I noticed that the last thing I’d said in my August blog was about the desperate need I had for more time to write.
September had seen the usual new term feeling. I sharpened up my non existent new pencil case for two big grant applications which would take various aspects of the leadership thoughts to fruition. One with Northumbria Uni’s Creative Writing Department would see me doing a practice led AHRC fellowship in performance poetry and marginalised voices in the North East. I’m quite good at arts-funder speak, but this was a completely new language. I floundered in the research and thinking and writing this ginormous bid took, for what felt like weeks. Meanwhile the lovely, dynamic creative writing lecturer helping me with it, at the same time finished and sold her novel about guardian angels in ten countries. No exaggeration. She certainly proved there didn’t have to be a gap between practice and research. I could barely manage to read at the same time as doing that application.
Less traumatically, I got a big Arts Council bid in for my one woman show, backed by NWN and the Arc in Stockton and thus felt like I was taking care of my writerly self. (Although actually, I’m also gagging to get back underway with turning my memoir into a novel- possibly even into a comic novel after inspirations I’ve had of late, and am hoping to go on an Arvon course to do this soon).
Meanwhile with a little bit of hindsight, I’m wondering if a school project that had been going well, but then got a bit derailed in the Autumn was partially victim of me being more uncompromising about relationships between partners in creative projects. (I want them all to be true creative collaborations now because it feels so wonderful when they are). Two of the teachers I was working with weren’t using aspects of the radio project in any of their other work. It had become boxed into an hour a week that I delivered as a teacher. Pushing for that to change seemed to lead to the collapse of the project- a head teacher bailed rather than confront the need for a rethink. Possibly. By contrast, the school project that had gone a bit awry in the June, begun again in the September and with much honesty and willingness to talk about what we both could give and get, me and a teacher and a class of nine year olds produced beautiful, personal poems about objects that meant alot to us.
At this autumn point the young writers group began to carry on more unconsciously in a sense. In that a few volunteers attended each group and I asked some to set exercises, and I asked group members what they wanted to write and started doing many more fiction and flash fiction exercises than poetry ones, and eventually got a broad consensus on a subject for a publication (music and song, though there had been lots of love for darkness, death, Vampires and general melodrama). Maybe having that definite goal to work towards meant there was less need to reflect. Or maybe Being seemed to be secure enough not to have to ponder what worked and didn’t work all the time. We got into a routine of meeting every third or fourth Saturday, though as a volunteer pointed out the other week, the group were more comfortable with each other, but had also started chatting more, sometimes when exercises were being set, or other people were giving feedback, or even reading out. It’s made me think that, since we’re meeting less frequently and sometimes with holiday gaps, and have a couple of new members, we should re-make the group rules. (Or reiterate some of the values….though are they my values rather than theirs? Still, silence and boundaries can be useful. Much as I hate to be telling that more than showing it. Hmm. I note I was also “telling” the teachers that I wanted them to join in more and be my creative partners. Perhaps that’s something people should only choose?).
Anyway, Autumn and Winter gaps filled in, there’ll be more blogs before the end. Though I notice a question I want to ask Anna before I leave the office today is “Is there anything else I should be leaving or doing before I finish that would be useful to NWN- like would it still be useful for me to undertake the proposed trips to Dublin and Yorkshire to look at how others work with young people?”. But perhaps also, I need to ask myself if there’s anything else that I need before I finish.
Leaping to mind- contact with Helen and Nina the other artist/leaders who seemed to be further along than me in terms of not getting bogged down in speed and swirling. Some creative flowing. Some reflecting and sharing and listening.