January 2017 Report from Leigh Chambers, Inaugural Writer in Residence

Leigh Chambers

Leigh Chambers

It’s been a real pleasure being the inaugural Writer in Residence at Rock Road Library in 2016. I’ve lost track of the number of people who’ve contacted me to say how pleased they were to see a writer in place and/or talk to me about their work. Sitting in the Community Room as I sometimes am, writing, on a Friday afternoon, I’ve chatted with many eager writers and would-be writers about ways to motivate themselves or improve their work. I know this was something of an experiment for the Library and I hope it’s gained as much from it as I have.

In the year, the outstanding events have been the writers evening in which crime writer Alison Bruce, magical realist author Menna Van Praag, and custodian of Green Knowe Manor, Diana Boston, came to chat about writing. It was a fascinating night and the authors and Diana were kept busy after the ‘formal’ part of the evening, talking and socialising with those who came along.

More recently, we’ve had the creative writing competition using the ‘Location as Inspiration’ strap-line to encourage children and young people from 6 – 16 to put pen to paper and write. We received almost 200 submissions and I was thrilled that writers, Adele Geras and Julian Sedgwick agreed to be judges. We shall present prizes at an evening early in 2017 to those who came in the top ten in each age category (Top-tens). They’ll also see their work published online and hear it broadcast on Cambridge 105.

Hopefully that gives the Library some things to build on in the future: More events? (Those we organised certainly seemed popular.) A regular writing surgery? (Giving a more structured way to handle queries.) Funding? (Applications were made but were, unfortunately, unsuccessful. Funding would certainly have allowed more activities and might be easier to come by following this first year.)

All in all, I issue my thanks again to Rock Road Library for their support and wish my successor as much enjoyment in the role as I had.


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