Putting the world to writes at the Art Hostel


In November, we staged a month-long installation at the Art Hostel in Leeds. With our writing desk tucked away in the corner of the communal area, we invited visitors to co-write a short story for #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).


Starting with a first line inspired by posts to the Seeding Art Currency Map, people from over a dozen countries across the world took part by adding lines of their own. We co-created four stories in all, each of which was read out by travellers as part of our Bedtime Stories video mini-series on Instagram.



The stories ranged from the scary, to the poignant, to the downright crazy – let’s take a look at what the Art Hostel visitors came up with…


Christmas sweater


They found a diary under his bed. The diary didn’t have any words written inside – instead, it was made up of pictures of a woman. The woman had taken the pictures herself, and it was her who’d hidden the diary under his bed.

Feeling embarrassed, she walked silently to the bus station. When she got there she saw a horse wearing a Christmas sweater. It handed her a note before briskly trotting away into the night.

Would she ever see him again?



Laughing his little socks off


When I first walked through the door I knew I was home. But home was light years away.

Here, I didn’t recognise the way the steps led up from the centre of the room. I placed my only belongings next to the large fireplace and hung up my hat and coat, before settling down in a large comfy armchair.

I saw a figure standing at the top of the stairs. Looking closer, he resembled a comic-book character. Or was he an actor? Either way, he was oddly familiar. I couldn’t quite place him, so I gave up.

I went up the stairs and he began to run away, laughing his little socks off. I felt compelled to run after him. I needed to meet him and I didn’t know why, so I ran – but soon realised that running isn’t my thing so I stopped. I thought for a second, and realised that I had forgotten something that had been part of me for ever.

I could fly.

I flew like a majestic falcon up the stairs, and he flew towards me. He took my hand and we flew together through the skylight, wide open at the top of the roof, into the night sky.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Art Hostel Leeds (@arthostelleeds) on


Devizes Carrington


I couldn’t believe what was happening before my eyes, but I thought I may as well stay and soak up the experience. Who knew when I’d have such a chance again?

The situation unfolded quickly and it soon became apparent that no one truly knew what Devizes Carrington meant when he spoke of the horror he’d encountered on the third floor.

The thing was, Carrington was a snob – so was “the horror” just a minor piece of offensiveness he’d encountered, or something truly serious?

Now it was clear to me. Carrington had looked around at his companions and took out a letter from his pocket. Embossed on the front of the envelope were the letters I.H.E.

Without a second thought, he knew what it all meant. It was an official-looking letter, sealed with a red wax stamp on the back. Everyone expected Carrington to open it. Instead he shoved it into his inside pocket and had left the room before anyone noticed.

As the door was about to shut behind him, he heard the voice of a woman.

“Do what has to be done!” she said. “Solve the secret to bring peace to this place!”



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Art Hostel Leeds (@arthostelleeds) on


Pillow talk for insomniacs


There were ten of us in the room, and three strangers looking into the window from outside.

It was a bleak night, considering March left with such promise and welcomed April with such open arms. The cold, dark, heavy mist clung to each presence with such foreboding I felt it would block my throat.

I stood up and walked out of the room without my jacket. The air made me stay away and the cold embraced me. I felt relieved – what a good day it was to spend with a cup of coffee.

Sadly, the coffee machine was broken and I was grumpy and freezing. It was then I remembered I don’t like coffee and noticed it was all a dream.

I appeared to be standing at the top of a hill. It looked like the one from Wuthering Heights, but in fact it was the one from EastEnders where Janine pushed Barry off a cliff. Or perhaps the one where Thelma and Louise took their last drive. A stream of lemmings ran past me, leaping (apocryphally) over the cliff’s edge.

(Which was strange, because lemmings have never actually been recorded jumping off cliffs. Researchers couldn’t understand their population fluctuations, so when Disney made a documentary about the Arctic they herded lemmings to a cliff and pushed them off. Lemmings have had that reputation ever since, because documentary makers can be difficult sometimes – apart from that nice young man Professor Brian Cox, who actually lives next door to me and is a GP during the day and rides a leather swing at night. It hangs in his living room. God knows when he finds time to look at the stars. He was in a band, don’t you know, I think they were called D:ream.)

Suddenly, I woke up (again).

As I woke to consciousness, a potent smell tickled my nostrils. I was dazed, but comfortable, and the only light in the space around me was a candle that was about to go out. Soon, it will be dark, I thought. I brushed my fingers around the textures around me. With every touch, a new sound came to life.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Art Hostel Leeds (@arthostelleeds) on


The AUX cable


When I was 14, I wanted to be a DJ.

I went on vacation to Berlin, visiting a huge festival with buses and loud music. There were people wearing bright-coloured clothes and they were dancing a lot.

This is where I met my first girlfriend for a while. I was happy until another man came along carrying beers, and gave her a kiss on the mouth. Not to worry. We danced the night away anyway, and actually, it was the most exciting time of my life.

It reminded me to get back in touch with my musical side. I jumped onto the stage, shoving the DJ aside and letting my musical prowess shine. It wasn’t long before everyone was dancing.

The DJ I’d replaced on stage got jealous and pulled the fuse, turning off the music and lights. That’s when the riot started. Dancers were trying to get to the DJ booth – as each of them believed they could get the party started – but unfortunately all the equipment was broken.

As everyone left in disappointment, I saw an AUX cable hanging over the side of the speaker. I ran over and plugged it into my phone. I found a pre-recorded mix and played it. We had music again. There was a loud cheer from the partygoers, who started coming closer and closer.

Suddenly, a flying kick hit my face, and I felt myself losing consciousness. I heard someone unplug my phone and load their own music. As the first note of their playlist reached my ears, everything turned to black.

I felt strange and empty, but I saw some kind of light coming towards me. When it reached me I found myself going, going, gone.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Art Hostel Leeds (@arthostelleeds) on


Thanks to the dozens of people who took part in the writing desk installation, and everyone at the Art Hostel and East Street Arts for their support – in particular Faye Knowles and Rhian Aitken.

Surely these five imaginative stories prove once and for all that travel really does broaden the mind.


Want to hire the #foundfiction writing desk for your venue, event or festival? Get in touch.