On Tuesday I was fortunate to be invited to the performance of my work alongside two other writers, as the three of us had placed in the CultureShots 2014 competition. I came in second place and was very proud to do so, as the third place position went to a beautiful atmospheric poem called ‘Pennisula’ and first place was awarded to a short story that had great characters and a fantastic final line.
We’ve all been involved in the performance process, led by Julia Nelson, and also involving one of the judges for the competition – Tony Sheppard (who facilitates ‘Manchester Men’s Health‘, the other judge was Kim Wiltshire) – and were asked to provide some feedback and suggestions for the readings. I didn’t have much to add for Julia’s interpretation of my piece – The Memorial Tree – as it’s a fairly straight forward monologue which she read beautifully. However, the rehearsals allowed us the opportunity to learn a little more about one another and for any questions to be answered about each of the top three pieces. As these discussions generated some interesting points, it was decided that at the end of each of the performances Tony would do a short Q&A section with the writer, talking about the inspiration behind the piece and so our audience could learn a little more about us writers.
The performances were scheduled for 12pm in the atrium of Manchester Eye Hospital – a spectacular space flooded by light and where the main waiting area and cafe is for this infirmary. As a result, we had quite an audience – though we were aware that the performance itself was to be imposed on them: they probably had not chosen to be there primarily to listen to us! However, we were also joined by colleagues who did want to show their support, many of whom I work closely with – so it was great for me to be able to showcase a different side to who I am other than the Education Officer at the Museum!
The performances went smoothly, thankfully, and the short interviews shed some light on our different writing approaches and experience. I was able to try out a short blurb describing my current novel – and the feedback I got afterward suggested that it sounds a lot darker than I hoped, so I can work on refining the theme and getting the concept clear before we do it all again in March.
So, yes, that’s something to look forward to in 2015! One evening in March once the Whitworth art gallery has re-opened we shall be back out doing the readings again. This time, though, the setting will be in a brand new refurbished gallery, during a late night opening where our audience will have come specifically to see the performance and meet the writers.
It’s an exciting opportunity and I felt really proud to be able to have my work read so wonderfully and to be introduced as a writer for the first time in front of my work colleagues. They were all very complimentary about the piece – my sector manager said it almost brought a tear to her eye! – and were interested to know what else I had written. I even got more questions about my novel and an offer to beta read it once I’ve completed this round of edits!
I feel like I’m ending 2014 as a writer this year – with a novel that I’m finally beginning to believe can be the story I intended it to be – getting close to a potentially publishable standard – a Writing Magazine competition short-listing and a second place win to be proud of that got my work out there to the general public. It’s happening…slow though it may be, I’m going to make it as a writer.