Last week was Book Week Scotland. I was asked to deliver some creative writing workshops in Renfrewshire schools as part of their Attainment Challenge and it was great that these took place during a week which celebrates books and reading.
Ultimately it was my love of books which sparked off the desire to create my own stories and imaginary worlds, and it was clear that a lot of the pupils were under the same spell. When I asked the question, “What does an author do?”one second year boy responded with: “They inspire you to read and write.”
By the end of my story-building workshops in Linwood High, St Andrew’s Academy and Castlehead I was left in awe of some of the imaginative ideas flowing around the room. I’m hoping the pupils expand on stories which contained magic dice, a character who was tall but ‘small inside as she didn’t have any friends’, a girl with a love-heart birth mark on her nose, a magic bridge which took characters into another dimension and a haunted graveyard, abandoned carnival and a house with magic mirrors. There was a brilliant mixture of horror and humour; each group created aspects of a story I was dying to read.
This Thursday my hometown Paisley will find out if they have won the bid for the UK City of Culture 2021. Over the past year the town has fully embraced the bid, with an extra buzz in the air and some interesting art projects and cultural events popping up. There has been a real celebration of the creativity and talent amongst locals and over the past few months I have met lots of local writers, artists and musicians, all passionate about giving back to the community.
From the imagination and enthusiasm I saw in classrooms the past week it’s obvious that young people want to be challenged and I think it’s important they are given the opportunity to explore learning in a variety of supportive and interactive forums which encourage creative thinking. I’m really hoping that Paisley do win the bid so that more funding is given to the town, (which will also benefit surrounding areas), opening up the potential for more projects to engage and encourage young people (and adults) to develop their talents.
I’m going to end this post with some of my favourite photos I’ve taken of Paisley over the years: