Photo: courtesy of The Poetry Society
I’m currently doing a book signing tour for Werewolf Club Rules i was most recently at The Times and The Sundays Times Cheltenham Literature Festival and Banbury Literature Live and was asked both times about my journey as a writer, so here I go…
Reading and writing came late for me i’m not sure why, I remember parents at my primary school, my mother included, getting angry that the reading levels at my school were low though it must be said that I strongly believe that schools are there to support a reading regime that should and must start at home.
I remember writing a version of Fungus the Bogey Man- but became crestfallen when a friend of the family told me that I could not introduce a characters name halfway through the story.
I remember writing a poem in year 7 called Unbearable – about the harsh life of a performing bear (I thought that was very clever!). I remember penning a poem at about 16/17 inspired by a Nike advert that started something like…
Run, swim, fly
let my spirit walk the earth
I wanna fly
I wanna see the unseen
I wanna know the unknown
Not cutting the tree without watching it grow!!!’
Hey it was my first teen angst poem! I dabbled with writings throughout uni starting one movie script after another and finishing one zombie script which taught me a lot about getting from one scene to the next and not being afraid to plow through and have faith that redrafting will fix any massive flaws.
Years ago, straight out of uni, holed up in my best friends spare room, I decided to have a proper stab at this writing lark. I’d spend many a long afternoon in stationary shops buying no end of combinations of files, pens, moleskin books and various paper fastening “solutions” all of these things would make me a better writer. I’d sit every now and then and occasionally add a paragraph to a novel, a stanza to a poem or a few lines of dialogue to a scene. I had so many ideas, so many stories jostling around in my head but couldn’t seem to stick with one long enough to complete a scene or a chapter. I think that’s why very early on poetry was the natural page companion for me. The brevity of a poem allows for it to be written quickly – for an idea to take shape to completion, at the time poetry suited my temperament, I was young, doing various temp jobs and had little time to focus on any one thing but I dreamed of being seen as “a writer”, of being able to travel and write from anywhere.
I started performing at Battersea Arts Centre where I was a member of the youth theatre. The youth theatre led to jobs (unpaid) performing with Gecko and Blind Summit and paid jobs with performance Poetry Organisation Apples and Snakes who introduced me to the wonderful world of performance poetry and schools workshops this was 2002 (feeling old) I started writing more and more poems for children to use in workshops and started being asked to collaborate with theatres (paid 🙂
As age and life began to settle I found myself increasingly drawn to playwriting for both adults and children. My play for adults Servants in a Council Flat received a special commendation from the Verity Bargate Award and was long-listed for the Bruntwood and I found myself part of the Royal Court Young Writers programme and then the invited writers group following a submission of my one man piece “Bear” (I’ve always liked bears) and slowly writing took over and the temp jobs in advertising, gym instruction, admin, portering, card drawing in Hamelys and transport planning! Could stop!
As my writing has developed I have found that poetry and playwriting are natural allies one being the units of the other (for my writing at least). Poetry distils ideas and moments, concentrates them, plays run a series of these moments together.
Now I find myself in the rather lush position of writing poetry and plays and having them inform each other- the poet in me takes care of
the language and dialogue in my
Plays, the playwright in me overseers the narrative of my poems.
I can’t recommend poetry enough for any writer, I liken it to a whetstone for the craft it hones your precision and unlocks thousands of gems that can be scattered throughout essays, short stories novels and movies- whatever kind of writer you are make sure you’re also a poet.
Plays for 2014
The PoetryJoe Show – Commissioned by Word Pepper Theatre. On tour now.
The Hairdoo That Got Away – Commissioned by The Playhouse Project, Performed at Polka Theatre, York Theatre Royal, Theatre Royal Plymouth July 2014.
The Last Pearlie – Commissioned be Pinhole Theatre – performed at Richmix April 2014
Robin’s Winter Adventure – Commissioned by Pied Piper Theatre Company touring from November 2014.
Finding a Space – Commissioned by Islington Community Theatre as part of Their Chicken Shop Project, performed at Platform July 2014
Pop-Up Flashback – Commissioned by Word Pepper Theatre – touring now
A New Story telling piece will get its first showing at World of Stories and Music at Polka Theatre in November 2014.
Untitled- a new spoken word piece inspired by the current Constable exhibition at the V&A to be performed there from 25th October to 2nd November.