Manchester

Proper writer now?

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I’ve always loved to write, I’ve always enjoyed reading and I’ve always loved books.

Clayton Green library was like a second home to me when I was a teenager. The library staff knew me by name as I would be there every single day in the long summer holidays.

I could be found sitting in the corner reading books as my library card only allowed me to take four library books away. I could read four library books in a couple of hours back then. I am talking Sweet Valley High’s Wakefield sisters rather than the Bronte Sisters, so the books were thin rather than War and Peace volume.

I enjoyed being in a fictional world with characters that I would never come across on a Saturday afternoon in Preston.

I also loved to write my own stories using those fictional characters that I read about.

Secretly, I longed to see my name on the front of a book cover like all of those famous authors whose work I enjoyed. I would wonder whether Francine Pascal or Jackie Collins would get excited about seeing their words in print for the public to see. I bet they did.

So I’m delighted to say that tomorrow afternoon I will be spending an hour taking part in a book launch for Write for the Stage Publications (WFTS) and my first play Bleeding with Mother is on sale.
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I still can’t quite believe it. A play written by me, in print, with my name on the front cover. If I never do anything again, at least on my bookshelf which is stacked with printed copies of stageplays and screenwriting bibles; Willie Russell, Lena Dunham, Blake Snyder and Robert McKee is now a Sarah Cassidy. Does that mean I can say that I’m a proper writer now?image

The Write for the Stage Publications launch event is part of Greater Manchester Fringe Festival and is taking place at 4pm at The Kings Arms, Bloom Street, Salford, M3 6AN
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Bleeding with Mother

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There is good reason for the blog sileIMG_2881nce over the past few months. A real creative surge!

I can announce some fantastic news in that the upcoming production of my debut stage
play ‘Bleeding with Mother‘ will be playing in my hometown of Manchester during May 2016. Ticket details here.

This play has seen a very long, yet incredible journey from concept to the rehearsal room in just under three years. I am currently scribing a separate blog about the birth of this play. It holds very dear in my heart as I feel that ‘Bleeding with Mother‘ has grown in character as much as I’ve grown as a writer over the past three years. IMG_2901

The community radio soap which I co-write Station Road is also back on the airwaves this week after a long break. It is wonderful to hear it again, and reminds me of how much I have developed throughout that incredible experience of being part of a writing team for the past two years. You can listen live on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5.30pm on ALL FM 96.9

And finally I’ve been undertaking an intensive block of script development sessions with Scriptwriting North which resulted in a first draft of a brand new radio drama which was table-red by professional actors last week.

To say 2016 has been a productive year is an understatement. It’s been fuelled by coffee, a new laptop and a great deal of support.
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Welcome to Station Road

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This week has seen the premiere broadcast of the radio soap that I’ve been co-writing for the past fourteen months.image

Station Road is a continuing radio drama about life in a fictitious and gritty Manchester street. Not only do the characters work and live on Station Road but there is also a public house, café, urban farm and a corner shop.

Hearing the scripts come alive for the first time on Saturday was quite simply marvellous. A couple of the writers, myself included were interviewed live in the studio at ALL FM prior to the episode being aired.

The episode was played mid-interview, and it was pretty special not imageonly hearing our scripts come to life but we also have a theme tune. An actual catchy theme tune that we’ve since been humming in our script meetings.

A surreal moment yesterday as I left work to drive to the weekly Station Road writers meeting, the pilot was played out again during ALL FM’s Drivetime show and as I sat in traffic, I felt such pride listening to the scene that I wrote

Check out our blog which is all about the show and tune in at 17:30 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on ALL FM 96.9 www.allfm.org

Why volunteer? Haven’t I got enough to do?

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Tomorrow is the first day of the Manchester International Festival as it kicks off with a host of performances ranging from visual shows, musicals to choirs.

Four hundred volunteers have been recruited to make sure that the festival runs as smoothly as possible, and one of those volunteers happens to be me.

Volunteers come in a variety of backgrounds, ages and gender. It’s not the retired person with time on their hands who act as volunteers anymore.

I met a host of people during my MIF induction session on Sunday. Students, teachers, IT professionals, marketeers and yes the retired folk too.image

You see a lot of people think that we’re mad. Working full-time in a very busy job and then volunteering on top of that – why would you do that if you’re not getting paid?

Maybe I am mad.

I’m not only volunteering at the festival, but I have been a volunteer at my local community radio station for nearly two years now too.

Have I not got enough to do? When do I find the time? Why would I possibly do anything extra unless I was getting paid for it?

I’ll tell you why.

Volunteering has given me the chance to learn skills that I never knew I possessed, meet some extraordinary people and be part of something. It has also given me an increase in self-confidence and there’s something rather satisfying about giving back to the community where you live.

Years ago I lacked the confidence to talk to people and walked out of a new job as soon as I realised that the expectation was that I had to talk in a group situation. Now on a weekly basis I host my own show live on the radio and internet http://www.wfmradio.org speaking to many people. I speak in large groups (not very well) but I do it.

That would never have been possible before I became a volunteer at the radio station.

I’ve interviewed local artists, bands, actors, directors and many other interesting and talented people. Again, only possible through the volunteering I do.

One things for sure, I certainly don’t get to do things like that in the day job.

I’m looking forward to my first shift as a Manchester International Festival volunteer. Hopefully if the weather is shining, I’ll get to meet some very interesting characters in Albert Square and there’s even the chance to dust off the sign language as I look after a children’s choir as they sing along to Mr Tumble.

Who else could say they get to do that?
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Radio Soap Writing Group

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My last post about Collaborative Writing was over 14 weeks ago, and I’m happy to report that I’m still part of the writing team for a new radio continuing drama series for a Manchester community radio station.

We started out five months ago as a team of fourteen writers, of all writing ability and over the weeks have now dwindled down to a regular writing team of six.

We have a full cast of characters with their back stories, storylines, real life actors have now been cast to start recording the series in two weeks time and we the writers are all frantically scribbling at an amazing speed to ensure that the scripts are ahead of each recording.

There is finally a name for the radio soap too although not sure if that is being officially launched in the upcoming weeks. Maybe not the best of ideas to publicise it on here in case there is going to be a big PR campaign planned for it in a few weeks time.

It’s great to be part of a writing team. I experienced it as part of my Masters degree in Scriptwriting for the Radio Drama module, but nothing is better than experiencing it in real life.

The best thing about the weekly writers meeting is that we all have our own ideas about how a character should react to a situation etc. However, the collaborative process means that we get to bounce ideas off each other and just having those discussions (sometimes heated) means that what could start off as a good idea can be bounced around and with a few heads getting together can come out as a great idea.

It’s certainly made me think about my future writing and the possibility of trying to find a writing partner to collaborate with.

I’m going to London Screenwriters Festival later in the month so maybe I should be on the look out for a collaborator.

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Celebrating Manchester

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Yesterday was the fifth year that Mancunians celebrated “Manchester Day”

The day boasts a mile long parade of various community groups, organisations and clubs through the streets of Manchester.

Attended by a record breaking 20,000, the Manchester Day parade was a successful event. A gathering of Mancunians and visitors to the great city for the one day of the year where we can toast our diverse communities and remember how we prevailed during the riots of 2011.

Parading down the streets of Manchester were Read the rest of this entry »

Collaborative Writing – Week 2

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As expected the group of extremely keen writers in week one had dwindled slightly in week two.

Perhaps it wasn’t what they thought it would be, or maybe they didn’t realise it would be a weekly writers meeting. Anyway our large group of writers in week one was reduced by a third in week two.

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Not only was it nicer to work in a smaller, more intimate group setting but it also meant that I managed to take a larger share of the Jaffa cakes during the three hour meeting.

The aim of the meeting was to recap what we had covered in week one, come up with more characters for our project and start looking at potential conflicts and stories between the characters.

In week one it was apparent when we shared our characters that our project wasn’t culturally representative of Manchester.

This gave me all the ammunition I needed to create my next character who is of black origin and is the local councillor for the area.

In the next exercise which involved us writing with a partner myself and another writer who had created an MP decided to lock horns and have a bit of fun with our characters and their dialogue.

I really enjoyed this exercise as the gentleman that I was partnered with was very quiet within the session, but once we began writing together he produced some great one-liners and comedic moments.

We really bounced off each other, and it has made me think of finding a writing partner in the future. Having another set of ideas is refreshing and means that the partner may suggest something that leads to me coming up with a different angle on a story. I wouldn’t excuse it in the future.

The lesson of this week for me is never judge a book by it’s cover.

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