I’ve been very quiet lately – always the same at the start of the academic year when I’m chasing my tail – but I’ll be back on the gig trail soon and have a few film outings to report.
However, I’ll be workshop leading at the Aberdeen City Council’s annual “Northern Writes” event – my third year in a row, so they must be getting sick of me by now – on the 19th September in the Belmont cinema. It’s a day I always enjoy because of the creativity of the young people I get to work with.
Videos of last year’s event are available online. In part 2, at around 18 minutes, you can see me reading “Bellflowers”, which was published in the “1000 Cranes” anthology in support of Japanese earthquake relief. You can get a good sense of the workshops we all did, as well as an interesting Q&A which showed just how perceptive these young people are. Unfortunately, sound and vision don’t always tally.
Then on the evening of the 17th October, I’ll be leading a workshop as part of North Lanarkshire’s “Encounters” Cultural Festival. I worked with a creative writing group last year, and they were kind enough to want me back to do some more work with them. The workshop will be at the Sir John Wilson Town Hall in Airdrie, from 6.30 to 8.30pm. It’s free, but if you fancy coming along, book up at the Encounters website. Perhaps see some of you there…
I’ve blogged a couple of times about the excellent Northern Writes conference for young writers that Aberdeen council runs each year. The annual anthology of writing by those young people is now online here:
The quality of the young people’s writing is terrific, and I’d recommend it to English teachers for use with their senior writers. Well worth a download!
Tutors were asked to contribute something, and I submitted a short character study that goes to prove I can’t really write poetry! Here it is:
Edith Piaf on the MetroOld Edith Piaf is on the Metro. She sits opposite, asleep, buttoned tight in a burgundy coat which falls aside so slightly at the knee, revealing the colour picked out in the stripes of her dress. She is muffled in one, two, three scarves, layered thermally and aesthetically, purple, green-purple, green, and her sky blue headscarf matches the audacity of her handbag. She wears, though, sensible brown shoes, scuffed and worn smooth like the tiniest and oldest of otters. The train rolls into Falguière: I reach across, touch her elbow, “Madame, excusez-moi,” my fearful French supplemented by an eyebrow raised, “votre station?” She blinks, wipes a drool from the corner of her mouth, flusters to her feet. Bustling through the door she remembers her fading charm turns, gap-tooth smiles, flirts a wink and says, “Merci, Monsieur.” Having woken her and been so blessed I have not one regret.
Last autumn, I was contracted by the then Learning and Teaching Scotland to create support materials for the development of persuasive writing for the new National Qualifications courses in English.
Designed in much the same way as the materials I produced in 2010 to support creative writing for the Higher folio, these materials support writing as an ongoing process throughout a course. Teachers can pick and choose the PowerPoint lessons as and when they wish to reinforce work that is going on in the class. There are also regular activities to be done as lesson starters or homework, such a tweet sheets or blogging tasks.
I hope you find them useful. They can be downloaded, saved and adapted as you see fit and as topicality demands. They can be found here.
Since LTS was subsumed into the new Education Scotland body, the web address for the creative writing materials has moved. You can now find and download the materials, including videos of authors talking about creative writing, here:
My second stint at the very rewarding Northern Writes conference for young adult creative writers. It’s now in its eleventh year and is brilliantly organised by Aberdeen City Library’s Curriculum Resources and Information Service, especially Helen Adair and Jacqueline Adam. Hosted by Steven Knox, the Head of English at St Machar Academy, it’s a terrific event. The kids are, of course, fantastic. As usual, so many write better on the day than I do; honorable mention to Hannah of the final group of the day, who conjures up the most vivid image of anger as a slithering, red-clawed, sharp-toothed beast in the belly. Lovely stuff!
The other writers on the day include Pam Beasant, Keith Gray, Stuart McHardy and David Smith
I’ve constructed some new support materials for the teaching of creative writing. The materials also include some very useful videos of Scottish writers talking about their writing and giving advice to young people; here I am (with my name spelled wrong!) talking about early influences;