Welcome to Creative Writes & to Autumn,
I have been writing this blog post in my head for quite a while and am delighted to finally be typing it out!
I work in a wide range of settings and there’s a lot to digest. No day is the same and I meet such wonderful people. I have been involved in new projects and am embracing all of the exciting experiences, some of which I will tell you about here – as there isn’t enough room for everything! I hope you find it interesting. I have highlighted three different areas of recent work, where I have been facilitating poetry reading & creative writing sessions and consider the challenges and treasures.
I facilitate regular Read Aloud Poetry sessions in Care Homes and spend a lot of time with people who struggle to find their words, who are confused when reading and forming sentences and whose memory is unreliable – with fact and fiction sometimes merging.
In spite of this, or perhaps because of this – there are days when they connect with the words, the poem makes sense. It makes them laugh or cry and their words come flooding out – no longer lost. When this happens, I feel that every second I have spent on the planning, travelling and facilitating these poetry & creative writing sessions is more than worth it.
I am in the privileged position of helping people find their words and in turn, their stories. It’s so easy to make assumptions. What I am learning more and more each day is to never assume anything. Give people time, space and a poem or two – perhaps also bring along an object or image and you never know what may happen.
I have always loved the theatre, ever since the first production I was taken to as child. I studied theatre, used to review & assess it and spend as much time in theatres as I can. So, when I was offered the job as Creative Writing Workshop Facilitator at Richmond Theatre, I was ridiculously excited! It is such an honour to work in this beautiful Victorian building with its many stories. We have also had the opportunity to work with Richmond Museum and Kew Archives. I have just started a new term with a new group at the theatre, who are as delighted as I am to be there. Throughout the term, we will listen to the building and what it has to say. We will pay it close attention and also imagine our own stories.
Last week, I was also lucky enough to facilitate a Creative Writing Workshop at my local theatre – Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, N4. The building is only five years old and it’s already a valuable cultural hub in North London. I remember having a tour around when it was still a building site and eagerly awaited its opening! I had discussed different ideas with their Access Coordinator – suggesting that I could work with the group in response to a play. We decided on The Other Place, which is still at Park. We got together as a group before seeing it and I guided them through a series of free flow exercises which focussed on the themes I had gauged from reading about the play – including identity and memory. This served as a good foundation. The group found it a really powerful play and their responses fuelled the writing when we continued afterwards.
Here are comments from some of our Creative Writes group members who attended that day:
“I think it was good that the workshop remained creative writing and didn’t drift into theatre criticism, as it easily could.”
“Writing around the play was an excellent experience. Good to meet people in the group before watching the play and then to use the play (which was excellent) to inform the ideas we all developed in the workshop. This is a brilliant collaborative way of working, between theatre and writing – the writing enhanced the play and the play enhanced the writing.”
“What a brilliant afternoon! Great play but such a rich creative experience that Nichola cultivated around it. Would love the chance to do this again!”
We hope to return to Park Theatre with another workshop towards the end of this year or early 2019.
The Green Shed:
There has been much activity in The Green Shed! Over a year ago, I facilitated the first Creative Writes Words & Wine Workshop in The Green Shed, which is an absolutely wonderful space in a Muswell Hill garden! This has proven to be one of our most popular workshops and we were sold out in a week for the September workshop. There’s a relaxed sociable vibe with words, wine & cheese and we have a mixture of newcomers and those who have been to many workshops. We have writers at all levels with different interests and styles. There is usually a theme for the evening and we write and read around this. Last month, it was The Telephone! We were also delighted to welcome Dave & Charlotte from Village Raw Magazine, who joined us in the Summer and Creative Writes was included in a feature on Storytelling in the August/September 2018 issue of the magazine (Dave’s photo is above).
The next Words & Wine Workshop will be on 31 October (booking link below).
Over the summer, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post – I also went to The Shed for my own writing residency/retreat. I welcomed the space to write which I often talk about and focus on in my workshops. I simply showed up at an arranged time. I didn’t have an agenda, other than to write. I drew on the free flow exercises I often guide my groups through and with the help of these, I started to fill the pages of my note book. The aim was to facilitate a Words From The Shed Workshop at the end of the retreat and share the processes. We had a lovely, lively Saturday afternoon workshop in early September with coffee & cake. I shared with the group how useful I had found it to go back to basics and how these free flow topics reassured and guided me. We tried out some of these together and read & wrote in response to poems about Sheds! Watch this space, we hope to be back with another Words From The Shed Workshop.
To hire this magical venue & find out what else happens there with Nicky Grace, click on this link: https://thegreenshed.format.com/
Coming up at Creative Writes:
Please see below for info & booking links to Words & Wine and Space To Write Wednesdays, October – December 2018, Muswell Hill, N10. All group workshops remain at £25 until the end of this year, to celebrate Creative Writes Year of the Story.
Thanks for reading!