Winter 2012/13

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Once again, I’ve been so busy that a whole season has escaped me. Autumn 2012 whooshed past in a blur. It was a good kind of blur, with lots of interesting stuff happening inside it, but the blur didn’t leave much time for blogging. Here’s some of what I’ve been up to since last summer:

  • I organised the first ever Blog North Awards, which were a big success. We had 543 bloggers from across the land enter and ended up with a pretty amazing bunch of winners, who were revealed at a packed event during the Manchester Literature Festival, which featured readings that ranged from funny to touching, from thought-provoking to hell-raising. Basically, the whole experience reaffirmed my love for blogging and for doing the sometimes strange work I do spreading the gospel of BLOG.
  • I ran two all-day blogging workshops for the Arts Marketing Association in London and Birmingham. I met some lovely people, and everyone seemed to get a lot out of the day’s work. I even made them write in longhand but they were very good sports. Here’s some nice things they said about the workshop:

“Great blogging workshop with Kate Feld and the AMA yesterday. Feeling inspired – watch this space!”

“Buzzing with ideas after today’s ‘Art of Blogging’. Cheers for an insightful day!”

“Huge thanks to Kate Feld and the AMA for such a stimulating & inspiring training day on ‘the art of blogging’ today. Highly recommended.”

  • In February I ran a 2-hour workshop on Creative Nonfiction in Lancaster as part of Litfest’s fascinating Castle Park Stories project, which aims to uncover some of the hidden stories of this historic place and bring them to life. It was a great session with a really diverse and enthusiastic group of writers. And I got to revisit what is probably my favourite form of writing, the much misunderstood format of Creative Nonfiction, which I previously explored in The Real Story project. It’s inspired me to go back and read one of my favourite collections of reportage (Joseph Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel. That’s him up there.)
  • I’ve recently moved to the post of contributing editor at Creative Tourist, as the ever-capable Susie Stubbs was ready to return to editing the site. While out of the role, she was busy overseeing a complete redesign of the site and a pretty exciting restructure of Creative Tourist generally. Once part of the Manchester Museums Consortium, it has now become an independent entity and has moved into new geographic areas, covering culture in Liverpool and Cumbria as well as Manchester. Another change is the creation of a cultural tourism consultancy firm, CT Consults, which I am now a part of along with the whole amazingly talented team behind Creative Tourist (go on, hire us!) I’m still writing a lot for the Creative Tourist site, and some of my favourite recent pieces include this review of the Jane and Louise Wilson exhibition at Whitworth Art Gallery, and this review of new Manchester restaurant Neighbourhood.

What am I working on now? Well I’m planning some more bloggy/literary events with Creative Industries Trafford and others. I’m helping sort out the next Blog North Network event (probably happening in Leeds, in April.) But now I’m mostly around talking to people about Rainy City Stories, Openstories’ Manchester-based writing project that is fixing to emerge from its long hibernation this spring. Planning and plotting; brainstorming, budgeting and grant writing.  All will be revealed soon.

Summer 2012

It’s been a busy (and wet) summer, but it hasn’t been all work around here, as you can see from this photo of St. Lunaire, Brittany. But when I haven’t been chasing my kids around tidepools, I’ve been busy working on a very big project. I started The Manchester Blog Awards seven years ago, and this year it becomes the Blog North Awards, in partnership with Creative Tourist, Leeds’ awesome Culture Vultures, and my own writing organisation Openstories. Entries are now open until 7 September at blognorthawards.com, we’ve lined up a gratifyingly awesome judging panel, and the winners will be revealed at an evening event 17 October at The Deaf Institute in Manchester, as part of the Manchester Literature Festival. Between now and then I will be spending much of my free (hah!) time putting blogs into spreadsheets, reading blogs, longlisting and shortlisting. It’s a good thing I enjoy reading blogs so much, isn’t it?

In other news:

I’ve been asked to serve on the board of directors of a new digital publishing organisation that is currently in the planning stages. I can’t say much more than that right now, but I’m very excited about working with this group.

I’ll be teaching some blogging workshops targeted at arts organisations and  professionals for the Arts Marketing Association in London and Birmingham in early 2013. It’s early days, but the workshops are up on their website and booking already.

After a long break I’ve returned to writing restaurant reviews, for Creative Tourist’s newly expanded restaurant coverage, and I’m really enjoying it. Here’s one I recently did for The Alchemist New York Street. I’m still writing the (very occasional) post for Manchizzle, too, like this one about two new gastropubs in town.

I’ve read some great books this summer: Alice Munro’s The View from Castle Rock, John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids and George RR Martin’s entire Game of Thrones series (read in a back-to-back frenzy) probably top the list.

Spring 2012

Hello! I’ve suddenly got lots of interesting things happening this spring. It’s so good to be getting out and about after the long dark winter, which is still looking very dark and glowery from where I’m sitting, but it surely can’t be here for much longer. Right?

Putting my Openstories hat on: On March 27th I’ll be taking part in a panel discussion about new writing communities at the National Association for Literature Development’s spring conference, The Space Between Us, at The Tabernacle in London. Really looking forward to this one; the two days of the conference are packed with interesting talks, workshops and readings. I’ve done a post on the NALD website on the topic of how working online has changed what writers and editors do.

I’m running another public session on The Art Of Blogging at Cornerhouse in Manchester on 17 April. Will add link as soon as the booking is up. I’ve also just done a mammoth new blogs update on Manchizzle. It’s great to see so many wonderful new Manchester blogs about.

I’m also reading my creative writing at the Prestiwch Festival on May 17 at The Church pub at 7:30pm – more details on that as I get them. Trying to decide between reading an essay or a short story, depends what’s ready first. (And if none of them are I shall be forced to stand and silently  stare at my shoes in public. Oh dear.)

Lots of exciting developments on the Creative Tourist front, but nothing I can share yet. In the meantime, I’ve been commissioning, editing and  even occasionally writing content for Manchester’s finest cultural web magazine. I really enjoyed doing this little piece about Manchester’s independent record shops, and this chat with artist Leo Fitzmaurice just before he won the Northern Art Prize.

I’ve also reviewed Jackie Kay’s memoir Red Dust Road over on the excellent For Books’ Sake blog.

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

Summer 2011

Hello and happy summer. The big news is that Openstories, the nonprofit arts group I run with Chris Horkan and Cathy Bolton, has launched a new project. The Real Story is a celebration of creative nonfiction, and will publish new writing in the genre on a website to be launched at Manchester Literature Festival 2011. We’re kicking things off with a life writing workshop I’m teaching at City Library July 30, and a writing competition that closes at the end of August. I’m really happy to be doing this project, I’ve been interested in creative nonfiction for a very long time, and have been lucky enough to do some work with Lancaster Litfest that has expanded my love for this under-appreciated field of writing.

The Manchester International Festival is just starting, and I’m gearing up to do a ton of blogging and livetweeting about this year’s jam-packed programme. I’m most excited about Bjork and Music Boxes going in, but if this year’s anything like previous fests, it’s often something unexpected that turns out to be your favourite.

Creative Tourist has been busy – our brand new family city guide, Six Whole Weeks? is online now, stuffed with great things to do over the summer in Manchester. It was a lot of fun to write and research this one (thanks to my daughters Molly and Bella, who should probably share research credit.) Work is already underway on CT’s Manchester Weekender, a full weekend of amazingly cool stuff that happens when five festivals concurrently going on in the city overlap and cross-pollinate.

I recently moderated a panel about approaching agents and publishers for Creative Industries Trafford. We had a full house and the event went very smoothly, thanks to our lovely panellists Oli Munson, Sophie Buchan and John Jarrold who came up from London to give Manchester writers some very sound advice.

 

 

 

Spring 2011

Hello world! I have finally emerged from my maternity leave hibernation, blinking in the light. Baby Bella is six months old now, and doing really well. I’m now back at work two days a week and delighted to be using my brain again.

The most exciting news is that I have taken over as editor of Creative Tourist, Manchester Museums Consortium’s website and city culture campaign hub. I’ve been working with CT since it began and am delighted to be taking the reins from the excellent Susie Stubbs, who is now on maternity leave herself. CT has an unbelievably busy spring planned – our winter/spring 2011 city guide is just about to launch and exciting new projects around BBC’s move to MediaCity:UK and the Manchester International Festival lurk just around the corner.

I’ve also been asked to teach a Life Writing course in conjunction with Lancaster’s fabulous Litfest. The two-day workshop is taking place April 4 and 11 at the Storey Institute. In preparation, I’m reading some of  Life Writing’s greats (Diana Athill is my favourite at the moment) and working through some personal essays and memoir-writing exercises.

I’m also working on some exciting new literature development projects with Manchester Literature Festival and Openstories, and finding the time to do a few interesting copywriting projects.  2011 looks set to be a busy one.

Summer 2010

Big changes ahead. I’ll be winding up all my current work projects through June and July as I prepare to devote myself to a single very important project: My second child is due in mid-August, and I expect to be on maternity leave from August 4 until early 2011.  I have arranged maternity cover on all of my ongoing projects, but I’ll be picking up emails intermittently, so go ahead and drop me a line if you feel like it.

Here’s what I’ve been up to in the meantime:

It’s been a fabulous month for Creative Tourist, the web magazine I do editorial work on. We bagged two coveted Big Chip Awards: the award for best online brand development, and a special commendation for best public sector project. It’s lovely to see all of our hard work recognised.

The literature and technology organisation I run, Openstories, has been awarded a £10,000 grant for the arts from Arts Council England to fund our activities through summer 2011. This means we can develop our current slate of projects, including the Manchester Blog Awards and Rainy City Stories further while investigating some intriguing new ideas we’ve cooked up for future projects.

I’ve organised another successful Rainy City Stories creative writing workshop series. This one was our most ambitious yet, with sessions covering every district in Greater Manchester.  I am delighted to have worked with our wonderful and talented workshop leaders (Nick Royle, Jenn Ashworth, Suzanne Batty and Shamshad Khan) and big thanks to AGMA for funding it all.

It’s been a busy time for Rainy City Stories. We’ve also teamed up with Creative Tourist for a summertime urban short story contest, Rain Never Stops Play. I’ll be helping organise and judge this and am really looking forward to reading the entries. We’re also planning a great event for the Manchester Literature Festival in October.

In other writing news, the Speculative Fiction Writing Group I started up at MadLab has been growing quickly, with 15 people now involved. It’s encouraging to learn that there are so many hardworking writers in Manchester, and it’s great to get stuck in to writing some short stories again.

It’s been great to see a trio of impressive new websites launch in Manchester: Visit Manchester, Creative Times and Go See This. I contributed writing to the first two and was heavily involved in developing the content for Go See This, an incredibly useful and user-friendly new what’s on guide for the city of Manchester.

I’ve also been working on a number of interesting copywriting projects. It hasn’t been all hard work, though. Some of my work has been downright enjoyable, like researching this article for Creative Tourist about wild swimming spots near Manchester. What a fabulous way to cool off!