My short story is in an anthology

In Autumn 2017, I took myself out of my comfort zone and joined a creative writing class.

As a result of that course, I've got a short story printed in a real life book.

How on earth did that happen?

About six months ago I was flicking through the local paper and something drew my eye to the tiniest little article. It was a good few pages in, only a couple of paragraphs long and with no attached image. It said that Cheshire West and Chester Council had received Arts Council Grants for the Arts funding to run four workshops for adults across their libraries.

There was a contact phone number, and one was to take place at Storyhouse (a.k.a. one of my favourite places in Chester).

Usually I'd spot things like this and either ignore them or file them away for later and then be too late or never get around to taking action.

For some reason, this day was different and I just picked up the phone.

A couple of weeks later, I sat at a table with about 15 other people, of all ages and backgrounds, and we launched into our first session, led by Charles.

There was a focus on group discussion, on everyone throwing out ideas and at looking at the skills involved in creative writing and short stories.

When I was little, I used to write stories all the time. I didn't stick at any long enough to finish them, but starting stories or writing random snippets inspired by other things I'd read was one of my favourite things to do.

I vividly remember writing a short story about pirates in year 3, getting seven gold stars for it and having to go and read it out to the headmaster and the year sixes - easily one of my proudest (and scariest) school memories!

At some point, all of that stopped. I got it into my head that creative writing 'wasn't my thing' and I lost my confidence.

Spending time with a group like this, of all abilities and ages, meant there was no space for fear. Our discussions were more about the writing process and what we enjoyed reading, rather than anyone feeling they had to share writing of their own if they weren't ready.

When the eight-week course ended, we had a month to write a 2000 word story (if we wanted to) and submit it to be part of the anthology.

I was expecting one of those funny little books that look like a book but are pretty poor quality without the best printing.

In fact, it's a really beautiful, professional looking book packed with stories from participants across the four libraries.

Opening that contents page to find what page my story was on was the most surreal feeling. There was my name, in black print, and I turned to page 140.

There it was. There it is.

We've all got copies of the book and could order any extras we wanted, and there will be copies across the libraries where the workshops took place.

I just think it's so incredible we all had the chance to do this completely free of charge thanks to funding and the council. We need to cherish spaces like libraries and embrace opportunities like this, encouraging those who run them and support them to continue.

I'm going to write a separate post about the process of writing my story and the topic I chose, because there's a lot to that and it's had quite an impact on me since.

Watch this space...

Sophie x


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