Spread the Word was introduced to writer Christian Adofo through his involvement in Nurturing Talent – a programme run by charity Create – that develops creative professional’s workshop leading skills. We at Spread the Word were excited by the programme, and really wanted to get to know Christian a little more so snapped up the chance to interview him about his writing, the Nurturing Talent programme, and who he’s reading right now…
Can you tell us a little about Nurturing Talent and how you got involved?
Run by award-winning charity Create, Nurturing Talent pairs emerging artists with Create’s experienced professionals to develop facilitation and workshop leading skills. Create designs and runs collaborative arts projects, led by professional artists, for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children and adults across the UK.
I first heard about Create’s work at a practitioner fair and was particularly impressed by the range of groups it engages through its projects on a local and national scale. Furthermore, I wanted to explore how my writing background could help in each setting to produce something original and beneficial for participants whilst informing my own prose with new perspectives. I applied at very short notice and my armpits felt like waterfalls during the interview but somehow I made it.
Who or what inspired you to take up writing?
During my time at university, the electricity was cut off in my house and after the initial Wi-Fi withdrawal, I started writing a comedy parody/poem looking at the routine yet resonant banal of a typical week. (If anyone ever finds that sparkly red book, I’ll trade it for something rare like a ripe avocado or tube commuter dialogue circa 9am). I’d also say the time I spent at LIVE Magazine (RIP) in Brixton was a forum of familiarity, which importantly instilled patience in allowing you to find your voice. The atmosphere for a particular period was a very fertile and utopian space with peers from diverse backgrounds unashamedly reinforcing identity through their own stories.
Are their barriers to your writing career and opportunities that you have encountered and if so, how have you overcome these?
Even though it’s an internal experience, I feel anxiety in sharing is one barrier I’m still learning to overcome. It wouldn’t be too dissimilar to a graph looking at the enthusiasm of the average England fan since 1966. You’re the biggest critic and champion of your work as you take your own vulnerabilities and make them into characters for a story, which is cathartic but one person saying it’s codswallop amidst the encouragement can leave your confidence ruined akin to a tipsy Jenga player. Moreover, I’ve been lucky to have supportive parents who have always encouraged me to work hard early on. I believe it instils a perseverance to express new narratives and helps me be appreciative to focus on the things I do have rather than the things I don’t.
What’s your advice for aspiring young writers?
It sounds elementary but writing To Do lists at the start of every week is helpful as it aids my productivity and allows me to focus on finishing one idea before attempting another. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to finish by the weekend but at least you’re making small steps to realising a longer term vision and having a sense of discipline. Also following writers you admire and organisations on social media is helpful with regard to hearing about opportunities, events for like-minded scribes and pushing you to listen to that voice in your head when everyone else around you responds with the default “but it’s hard”. Once you learn to trust and share, the world begins to become slightly smaller and a support network falls into place. Whether on a scrappy piece of paper or your phone, don’t forget to write as that small seed planted can yield so much for your imagination.
What contemporary writers are you enjoying?
Nina Simone once said: “An artist’s duty is to reflect the times.” He’s not an immediate contemporary but Sam Selvon’s writing (especially Moses Ascending) is rich in the way he describes his experiences of arriving and living in 1950’s/60’s London. Moreover, the various migrant communities search for identity through blunt vernacular and issues around race that aren’t too dissimilar to conversations we are still having in 2016. Other writers I admire are Clive Martin, Solange, Belinda Zhawi, Amina Jama, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kareem Parkins Brown and Kojey Radical.
What’s next for your writing?
I’m currently developing a theatre piece around the family and have recently finished writing a sitcom based upon my secondary school experience.
Christian Adofo’s play Small Boy was shortlisted for Triforce’s Writerslam UK writing competition in 2015. He is an alumnus of Soho Theatre’s Young Company. Christian has also run writing and drama workshops exploring the theme of identity.