There’s a fork in the road as you head west across America. The signpost points to Oregon in one direction and on the other a bag of gold hangs, temptation swinging in the breeze. The gold rush pioneers made their choice: a life of financial promise or a place where people read and write.
So, at a recent event at Nottingham Writers’ Studio, we heard from the delightful Dennis Stovall, a visiting professor from Portland State University. His remarkable story ran through covered wagons forging into the unknown, San Francisco subways and being married to a Woman of Steel. It also included a career spent creating and celebrating writing and publishing communities from those who chose the road strewn with books.
For me, as a new member of the Studio, this message felt as welcome as a bag of chips at the end of a day at the seaside. We are in times of great change, on many fronts. There is a gold rush mentality in some areas – in writing and publishing it may be about creating or discovering the next Shades of Grey or Harry Potter. But there are many of us, quietly filling our notebooks and trying to make sense of our experience by writing it down. We might indeed be writing the next big thing. More probably we’re not. We might be reading voraciously. We are playing – seriously – with words and ideas. Some of us want to change the world. Some of us want to observe or escape it. We may be excited by the turmoil in the publishing industry. The barriers are coming down, but there’s still a whole heap of rubble to climb over, and the signposts have gone.
In Nottingham, it seems to me, there is an increasing creative pressure forcing its way up through the streets. It isn’t necessarily pretty, though it sometimes is. Our history of textiles and lace, design and style is still very much alive. But there is also a gritty determination, a bolshie desire to tell our stories, whether through film, theatre or words, through music, pictures or games. Recently, I sense an impatience to get on with things, make things happen, and to take risks in trying things out. I think Nottingham is more than ready to make some noise.
And this is why I am excited…
…to have just been appointed to do the marketing/PR for Nottingham’s forthcoming Festival of Words. It’s very early days but what I’m hearing so far is a great creative energy to celebrate the power of words. Those of you who know me, will know this is something of a left-field project for me, but one that is dear to my heart and will keep me out of mischief for a few weeks. Actually, I think it might lead me into mischief. Who knows?
(And this is just one project – I am certainly not abandoning Creating Focus, just so you know!)
In due course, we will have more details published via the website and a newsletter. In the meantime, you can keep in touch via Twitter (@nottwords) or Facebook (Nottingham Festival of Words). The dates for your diary are October 17-19th. And if you have an idea for an event or activity to take place in Nottingham’s Market Square on Sunday 19th October, the call is out to submit them. You have until 30 June to do so – and can download a form here