New Writing North gives me confidence
“My school librarian knew I liked reading and writing, so she told me about the group. That was six years ago and I’ve never left!
My first sessions at the group were really nice, we had coffee and it was just really relaxed. I met loads of friends straightaway who I’m still friends with now. I think that’s really important, to have a community of people who also write, otherwise you just feel like you’re doing it on your own.
We started with poetry which I hadn’t done as much of at school, but now it’s my favourite thing. We’ve been able to work with so many different writers. I remember one summer school where we did rapping and performance poetry, that was a whole new thing for me.
I heard about the Northern Writers’ Awards in the group but I thought ‘I won’t do that, I haven’t written anything that good so I’ll just leave it’. But then my friend Shana and I were nominated for the Matthew Hale Award and we won! We went to the awards ceremony and we were asked to perform our poem in front of everyone. It was just wild… we were really nervous because we were the youngest people in the room but it was really, really great and we had loads of people speaking to us about it.
With our award money New Writing North took us to Edinburgh Fringe and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done! We went to see Les Misérables, which was awesome – I’m obsessed with musicals but I’d never seen one because we never had the money to go to things like that, so it was amazing to be able to. We also went to a comedy show, which I’d never done before, and then we saw a community play, that was more political and amazing too. I loved watching other people perform, it makes you realise this is a community and maybe I can do something with it, it could be a professional thing.
After we won the award we also performed at the Lit and Phil with students from Newcastle Uni who were on the creative writing programme – I really loved that experience, and it’s amazing because now I’m studying there! I’ve performed lots of other places since then too.
Being part of New Writing North Young Writers just gives constant encouragement, I’ve never had anything where people have been so encouraging about everything. It’s made me more confident and pushed me out of my comfort zone – I’m actually a really anxious person and I would never, ever have thought I’d be performing things! But when there are so many people supporting you and asking you to do things, it just makes me confident in my own abilities.
I’m really missing the group right now (during Covid lockdown) and can’t wait to get back to it. It’s been a really big thing for me and a lot of my friends, it helps people with their mental health by giving them something every week to go to. It encourages you to leave the house to go out and spend time with people and socialise. But also it’s a way to express things and I think having that available to young people is invaluable. It just helps people so much.”
Amy Langdown, 2020