I sat down this afternoon with the intention of updating this page, but possibly because I’d just had lunch, or possibly because it was a warm and sunny day, or possibly both, I couldn’t think where to start. The more I thought about it, the more hopeless the task became. I just couldn’t think of anything … except this, what appeared to be at the time a rather obscure memory, which I wrote down:
I remember once as a child, at the height of summer, turning off from the main road into the street where I lived, and glancing over my shoulder, noticing that the sky behind me was dark and heavy with rain. It was a fair walk to my house and as I walked along the footpath bordered by strips of parched grass, I felt the first soft drops of rain on my shoulders. They felt warm and welcome and I tipped my head back to enjoy them. As I did so, I became conscious that I was walking in front of a raincloud. I could feel the sun on my face and smell the moist earth drifting up from the grass behind me. I felt as if I was somehow leading a vast column of nourishing rain along the street. If I slowed down the cloud did too and if I quickened my pace I could see fat gouts of rain appearing and disappearing on the hot pavement in front of me. It was like that all the way home. I remember opening the door and, still perfectly dry, stepping inside and watching the rain sweeping across the dusty street, the bright sunlight picking out the details of everything in intense and vibrant colour.
It’s funny how things happen and how the mind works. I was trying to think of an interesting way of leading into a résumé of what we have been doing on the Creative Writing Programme over the last couple of years and I ended up with this seemingly irrelevant evocation of a long-forgotten childhood experience. But then maybe it’s not so irrelevant? There is something about the sentiment of the piece that chimes. The elation and excitement that I felt, that I was caught up in something much bigger than me, something that was providing nourishment and growth, vibrancy and colour. That, it seems to me, is absolutely relevant. Because that is how I feel. Running the programme for the last few years has been a real privilege. I have been working with the most brilliant writers and tutors and together we have had the enormous pleasure of seeing stories, novels and short story collections written by our students winning competitions and being published.
The Creative Writing Programme, over the last few years, has established itself as the most innovative, popular and affordable study centre for writers in the South East. Nudged and inspired by our writers we have set up the Creative Non-Fiction Programme as a separate programme for writers who want to come at the writing process through the medium of personal or researched experience and therefore need the time and space to consider the relationship between the writer and the text. We have set up the highly successful Advanced Writing Workshops where writers with experience of working at a higher critical level and who are aiming to get their published, can meet up on a monthly basis to read and offer constructive feedback on each others’ work. And this year we are offering these courses along with our popular Advanced Poetry Workshops and Writing Poetry courses in blended and online formats.
Creative Writing Programme Director