The pen is mightier than the mobile

This year, we have been working closely with the fantastic Platform youth hub in Islington, building an author-led creative writing programme for young people aged 13 to 19 called Write Ideas, which runs every Tuesday evening in term time. Two fabulous authors, Sarah Mussi and Sara Grant, have helped the young authors along their journey from first draft to publication.

To celebrate the culmination of this programme, we will be featuring three of the students’ pieces on the blog starting tomorrow. Today our blog is from Sarah Mussi, who spent a bit of time reflecting on the experience.

When teenage writers pick up a pen with the intention of becoming writers they certainly mean business. And if those teenagers come from Islington and know there is an author-led, community-based, publishing-industry-supported venture for them to take advantage of; hosted in a state of the art venue; then not rain nor snow nor GCSEs (even!) will stop them from attending.

Last week saw the culmination of just such a venture. On Tuesday night, two authors and the young writers’ group from the Write Ideas writing programme presented their writing to the world!   They performed at Platform on Hornsey Road as part of the Islington WORD13 festival, and I was there!

Yes, I was one of the very privileged authors who worked alongside this amazingly dedicated group of young writers, and I was thrilled to be present to applaud their projects at the Express Yourself event last week.

And what’s more, I was there at the beginning too!

I first met the young writers of Islington at the launch party. Along with Meg and Livs, from Hot Key Books; Sara Grant, a fellow author from CWISL (Children’s Writers & Illustrators in South London) and member of the Edge writers’ group; youth facilitators from Platform, stakeholders from the community and Key Coordinator of the Write Ideas & All Change Arts project, Rachel; with them all, I signed up for the journey.

From then on, fortified throughout by delicious (and amazingly huge) cup cakes (with marshmallows and sprinkly bits – O YAY!), we met – through wind and hail – every week for two months! We brainstormed ideas, crafted plots, drafted chapters; we edited and critiqued them. And we set about preparing a presentation of each piece for a culminating evening of celebrations.

And I can’t tell you what a BUZZ-ting and a WOW-ting it was! Stories of disappearances, of explosions, of teenage first love, of families in crisis, of home and of being lost – all came together in that evening of readings and questions and talks and reflections.

Working with such dynamic, enthusiastic and creative youngsters has reminded me exactly why I write for the Y.A. audience. They have an eye for detail, a natural feeling for suspense, a straightforward kind of genuineness, they have all the energy of being young plus the integrity of age: in fact they are totally awesome and fun and quirky too.

So fresh from working with them – and refreshed by their take on life, I think I better get back to my laptop and make sure I can write some thing BOOM and WOW and SO SICK too!

Because like they say, it’s totally worth switching off the mobile for!


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