Online Creative Writing Workshop

Autumn 2022 will see the publication of an exciting new anthology of short stories which explore the theme of dementia in a variety of different ways. Edited by Belfast based novelist, Jan Carson and Dr Jane Lugea (Senior Lecturer in English Language at QUB), the anthology will feature new work by 12 of the most exciting prose fiction writers in the UK and Ireland alongside newly commissioned work from two emerging writers. The anthology will be published by New Island and is a creative response to an ongoing AHRC-funded research project based at QUB, (Dementia in the Minds of Characters and Readers), which explores how dementia is represented in the minds of fictional characters, and how readers respond to those characters.  

On Monday 1st November Jan Carson and Jane Lugea will be hosting a free interactive online creative writing workshop open to fiction writers based in the UK or Ireland. The workshop will explore how to write well and ethically about dementia and will be open to 12 students who’d like to be considered for inclusion in the forthcoming anthology. Following on from this workshop participants will have until the end of November 2021 to submit an idea for a short story of 4-6000 words. A single student will be selected from this process. They will receive mentorship and advice from Jan Carson over the next few months with a view to submitting a final story to the anthology by the end of February 2022. This is an absolutely invaluable opportunity to see your work included in a print anthology alongside established writers. The anthology is likely to garner significant media attention, including event and interview opportunities. You will also receive a payment of €250 for your story and attentive advice and mentorship from EU Prize-winning novelist Jan Carson. 

If you’d like to be considered for one of the twelve places on the workshop and a chance to have your story included in the New Island anthology please submit 500 words of prose fiction (any subject) to no later than 5pm on Friday 15th October 2021.

More information about the dementia fiction research project can be found on this blog. You can also watch all the panels, readings and discussions about dementia and fiction from our recent festival at the Dementia Fiction Festival channel on YouTube.


Online Creative Writing with the Alzheimer’s Society

Over the course of the next few months we’ll be collecting contributions for our forthcoming “In Our Own Words” pamphlet which will provide a vehicle for people living with dementia to share their own thoughts and experiences. This pamphlet will be circulated amongst healthcare professionals and other people working in areas where they have regular contact with those living with dementia. It’s hoped the pamphlet will increase awareness and begin conversations about what it’s like to live with dementia every day. (More of this later. Watch this space).

In the run up to the pamphlet’s publication, our Outreach Officer, Jan Carson has been facilitating some online writing workshops with people living with dementia. For the last two sessions we’ve been graciously hosted by Julie McCaughey and James Erskine of the Alzheimer’s Association who introduced us to some of the people who regularly participate in their online conversation groups. They proved to be an extremely chatty and very imaginative group of individuals. It’s fair to say we did more laughing together than actual writing but we still managed to come up with some remarkable work.

Over two 90 minute Zoom sessions, 16 participants worked with Jan to share their stories, write and chat through ideas. We listened to some readings together: two postcard stories and a Billy Collins poem. The workshop’s theme was objects. Each participant brought a special object and developed a piece of writing, explaining what it was and it’s significance. We found out about travel experiences, family dynamics, favourite pets and memories of work amongst other things. We were even treated to an impromptu performance on the Banjo-lele (which we were reliably informed is a cross between a banjo and ukulele. Whatever it was, it sounded great).

Both sessions were an absolute treat and we’re very grateful to Julie and James who worked hard to make them possible. It’s not easy to find means of connection and community during these strange Lockdown times but our hours together felt almost as warm and companionable as an in person workshop might have done. We’ve been in a good mood ever since. We’re looking forward to sharing more information about the pamphlet soon and some details on how you can get involved.