My interviewee is Emma Hume, the Project Manager of the Write to Work’s Mosaics collection, a diverse anthology of forms of writing, poems, articles and prose. The book itself contains the work of 13 authors addressing the heart-warming to the heart-breaking narratives that are chosen to be portrayed. These works not only highlight the quality writing produced by the participants but also the diversity of skills learnt on the Write to Work course.
The organisation that allows for this opportunity is Writing on the Wall, which functions through funding from Arts Council England, Liverpool City Council and a range of other charitable organisations. The interest in Writing on the Wall culminates from the charities desire to focus on social inclusion, which emphasises the positive benefits of reading, writing and debate on marginalised and excluded communities.
For students that will see this article, what do you think will attract them to read this book?
What’s really unique about the write to work programme is we have addressed how the employment industry within the writing sector has changed, so we are talking about the gig economy and the negative and positives of that but there is a lot of opportunity for writers now. In the Write to Work programme twelve writers over twelve weeks come into sessions, so people from social media, bloggers who are played full time, writers for gaming and flash fiction, and the head of creative writing at John Moors University, Sarah McLagan. I think it highlights the diversity and the idea you can step outside of the idea you have to write a book to be a writer. I forget how much writing I do in my job that isn’t considered creative but it is as well, we have copywriters come in and teach creative ways to address writing that you would not assume to come under this category, such as imaginative and creative ways of formatting media and to advertise.
Writing and arts subjects are termed as not being as reputable or as employable as science subjects, how do you think this impacts your courses purpose being to help unemployed learners?
This round of funding is focused upon working with the currently unemployed or economically inactive writers, I think its really interesting for me as someone who went to Drama School as there is not a lot of access to the writing or creative arts industry. In schools, there’s a focus upon how to make writing a transferrable skill. Creativity and arts for me is an undervalued sector, If you can’t think creatively there are tasks that you can’t do. By coming down to this course and meeting the people on it will prove that they have the skills and are employable.
What do you find important about the opportunity for individual expression that the authors in this anthology have been able to employ?
It’s important because were quite unique with a lot of things. We don’t dictate what your voice will be or what your perspective will be or what you’re going to write about. So, I think this project was quite a freeing experience for a lot of people as there’s a lot of things you just don’t see as writing, or there are lots of opportunities to share stories and tell stories. I think in the other work that WoW does for me that’s what is the most important thing, is that you can tell your own story and speak to people that don’t recognise or see the barriers that you face in your life and I think this book when you listen to the writers you’ll see that diversity.
What do you see as the future of this programme?
So, we’ve had the first course and we’ve finished the second course and we’re finishing the third. We’re funded by the WEA and the European Social Fund. I see it working in all places, hopefully we can be working with the trade unions and doing a right for work that can see people signed up to unis come in and do the programme to do an upskilling and diversifying skills that they’ve got. I think it’s interesting that we’ve already got that interest.
I kind of see it being one of the flagships for WoW in terms of projects, because not only are those parts of WoW’s programme being challenged by themselves those working are also learning so much, the participants and the industry professionals are also learning from each other. It’s really exciting.
Does having a diverse group benefit this?
I think Wow are probably one of the most diverse organisations I have worked for in terms of the base in Toxeth and we do a lot of work with different community groups, whether local or asylum seekers or refugees. These types of groups where you bring in lots of different viewpoints and skills into one room, I think it’s something that higher education can struggle to do through their focus upon a quota that makes the diversity feel manufactured and not a natural component of the work being done. It felt like you were reaching a target and that’s something university needs to address and something that writing on the wall and the Arts does quite naturally. Especially smaller organisations, the larger organisations are constantly putting work out there but when you’re a smaller organisation and charity you have to question things and get to work a lot more freely.
What singles this anthology out from other books like it?
Its real people talking about real things and putting themselves out there. We’re talking about people who have had such diverse life experience and there not all working for a specific subject, the material in the book is so diverse and it’s an exciting read in terms of that and a real personality to it. Being able to run launches like this and people meeting the writers is something that we do.
Mosaics is now available for purchase at Toxeth library, Windsor Street, Liverpool, L8 1TH