Thursday, 20 November 2014

Like-minded spirits soaring into the fire . . .

Yesterday saw the launch of the Pen to Print Project - an Arts Council funded project run by Barking and Dagenham Borough Council, a project whose aim is to encourage writing in the borough through a series of workshops, talks, master classes, and competitions.

I had been asked to hold a series of two hour, monthly writing workshops as part of the event - the first to begin on the afternoon of the launch - and invited to speak at the event. This was all a few weeks ago. I immediately, well sort of immediately, said 'yes'. I've done a bit of public speaking these last few months, but only to groups no larger than about thirty - mostly ten to fifteen So when I was told the audience would be between fifty and a hundred, that little voice inside my head that my whole life has said, 'this isn't for you, you can't do this' popped up. But only for a moment. For I am learning that through seeing and hearing the responses my little talks have been getting, I can do this. This is for me.

So there I was, turned up well on time at half past nine in the morning at Dagenham Library, all ready for the ten o'clock start. Anyone who knows me knows my organisational skills arent't my strong point, so it came as no surprise when I looked at the flyers pinned up around the Dagenham Library that the launch was taking place at Barking Learning Centre at half past nine, not Dagenham Library at ten o'clock. A few years ago this sort of predicament would have had me in bits. But I've learned a lot since then. Barking is just a few stops up on the District Line from Dagenham Heathway - the nearest station - so I reckoned I still had time not to be too late. As soon as I stepped on the platform the station announcer announced there were severe delays on the District Line, and could passengers please be patient whilst they sorted them out. It was as if he were talking only to me.

So there I was  . . . waiting  . . . late . . . for one of the biggest things I'd yet signed up for in this writing game . . . But it was all right. I knew it would be all right.

When I got there, the teas and coffees were still on the go. I'd missed mine, but that was okay. The thing hadn't even started yet.

Looking at the schedule, I was pencilled in to speak for about ten minutes at about half eleven. So I sat back and enjoyed the launch, the speakers, the atmosphere. And as my turn came closer and closer, I realised I had no idea what I was either going to speak about or expected to speak about. My time came, and I was none the wiser. So I just tentatively took hold of the microphone, and just spoke. Whatever came out, and I've no real idea or memory of what it was, seemed to go down really well. Afterwards I was told it was 'inspirational' and all sorts of things.

Another hurrah to just making it up as you go along . . . :)

After lunch, it was time for the workshop. I'd done a rough plan of the monthly sessions weeks ago, but beyond that, I had nothing planned. I knew before-hand the workshop was fully booked, and that there was even a waiting list. As a result of whatever I had said in the morning, several people in the audience wanted to attend the workshop too. It got to the point people were actually being turned away. No pressure then. Two hours to fill - nothing planned.

The small room was packed. I had a flip chart which I had no idea how I was going to use - just seemed a good idea to have one. And I had nothing else. Just me and what goes on inside my head

As I looked round at the group - I think about twenty four in all - the thought came into my head that all these people are here and not at home writing. So why's that, I thought. Why aren't they writing. And the more I thought about that, the more I realised they were scared. Fear had made them stuck. I looked at the list kindly left on my table of what I was supposed to be talking about - fortunate, because I'd completely forgotten what I was supposed to be doing - and the fear inherent in writing was actually on the first lesson. So I went with that. And I spent two hours with the most inspirational, honest, courageous group of writers I could ever wish to be packed into a small room with. Seeing lights go on behind their eyes, and feeling their courage grow - was a huge honour to be present at.

Like-minded spirits soaring into the fire . . . and you can't get better than that.

The whole thing went so well I have been asked to hold another set of ten workshops to cater for the demand.

And I can't wait  . . . :)

1 comment:

  1. đồng tâm
    game mu
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    cho thuê phòng trọ
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