Room 204: From Our Own Alumni
As we recruit the new group of Room 204 writers-in-development with our open call for submissions, we asked some of our previous Room 204 writers to tell us a little bit about what they gained from being part of the scheme.
Don’t forget the deadline for submissions for this year’s scheme is 28 February! We’ll announce the new cohort in mid-April 2018.
William Gallagher, 2013/14 cohort:
It shocks me how clear a line I can draw between my writing before Room 204 and after I got onto the programme.
I used to be quite prolific yet in a messy way, taking any writing work I could and gravitating toward non-fiction topics that I liked but didn’t love. It got so that I was good at this but because I didn’t relish it, I didn’t rate it and so ultimately I didn’t rate my own writing.
The mixture of focus and practicality and creativity that I got from Room 204 has seen me make better choices and develop writing that matters to me. I’m 52, I’ve been a full-time professional writer for 30 years, freelance for 23 and I’ve had around half a billion words published. Yet it’s only now and very, very specifically since Room 204 that I’ve been having the most creative and rewarding time of my writing life.
Getting on this programme meant the world to me and I hope you get to grab the opportunity too.
Jane Roberts, current cohort (2017/18):
Being part of Room 204 2017-2018 has enabled me to keep the faith in my work – and keep to the discipline of writing – in the plodding, frustrating moments of a debilitating illness.
Pieces of writing in a career can be judged as building blocks: some of those blocks plain and functional, others more decorative and noticeable. The foundations for those building blocks, you have to make yourself. The types of blocks – their style and eventual structure – this is your voice, your artistic intention. But sometimes you accumulate a number of blocks and you find yourself in need of something extra – a key stone: the block that bridges and secures the whole building process. My key stone last year was the Room 204 family: always encouraging, and ever-sharing exciting opportunities for artistic interaction or development.
You’ve always got your foundations – and they might be strong enough to help you balance the ups and downs of the writing life. But if you want to extend yourself, to create something spectacular – you might just need a keystone.
This programme really is a support for writers who want to build their careers to the next level.
Louise Stokes, 2016/17 cohort:
Room 204 has been a wonderful experience for me, from the day I heard that I’d been selected, and continues to be so now.
As well as the confidence boost it gave me to be recognised as a writer with something to offer, there are so many opportunities, along with an amazing supportive network of writers who are very generous in sharing their experience and knowledge.
I’ve had the opportunity to have a script read by The Literary Consultancy Free Read Service, which led to me getting funding to develop, rehearse and showcase my play exploring PTSD; opportunities like this which help me to continue to grow as a writer.
It feels so uplifting to belong to a community of writers who not only have such a wealth and variety of talents, but who are so motivated and keen to foster that community. I feel truly valued and a deep sense of belonging here; thank you!
Fran Hill, 2016/17 cohort:
Room 204 has given me confidence: confidence to say I am a writer, rather than whisper it as though it were a dirty secret I should keep in a locked closet.
More specifically, the mentoring meetings with Jonathan Davidson [the Writing West Midlands Chief Exec – ed] and his insightful questions have freed me up. No longer do I feel I have to ‘squeeze’ into a genre mould but can accept myself as sometimes a novelist and story writer, sometimes journalist, sometimes poet, sometimes blogger, sometimes funny, sometimes worryingly serious. I gained confidence, too, from being with other emerging writers and realising that everyone is on a *cliché alert* journey, just as I am.
The informal Room 204 buddying system where writers are paired together to coach each other for a set amount of time gives me new writing contacts and I learn from their ideas. The regular informal readings and writerly chat (in the pub!) have shown me that once you’re a 204er, you’re always a 204er.
Being part of Room 204 has helped me be much more positive about my writing career and my future as a writer.