Nearly Blog



Here’s the Nearly Pod at MIX DIGITAL 15 Conference at Bath Spa University, 2nd-4th July. The conference included presentations by the legendary Blast Theory, Naomi Alderman, Visual Editions, Florian Cramer… and many more. It was great to see Simon Groth of if:book Australia again, to meet up with good friends and make new ones.

IMG_0417IMG_0414The Nearly Pod, part of an exhibition of digital things, worked very well with people sitting round a table writing and drawing their nearlies. The puppets were much admired too, and I used them in my presentation to the conference about how I’m writing my novel in a transmedia way. I read an extract from the book, perfomed the Nearly Manifesto, shared nearlies gathered – and even sang a little song.

Here are the crop of fascinating nearlies gathered. Thanks to all contributors.  


I nearly… became a city cycle courier racing through the streets dodging cars… instead I became an editor – when offered both jobs. Still fancy cycle courier – perhaps later on

I nearly… didn’t get to Istanbul. When I bought my ticket I didn’t know you needed a min of 150 days left on my passport. I had 154 – phew! Then I nearly didn’t get out. Traffic jams all the way to the airport. If it wasn’t for the skills of our ex-military commando taxi driver I might still be there now.

I nearly… went to Manchester (Salford actually). For the simple reason that they ‘headhunted’ me. Instead I held off and was accepted by the art college in Dundee. Look where that got me.   – g.h. tims

I nearly became a biochemist… Instead I changed to study History… and became a journalist… a publisher… a writer… a nearly poet… and nearly many other things… Now I write about the natural world and the essence of living things; instead of their chemistry I try to capture them in words. I think words fit me better.

1) I nearly stayed doing what I was doing, working in a profession I wasn’t happy in, but didn’t have to think too much about.

2) I left. Without a plan.

3) It was the best decision I ever made.

I nearly… told my Indian parents, that I’m not a virgin.

I nearly missed this opportunity for leaving my mark HERE

I nearly… stayed in my perfect life with my wrong husband.

I nearly… wrote something important. something deep that I didn’t want to share, but this nearly project didn’t work for me – nearly got a dark secret but didn’t.

I nearly broke you, one last time, but you wouldn’t come see me. 

(This is not a sad story.) Last week I nearly got married. It seemed like a sensible grown up thing to do. We have been almost-married for ten years so it seemed like a good idea. We booked a date at the Registry Office. But that’s all we did. As soon as we did, we both realised at the same moment that we never wanted to get married. We thought we might so we waited. We didn’t invite anyone. We didn’t plan anything. Mostly, we forgot about it and just had fun together instead. We lived our lives wrapped up in each other. We tried to list reasons to get married but couldn’t think of any. So, we cancelled it. I tried to explain to the woman on the phone that we nearly wanted to get married but didn’t really want to. She sounded sad. Her job was about helping people get married.

So, a week ago we nearly got married but we didn’t. I had completely forgotten about that, until this moment. It all seems a bit silly now. Good job we never told anyone else. So, instead we shook hands and agreed to stick together, be kind to each other and not mess this up.   The End.

I nearly… got a job at Oxford Uni. Was second. Now at Bath Spa. V. Happy.

I NEARLY NEVER WON A RACE… I started before the whistle.

I nearly had a transmedia show made – TV drama, TV chat show, internet elements, novel. It nearly happened in Spain with nearly the best production company, distributors etc. It nearly made me feel I’d done what I nearly have done before – shown what I can do. The Spanish crash made this only a nearly. It’s ok though, it grew me and changed everything and I’m nearly settled in that new me.   – Elspeth at Mix

I nearly… caused a fire whilst cooking chicken nuggets. Instead I switched the grill off & ordered Pizza

I nearly… plunged into digital media but THEN I found myself writing a novel AGAIN…

I nearly… went to east Ukraine now but my family are persuading me not to go because it is too dangerous. So I probably won’t…

I nearly…married a burglar. I didn’t know he was at the time. There was just something off about him. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But it had all happened so fast anyway, so I put a stop to it. Six weeks later I was burgled. My laptops, all the digital gadgets, and my car keys (and my car) all gone.

Then he phoned me and said “I had a premonition, a feeling that something bad had happened.” and he thought I didn’t know. I changed my number.

I nearly… grew up in another country – the country I was born in but moved away from at a young age. This other me, however, still lives there. I am quite sure of it.

I nearly became an antiquarian bookseller, a singleton and a coffee drinker. Instead I set up a business embracing the early morning and thrilled myself with herbal tea.

I nearly had a very serious head injury that almost certainly would have killed me when I fell out of a Range Rover (don’t ask). Instead, I hit my back and the impact my back took, lessened the impact on my head. I was in hospital for a week with a minor head injury and just got out in time to go to university.

IMG_0498 IMG_0499THE MAP… (secret map – I’m not drawing it) was beautifully and drunkenly drawn by a colleague I don’t know very well. And I NEARLY told him I love maps but I never use them to find the way, but I didn’t because then he would have stopped drawing and then I wouldn’t have seen the bridge on his map with buildings on it. A bridge I thought I’d dreamt or imagined, but I must have seen it when I last came to Bath when I was 10. As soon as I saw the bridge on his map I remembered the labyrinth but when I pointed to where it would be on the map he said there was a rugby ground there. When I got off the boiling hot train I nearly didn’t use his map because I like to find things by chance, but then I got it out and found the way . I NEARLY didn’t go into the gardens near the bridge because you had to pay, but I paid and I could see the bridge but I couldn’t see the labyrinth but I did get to sit in a deckchair. Then I left the gardens and I NEARLY didn’t look further for the labyrinth in case I had imagined it, but I walked a little further and it was there. I crossed the bridge and found it’s actually a maze. I NEARLY walked round it. WHen I went to Bath and NEARLY walked round the labyrinth (that isn’t actually a labyrinth) thst I’d NEARLY completely forgotten about. I NEARLY didn’t go to the pub because I had to be up early for a conference, but I went. I NEARLY said no to a G&T, but I said yes and that was how I got the MAP…

I nearly didn’t fill this in because of spoiling the blank paper but if I didn’t act and only nearly did this then I realised I wouldn’t be able to join in and I do want to join in – so I will try to do instead of nearly doing!

I nearly successed!


CJEiE7_WIAAqXUO.jpg-large singing the nearly


Puppetry, Flash Animation and Real Live People


Here are the first two of three glove puppets designed by Bee Peak, cartoonist of Dodo Pad fame, which will be used in nearly workshops, readings and animated sequences of What Didn’t Quite. Meanwhile I’m doing a Flash Animation course at City Lit, London, and attended a day on Writing for Puppetry at the Little Angel Theatre.

Here are a few nearlies from a successful workshop at Bath Spa’s Early Years Research Conference last week: Next up is a workshop at the Mix Digital Festival at Bath Spa later this summer.

Meanwhile I’ve finished a very rough first draft of the whole novel and started talking to an excellent app designer about making a demo of the piece.

IMG_4733 IMG_4734

Wonderful author and artist Rachel Lichtenstein spoke at Bath Spa Uni about her work including Diamond Street, her book about Hatton Gardens, and the work involved in creating the app she made to accompany it.

She also gave me a top nearly story:

“I nearly married a rabbi and became very orthodox and had 12 children, but didn’t.  I married a Muslim, and at Homerton Hospital years later I nearly bumped into another Rachel Lichtenstein who was having her 8th baby there and lived in Stamford Hill.”


Nearlyacting Nearlymapping

Our latest Nearly Workshop was brilliantly facilitated by Lily McLeish, theatre director, and held at St Mary’s Tower, Hornsey – the Intimate Space. The two day workshop involved local writers, members of the wonderful network of ex-participants in These Associations at Tate Modern, and three talented actors who workshopped the characters from my transmedia novel. We also made our own Nearly Trees, embodied desire and regret, impersonated our nearly selves.. and enjoyed ourselves a lot.

IMG_4249 IMG_4250 IMG_4251IMG_4282 IMG_4284IMG_4271 IMG_4272 IMG_4273 IMG_4274

Nearlying In Bath

DSC_0043 DSC_0068 DSC_0074 DSC_0077 With Luke Roberts and Kayt Burgess we gathered Nearlies and then sang Nearly Songs to soggy passers by in Bath City Centre as part of the Literary Festival. Living the dream!

Read the latest Nearlies HERE. (We got some good ‘uns!)


On Saturday 28th Feb (tomorrow!) the Nearlyologists will be in Bath as part of the Literary Festival, in  Cafe W, Waterstones, gathering neatly stories from 12-4pm when we’ll do a 1/2 hour performance on the stage in Southgate, near the Apple Store. Please join me and Kayt Burgess. 


This week I was part of a panel at the  EXPERIMENTAL NARRATIVES CONFERENCE AT THE INSTITUTE OF MODERN LANGUAGE RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON with Tanya Hirshmab, Kayt Burgess, Christime Wilks and KAte Pullinger – The Bath Spa Grioup – billed as being at the ‘bleeding edge’ of storytelling. We went down a storm at this fascinating conference. Here;s a story I was given there:

I nearly…

told the truth about finding the postcards, the letters returned to sender, unread, un-responded to (Mein Liebling… Mein Engel).

Instead, I tucked great-aunt M’s secret away, back into the space I found it, as if into a pocket; casual, ambivalent. Or pretending, in fact, charged.

I wonder if I ought to have burned them – if it was better when we thought he was (still) Missing in Action, instead of gunned down so early, on a field in Poland, his boots shiny enough to catch the morning sky.


Thurs & Fri 26th & 27th MARCH with Chris Meade and Lily McLeish at The Intimate Space, Hornsey, London N8 IMG_3860 Theatre Director Lily McLeish has offered to run a workshop to explore Nearlyology, the topic of Chris’s transmedia novel about how we live with the things we didn’t quite or haven’t yet.

A two day FREE workshop at The Intimate Space, a new venue in Hornsey, London N8 will explore how we embody the lives we nearly lead and how to express the nearly stories of the novel’s protagonists and readers through writing and performance as well as via digital means. We will use collaborative writing practices and methods of devising performance through physical improvisations.
Lily is an emerging Anglo-German theatre director currently working as Staff Director at the National Theatre, and Associate Director to Katie Mitchell on 2071, a dramatised talk on climate change by scientist Chris Rapley at the Royal Court. She is a creative fellow of the RSC and also works extensively in Europe.

Chris is a writer and a PhD student at Bath Spa writing an evolving transmedia comic novel at He is the founder of if:book UK, a think tank exploring the future of the book, and has been Director of the Poetry Society and Booktrust. The workshop is free to writers, readers and performers, but spaces are very limited and we want a range of skills etc. Contact Chris ( saying a bit about you and why you’d like to take part.

Lumb Bank Nearlies

IMG_39162015 got off to a great start with a wonderful week at the Arvon Foundation, Lumb Bank in Yorkshire. I first went on a course there thirty years ago and taught one about eight years ago. Working with Peter and Anne Sansom, we spent each morning doing writing exercises which could be used in workshops with schools and groups, as well as by ourselves. In the afternoons we wrote and walked and talked. Following a workshop with Rachel Hazell, bookbinder, writer and artist, in which we made little books, I asked people the next morning to write Nearlies in them, 2 pages for what you nearly did, 2 for what really happened, 2 for how you feel about it. Here’s Rachel’s. I’ll be posting the others HERE 

The Kiss

I nearly had tea with the Queen Mother, at the Bishop’s Palace, Wells, Somerset c 1978. My name had been picked out of a hat.

The day before, in a close-run game of kiss chase, Ian Barrett had pushed me into the Homey Wall and broken my nose. Lip was too swollen to sip from a cup with royalty. I stayed at school like everybody else.

I have been left with illusions of grandeur and an awareness of the power of attraction. Ian Barrett broke my nose and swole my lip because he wanted to kiss me.


Nearly Puppets

I went to a workshop for writers with puppets at the Little Angel Theatre, a beautiful puppet theatre in the Angel Islington and found it very inspiring, so much so that I now want to create puppets of Carraday and Freya – rod puppets, about three foot tall (maybe) and am trying to find someone to make these for me, also keen to talk to others interested in mixing puppetry with literature. I want a performance and workshop to be part of the final work and it seems important to have the characters present alongside me when I tell their stories.

pics from the Little Angel workshop

IMG_3008 IMG_3008 - Version 2 IMG_3009


IMG_2970 IMG_2971

I’ve been cutting and sticking. Transmedia fiction involves poseable figurines, cut out and keep free gifts, prizes and giveaways. Here are my Carraday, Freya and Jamie finger puppets, available here soon.

I’ve been talking recently to some brilliant people about different ways to produce the story I’m making – as an app, an art piece, a stage play, a puppet show… and a nearly book too. After all my experimentation on long-suffering friends such as you, I’m moving towards a second phase of developing a prototype for how it will finally be. But now there’s still time to play.

Here’s my Jamie, IF SO BAND singer, figurine.