Since The Student Wordsmith was founded in 2013, we have published the work of hundreds of writers and artists in our printed books and journals, and on our online platform, the Writer’s Showcase. We’ve also run a number of writing competitions with other creative organisations, which have resulted in many more writers having their work published in magazines, journals, websites and blogs.
In the time since their first publication with The Student Wordsmith or via The Student Wordsmith’s collaborative competitions, many of our writers have gone on to do big and beautiful things. We wanted to share their progress and celebrate their success with our Writers’ Success Stories Series.
Writers’ Success Story #3
Lerah Mae Barcenilla and TEXTure Weekend
Lerah Mae Barcenilla has been writing poetry, prose and non-fiction for The Student Wordsmith for over a year now. Since 2015, her work has been selected for a number of our publications, including The Purple Breakfast Review (Echoes) and The Growing Unease. Lerah also completed a period of work experience with us in 2015-16. Following her work with us, Lerah has continued to study and work on her writing in Leicester and, most recently, she took part in a collaborative project between Writing East Midlands, UK Young Artists and John Berkavitch as part of the TEXTure Weekend. The exciting, interdisciplinary project for writers and artists across all disciplines led to an experiment with new and ideas and experiments across art forms, culminating in a new piece of work that was presented at the UKYA National Festival in Derby on Sunday 6th November 2016. Here, Lerah talks a little about her experience…
The idea of a ‘narrative’ is interesting.
Defined by some as ‘a perceived sequence of non-randomly connected events’ (Narrative: a critical linguistic introduction, Michael Toolan, p.6), narratives can be easily altered, distorted, and obscured. Even the idea of a narrative seems artificial – a deliberate telling of events with the purpose of telling a story.
And it is precisely this play on narratives that made the TEXTure weekend, a collaboration between writers and artists in other disciplines (performing artists, dancers, musicians, actors, you name it), very, very interesting.
There were many experimentations and activities that happened in these two days:
One such activity was inspired by the musical term folley or folia. We had to write our own in the pattern ABA CDC AB. It reminded me of poetic meter (which I am terrible at identifying in poems and always left out when I’m analysing poetry.) This time we had to write a few sentences, some sentences would be repeated but different words would be stressed at different times – in turn, changing the overall meaning. For example, in the sentence “/she/ didn’t steal that pen”, the meaning would change when the stress is on a different word like “she didn’t /steal/ that pen.”
After writing these lines we had to go into pairs. While a writer reads their set of sentences, another would act it out. The catch: while one was writing their set of sentences in this particular sequence, the actor prepared their sequence of actions in the same pattern (ABA CDC AB), but without ever having heard the writer’s sentences.
Two seemingly disjointed elements came together and somehow created a coherent narrative. Yet it was up to the audience to interpret said narrative. It was also interesting to see how, by changing certain actions – by having the actor circle around the speaker as they recited their sequence, for example, or by turning your eyes away from each other – it was interesting to see how those simple changes altered the whole tale.
Another writing exercise involved a dialogue between three people. Termed ‘auto-theatre’, three members of the group then had to record their voices as one of the three characters. Separately.
With earphones in, three different members listened to the recordings They said the lines they could hear out loud and acted it out in front of the whole group. But it was disjointed at some points. After all, we could only hear our own lines and not the others. We were following what the voices in the recordings were saying. With two others next to you, you produce a strange narrative. You’ll be responding to them without knowing what they will say next. One could say that only the scriptwriter and the audience get to hear the full tale. It was here too that minute changes in movement – the use of the room’s space, raising the volume of your voice, staying still – created different stories.
The irony is: these activities are only two of many. You, as a reader, are essentially missing sections of this narrative. There was movement – but stillness was important. There was darkness, but there were red and green lights too and a whole lot of dancing. There was a tableau at some point and flash theatres.
Narratives are funny, aren’t they?
Writers’ Success Story #2
Natalie Moores and Mac&Moore
Natalie Moores was one of the first poets to be published by The Student Wordsmith. In 2014, we printed her poem ‘Attitudes Towards Sex Education’ in our first anthology: You is For University. We always remember our favourite poems and, at the recent Student Wordsmith Awards, named ‘Attitudes Towards Sex Education’ as the highly commended poem in the ‘You is For University Poetry’ category.
Since publishing with The Student Wordsmith, Natalie has gained a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Loughborough University and published her work in Agenda Broadsheet, Poetry24, Poet and Geek. In 2016, she and her friend set up their own marketing company, Mac&Moore. Never one to turn down a writing opportunity, Natalie has described her experience of going-it-alone with her best friend. And it goes like this…
“After three plus one years in higher then even higher education at Loughborough University, I found myself in London (this isn’t the start of a mystery novel – I had actually planned to move there) with no job and an increasingly worsening book habit. So I did what everyone does in that situation, PANIC FOR A WEEK, then apply for any and all jobs that match up with my skills. For a creative writer with some success publishing poetry (with The Student Wordsmith and beyond!) this turned out to be marketing. An opportunity to be creative AND get paid for it, fantastic.
I spent the last several years working away, learning the trade and eventually found myself working with Jess MacIntyre. I had unwittingly found myself the perfect partner in crime as we worked seamlessly together mainly due to the fact we were both obsessed with getting things done, had big ideas for our careers in the company and were both good at drinking wine.
Talking of wine, on one very untypical Monday lunchtime, Jess and I found ourselves in the pub. The main reasons it was so untypical was:
1) It was Monday
2) We wouldn’t be heading back to our desks after the hour was up.
We had just found out that we no longer had jobs as the company we both worked for had gone into administration. Far from an ideal situation to find yourself in, we decided to put our heads together and think up some options. One way ticket to Bali? Multipack of Hula Hoops and hibernation? One thing we were both certain of is that we didn’t want to simply rush into another job because of the financial fear factor. Not an easy thing to do, with rent day looming and a couple of pre-booked holidays to pay for we could have strapped on our trainers and ran as quickly as we could into the first opportunity that presented itself. Tempting as it was, to that plan … We said a resounding ‘no’.
We were both very clear in our minds that we wanted to make the right move, not the first move. But that did leave the rather gaping hole of a question… What is the right move? The answer turned out to be Mac&Moore. The brainchild of two slightly terrified but confident marketing gal pals who had spent the last months working in each other’s pockets, who have the same obsession with list making and completely different but complementary skillsets and who are incredibly passionate about the work that we do. Covering all bases from consultancy, strategy, social media, e-marketing, re-branding and a whole host of other mad marketing skills, Mac&Moore can get involved on one off project work or longer term marketing contracts for big or small companies.
One thing we found as we started to go through the motions in completely unknown territory is that we both know a whole parade of people who have taken this amazing and uncertain leap into self-employment and even more impressive was how willing those people have been to help us out and give us advice and encouragement along the way.
We also found that there’s a lot of nonsense out there, and when you are wading your way through shark-infested start-up waters it’s sometimes hard to know who to trust, who you can count on for constructive, honest feedback and who is actually just out for themselves. We decided to make one of our founding principles as Mac&Moore to cut through all the BS and tell it like it is. We want to describe our journey, no holding back, warts and all, traps, pitfalls, highs, lows, our inevitable first row (possibly over the fact we keep accidentally wearing the same outfits – check out the website photography – that was NOT intentional) so that hopefully someone else might benefit from us telling it straight. We will also be championing our fellow freelance friends on our weekly blog and celebrating the wonderful work they’ve created by being fearless and taking the plunge.
When we worked together before Jess’ favourite phrase (aside from the indeterminable bird noises she often makes at regular intervals throughout the day) was ‘we’re getting there’. After a few short weeks and a lot of long days and reassuring ourselves … I think she might be right. “
You can find out more about Mac&Moore and their recent projects on their website.
Photo of Jess MacIntyre (left) and Nat Moores (right), by Holliday Kedik and courtesy of Mac&Moore.
Writers’ Success Story #1
Emily Fedorowycz and Elouise Makes
Emily Fedorowycz has been with The Student Wordsmith since the very beginning. In 2014 her poem ‘Requirement’ was accepted for publication in the first volume of of our debut anthology, You is For University. This poem saw her shortlisted for an award at The Student Wordsmith Awards in April 2016. Emily was subsequently announced Highly Commended Nominee in the category Best Poem in You is for University 2014.
In May 2016, Emily won the Edie and Ebony mini-competition, which was run by The Student Wordsmith in collaboration with Elouise Makes, an ethical jewellery business. Rosie, Elouise Makes’s founder, was impressed by Emily’s competition entry and she subsequently hired her to write a series of short-short stories to feature in the company’s newsletter. The stories relay the exploits of Edie and Ebony, Rosie’s pet mice and Elousie Makes’ honorary business mascots.
Since winning the Edie and Ebony mini-competition, Emily has been welcomed into the Elousie Makes family, and she takes pride of place alongside Edie and Ebony on the company’s website.
photo of Emily Fedorowycz: courtesy of Elouise Makes
* * * *
Have you had your work published by The Student Wordsmith in the past? Have you won one of our mini-competitions in collaboration with other creative organisations? We would love to hear about the creative things you’ve been up to since! Drop us a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) and and we may even feature you as one of our Writers’ Success Stories!