In the hallowed land of Borders bookshop I got a “How to Research” book by the Open University Press and have constructed a short questionnaire for the writers I’m going to interview in the next couple of weeks. They’re writers who already do lots of work with young people and work with New Writing North alot.
It feels good to actually be doing something concrete now. Quite alot of things I’ve done this week have fed into my thinking. But more in a mushy sort of way. “Full on Futures” was a day organised by Creative Partnerships at Arc to get year 9s motivated to think on creative careers. I did very practical half hour workshops, getting them to storytell, speak about themselves and explore their opinions on the value of creativity- but what I didn’t do, and couldn’t have done at this point was advise some sort of obvious career path into writing. (and I don’t think it’s enough just to say “Write!”, though heck, that does help). Claire, the North East Apples and Snakes co ordinator was there handing out info and it does feel that hopefully that performance poetry organisation may plug some gaps, but there is still a big, gaping void mostly for writers aged 11-18.
I’ve also been to the launch event of the African writers Festival at the Northern Writers Centre and been inspired by Ben Okri (“Doesn’t life have a dream like quality?” and Jackie Kay, in very different ways. Then, last night, a gig at the Chillingham Arms in which I tried out a new poem on stage and hoped it might give me a key to the one woman show I’m doing (as an associate artist for the Live Literature Consortium). I also heard a writer say that working in schools made them tired (and knew that feeling so well, but wonder if anything can help balance this for writers?).
Now I’m getting on with writing a poem for the Journal Culture Awards (that will somehow mention all 39 nominees and be interesting and funny and read well on the night…) I’m looking forward to freer time for writing from September for a while, but for a now feel like I’m learning a hundred things a day and really caring about the role of writing again. For a time after I’d finished my family memoir that somehow drained away for a while. Now I keep coming up with plans to get more people writing and reading and more voices heard. Being in the centre of that again is encouraging the feeling I think. So many people and organisations are doing it. Which ones will stick?