I am finally able to announce that I am one of the winners of the 2018-19 TLC Free Reads. It’s a scheme run by Arts Council England for talented writers on low incomes.
Sadly, my bio wasn’t included on the winners’ for last year or this year. TLC says I should have been on the previous, 2018 – 2019, Winners’ section of the website, but I definitely wasn’t included. Nor the 2019-2020 list, which is now online. I am sure that it is just an error. Nibbling pencils down to the lead at the mo, waiting to hear back from the National Centre for Writing to find out.
Winning a Free Read gave me the most brilliant opportunity to have my writing professionally assessed by The Literary Consultancy (TLC). I had to keep it under my hat for almost half a year. I was almost ready to pop.
Even being initially chosen by the National Centre for Writing here in Norwich and having my writing recognised as high enough quality is a total game changer for me. I know I should not need anyone else’s approval for what I create, but I was over-the-moon, and bouncing off stars when I found out, and I haven’t really come down since. ..
I’m an Actor, not a Writer
This time last year I was rebelling against even the idea of writing my own work. I was worried that writing would interfere with, or take place of, my acting.
I frequently grumbled that I was an actor, not a writer. I didn’t have the time to sit around writing. There were lines to learn, rehearsals to attend, acting to do. There was is no way that I would be good enough any way.
But, studying for my master’s degree gave me more creative space than I expected, to breathe and to think, to indulge my curiosity and my creativity and re-imagine what was possible
I had time to listen to playwrights and writers. Space to expand my knowledge. Time to read, research and learn. It gave me time to play. To reach out in new directions and pull those new pieces together.
I dipped my toe in and went along to the free workshops with the Jenny Lind Arts Project and Script East, just to give it a go and see what happened.
It turns out, that given the room to be myself, the writer I left behind in my teens, has been hiding in there all along. Rebelling against the banality of spreadsheets and being the antagonist of archaic administration. Waiting for the time that I could find my way back to being my creative, adventurous, curious self.
It’s been a struggle of a journey, but it was worth every step. Well, except for those months I was all but living on vegetable stew. I don’t miss that bit much.
National Centre for Writing Free Reads
In November 2018 I submitted part of my play to the National Centre for Writing for the Free Reads scheme.
The Arts Council England funded scheme is an amazing opportunity for talented writers, who are disadvantaged by low income and are being held back by those financial barriers. It provides a bursary for the writer to have their work professionally assessed by The Literary Consultancy.
In December I found that my play had been selected. Just being chosen was incredibly uplifting. To have someone look over my work, read it, and consider it to be of a high enough standard to be submitted for a professional review was incredible.
I could not believe it. I still can’t believe it. Everyone is henceforth banned from pinching me, just in case it wakes me up.
There was a period of several months, during which I had to wait until I could tell anyone. A little voice of doubt in the back of my head kept creeping in and saying to me… There must have been a mistake. You couldn’t have been chosen. They must have sent the congratulations to the wrong email and they are taking a while to respond because they are trying to figure out how to let you down gently.
But then I got my review back from the Literary Consultancy. Eight, brilliant pages of feedback from a “real” published playwright that is going to be invaluable in my finishing my play and getting it up on stage.
Then today, finally, up it pops in my email. The go-ahead from the National Centre of Writing that I can officially announce it. It’s officially official. I am feeling, ‘bouncing-off-the-stars’, excited again.
I am not sure I feel as if I can put Impostor Syndrome to bed quite yet, but I am sending it to it’s room without any dinner.
2018 – Creative Journey from Actor to Actor and Writer
2018 was a tough year for me. I didn’t have enough money to do my Master’s degree. But the opportunity was there, so I grabbed on to it and I refused to let go. Even though I had a far from comfortable time in financial terms and will be suffering the fallout for some time, I had the most incredible year.
I am so very grateful for all of the experiences that I have had, the people I met and worked with and all that I’ve learnt. I mentioned serendipity many times over the course of 2018. I’ve been incredibly fortunate.
In fact, the more that life has tried to put obstacles on my path, the more serendipitous and fulfilling life has become and more of what I actually desire appears to have flowed towards me.
2018 was a massively successful year academically, creatively, in terms of recognition, confidence, and achievement. On stage and film, I’ve had the opportunity to play more challenging and rewarding roles and received wonderful feedback from the people I’ve worked with.
And in a literary sense, in the acceptance and feedback on my writing . It’s given me the confidence to believe in myself and my own creativity.
Who would have thought that a year later, here I am, having just started writing a second stage play. Instead of claiming that “I am an actor, not a writer”, now I can proudly and confidently say that I am an actor and a writer.