On Saturday 18th July, I sat at the desk in my bedroom about to begin the first Letters of Solidarity workshop. I had never used Zoom before or even attended any kind of virtual writing class, so I was not sure what to expect. But as the Zoom call progressed, I was pleasantly surprised by how useful and enjoyable it was.
It was late morning and I could see thick cloud outside my window. Unsure of what to write about and with only a small number of participants, I felt a little nervous about getting involved. However, Eve Makis, writer and lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, led the workshop with enthusiasm. Soon enough, we found that the exercises, short writing bursts and discussions helped us all to begin our own letters.
One key idea Eve introduced to us was that these letters should form a lasting legacy. Letters that people can read in many years’ time to better understand the varied experiences of 14 to 25 year olds during this shared time of lockdown. As part of addressing the variety of experiences we have all had, we spent the first half of the workshop looking at positive things that have happened during lockdown and the second half considering more negative events. Going through this process allowed us to consider all possible ideas before choosing the best subject matter for a letter.
With the answers to my questions and a better understanding of the project, I even felt confident about writing my letter!
In fact, one of the best things about the workshop was the small number of participants! This meant that we all had enough time to share our thoughts, bits of our writing and help develop each other’s ideas too. We all received plenty of tips and advice, especially as Nottingham City of Literature’s Project Manager, Richard Bromhall, oversaw the workshop. Richard not only gave us feedback alongside Eve, but he also took part. This helped it feel less daunting as we were not the only ones who received feedback on our writing. I was given the chance to talk about my ideas without needing to worry about how good (or not!) they were.
When I pressed ‘Leave meeting’, I was left with more than the gentle humming of the house and the grumbling of a distant lawn mower. I knew what I was going to write about and I had ideas as to how I could go about it. With the answers to my questions and a better understanding of the project, I even felt confident about writing my letter!
Above all, I recommend attending this workshop for how inspiring and empowering it was – I knew that my letter could be displayed like a jewel alongside many others that would give voice to the events we have witnessed. Stories that will be passed down the generations.
It was incredibly enjoyable to share the varied events of our lockdown and support each other in our writing. This in itself reminded me of solidarity – a virtual group of individuals with a common interest: to express with words our unique experiences of lockdown and to provide long-lasting mutual support with our letters to the wider community.
Register now to attend the next Letters of Solidarity workshop with Panya Banjoko on the 15th of August, or with Ioney Smallhorne on the 12th of September here.
Photo credit: nickmorrison via Unsplash