"Thanks so much for coming in again today. Three of the girls came to find me to say how much they enjoyed it and how impressed they were with what they achieved! I really think they will miss the sessions when they stop."
That’s how one email I received recently read. My residency at Hastings Library started in January, and I still have tens of creative writing workshops to run. There are groups I meet only once, but in several cases I’m running a programme of up to three sessions with the same group. This is great, as I get to know the participants, and what works for them.
I also found a nice piece of feedback on the library service’s Facebook page: “Alan’s workshops are brilliant! He visited our ladies activity group at Ore Centre recently and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.” And a mother wrote to me to say: “It was lovely seeing all the kids working so nicely together. My [daughter] said she shared something with the group, amazing for her as she is normally uber shy!”
I’ve reached a point in the project where I’ve had the final sessions with a few groups I’ve been working with since early on. It’s heartening to hear them say that they would never have just sat down to do some creative writing on their own without having someone there to encourage and guide them.
We’ve also seen people visit the library for the first time because of the sessions. My workshops with homeschooled children were initially held at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, but logistics brought the final session into the Children’s Library. A show of hands revealed that there were a few in attendance who hadn’t been in before. At the same event, there was a flurry of activity as participants and parents took the opportunity to take out books, return books, and have a good browse of the shelves. It’s surprising how easily people find something in the library just by popping in – the first step is getting through the door, that’s the hard bit. After that there’s something for everyone.