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‘Introduction to Creative Writing’ - A pilot project between Lit Up! & EDAS Poole

Documentation & Evaluation Report Documentation & Evaluation Report - Gemma Alldred


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Contents !

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Formal Course Evaluation...........................................................................3 Summary of quantitative and qualitative data gathered from pre and post questionnaires.

Weekly Activity, Feedback and Example Writing......................................10 Documentation from each week is included, with a brief outline of the session, key learning points, reflections from participants and the tutor and examples of writing from the class.

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Week 1..................................................................................................11

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Week 2..................................................................................................15

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Week 3..................................................................................................21

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Week 4..................................................................................................26

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Week 5..................................................................................................28

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Week 6..................................................................................................33

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Week 7..................................................................................................37

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Week 8 & 9............................................................................................39

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Week 10................................................................................................41

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A celebration! (with cake)

Introduction to creative writing

Brilliant words

Writing characters

Short forms and poems

Spoken word

“He said”, “She said”.

Theatre Visit

Re-writing & editing

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About This report is both an evaluation and a documentation of a 10 week pilot creative writing course, funded by Lit Up! and held at EDAS Poole. Lit Up! is the writing development agency for Bournemouth and Poole. EDAS are a service provider, supporting people with addiction or substance misuse issues in Poole, through a variety of education based treatment interventions. The idea for course was developed after a one off workshop, commissioned by Lighthouse Poole, at EDAS proved successful. The course was led over 10 weeks by tutor, Gemma Alldred, who has considerable experience working in community arts, with a particular interest in sharing theatre and writing practices as a way of supporting people in recovery communities.

Course Aims & Outcomes The principle aim for the course was to deliver an introduction to creative writing over 10 weeks, with a celebration event at the end. The course would cover different aspects and styles of writing each week, presenting a taster for participants. The course would include a trip to a valued arts venue (Lighthouse Poole). In addition, because of the nature of the setting, client group, and potential future funders, consideration to additional soft skills relating to personal development was also included in planning. It was also important to develop a supportive and safe space, in which people would be able to contribute or attend and feel welcome regardless of ability or wellness on that day. A space that is very clearly about creativity and education, before it is about recovery. At the start of the course, the following outcomes were identified as being relevant to the course. They reflect the needs to evaluate from both arts, and health perspectives. Individual Outcomes • • • • •

Expresses an interest or takes steps towards continuing education. Expresses an interest in writing as an art-form/becoming a writer. Feels more socially connected Feels more confident/improved self-esteem Feels optimistic for the future

Course • Was welcoming • Was taught at an appropriate level • Would recommend to a friend

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Data Attendance Attendance can be a key indicator of success with art based workshops of this kind, based on previous experience, we had hoped for 8 -10 people, with a finishing number of 5-6 people. 17 people enquired about the course, of which 14 people attended the course. !

Overall attendance was 80%

And the wider statistics were also very pleasing: ! !

4 people attended 90% of the classes 1 person attended 100% of the classes

Of the 14 people who attended, everyone came more than once, with 12 people attending the final evening.

Questionnaires Pre and post questionnaires were designed and handed out to participants before beginning, and after the course. In analysing the data, it has been difficult to identify any particular trends or patterns. This could be for a number of reasons, the data set maybe too small, the participants tended to offer answers close to the median values, the questions asked weren’t appropriate. Generally participants expressed good to average outcomes for arts engagement and wellbeing, with only 1 or 2 people answering extremely positively or negatively. Answers between pre and post show little marked difference, although this doesn’t necessarily mean positive outcomes aren’t documented, with people self-reporting improvements in confidence, despite the quantitative data showing little change. What follows is a selection of data which seems to offer some of the more useful insights from the information gathered.

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Quantitative Data Contrasting questionnaire data This graph suggests that more participants are becoming more interested in taking up creative writing as part of formal education after completing the course. This may suggest an increase in personal aspirations and confidence in ability, or simply a new interest in the subject.

Pre Post I would like to study writing at college or university 10.0

7.5

5.0

2.5

0 Strongly Agree

Agree

Neither agree or disagree Disagree

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Strongly disagree


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Post questionnaire data

Doing the course was good for me

8% 25% Strongly Agree Agree Neither Agree/Disagree Disagree Strongly Disgree

67%

I would recommend this course to a friend

8%

8%

83%

Strongly Agree Agree Neither agree/disagree Disagree Strongly Disagree

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Qualitative Data Below is a comparison of qualitative responses, showing an individual’s aims for the course before, and after completing. Pre:! !

What are your individual aims for the course?

Post:! ! ! ! ! !

1. Over this course I have achieved.... 2.Things I have enjoyed about the class are.... 3.Things I would change about the class are....

To write creatively. Creatively express myself through writing. write my expressions creatively 1. Found out things about myself and others, new things I enjoy, creativity in me. 2. The whole course, the themes, the writing, the thinking, the sharing, the listening to others. 3. More !!!

Confidence. meet people. try and get creativity going again! 1. Met new people, faced a fear - reading in front of people, re-ignited my creativity. 2. Writing a piece of work I’m proud of. Being set subjects to work around as I'm not very good at thinking of my own ideas. 3. Possibly have some sort of system where everyone can read their work at the end of the session as some people would like to but are shy and need prompting - I’m aware of time constraints. To have an opportunity to share my work with others and get honest feedback and constructive suggestions. To listen to other people’s writing and offer my opinions. To learn. 1. Interaction with others, group work process, thinking outside the box. Structure and attendance. 2. The open minded approach of my peers, different writing styles. 3. No comments Have a go at writing poetry. Try to write a short story. Finish the course. 1. Self-confidence and new friends. 2. Gemma, and hearing different interpretations of the same subject. 3. Do it more often!

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Improve knowledge of creative writing. Write something longer. Motivation. 1. To have a few pieces I consider finished, as well as rough drafts. Started attempting poetry and performed two pieces. 2. Criteria - especially dialogue, characters and dare I say - poetry! Gemma - good tutor. the fellow students - togetherness, camaraderie! 3. Nothing Learn everything I can about certain writing to bring into my music writing. 1. A broader aspect on descriptive poetry and learning how to push myself further despite what my self-esteem used to be. 2. Loads. I have enjoyed getting to know everyone, watching people learn and grow. learning and growing myself. 3. Nothing I can think of. Networking. self discovery. learning. 1. Increased social skills. more of a feel for writing. 2. The group dynamic, discovering more about the arts of writing, theatre trip. 3. Make it longer Learn about creative writing. To see if this is a road I want to go on. Produce a piece of work. 1. I have my direction in creative writing. 2. Meeting new people, learning new skills, finding myself. 3. None. I would like to learn to write about expressing my emotions, feelings and experience. Complete the course. learn about creative writing 1. I feel I have achieved more confidence in myself, and learnt more about creative writing. 2. Getting to know others, having some time where I am distracted from my problems. 3. Nothing I can think of. To learn certain skills and techniques involved in the field of creative writing. To enjoy myself and to widen my social circle. To improve my confidence. 1. goals which I have previously set myself, such as widening my social circle, increasing myself confidence, and finding an interest/outlet where I can express my emotions. 2. I have enjoyed meeting new people, and getting to know them. I have been inspired by people’s work and have enjoyed a feeling of belonging 3. I would like to see a longer duration for writing classes. 10 weeks is a good introduction but an ongoing class would be good Documentation & Evaluation Report - Gemma Alldred


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To learn about creative writing To produce some writing. To complete the course 1. Some finished writings. 2. meeting new people 3. longer and about other writing. Gain confidence in trying new things. 1. Trying something new and reading it out to a groups 2. The people and their work 3. No comments

Key Points Overall there was a general consensus that the course was a good format, and should retain a similar shape in the future.

Areas for improvement Several people remarked in the desire for a longer course and/or session duration. A continuing option would be recommended, and will be considered in the future of the project. Several participants wanted longer sessions. This was often because they felt able to write with a greater level of discipline in the class, as opposed to their own homes - there may be an option to create a volunteer/mentor led section which could extend the session and promote the responsibility of longer term members. More space for feeding back. It is due to the success of the course that there simply wasn’t always time to hear everyone’s work - 14 people reading often resulted in a significant part of the session becoming feedback time. Consideration to this will be given in future courses, dependant on class sizes. Despite the quantitative data offering little which was particularly conclusive, the self reporting outcomes included increased confidence, improved social skills/circle of friends, greater understanding of the skills required for creative writing. This is pleasing to see and matches the aims and outcomes for the course. Over the sessions, one person expressed an interest in attending a more formal writing class, and was signposted to local colleges and universities, as well as other LitUp! courses. Several people independently performed at an Open Mic night in Bournemouth, it would be an aspiration to develop the course to include the option to perform publicly, and/or attend a spoken word evening in Poole.

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Introduction to Creative Writing - Spring 2016

Week

Session

Outline

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Introduction to creative writing What is creative writing and why do we write?

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All words are brilliant, some are better than others

Thinking about the words we use (or don’t) and how we can start to find ways to be more creative with language.

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Writing Characters

How can you write characters that sound real on the page?

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Short Forms and Poems; its not all about rhyme.

What’s the shortest number of words we can use? How do poems differ from prose?

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Spoken Word; rhythms and hooks

Following on from some of last weeks ideas, we will look at the spoken word form and make our own pieces to perform.

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He said, She said.

How can we write dialogue that sounds just like we’re talking? Thinking about plays.

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Lighthouse Visit - Forest Forge, UpBeat

Visit to see a theatre performance at Lighthouse Poole.

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Creating and Editing

Session to develop each individuals work, with prompts and exercises for people who still want to develop new ideas

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Creating and Editing

final pieces beginning to develop/ Options for new participants/ people wanting to just keep writing.

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Sharing and Feedback

Celebration week.

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Week 1 Introduction to creative writing

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Workshop Introductions & course overview Name poem activity & share Semi - structured writing task ! Mind Map on ‘shoes’ ! Free write based on shoes, with 5 senses cues. ! Share

Example writing MB - Grey Timberlands BT - Smelly work-boots

Evaluation: Good thing/bad thing ! !

I enjoyed listening to other people ! I felt I was a bit morbid in my writing

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I love writing and I’m grateful for a forum to partake in. ! I am feeling a bit tired

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Enjoyed writing, worried I was too over-enthusiastic. ! Session not long enough.

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Proud of what I achieved today.

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Really pleased I wrote something ! I feel nervous, anxiety makes me feel sad

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A good place to express myself and expose my feelings ! Full of anxiety and nerves so I’m glad I came. ! Don’t like form filling.

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Meeting new people ! Late arriving

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Enjoyed it, its a new thing for me ! Feel rough today

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I’m glad my brother enjoyed it.

Other notes The group asked if there would be homework, with some being keen to be set additional tasks to motivate them during the week. I decided that homework tasks will be set, but won’t be obligatory. Space will be offered for homework/other writing sharing at the start of the session. Documentation & Evaluation Report - Gemma Alldred


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Week 2 All words are brilliant

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Workshop Favourite words and sharing new words discovered for homework task. Using magnetic poetry tin words to create random sentences, which are then used for the first line of a 4 stanza poem. Edit & Share Semi-structured writing task; ! Freewrite including set words throughout the write. ! Begin with ‘I knew when I ! woke up...’ ! 10 minute EDIT time ! Share and feedback

Learning Points Thinking about attention to detail, encouraging editing and making considered choices of the words used. Thinking purely creatively by using word magnets to compose and inspire.

Example writing AT - The surgeon LM - comic poem BT - Good example of an editing process JT: Love’s lost... . (FINAL EDIT)

Evaluation Comments: with reference to session, editing and structure. I just need to study more technique - apply some formula - make it more constructive rather than just ‘look I wrote it, its great’. I am learning about being social. I did some poetry - which I don’t do! It’s patterns like nursery rhymes. No formula, just do what you want. Re-reading and editing, my edits feel better than my free write. The magnet words, stanza exercise was good, kicks you off I like listening to other people, to hear their responses I like listening to other people, the different directions they take. I feel uncomfortable, next week I might not (new participant to the group, the rest of the group then comforted this feeling by saying they felt the same last week and reassured her that it was normal and okay) Learning to be a bit freer, and this feeling that it ‘has to be deep and meaningful’, I’m learning from listening to other people’s work that it doesn’t have to be serious and it’s nice to write silly things.

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Love’s Lost... I knew when I woke up that morning, it was gonna be a shit day. I swung my legs out of bed and put my foot in last night’s half-eaten sandwich, ‘Fuck!’. Mayonnaise spread between my toes due to the excessive amount she’d put in. I didn’t even like fucking mayonnaise. It was only put in because she liked it. I’m actually surprised there’s any sandwich left at all. She must have missed it when side-tracked by the monster-sized bag of Doritos that she’d gorged on before turning in. ‘Stupid bitch’, I muttered to myself, feeling the moistness between my toes. She just lay there, her hefty bosom rising and falling as she let out gentle snores, her venomous mouth angel-like, belying the daggers it spat when she was conscious. For a second, just an instant, I saw the girl I fell in love with. The girl with a smile that felt like a reward, the girl with the wide eyes of eager excitement, the girl who made anything seem possible. But the moment ended, my days were becoming a series of nostalgic moments. My gaze lazily shifted from her face to her body. ‘She’d need to see her surgeon again soon’, I sniggered to myself, ‘that muffin top’s back, with a vengeance’. I tutted, and pulled the duvet back over her, like a scenes of crime officer covering a particularly gruesome, decomposed corpse. How did it get like this? Why was her misfortune my only joy these days? Did I love her? Had I ever loved her? She captivated me when I first chanced upon her, as she did with most men – we were easy prey for girls like her – beautiful, exciting, with a quick young mind. I didn’t stand a chance, and thought I loved her by breakfast the next morning. She made me laugh so much back then, laugh and smile – just watching her would make me smile; a flick of her hair, her mouth – her gorgeous mouth, as she talked or smoked a cigarette. I’d stand outside the charity shops she loved so much, watching her browsing, knowing she was mine – a voyeur of my own reality. I take a look back to her sleeping face and I’m still smiling, but it’s now a different smile – a smile tinged with embarrassment. Like looking at old photos with dodgy, out-dated haircuts or clothes – once trendy, once cool and my response is the same – ‘what was I thinking?’ She lies there! A dead weight, a mass, a lump! Testing our memory foam mattress to breaking point and now my slight smile is sympathetic but even this falls from my face as she lets out a huge fart, disturbs herself and rolls over, only to let out another one. The site of her exposed back accompanied by the smell of her arse is reality in the first person and I crave my voyeuristic position once again. Yes, this is all too real – my memory lane love is instantly replaced by my hatred of her – even in sleep she offends me for God’s sake. So, it’s another shit day coming up. I squelch my way to the bathroom leaving a trail of mayo behind me.

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Week 3 Writing characters

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Workshop Group-work - creating characters by deciding traits and background, dreams, etc as a quick fire task. Thinking about characters; • They have a past • They have a future • They have a present, which is motivated by their past and future. Using the group characters pick one and write them in more detail. Semi-structured writing task, using the character or someone you know in real life (eg the guy in the shop down the road), put them in a situation they must respond to: ! Mindmap ! Freewrite ! Compose/edit ! Share/Feedback

Learning Points People are naturally interesting, so write about what you know and be confident when you do. Understand a character has a psychology which motivates their actions and responses. Developing competency in creative writing by offering less guidance in the longer writing task.

Example writing TM - Each day is the same. (mind map and writing)

Evaluation Remarks: something I liked and/or I learnt today. Good to be back this week. I can see I could write a character and embody it, and then write a song from that place. Thinking about character is a good thing - past, present, future. Enjoyed listening and reading, worried I should let other people read more. Glad I came back, I was feeling bad not writing anything last week. So good thing I wrote something! Bad thing, I don’t want to share it. Good that I found a character to write about, because I struggled to begin. I need to be more assertive. I did 3 or 4 spider diagrams, then I chose 1 to focus my writing on. My punctuation is shocking though! Documentation & Evaluation Report - Gemma Alldred


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Listening to other people share. People are growing and developing and I like that I enjoyed writing it, feel less confident reading. I am learning stuff, that’s the main thing. I love characters and free writes - amazes me what I can do here in 20 minutes but I can’t do it at home!

Other remarks One participant who had been leaving early chose to stay the full session this week. We talked as a group about confident readers giving space to the people who don’t read as often to share their work.

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Week 4 Short forms & poems

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Workshop Talk about our experiences and feelings towards poetry. 6 word poems based on ‘For Sale, Baby Shoes..’ List Poems; use either I hate/I love/I am Read and discuss poems from Anne Sexton and Charles Bukowski Draft a poem that you feel like writing (unstructured task). Share & Feedback.

Learning Points Poetry isn’t scary and its okay if you don’t like it. Reading, interpreting and critiquing the work of others.

Evaluation - in 6 words (or thereabouts!) Lovely, friend, pressing, angry, shutdown. Interesting. And morbid. Poetry doesn’t always have to be dark It was, in short, emotive Gemma It was very black, that’s it. Poetry in motion- interesting first half, depressing second half. Still not totally convinced about poetry. Dark, revealing, mysterious, intriguing.

Other Remarks I had chosen two poems of different styles, by a man and a woman, but I hadn’t noted that they were both fairly bleak in terms of content - this impacted on the mood of the group and I will change this in future.

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Week 5 Spoken word

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Workshop Verbal storytelling as a group and feedback Listen & Read Kate Tempest (Brand New Ancients) exert. Discuss the techniques she uses. Write a piece to be heard aloud about something you care about. ! Freewrite ! Edit/re-write paying attention to rhythm, rhyme and repetition. Imagery and ! storytelling. ! In pairs share your work out loud and make changes. ! Perform/Share and feedback

Learning Points Interpreting other artist’s work. Tricks and techniques for spoken word. Editing with a purpose in mind. Editing by listening (not reading). Thinking about how you perform your work - standing up, speaking clearly, etc.

Example Work LM - Getting a Dog (FINAL EDIT)

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Feedback Feeling a bit calmer now, I like it, glad I stayed. This class is inspirational and I am writing in the week now! Nice to see M read! And good to get some stuff off my chest. Good learning about rhythm. Nice to hear M & B read. Glad I wrote my piece, made me think. Bad thing is I’m a bit nervous. Didn’t feel so happy with my work today, but my highlights are discovering Kate Tempest and hearing L’s poem. Great to hear L’s poem, and if M hadn’t read I wouldn’t have. This is the first positive thing in my week, I enjoy hearing everyone else’s work. I’ve written a poem! I’ve used all the things I’ve been learning, all the tips and techniques and I’ve written a poem! Good poetry that’s not about ego. I enjoyed working with B. Its frustrating hearing people say can’t/won’t/don’t like, but then seeing them do it and enjoy it. Good session, I added ‘gaps’, ‘breaths’ in my work, which was good. Fantastic session - well done everyone. I’m feeling like T, I don’t think this type of poetry is my strongpoint.

Other remarks The pairs work was a new strategy and proved very successful; each read their own work to their partner and received feedback, then they swopped so they read their partners work so they could hear it and make their own amendments/feedback. It was also a safe/covert way to ‘rehearse’ before performing to the whole group. In this session, two of our reluctant/shy readers volunteered first and shared their work, which was a very important moment for them and the group as a whole to be part of that moment.

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I'm Getting A Dog I'm getting a dog. Yes, man's best friend to walk beside me. No more I'll be alone, everyday we will walk and run on the sand. So yes I'm getting a dog. But... I need to work to keep the dog, and what will I do when the neighbours complain that he's been howling all day while I've been away? And he'll always be saying 'Feed me, Feed me!' Come to think of it dogs are really needy No, I can't handle that! So... I'm not getting a dog. I'm getting a cat Yes, imagine that! A feline friend would be just fine, no walks to worry us, just time, to spend together. But, hold on... I'm in danger of becoming a frightening statistic. Single 30 something female who when the boat went she missed it. I'll be sealing my own fate destined is what I am. To push my cats around in an old baby's pram. 1. Documentation & Evaluation Report - Gemma Alldred


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Dead for 3 weeks, nobody noticed! The cat started eating her, Oh this is hopeless! So... I'm not getting a cat. I'm getting a hamster, that's the real deal! No it would drive me crazy, with it's infernal little wheel. What about a budgie? That's good. Oh fuck! Didn't I hear that birds in the house are bad luck? A fish! No that would drive me to delirium. Swimming round and round in it's bloody aquarium! I'm getting a horse, Of course I'm not getting a horse. I'm not getting anything.

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Week 6 “He said”, “she said”

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Workshop Verbal warm up, trying conversations using one, two and three words. Writing dialogue for given characters, in a given situation. Extended dialogue writing task, focusing on a writing a short section of an imagined full length play synopsis.

Learning Points To think about how to write dialogue, and in turn the patterns we make when we speak. To work together in small groups.

Example Work BT - Exchange between an addict and security guard in Asda. DA - Exchange between a mother and daughter in a van.

Feedback I really liked group two’s pieces (Addict in Asda) I like writing dialogue I found it hard, it reminded me of the Two Ronnies, the fork handles sketch, thinking of what work they must’ve put in to do that. I enjoyed this more than the poetry, enjoyed writing it, and everyone’s response is different. I learnt you’d have to write a lot for a play. I’m comfortable doing it, but not to read it out. I’m enjoying the class now - I don’t feel as aggressive! I like dialogue, less is more. I’m enjoying having a go at this way of writing - you only have the characters to tell the story, so it matters what they say. I had to change the way I write and use a different part of my brain. Hardest week so far, I found it really difficult. How they manage that; write it, act it, learn it! I enjoyed hearing different stories created from the same scenario. I found it challenging to compose dialogue in a short space of time. The challenge to tell a story with dialogue would be a good challenge for me. Feeling a bit self-critical today because I’m tired.

Other remarks After evaluation, sensing the feeling was that it had been difficult/people hadn’t succeeded as they’d hoped, I asked more questions about this, particularly if I ran the classes again if I should change this session. The consensus was that it was challenging, but that was a good thing and that I should retain the session as part of the intro to writing course structure.

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Week 7 Theatre visit

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Theatre Trip 15 attended the theatre to see a production by Forest Forge, called UpBeat The show was well received by most of the group. It was an interesting production and we were able to talk about it from the perspective of writing, and the conventions/limitations of writing plays at the next session.

Forest Forge Theatre Company presents UpBeat a buoyant and poetic play in two halves - River Rising and Catch the Water - set against the backdrop of the heritage waterways of Wessex. This exciting new play has been written by local playwright Deborah Gearing, (runner up for the Brian Way Award for "Burn" and nominated for the Meyer Whitworth award for "The Cage"). Follow the story of a brother and sister as they chart the ebb and flow of their lives on a journey from youthful rebellion to adult ideals. A journey that continually pulls them back to the riverbank. A multi-skilled cast of actormusicians use the medium of folk music and vibrant storytelling, to deliver a heart-warming, tender and witty riverbank story that will send you dancing home. A journey begins with a single beat. A beat of music. A heartbeat. This is a love song for the waterways of Wessex. UpBeat. Extract from Forest Forge’s Website http://www.forestforge.co.uk/shows/upbeat

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Week 8 & 9 Re-writing & editing

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Workshop Week 8 ! ! ! ! ! ! !

We discussed the play we’d seen the previous week Introduced the idea of using week 10 as an informal ‘sharing’ event - with cake! New writing prompts/ re-writes and focused support.

Freewrite: It’s 4am, you can’t sleep. Describe your room, what sounds are outside your window? What is keeping you awake? Week 9 ! ! ! ! !

Continuing from last week, refining pieces and/or responding to prompts. Opportunity for more individual feedback to participants. Decide on the plans for next week!

Session Notes Lots of really good writing came out of session 8, either as a re-write, or from the free writing task, which a number of people chose to do. There were some nerves weeks 8/9, particularly as we prepared for week 10 - a change of workshop style - into one which gave individuals more choice over how to self-structure the session - to get what they needed. Some people responded well, for others it was tough and after the break in week 9, one participant, who I think felt the need for structure, ran a warm up writing game. Other people took more cigarette breaks, and as my attention was often with individuals, it became harder to keep a hold on the whole group. There is an inevitability about how these two sessions ran, as those with more confidence or clarity about their work can happily carry on, and others perhaps struggle or feel neglected with a change in structure, compounded by the anxiety of working towards a performance. On the whole, I believe they ran well, in the sense that everyone developed work and had feedback at a more 1-1 level. In future, I will plan more quick exercises (as well as freewrite prompts) which I can use if they are needed, with a focus on fun and group bonding. I will be clearer about what these sessions demand from the participants, in order to be supportive to each other eg: we still keep to breaks as a group, be respectful of other people working. There may also be space to develop the group mentoring ideas that have been successful in other sessions, so that pairs/small groups could help keep each other focused, whilst I am occupied giving 1-1 feedback. Attendance dropped off in these two weeks and I had some concerns this was related to week 10 - however most people attended for the final week and performed.

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Week 10 A celebration (with cake)

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Session We arrived at 6, with guests being invited for 6.15pm to attend an ‘informal sharing and celebration’. We had decided to keep the event relatively quiet and the invites to friends, family and other EDAS clients/staff, to keep the pressure of the evening to a minimum. We decided on the layout of the room, set out cakes and decided on a running order. Michelle Lyall, the deputy CEO, and training manager for EDAS Poole attended. One participant invited a friend/family member. Other people using the EDAS service came and joined us later in the evening, after their own recovery programme had ended. One person came independently, having heard about the event through the recovery network One participant who didn’t want to read, still attended to watch instead.

Evaluation Notes One participant, who has struggled with confidence throughout in performing her work, was unable to perform when it was her turn. After the performances we had a break before returning for a final feedback session - she pushed herself to perform on our return; ‘I’d be really cross with myself if I didn’t’. Michelle Lyall, was moved to tears after watching a performance from one participant who she had known very recently but under more difficult circumstances due to his health/ recovery issues. The opportunity for him to perform, offering him space to show a very different side to himself

Wow! What an amazing job you did with those guys, I can't thank you enough - Michelle Lyall, EDAS

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Session/Final Evaluation I loved it, it was amazing, not something I though about doing before, but I loved it! It amazes me how close we got as a group. I”m really proud of everyone - it’s gone so quick! Being in recovery I’m so grateful to have been able to be part of this, I can feel different parts of my brain lighting up, bits that have been dormant - I think it’s great for recovery.

Don’t know why I wasted so much of my life on drugs when I could have been performing, writing, being creative! I wanted to do creative writing, as I wanted to see if it was a path for me. I have decided it is, and I’m going to do some more courses at college or adult classes to develop my skills. I’ve learnt from everyone else - we’re all so different. Its been absolutely amazing. I’m quietly proud of everyone here.

Coming here has been so important for me

In addiction you have lots of groups about recovery But I’m not just an alcoholic...

I’m more than that !

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I’m a free thinking adult,

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and that’s why I love this group

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Performers 11 participants performed in total. Each performing self-selected work which had been written in class or outside class over the 10 weeks. Highlighted pieces are included on the following pages. DA - ‘Two short pieces’ MB - Timberland boots JT - Love’s Lost..... (see week two), Meaning. MJ & JW - ‘Porcelain Skin’ - a dialogue between a loo and its occupant. DP - Into the Light. JW - A performance poem, part sung TL - A spoken word piece AT - The Surgeon (see week two) TM - Beep Beep, Shoes LM - I’m getting a dog (see week 5), 4am OCD MJ - A spoken word piece BT - One poem.

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Meaning… Simple things get me, not grand gestures or surprises. A call can make my day, knowing I’m in your thoughts is enough. Just like that! I’m lifted, I’m smiling. And for that moment, I understand what love is. Together after time apart, an hour, a day or weeks. Your company restores me and makes the wait worthwhile. To see and hear you, touch, taste and smell, you over-whelm me. And for that moment I can sense what love is. Your habits and quirks are perfect. You’re messy, you’re scatty – uncoordinated and always late. You talk yourself confused and confirm with ‘yes’, and you lose everything. But you found me, and showed me what love means. You’re a mother and a lady, but always my girl. To call myself yours is an honour I struggle with. There for everyone, it’s hard to share what’s exclusively mine. And that is how you’ve taught what love gives My prize I don’t deserve and a thousand clichés more. You perplex and annoy me, frustrate and anger me. Then you listen, support me, care and amaze me. You fit my life… Perfectly flawed and just my love.

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Into the Light No blackness takes my sight, forward to future’s journey. With new hope in step, I walk into the Light. Healed soul is so bright, shadows always behind me. With head up high, I walk into the Light.   My Family’s love is my might, the past is all forgiven. Their love fuels my resolve, I walk into the Light.   Fear not of the Night, with good friends beside me. Support is all around, I walk into the Light.   My inner war now taken flight, and peace is all I desire. Out from the darkness, I walk into the Light.

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Into the Light (part 2) Let me introduce to you on how I was, For this is a sad tale of woe and strife, Where the villains of this story are called me, myself and I. It begins with a sad beggar sitting on the floor with an empty pint glass in hand, Pleading with known strangers whose better lives show on their faces, All I wanted was a freckle or a hair, was that so much to ask for?   When my glass is still empty I would look up to plastic heaven, With shaking fists I would protest greatly to my own god, ‘Why have you done this to me? Do I not deserve a better life?’ But the only answer I get in return was an echo of my own fear.   My anger still not appeased, I would turn to vent on my own family, They all stood afar into the distance, the more I yelled the further away they became, I could not see them no more, ‘Please come back!’ Too late, I was truly alone now.   Feeling my spirit departing from this worthless body, I yielded and knelt in front of my inner demons. A decision of life I had to make, Do I take the magic pill which will forever bring a peaceful sleep? or do I brave a journey that I do not know where it will take me?   The choice I had taken that god himself could not make, and with my last hopeless breath I cry ‘no more!’ And this beggar no longer stands up and travels down the road. From out of the darkness, I walk into the light.

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Beep Beep

Each day is the same. Routine is the same. Alarm goes off the same time. Everyday. The only change is outside, the weather, the amount of light through the curtains. Alarm off, dressing gown on. Cup of tea and a bowl of porridge slowly spooned into his mouth whilst he watches the morning news. This routine is comfortable. It makes him happy. It means that whatever the news throws at him, his world is all the same and his life is in balance. He brushes his teeth, gargles the mouthwash, spitting it down the bog as he has his morning pee. Dresses himself. Boxers followed by socks, then trousers, shirt and finally buckling his belt. He prepares to leave his familiar surroundings and venture out. He puts on his mac, hung by the door and grabs his mobile, keys and wallet from the side table. Out the door he goes. This is the part he enjoys the most. Highlight of an empty day. There is the familiarity of his journey ahead but also the unknown and ever changing world around him. As he walks his path he notices the smell of the air changing from each place he passes. Appreciating the ever changing scenery that breeds so much familiarity. There’s a building site along his way he passes noting the subtle advances the workers have made over the previous day, they air smells musty and gives a dry sensation in his mouth. It didn’t matter the small changes that happened in the world around it was all still satisfyingly similar. This made him smile. The simplicity and autonomy of the world. He would know all the ever facing faces he passed. Watch the school children over the years grow and be replaced by the next generation all the same. Each morning a car passes him that always gives two short sharp blasts of the horn. It happens most days but by the time he looks around all he can make note of is the car and the driver is out of sight. It didn’t matter he misses who it is as and he smiles at the acknowledgement of his part and place in the ever changing scenery, the world. The beeping of the alarm clock seemed slower this morning. Less urgent. Maybe it’s batteries were running down. His routine continues but the beeping remains. Past the building site the musty smell and dryness of mouth. The alarm clock still echoed in his mind. The car passes and beep beeps and he coughs.“There there” the nurse says wiping the porridge from his chin. Not long now.

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Shoes Shoes on my feet and socks glad they’re not wet, Walking they feel comfortable, Left foot follows right foot follows left foot follows right follows foot follows right foot, Haha I hopped! Hippity hop, Doing the hop scotch! I’m top notch! Why don’t you see footwear that matches headwear? People should co-ordinate better! Can hear my shoe squeak, It’s pissing me off! Need new shoes… Like from Back to the Future 2! Self-lacing Nike bad boys! I can smell sod all! Blocked up nose, Got a cold. Blew my nostrils and some snot flew out and landed on my shoes! Goo shoe. Glued my shoes, Still need new shoes… And a matching hat! What can I touch? Nothing! I’m walking nowhere! Maybe touch my nose? It’s snotty, Need to blow my nose. What can I taste… My nose is blocked so fuck all! Maybe if I have a hot curry… Quite fancy a curry for tea! Vindaloo with naan bread and finish off my Kodi build! Shoes off! I’m at home. Glad they’re off… They are covered in snot! Going to download something to watch when I get to bed… Wonder what Friday’s Pokemon announcement will bring… Documentation & Evaluation Report - Gemma Alldred


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With special thanks to !

Michelle Lyall - EDAS Poole

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Matthew West - Lit Up!

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Libby Battaglia - Lighthouse Poole

Documentation & Evaluation Report - Gemma Alldred

Profile for Gemma Louise Alldred

EDAS, Creative Writing Pilot 2016 - Documentation and Evaluation  

Evaluation and Documentation from a 10 week creative writing course held at EDAS, a service supporting people with substance misuse issues i...

EDAS, Creative Writing Pilot 2016 - Documentation and Evaluation  

Evaluation and Documentation from a 10 week creative writing course held at EDAS, a service supporting people with substance misuse issues i...

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