Taking the COVID-19 lockdown as the perfect opportunity to be more creative, Hull-based writer Rich Sutherland decided to rekindle his love of very short fiction.
During the day, Rich delivers a wide range of copywriting projects through his marketing agency sobananapenguin, but at night he focuses his passion for storytelling into very different areas.
“I first got into creative writing when I was a teenager. I built my own website, which looked awful, and used it as a platform for sharing my stories, which were also awful. What a combination!”
Since those early days, Rich has self-published a collection of short stories and was a regular performer of humorous poetry, reading his work in pubs, on BBC Radio Humberside and occasionally at events in other cities across Yorkshire. It was only when he became a full-time copywriter in 2011 that his priorities shifted:
“Writing for clients every day meant that by the time I clocked off, I had very little drive left when it came to words. However, in October 2019 I began writing a science fiction novel, which is about halfway done, and the last few months of lockdown gave me the push I needed to start a side project too.”
The side project in question is a series of 300-word stories, each presenting a self-contained tale that has to perfectly fit the word count. In order to share these with the world, Rich created an online home called BeardyBiscuits, where he adds a new story every Thursday.
“So far, the stories have covered everything from family values and boundless ambition to mysterious isolation and bizarre scenarios. I’m a big fan of endings that intend to make you either sigh with satisfaction, squawk in surprise or wince in dread. In my opinion, a story should always cause the reader to feel something, no matter how short its format.”
Rich says that he plans to continue uploading a new story to his website and sharing them on his social media platforms for a long time to come. Eventually, some of his favourites will be assembled in a printed collection, which will also include a few exclusives not published online.
“The feedback I’ve received has been absolutely lovely,” adds Rich. “I’ve had complete strangers tell me that I made them laugh, gasp and even cry. I like to think that I help people to escape just for a little while, as each story can be read in the time it takes to make a cuppa.”
You can read Rich’s 300-word stories for free at www.beardybiscuits.com and find him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram under @beardybiscuits.