Rural Writes

Posted on 31 May 2016

As a Swaffham girl, I'm delighted to be helping new writers find their voice, and witness what it's like currently living in rural East Anglia.

Women of all ages in Watton, Swaffham and Gorleston have signed up for 10 weeks of free creative writing workshops, working with Belona Greenwood on prose, and me for poetry. The aim is to help them capture their experiences of living in rural and coastal communities.

These Rural Writes workshops will be hosted by Norfolk County Council at Watton, Swaffham and Gorleston Libraries.

As well as helping to develop participants’ creative writing and digital skills, “Rural Writes” will also leave a legacy, by culminating in an anthology of the women’s’ writing that will be published by Norwich-based Unthank Books, and be available to borrow from all of Norfolk’s libraries and to buy. The book will be designed and illustrated by local artist Rose Cowan.

During the project, participants will get digital skills support from library staff and a blog will be set up for participants to share their work.

Speaking about the workshops, Harry Humphrey, Vice Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee said:

“This is a really good example of the way our libraries, being at the heart of our communities, can bring local people together to work on a project that will have long-lasting value and I would really encourage women in these areas to join the workshops - even if they haven’t picked up a pen or visited a library since they were at school.

“I am particularly keen for older women who grew up in or around Watton, Swaffham or Gorleston to take part, and make sure that their memories of Norfolk in days gone by, when life was so very different, are captured forever. I’m equally interested to see how those memories contrast with the experiences of younger women who have lived in the faster pace of the modern world.

“The book they will create together will ensure that all their stories and memories are recorded for posterity. And it will shed light on the way that women, living their day to day lives in Norfolk in the past and today, play such a crucial role in shaping our county’s unique identity.”

Belona Greenwood added: ‘We are really hoping to encourage women to come along who don’t see themselves as “writers” but have a story to tell.  If anyone is feeling less than confident or worried about their writing ability, please don’t let that stop you. It’s not about spelling or grammar…we can sort all that out; it’s about having a go and allowing other people to hear from you, as women who live in rural or coastal communities, about your lives, your relationship with the environment, your hopes, your dreams. It is about what it means to live in these Norfolk communities today.

“Above all, it is an opportunity to hear from women who don’t often get heard – and for their voices to continue to be heard through the legacy of the anthology that they’ll be creating.”

The workshops are fully booked up now, and I'll keep you posted on news and the Rural Writes blog that will be up and running soon.