DYCP – Blog 1

I was over the moon to end 2020 on a huge high, thanks to Arts Council England accepting my Developing Your Creative Practice fund application!

Screenshot from the Arts Council website

I wouldn’t have even considered applying, had it not been for the lovely folks at Quiet Down There encouraging me. I’d just come to the end of working with QDT on their Laundrette project and had lots of creative ideas bubbling away. The process of filling out the application form helped me find some clarity in my mind about the direction my work was heading and the themes and processes I wanted to explore. It also helped me to realise that it really was the right time for me to be accessing funding for focussed development. Once I’d finished the application I tried not to think about it too much, as I didn’t want to get my hopes up! 

In my application, I’d spoken about how I wanted to use this time to develop and strengthen my voice, whilst exploring how the identities of people from the global majority* shift and redefine. I had become aware of this in myself, and also in conversations with other black and brown people. 

I also knew I wanted my work to show people from the global majority existing in varied environments – particularly in outdoors, travel/adventure and wellness/healing spaces. In the last year or so, I’ve been part of various workshops, groups and discussions where we’ve spoken about the lack of representation of black and brown bodies in these spaces. I was  also thinking about my inner child, about what kind of creative work could have been empowering for her to engage with.

A photograph I keep above my desk to remind me to stay in tune with my inner child

During the first lockdown last year, I came across an organisation called Writers HQ and joined several of their free online writing retreat days. Later in the year, I was lucky to be awarded sponsorship from WHQ giving me a year’s access to their online courses. The DYCP fund meant that I would have the time to make the most of these courses – beginning with ‘Plotstormers’ to guide me through creating a detailed plan for a novel. 

I’ve known for a long time that I would like to write a novel one day. But it always seemed like such a huge, daunting thing to make a start on.. And the older I got, the more it seemed like something that Somebody Else could do, not me. The straight-forward and reassuring tone of the WHQ courses felt like an accessible route in. I have a busy mind and sometimes it needs penning in a little, in order to actually get things done! But also, the Plotstormers course is designed for people to work through at their own pace. People doing the course can chat and give feedback on each other’s work in the forum – whatever stage they’re at. 

Alongside Plotstormers, I’d be continuing to meet monthly with a writing group made up of people from the global majority. The space is held by Alinah Azadeh and the group was started after we all took part in Alinah’s We See You Now retreat, run with Writing Our Legacy in May 2020. I knew that having this nurturing and supportive space to share work, as an alternative to the more distant, much larger (and likely to be predominately white bodied) group of writers on the WHQ forums, would continue to be important. 

Alongside planning a novel, I also planned to use the time to explore different artforms and to work with new black and brown collaborators. I really enjoyed the process of creating Sick and Tired last year and was keen to work more with visuals and audio/songs, and to work with new collaborators to make more film/audio work. Likewise, after creating Hope and Laundry, I was thinking about making more zines and/or socially engaged work. And after some radio appearances last year, I was interested in exploring this as a platform too.

The DYCP grant would allow me to dedicate more time to my everyday writing practice and to continue exploring ways to amplify the voices and experiences of people from the global majority. It also meant I could pay some collaborators to create work with me, and therefore have the opportunity to work with new people.

After receiving the great news in December that my application was successful, I started getting myself organised – my time, space and life in general – ready to begin my activity time at the end of January.

*the term ‘people of the global majority’ is an alternative to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People Of Colour).

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