Monday, 28 May 2012

Bidisha's writing workshop at the Mosaic Rooms

How often do you get something amazing for free? Not very often. So I was quite jammy to spot that Bidisha was doing a creative writing class at the Mosaic Rooms in Earls Court on Twitter.
For those who don't know who Bidisha is, she's a really brilliant feminist writer whom I've admired for the past couple of years, so the chance to get to go and learn about creative writing from her wasn't one I was going to pass up - so I booked the day off work! It's like two of my best ever things rolled into one - like a Morrissey/ Bright Eyes double bill, so I was really looking forward to it.
The class was a one-off too, as a thank you to the venue for launching Bidisha's latest book so I was really lucky to get to go to it. The building is beautiful and the room we were in was very special, with fantastic Iraq war-inspired art. I was a total fangirl and turned up first like teacher's pet.
Bidisha is very well-spoken and beautiful in the flesh; tiny and stylish, with punky bracelets and tattoos. She was so warm and lovely and answered every question we had. I told her that now I write for a living I find it so hard to write in the evenings and she was like, 'don't beat yourself up for having a full time job' and said I needed to book 10 days off to just concentrate on writing. I do really want to go on a retreat because I think I need that head space to start my next novel - not sure I can get 10 days off for that, though! She said when you write journalistically you can lose touch with the kind of writing you want to do which is so true.
She set us short exercises and we blitzed through so much stuff: I probably learnt as much in those three hours as I did on the first year of my creative writing degree: and I didn't have to pay 12K - that hasn't gone down for the past 10 years - for the privilege. I've got pages of useful tips.The group was really lovely too and all eager to learn, with some obvious talent there. It was like a training course that people actually wanted to be on!
Although feminism wasn't touched on overtly (although I saw flashes of it there!) learning from someone I really respect as a writer and a feminist was so inspiring.
I feel like Bidisha has given me hope that I can be the writer I want to be; that it's not lazy to come home from work writing all day and not have any braincells left to use my imagination. But I can't use that as an excuse either: I need to set time aside if I'm going to write another novel.
A friend of mine says Bidisha scares her and that gives me a thrill. I want to be so passionate about what I believe in that I scare people! The amount of shit she gets on The Guardian website just for her opinion is the scary part: the amount of shit women get just for speaking their mind. But I think Bidisha would make a great ally; I think she's fiercely loyal and I love her strong opinions. I just love the fact she just comes out and says exactly how she feels about the world.
I'm grateful to Bidisha for giving us that time and I really learnt a lot. I hope my paths cross with hers again some day as I'd love a chat about feminism with her, too!

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