In our forthcoming book Writing For Pleasure: theory research and practice (Young & Ferguson 2021), Getting The Nation Writing is one of the points on our action plan for a national transformation in how writing is perceived and taught in the UK. We managed to get this going in a small way, some weeks into lockdown, by inviting a number of people living in sheltered housing in our local area to write and then share a short story or personal memoir. They responded with huge enthusiasm to the idea of writing and then sharing their pieces, and, as you will see, what they wrote was accomplished, entertaining and heartfelt. We are publishing four of their stories and memoirs on the website for you to enjoy.
Karen Bowlas, the project manager for Lifelines, with whom we collaborated in bringing this writing project about, has shared her thoughts as follows:
‘Lockdown provided an opportunity to revisit some creativity, and with some initial guidance from The Writing For Pleasure Centre, we, Lifelines – a local service in Brighton, kick-started a new creative writing project. As with all our Lifelines activities, creative writing was aimed at older people in the community to come together (virtually!) and explore ideas and stories they had previously had or to enjoy developing new ones. In a time when all our face-to-face activities had stopped, we reached for support locally to help us get activities made virtual or invent new ones to keep us connected. Our organisation works closely with volunteers supporting different communities and, in this case, really amazing local volunteers stepped forward to encourage ideas and help people get their compositions finalised by ringing the participants to talk through their pieces. The Writing For Pleasure Centre had put together an initial writing project, with tips & examples to help people see what was possible and a springboard from which to start. An all-round enjoyable project, and the best part was then hearing some of those written stories, read by the authors, bringing it all to life. I would recommend giving writing a go and getting some of those hidden ideas out there!’
One of the participants writes:
‘My creative writing experience has been a great deal of fun, stretching my imagination to new heights. Even waking very early one morning, on the day we were sharing stories online, to have a completely different story fil my head, that needed releasing. So a replacement was born and the original retired. My mentor is wonderful, full of great story ideas and discussion, and always ready for a good old chat about other things when he phones me. It has been a joy to be involved in the creative writing project.’ – Sue.
You can download the participants’ published pieces here.