WriteNow was launched last year as part of a nationwide campaign to seek out, mentor and publish new and under-represented voices on the UK’s bookshelves, including writers from a socio-economically marginalised background, LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer) or BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) writers, or writers with a disability. Writers attending the three events came from across the UK – from Edinburgh to Plymouth – and all 150 had an incredible diversity of ideas, perspectives and stories to tell. Amongst others, these included:
Burhana, living in Newcastle and writing Young Adult fiction
Burhana is a Muslim English teacher working in a predominantly white-working class area of Newcastle, faced with battling misconceptions associated with Islam. She wants to positively influence a generation of children and help them develop a sense of empathy they can apply to their wider world experience.
Abbi, living in South East London and writing poetry and non-fiction biography
Abbi is 24 years old and lives with a genetic bone disease called osteogenesis imperfecta (OI). Abbi uses a wheelchair and experiences chronic pain because of her condition. She learned to use fiction (both reading it and writing it) at an early age as a distraction from physical pain, and now hopes to pursue her ultimate ambition, to write.
Kaja, living in Bristol and writing fantasy fiction
Kaja recalls the joy she felt when she found her first LGBT+ book in a charity shop at the age of 15: “As a closet lesbian also exploring my gender identity, it was the first book I could relate to, which made me feel normal and less alone”. Now Kaja hopes to provide that “feeling of belonging” to others in the LGBT+ community and include LGBT+ characters in other genres. She loves fantasy books, and wants to bring a variety of LGBT+ characters into a genre in which they are not yet widely represented.
Alex, living in Newcastle and writing science fiction
Alex is from a working class family in Tamworth and works in a zero-hour minimum-wage service industry job. Whilst his own background influences the perspective from which he writes fiction, he also feels excluded from the informal networks that allow people to access the publishing industry.
Simi, living in London and writing commercial fiction
Simi is a 20-year-old Creative Writing student studying at Brunel University London. She has been in love with stories and storytelling for as long as she can remember. Born in Nigeria but raised in the UK, Simi wants to be an unapologetic black female voice in writing that makes people listen, and challenges stereotypes.
98% of attending writers said that participating had made them feel more confident and positive about their future as a writer:
“I really felt that we were being spoken to as writers not just as participants. Even if I don't get through I've finally got the confidence to pursue my writing and the discipline to see it through.” (London)
“I feel empowered to continue to rewriting the novel I submitted but also to continue sharing my own authentic experiences and worldview. I feel like so many doors are open to me in the literary world where I wouldn't see them before.” (Bristol)
“I feel a booster shot of optimism! I feel so much more confident moving forward.” (Newcastle)
“I'm totally inspired after today's event. I can't wait to go away and write more/ continue the edit of my novel.” (Bristol)
“I loved being in a room full of diverse people and knowing that there are people out there in the publishing industry working hard and opening doors for under-represented new writers.” (Writer attending the London event)