who is stuck on words?
As a child I filled every scrap of paper with words. My office was a red wooden desk with matching chair and a cubby underneath to store precious stories.
Even as my legs became far too long and gangly to fit comfortably I insisted on keeping that desk. Eventually, my mother insisted I inherit my older brother's 'grown up desk' once he finished school.
My words still came. Great tumbling cascades of imagination.
Then I stopped. I worked, studied, travelled.
Over the years I bought notebooks and pens, only for them to lay empty, perhaps the first page filled with stuttering prose.
Deep in a bar one night a girl I worked with told me she had a blog. The next morning I typed the scrawled address and read.
Who knows what she wrote about but something in that experience encouraged me to write again. Slowly at first, but I pushed. Eventually the words reappeared.
Two years pass. I am a literacy teacher in London. A colleague pulls me into a meeting during lunch; wedges me into the corner of the booth so I cannot excuse myself.
My reward for being polite was a project I had no desire to be part of. We had been gifted a writer in residence, through English PEN, who would facilitate writing workshops over a six week period for the young people we worked with.
Week one, I was hooked.
In the past six years, I have witnessed how writing has given people a voice, allowing them to re-imagine the world. I have seen people develop the confidence to stand at the front of a room full of strangers as they share their words. Participants, who had the joy of writing squeezed from them by misguided teachers, discovered that correct grammar and spelling do not always make the best storytellers. People experienced the power in sharing words that might have just sat at the bottom of a draw.
To achieve this all they did was tell stories - funny, heartbreaking, angry, joyful, complicated stories.
How can you walk away from opening that door for people?