create-write-connect is Spread the Word’s campaign to offer free writing activity during these unprecedented, difficult times. As part of this, we are offering three free writing courses via email. We are thrilled that Life Writing Prize 2020 mentor, Irish writer and essayist, Kerri ní Dochartaigh is leading one for us.
What is ‘Neadaireacht /Nesting’?
‘The world is dark / but the wood is full of stars.’ – Seán Hewitt
Just as staying apart is a way to keep each other safe right now, to write in these times is a way to draw close to one another. To listen, to learn, to grow, to nurture, to heal. What does it mean to write in such times? To write in these times, is to live in these times. To write in these times is to give in these times. To give the only thing we really have – that which we have been storing up since we were wee: our truthful, raw, echoing, flocking words.
In this course we will carve space in our lives – no matter how changed those lives may feel right now – to write about our lives.
We will use prompts as a means to tune in – to ourselves, our experiences, and the world around us. We will write in a variety of styles, about things both ordinary and ethereal, about the seasons and time, about the land and the sea, and much that lies between. We will write of this aching, gorgeous earth and our role within it. We will observe the world around us – from exactly where we stand now, then looking back at memories from our past – and finally trying to imagine how the rest of the story might unfurl, like a delicate fern. We will write the story of our lives, giving voice to things we may never have even spoken of before. And we will listen to our own story, one that only we can tell, and one that really matters; now more than ever.
About Kerri ní Dochartaigh
Kerri ní Dochartaigh writes about Place, Literature and Nature for The Irish Times, The Dublin Review of Books, The London Magazine, Caught by the River and others. In 2018 she was highly commended in the New Welsh Review Essay Prize, the year before in the Spread the Word Life Writing Prize, and in 2016 she won the Mark Avery Politics and Nature Prize. Her first book, ‘Thin Places’, is due out with Canongate in Spring 2021.
What can you expect?
You’ll come away from this course knowing the weight of your own words, having given voice to the things inside of you in a respectful, nurturing way. You will have learned ways to carve space into each day – no matter how chaotic or troublesome – to get your thoughts down on the page. You will come away from this with the sense of ownership of your own lived experiences, and a variety of diverse ways in which to map them. You will leave this space with the knowledge that words hold power, and that there are so many different ways that we can bring them into the world. At the end of this, it may feel like you are only just beginning, ready to take flight.
What do you need to take part?
You need access to email (and if you don’t have access to email – or know someone in the UK who would like to take part and doesn’t have access to email, let us know. We can print and post these tasks to people who would like to take part but who may not be able to. Unfortunately, we can’t post outside of the UK). You need about 1 – 2 hours a week to take part, but of course due to the fact these exercises aren’t designed around certain times, you can save them and do them whenever you can.
Who is this course for?
This course is about finding beauty in small things and hidden places. It is about looking, listening and paying attention to the world. It will explore ways to notice things like a single shaft of light, to find words for that light in our work, and to reflect it back to the reader in a way that leaves the reader feeling like the light has landed on their own skin – through our writing. The focus will be on the natural world around us and on our own inner landscape, so nature writers or life writers might gain from this course. The act of paying attention, and of paying tribute through art to the beauty of existence, has a long heritage that can be traced across many genres. Artists, makers, sculptors, musicians, cooks, politicians, teachers, carers, gardeners, writers of all kinds – and more – all make space in their day to take note of the world around them. If you love the world, and seek to know it and your own self better, this might be the course for you.
You’ll receive 5 emails, one a week, on / around the following dates:
May 26, June 2, June 9, June 16, June 23
What considerations are given to access?
This course is designed with creativity and accessibility at its heart; it is free to take part in, optimised for screen reading, and include transcriptions and alternative descriptions of music.
Is this course really free?
Absolutely. In recognition of the financial difficulties many people are facing, and to try and offer some joy and inspiration into people’s lives, we are committed to offering these, and other activities, for free to all writers who are unable to pay. We are asking those who are able and willing to do so to make a donation of their choice to our create-write-connect campaign. 50 % of funds raised will go to Spread the Word and 50% will go to the Trussell Trust.
Image of Kerri by Wendy Barrett
Published 4 May 2020