Summery

There’s been comfort and satisfaction this week in feeling that I’m actually doing tangible stuff as part of the CLP.

I was quite buzzing after three and a half hours talking to Anna at NWN and putting together plans and actions for the next steps with young people’s projects. We’re going to pilot a group that’ll meet over the summer, using the format I’ve been using with the SAMA young writers group who’ve been guinea pigs. We’ll recruit for volunteers too and train them in working with young people’s writing groups. I also spoke to the North East’s museums literacy officer and was selling her the idea of running those groups in museums across the region too. She sounded keen- though said that some education officers would find the idea of facilitating a writing group scary.

I’m seeing it as a writing/reading/talking group though where all the members, including the facilitators learn from each other. It fits with the way creativity is being embedded in schools now- and kids are being asked to co construct their learning. I think some of this also comes from my reading that book (Micheline Wandor) challenging the traditional writers workshop set up. I think formats that allow multiplicity of approaches, diversity and conscious reflection on the thoughts and beliefs and values underlying your writing are a fair way forward (and can still produce and emphasise “quality” work- just with an appreciation of how disputed a term that can be).

A phD into the impact of creative writing on young people is being hosted by NWN and Northumbria University. After a burst of loving research I thought of going for it- but know I’d be far more excited about a theoretical approach and this seems to beg a very practical and evaluative one. (Not thirty thousand words before anyone’s even started on “What is writing?”

My own practice is still at the forefront of what I’m thinking about- I enjoyed getting to do a non-flowery poem at the Chelsea flower show, and I’m taking an extract from my one woman show to the Lit Up live literature conference in June.

Having enough money at the moment is pleasant too. Allowing me and my bloke to go to a Lakeland cottage for a few days, for me to replace my computer monitor without stressing and to buy a few nice, cheap, quirky dresses from a range called “Hell Bunny” for gigs and things. It’s for “Women who lead a punk and Gothic, alternative lifestyle” apparently. Hmm. I don’t. But I suppose writers are seen as leading an alternative lifestyle sometimes.

The conventional part of me likes being able to point to outcomes like a nearly completed set of guidelines to give to teachers and writers working in schools, to the work I’m doing with the young writers group and the up coming pilot volunteering scheme as measurable, actual actions.

Though perhaps the most powerful work of the Cultural Leadership Programme comes when I’m lying awake at 5 a.m thinking.

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