Thursday, 21 June 2012


Tin of biros
I need to write with blue Bic biros

My article for the Mapping the Change - Hackney Legacy project has been submitted.  I wrote a long feature article, that incorporated elements of both an interview and an opinion piece. 

Once I'd done the interview with Eton Mission Rowing Club, I knew that the final stage of the process was about to start - actually sitting down and writing the article.  This is the stage I am always most confident about - because it just involves me and some pens and some paper.  Nobody else needs to get involved, and whatever else is going on with me or the rest of the family, I can pretty much always make an hour or more at a time to write.

I make a plan of the article first - usually as a mind map.  I decide what I want to say, and what I must make sure I include.  Then I write a first draft - always longhand with my pen of choice and some nice paper.  This first draft looks very scrappy, with much crossed out, extra words added in the margins, new paragraph marks, underlinings and arrows everywhere.

The second draft is usually typed into Word, and then I print it out and leave it alone for a few hours or a few days - as much as I have time for.  When I come back to it, I read it through, marking the pages with any corrections I want to make, or anything that needs to be cut or expanded.  Once again the pages are covered with arrows, crossings out and underlinings.

Then I type it up into the final version, put it aside once more if I can, and then do a very final read through before I send it off.  This is how I've written for years, and it works very well for me, but I do need to build in plenty of time for all the drafts and re-reading that I like to do.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Interviews revisited

Interviews have always been a big challenge for me.  The experience I gained from conducting them and writing them on the last course has meant that I am much more confident and enthusiastic about them this time around.

A couple of weeks ago I interviewed my Mum over the phone about learning to knit, and then I wrote it up as a 350 word piece.  I surprised myself by enjoying the whole process.  The feedback I was given gave me another boost of confidence and I wanted to go right out and do another one - making it even better this time.

The feature I am writing for the final legacy publication is based around an interview with the committee of the Eton Mission Rowing Club in Hackney Wick.  I went down there to interview them on Monday evening.  This was my first face-to-face interview, rather than over the phone, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Having Ian, the photographer, with me was a big help - it felt like we were all having a good chat rather than anything stiff and formal.

So I'm an interview convert...right up to the point where I have to type up the transcript.  I still hate this part - I sound like such an idiot when I hear myself back.  I type as quickly as I can, and reward myself with a big slice of cake when I'm finished.

My voice recorder
My voice recorder - useful and mortifying in equal measure

Monday, 21 May 2012

Back again

I am back on the Mapping the Change project - this time with Hackney Museum.  This is the final course that Hackney Museum and Words of Colour will be running for Mapping The Change and the edition of Hackney Circuit that we are going to produce will have a theme of legacy.  As one of the graduates from a previous course, I am also part of the theme myself.

I want to focus my writing on the idea of legacy as something we inherit from the past, as well as something that is left to us for the future.  The constant use of the word legacy by the Olympic Committee and the Government always refers to future benefits, but what about the facilities we had in place already?  It is all too easy to forget them, or assume they were insignificant.

I've been researching and arranging interviews with the Eton Mission Rowing Club in Hackney, which is 127 years old, and borders the Olympic Park.  Things are starting to fall into place, and it looks as though I will be able to write the article about them.

Early morning coffee
Early morning coffee on the steps of Hackney Town Hall