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Representation, Stormzy & writing more

I recently read ‘On Writing’ by Steven King, a sort of vivid timeline of Steven BECOMING (you can probably guess my subsequent read) the writer he is.

There is a part where he talks about shame — how sometimes as a writer you are ashamed about what you write about. I find the thought of sitting down with a group of writers uncomfortable, but when I read about Steven being ridiculed about his gift because it was ‘silly’ or too obscure or countercultural, I understood the need for community.

I sighed because shame is sometimes what I felt when I would splurge creativity on a page and then realised this would eventually be open to the scrutiny of others. I sighed because I wasn’t the only one who felt like this… sometimes.

It probably stems from a combination of factors, a lot to do with insecurity — to rid with insecurity.

I went to the Merky Books X Penguin Live event last year where the lovely lady sitting next to me recommended I read ‘On Writing’ after engaging in a very un-London-like random conversation about being a writer. That was a profound moment for me. The event was amazing too. With the likes of Akala, Malorie Blackman and of course Stormzy, I scribbled down nuggets that I am sure will be gold as I reflect back on them every so often.

The room was filled with people from seemingly different arenas of life — that shifted something inside of me. After the event, I was compelled to write about representation, social action, and more but I stopped myself because it broke outside my writer box. However, I am starting to realise that powerful conversations stem from authenticity.

So here is to writing more…

Representation from my little lens

There was a point where Stormzy referred to representation as a buzzword and I agree, that it has become rhetoric. The term sometimes loosely falls out of our mouths without its weight. We hear about it theoretically but it’s power lies in practice.

I recently read a BBC News article shared on Twitter about encouraging greater diversity among school governors. The comments underneath the posts surprised me; people actually had criticism regarding this and subsequently the impact of representation. It made me unpick the article too but I understood it. It’s about being black but it’s also about the experience attached to it. If I can relate to their past, it gives me a glimmer of hope seeing their future.

The Merky Books event was an example of representation in practice. It wasn’t just a topic of discussion, it was a picture. Sat on the stage were people who had walked the walk which built them up to be the inspirational people they are now. Evidently, being a black author, or presenter, or poet (or [insert career]) and being accessible to the next generation is influential.

The attention that the young people paid in the room was fascinating and compelling. When the speakers shared their stories, by both the ears and eyes, it often translated into:

“Yes, that is accessible’ and “No, that is not your end” and “Yes, you can really become your best self.”

We, grown-ups, have a part to play in making doors lighter to open for those coming after us.

I am reminded of those who were before us in history and how they were not only present, though that in itself is powerful, but they were also heard. I think its about being integral — striking the balance between learning the language of a place of influence and keeping the definition of your own voice, because in your voice is a narrative that is to be unlocked. I think this is where, partly, change happens.

Thank you to the lovely lady who recommended I read On Writing. She wasn’t the only person in the room. We probably looked at things from different perspectives.

This is representation from my little lens because not everything is in my current periphery. Representation is a factor. It makes things a whole lot more reassuring.


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