Monday, February 17, 2014

My writing process – the blog tour.

So I have taken the baton from my lovely friend Kate Evans – the idea is to answer the same questions. Kate’s blog can be found here
What am I working on?

Good question as I am putting lots of feelers out at the moment but not just about writing – it may be career change time.
I am running a series of workshops about writing and health care at  the Lit and Phil in Newcastle and so spend a lot of time thinking about exercises and reading work by poets and writers about experiences of health care. It is a great excuse to immerse myself in this topic. The first workshop was on the 8th February and was very enjoyable and some great work was produced by participants.
I find myself writing poetry at odd moments (usually in meetings) but I am also collaborating with a colleague to write a paper about writing workshops in Hospice care to encourage others to give it a go.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
For many years I have not thought my work was any different. After a period of self-doubt I now am beginning to own the idea of my nursing and education background being important in terms of how I might write about the experience of healthcare, either in poetry or in creative non-fiction.
Having had a stuttering start with poetry - my first year of MA was less than encouraging and that feedback lingers..
I am now determined to believe more in my project of making more visible the work of nursing and the experience of health care from the patient’s perspective. It is easy to think that it has all been told before but the more I read about people’s experience the more I am convinced that we must not take our eye of the ball.

Why do I write what I do?
I haven’t always been a writer and in fact for most of my life I didn’t even really think about it. It was in 2004 when I met Julia Darling at a writing workshop for “tired academics” it was there that I first discovered the joy of creative writing and found myself writing poetry and script. Since then I have been on a bit of mission. Running headlong into doing the MA Creative Writing thinking I needed a qualification to give me legitimacy. That was a hard lesson as I wish I had waited a while but I am still learning and love discovering new writers.

However I am even more committed to enabling others to find their writing voice, patients, carers and practitioners. It is such a powerful vehicle for self-discovery and also support and nourishment. In the last few months I have stopped thinking that this is a soft option in healthcare and one I have to justify. It is in fact an essential resource that should be available to all. It won’t suit everyone but it should at least be offered.

How does my writing process work?
Intermittently is my honest answer, the lighter mornings help me write first thing but I find discipline a bit tricky. I get bored in meetings and find myself writing poetry then, I listen to radio 4 and I find I get ideas and inspiration from stories on You and Yours etc. There is no real pattern to my writing process but I do find myself finding time for it now and know it is very important to my well-being to find time to write.

I am handing on the baton to Sheree Mack who I met 9 years ago at a Writing and Health course at Newcastle University and a wonderful person who I admire greatly. Sheree first encouraged me to read my poems in public and has been a constant source of encouragement (and occasional nagging since). Sheree’s current blog can be found here

I am also offering the baton to my friend Eleanor who is a GP and writer – I met Eleanor at one of Sheree’s writing workshops at the Lit and Phil so I feel it right to offer the baton to them both. Eleanor’s blog can be found here.


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