, stage readings and inane tweets.
Blackwell's in Manchester, Waterstone's on Deansgate, our future books shall bleed from your shelves like a hardback elixir reddened from an embarrassment of grammatical riches. Until then, all we can humbly offer is this manifesto for our future massive greatness.
All literary movements are over. Apart from this one, because this is the one we made up when sozzled in Common last night.
Ah, yes, the real reason...
When numerous writers spilled out of the blog awards a month ago, some of us began writing for each other's websites, or at least upped the ante slightly. 330 Words doubled its number of scribblings, a few got stuck into Write In For Writing's Sake, while others bombarded Do A Barrel Roll then Screen150 with their Barry Normanisms. New friendships blosssomed. Collaborations abounded. Babies were made. Wait. Not that last one.
It brought to mind the giggles and inspiration of the much-missed reading night No Point In Not Being Friends, and the Offbeat Generation literary scene mostly consisting of people who know people who know people we know. And for one intense moment, we dallied with the idea of our own literary scene.
We laughed like insane, dribbling hyenas at thought of taking on such a self-referential and masturbatory label.
So we did it. We are the Beatoff Generation. You are the Beatoff Generation. We'll be inclusive, we'll be positive, we'll publish each others' stuff. We are beatoff, you are beatoff, everyone who snuggles our words in the warmth of a website, in the past or at any point in the future, you are, we are, they are beatoff.
To mention names would be reductive, so there's no way I'll talk about Bad Language, B&N Magazine, Fell House, I Thought I Told You To Wait In The Car, Pantheon, Roy Keane's Lucky Scarf, Voices From The Below, Who The Fudge Is Benjamin Judge, Words & Fixtures, the many blog awarders, everyone I couldn't fit into one blog post - or the poor souls that simply humour us when we're coming up with stupid #beatoff ideas.
Maybe using "beatoff" as a hash or blog tag will help us coalesce, or give us that little nudge when wrestling with word counts, or maybe it'll become a magazine or a blog or a book to disgust those perturbed by its sordid name. Maybe it will become something massive, even though none of us are at all serious about any kind of a 'scene'.
Or maybe we truly are "forever doomed as the literary scene that gave itself the worst name ever".
When you next see Jupiter glowering beside the cheerful moon, think of it as the dot in the i of Beatoff Generation, the imaginary letters spanning the night sky like colossal typeface balloons. Climb onto your roof and sing to the letters, like a wordsmith wolf howling under the weight of literary history. And then hit 'publish' and see what happens.
Read more on: beatoff