Being creative

As a writer, I am, supposedly, a creative person. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like that, but this week has been good. It started with the Writers in Prison network in Leeds – a long but easy train journey, and a good morning with the other prison writers. But in the afternoon we had a singing / songwriting workshop. I love singing, and this was great fun, with an excellent leader. She said nice things about my singing! People don’t usually say nice things about my singing (it tends to be on the loud side) so this was lovely.

More importantly, it’s given me the confidence to run a similar workshop myself in the prison – when I get the time, that is. I have so much to do in the prison now that finding time for anything is difficult; the change of rôle has meant a completely different set of prisoners, who really want to write. My group this week was great. It was sad saying goodbye to a couple of guys I’ve worked with for some time, but when they told me that I had made them understand that they could do far more than they thought they were capable of, it reminded me about why I do this stuff, despite all the frustrations.

On Tuesday I made a film. Ok, not a proper film; this was using an application that turns pictures and a spoken commentary into a filmic piece. I wrote a little piece first, then took four photographs, and by 2 pm I had a little film, all my own. It’s nothing, really, but I was pleased with it – it’s another of those things (thinking visually) that I don’t think I’m very good at, so it was rewarding to make something that worked.

Now, if only I could make films like A Single Man, which I saw this week – fantastic cinematography, with every shot meaningful, and great performances.

The rehearsal wasn’t quite up to this standard. The cast have definitely taken on board what I’ve said about relaxing and being comfortable with the pauses, but perhaps a little too much; it seemed to go on for ever. Two more rehearsals and we’ll put the life back into it, ready for the performance this Saturday.

Wednesday was unusual – the preliminary meeting with a group of mostly Asian women. We’re going to have a reading group. I had expected only a few to be interested, but all twelve sat round the table talking about reading – it was great, much better than I had expected! I think it’s going to be ok, provided that we can get the books they want (including some in Arabic! My Arabic isn’t that good. Ok, I don’t know a single word.)

The hospital was ok this week; nothing special, until I had a session with the nurses. How many more sessions do you want? I asked. Millions, they replied, we’re really on a roll! This gave me a real boost, which was kept up when I met my group at the doctors’ surgery; they have written things they could never have written when we started. They are very defensive about their grammar and spelling, as if I care – they are creating, making up stories, putting themselves in other people’s shoes, and that’s all I ask.

I even managed to clear up all the emails yesterday; not the most creative of activities, but as I often say to the people I work with, without a bit of structure it’s more difficult for creativity to be set free.

And I wrote two poems. Just when I’m not expecting it, the creative urge breaks out and I do something I’m pleased with. As long as I can share this with other people, I’m happy.

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