Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Thea Smiley on her first mentoring session for About

Last Saturday, a mild and bright October day, six women met in a subterranean chamber in the heart of Norwich. The purpose of the meeting? To learn what ‘About’ was about. 
The competition had appealed to me because of its playful approach to form, and its focus on one woman’s relationship with a place in the East of England. So, I had written my proposal and sent it off. I had not anticipated winning. Indeed, I was so convinced of my failure that I immediately began to work on a submission for Words And Women’s prose competition. I was also unprepared for the mixture of astonishment, delight, and excitement that I felt on hearing the news and, as I descended the stairs to the meeting last Saturday, I felt as though the whole city could hear my nerves jingling.
I arrived in the depths of the building and was greeted warmly by our mentors, Lynne, Bel, and Hannah, and my fellow mentees. Photographs were taken, then we settled into the session, introducing ourselves, talking about our expectations, and discussing our proposals.
It was an illuminating and constructive three hours, during which we considered a range of possibilities for the development of our characters and themes, and thought about how we could make these work both in performance and on the page. 
By the time I climbed back up into the sunlight, the jingling of my nerves had changed to the more positive and pleasurable buzz of creative thought, and I had an improved understanding of ‘About’ and what it will involve. It is, beyond doubt, a creative challenge which will test, invigorate, and inspire us all and, with a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, we will produce four good pieces of writing for International Women’s Day.

Thea Smiley was one of About’s Category 2 winners. A recent UEA graduate, she writes prose fiction, and plays for radio and the stage. For find out more info about About and Thea see our dedicated blog page 'About comp'.

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