Last year, Blakenhall Writers Group, in Wolverhampton, was successful in gaining Arts Council England funding to produce an anthology of poetry and prose. It was our first funding request for Blakenhall Writers and we were delighted when we were granted just over a thousand pounds. The whole process, from start to end, took about 15 months.
The three writers leading the project were dedicated members and organisers of the Blakenhall Writing Group: Cherry Doyle, Roma Ante and myself. We met regularly to arrange workshops, facilitators and keep an eye on the budget. Sometimes, it was very difficult to meet up and we had to use other forms of communication like text and email. The group had decided to focus on the theme of identity. We had specialised training on how to edit professionally which was very useful. Then the written material from workshops started to come in. We helped our members and contributors by providing feedback on their work and how their work could be improved. We enjoyed helping writers to improve/redraft their work for publication. For some contributors, it was their first time they’d see their work in print, so it would be a boost to their confidence.
Being an editor was exciting, exhausting and time consuming. The experience of it all was invaluable, as well as being great achievement for me personally. It taught me about working with various writers at different levels in their creative skills. We had many difficulties and misunderstanding in the editing process but we got through them, such as choosing a cover, artwork, how many pieces we wanted to include, spelling and grammar, layout of the pamphlet, reading, editing, re-reading, asking professional writers to review it, etc.
Finally, after weeks of hard work, our publication was ready for printing. We wanted our first ever anthology poetry and prose to be as perfect as possible. The group was pleased to see it in print and everyone was satisfied with the end result.
The next step was performance and marketing the anthology. A performance workshop was held and it was great to see so many members perform their work in front of an audience. Some shy members who’d never performed in their life, got up to read their work out. It was amazingly satisfying to see this outcome. We are extremely proud of our members and contributors, so well done! And thank you to the Arts Council England who made this possible.
If anyone would like a copy of the Blakenhall Writers Anthology, it’s £2.50 per copy, please let me know.