The Write to Work course was more than straightforward instruction, it was practical, personal, supportive and very challenging. We started with descriptions and storytelling, drawing on our memories and dreams. Straightaway we were asked to work together, to encourage each other and to discuss ideas to enhance our writing. This dialogue with our peers was a really important part of the course.
I had been out of work for more than six months when, on a Tuesday in January, I sat quietly in the introductory session, listening to other people on the course talking about their writing. It was very interesting and I wanted to hear more, but I wasn’t sure what I would do or even what my aims were. However, worrying about long term aims soon became unimportant as I became involved in the course. I was writing and I hadn’t expected to enjoy it so much.
Over the next twelve weeks we had many brilliant tutors, all with their own slant on what to write and how to make it pay. We came away each week inspired, with notes and handouts and lots of ideas. So much that will be useful, and so much still to go through and study and try out.
We heard about the importance of first drafts leading to second drafts, third drafts and more. As time went on we stopped counting how many drafts we did, thinking about the voice, and discussing words and sentences with a friend to eliminate the jarring notes.
I started to get sidelong glances as I got out a notebook or a scrap of paper to redraft a poem on the train, but as I was soon caught up in my work their looks were forgotten.
Most of our tutors set homework and returned the next week to review and discuss what we had achieved. The homework was a really good way to consolidate my learning and gave a focus for study. One week the suggestion was to write a food piece for the Family Guardian. I did this, shared it with my family then sent it to the newspaper. It became my first earnings from writing, when, to my astonishment, the Guardian editor chose to publish it in a Saturday edition a few weeks later.
I had a flash fiction piece longlisted in a weekly internet competition and, with this giving me confidence, started looking around for other opportunities to showcase my work. The WoWFest flash fiction competition has been my next entry; maybe I’ll be lucky, but even if not, I am pleased with the piece.
I found that I can write poetry, a lovely way to put ideas and feelings down on paper. I started the poetry session with very little confidence, but now I have two poems for our Write to Work book. Week 12 of our course was performance skills, when I stood up with my poem and read aloud to the group.
Thank you to Emma Hulme and Writing on the Wall who have arranged this course, these past twelve weeks have changed my life. I am a writer now.
- Caroline Barden
To read her winning entry of the 2017 WoWFest Flash Fiction competition click here.
To apply for Write to Work click here