Moving people, one story at a time

City-based writer Philip John takes the flash fiction genre to a new level online.

March 04, 2015 07:16 pm | Updated 07:16 pm IST



A streetlight on during the day, an unexpected disquiet at the breakfast table, a rainy day, growing older – these everyday happenings evoke a memory.

Taking the ordinary and making it significant is what writer Philip John does. The city-based writer packages really short stories and poems on life into interesting narratives on Labyrinths, his Facebook page.

Hailing from Kochi and having made Bengaluru his home, the 35-year-old is a freelance writer and consultant as well as a creative director in an advertising start-up. On what inspired him to pen his thoughts down, Philip says he loves writing.

“My work in advertising involves writing as well. I used to write short stories in my spare time which became lesser and I found it harder to write longer stories. I also realised I had a preference for brevity and intensity so I found myself writing smaller stories getting to the heart of the matter.”

This kind of flash fiction is what birthed Labyrinths. “Initially, I posted these stories on my timeline. My friends started giving me encouraging feedback and asked me to create a separate page for them. I sat on that for a while until my wife finally created a dedicated page and exported all my stories,” he grins.

What started with just writing down his thoughts in an attempt to amuse himself is now garnering close to 1,500 followers.

“I post a story a day. I start off with an image in my head and go where it takes me. I didn’t expect to get such a response.” The very short narratives coupled with moving images are posted daily with intriguing themes that evolve from either a topic or simply a muse, he explains.

On the name Labyrinths, Philip says that he likes the sound of the name. “The labyrinth is a place where you can’t find your way out once you get in and you get into deeper and deeper levels of complexity. I found it to be a good metaphor for life in general in the city. You move from person to person, job to job, situation to situation but you can never really get out. He laughs: “Sorry to sound so morose. I know that’s not the most optimistic connection. But it’s just a metaphor for constant searching without any exit.”

On his themes, he says he was forced to think on that “since the moment you get into Facebook, you fall into the likes trap. I write on four categories – everyday life and situations which I call ‘the everyday epiphany’ which is just a moment in time when a penny drops. I write about relationships, especially in an urban context which is most popular among my readers. Third, I like to dabble a little with surrealism. And last, the futuristic dystopias which are my favourite since my comfort reading as a child was science fiction.”

What’s the one thing he would like his audience to take away? Philip hopes they get some sort of insight into the world and get inspired to observe life more closely. “I like to move people through my writing.”

Philip further points out that writing has been exploratory for him. “I realised that people are happy to know that someone else is as confused and vulnerable as them. I used to choose epic themes earlier, but I found that the everyday complexities, failures and emotions are what people relate to.”

Using a platform like Facebook, Philip says social media is a reality now. “The digital environment is a part of our lives. The medium allows for miniaturisation and sharing.” However, the writer plans to put out a book soon.

“The idea is to convert Labyrinths into a book. It will be a series of stories bound by a common theme. I just need to find a publisher for it. The story-telling community has grown to accept all sorts of new formats so I’m hopeful.”

Outlining the scope for short story writers, he says there are definitely more people telling stories already. “Many people are using stories in a multi-disciplinary format from advertising and education to corporate training. Stories as a property and cultural unit of communication have really become popular again. Technology is also bringing it that extra mile. This is a good trend and time for writers.”

To anyone who hopes to venture into this field, he paraphrases the quote ‘You have to write 1,000 bad poems for the good poem to come out’ and adds: “So if you want to write, just write every day. Take out all the bad writing and the good writing will eventually come.”

Check out Labyrinths on >

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