Winter 2011/12

So we just went right from summer to winter? No, time doesn’t work differently in my world. It was such a busy autumn that I was ahem, remiss in updating this blog about what I’m up to at work. Because I was up to too much. Ah well, here I am now, with loads to catch you up on.

My main client, Creative Tourist, had a very busy few months programming, producing content and preparing for the 2011 Manchester Weekender festival, which was a roaring success. October’s always crazy in Manchester, what with five or six festivals sharing the city; The Weekender gets them all together for a few delightfully frantic days of cultural gluttony. This year, I especially loved Lip Service’s Hysterical Historical Walking Tour, the Manchester Camerata and poet Michael Symmons Roberts teaming up for A Portrait of Music and Words, and the Beating Wing Orchestra’s fantastic gig at Castlefield Gallery. For a great roundup of the festival, check out our Weekender page on Storify, a new multimedia curation tool I am loving right now.

I’ve also enjoyed doing some more writing for the Creative Tourist site, like this feature on the excellent Picturing Politics poster exhibition at People’s History Museum. In other news, I’m very happy that Susie Stubbs has  returned from maternity leave and is now sharing editor duties with me. It’s a wonderful project to be involved in, and there’s lots of great stuff planned for 2012.

Openstories, the literature organisation I run, also had a busy fall. Rainy City Stories, our long-running locative creative writing project, went on hiatus (sniff) so we could concentrate on The Real Story, a creative nonfiction project that will serve as our main focus for the next year or two. Over the summer we ran a very popular life writing course and a personal essay competition as part of the project. The five winners’ essays were published on The Real Story website, which launched with a reading at The Deaf Institute during the Manchester Literature Festival. I am proud to be publishing such a fine collection of essays, and am happily plotting our activity for 2012, which looks to feature more creative nonfiction workshops and another publishing project, very possibly focusing on long form narrative writing. I’ve also been reading lots of wonderful nonfiction; most recently Jackie Kay’s winning memoir Red Dust RoadIn Fact: The Best of Creative Nonfiction, and this amazing essay in The New York Times by Cynthia Zarin, one of my favourite professors at Columbia Journalism School. I can’t wait to read the book it’s extracted from.

Oh yeah. Openstories was profiled in a Blankpages feature about creative writing organisations in Manchester. Check it out here: it’s called A Community Speaks.

For the sixth year in a row I coordinated the Manchester Blog Awards in October, which attracted more than 200 entries and showcased a really engaging and wide-ranging group of blogs this year. The event, held in conjunction with The Real Story launch, went well and featured a very professional group of Manchester writers reading their work to an attentive, full-capacity crowd. I’m constantly amazed at how much writing talent there is in this city. Head here for links to the shortlisted and award-winning blogs, which cover everthing from short movie reviews to psychogeography to scary junk food.

I have developed a nice relationship with Cornerhouse, and will continue to work with their Digital Reporters training scheme delivering regular sessions on blogging. I also ran a sold-out workshop for the general public called The Art of Blogging, and have plans to do a similar one there in the new year. Follow me on Twitter (@katefeld) if you want to hear about this one in time to get tickets!

I’m not actively seeking new clients for major (ie long-term and time-consuming) projects as I’m currently working just two days a week, but if you have a short term project you’d like to get me involved in, get in touch. I’ll be back on here in the spring with another update. Well, unless I don’t manage to get on here until summer. That could happen, I suppose.

All best wishes for a joyous 2012.

– Kate

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