For the past few months, I have been volunteering with Scottish Book Trust. It’s rather difficult to summarise all the marvellous things SBT do, so perhaps I should leave it to them, as they describe themselves as ‘the leading agency for the promotion of literature, reading and writing in Scotland.’
Since moving to Edinburgh, I have found surfing SBT’s site for competitions, advice and general literature chatter incredibly useful, and when I realised there was a possible volunteer role up for grabs, I jumped at the chance to get involved.
‘Family Legends’ was a project that SBT ran across Scotland, whereby people were encouraged to pen a short story about a particularly ‘legendary’ family member. This resulted in thousands of entries, a brilliant book, and more than a few new writers.
My job in all of this was as one of the project’s Community Ambassadors. Although originally I was intended to be the Edinburgh spokesperson, my then job with the Science Festival was taking me up and down Scotland dressed as a Space Cadet (but that’s another story…) so I ended up as more of a ‘Roaming’ Ambassador.
It was a wonderful experience, encouraging people to tell their stories, and for me the most interesting part of the whole project was attending the North Edinburgh Writing Workshop, I wrote about the experience for the website here but I’m not sure I quite managed to convey exactly what went down. I suppose, with my MSc and lately my writers' group, I have become used to scribblers with a fair bit of experience and, more importantly, self-belief. Whereas many of the attendees of this workshop had barely done any creative writing before and had, for whatever reason, barely any confidence in their writing abilities. Which is crazy, because of course everyone has the ability to write - everyone. I truly believe that, and evidently so did the workshop leaders, who calmly guided the group through a couple of exercises, despite protestations. It might have been a struggle, but it was more than worth it for the end result: hearing people proudly read their work aloud.
Since then, I have been thinking quite seriously about – I don’t even know what you would call it - community creative writing work? Perhaps not yet, but one day, if I can ever get my own act together, it’s definitely something I would want to do more of. Watch this space, I guess.