I Am… absolutely thrilled and honoured to be part of raising awareness for independent Advocacy by taking part in the book blog tour for I AM…. An interesting, enlightening, and touching Anthology, a bundle of stories and poems by members of the Ceartas Creative Writing Group under the inspiring and motivating guidance of Ceartas’ writer in residence, Donna Moore.
‘Raising awareness of Independent Advocacy by giving individuals a voice’
Ceartas Advocacy is a marvellous institution providing Independent Advocacy to adults by prioritising working with those who have particular support needs. Ceartas Advocacy is a member of the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance.
The introduction to this remarkable book gives the reader insight into the motivation for and meaning of this project which, like the Independent Advocacy Service Ceartas itself, gives individuals a voice – to support them speak up for themselves or speak on their behalf when they are unable to do so. Creative writing is a different way of enabling individuals to use their voice as well as to increase confidence, enhance well-being and reduce social isolation.
This unique Anthology is the product of the combined efforts of the members of the Ceartas Creative Writing Group – the creative writing exercises used by Donna Moore from Glasgow Women’s Library, to promote participants’ confidence in the writing process. At the start of the book, Donna Moore explains each of the exercises. As such the stories do not have a “beginning. middle or end” but stand on their own.
I Am… The Anthology
” We all have a voice and we all have stories to tell”
Where to start to describe the many contributions in this lovely book? How to make you feel the emotions that I experienced whilst reading the various posts? The members of the group each have their own unique voice – just like all the people Ceartas Advocacy wants to represent, to help. Some exercises are simply wonderful, some responses are poetic and some are very down-to-earth and what is so very interesting, you see all of the Creative Writing Group members become more open, more daring, more able to share the person behind the mask. It was an absolute joy and pleasure to read. I am in awe and feel honoured to read their stories, to sometimes feel the pain behind their words and in the way they expressed themselves. Simply wonderful.
Each chapter is part of a journey to develop the members’ writing skills but each chapter also feels as the journey to learning to accept who they are – their attitude towards life. From I Am… Inspirational to I Am… Creative, Confident and Heard to I Am… Individual, Evolving, Learning, Strong. Finding a way to know yourself and to be confident with who you are takes courage. Along the way of the writing exercises, you feel the growing confidence and strength of the participants and I felt like shouting out to them how wonderful and inspiring they are and how good, brave and bold it is to be able to say with confidence I Am… Me! I am the person I am today, I accept and embrace who I am, I am my unique personality.
At the end of the book, there are still two chapters, treasures to be found: the group short stories, eleven hilarious and imaginative stories created by the group together. a perfect ending to this unique composition, just like the last chapter, showing us the colourful images, put together and created with texts, already used but now shown in a different context, ‘Found Poetry.’
| I Am… Inspirational
A poetry exercise in which the members of the writing group have to describe themselves. In colours. In atmospheres. In feelings. Beautiful and open descriptions of who they really are – who they have become and what drives them. I want to share a few lines from Nicola’s poem – she uses feelings with colours and scents… awesome!
“I am.. the safe and warm of blue and green
I am the scent and relaxation of sea and grass..”
| I Am… Creative
This part of the exercises is about creating short stories with a few ‘keywords, from a first sentence, from a scenario. All in a certain timeframe. It is great to see the difference between the group members. Robert’s story down-to-earth story, interspersed with sayings was so funny it made me laugh out loud! The given first line “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”
“I’m whistling away, here, stuck in the sink, just giving my feet their annual wash. I wash the left foot, then the right one. And then I cross them over and do them again. I can’t go about with dirty feet; you’ll never know when I put my foot in it. As long as it’s not one foot in the grave, I’ll be OK to wash them, same time, same feet, next year. Pfew, that was a feat to write in four minutes.”
| I Am… Confident
One of the exercises here was using one of the Seven Deadly Sins as inspiration – here’s how Carole turns a sin into something positive:
“Lust is a craving for the pleasures of the body, but I admire people who lust after knowledge and never seen to tire of learning and education, something I did not do as easily as I felt others did.”
| I Am… Heard
‘A couple meets on the doorstep. One is supposed to be out, the other at home. Both have a secret.’
The writings of the individual group members here show how each has his or her own attitude to life, whether their glass is half full or half empty. Some go for the darker bit with secrets that tear up a relationship, some’s secrets are just wonderful and bringing new life to a relationship.
| I Am… Individual
Part of this chapter was ‘Ceartas – My Voice‘ in which each describes what Ceartas means to them – what Ceartas stands for in their eyes.
“Ceartas is about ensuring that voices are not silenced; it is about speaking up and speaking out; it is about challenging stigma and stereotypes and celebrating the individuality and ability of people. So what better way to demonstrate what we do, than by setting up a group: a space where people are encouraged to use their words, use their voices – not only to be creative but also to show people what the CAN do and not what they can’t. A place with no barriers and no boxes to fit into, no labels to wear; a place where we are all equal and where our voices are always heard and respected.”
| I Am… Evolving
One piece here stood out for me as it relates to almost everyone I think. Don’t we all show the outside world a picture of who we’d like to be, to become? Who really looks behind the surface, who sees the pain behind the mask, the image we create.
“Most of her friends, colleagues, people she met in her life – especially those over the past few years – thought she was confident. happy, coping very well with her lifestyle, and that she had a good balance between her social and private life. This, of course, was the type of life she personified. But little did most of them know that this was mainly a pretence, very few saw her when she cried.”
| I Am… Learning
A chapter with stories, based upon objects, situations and fairy tales! Inventive and original – from footprints in the snow to those on faces… Intriguing, right?!
| I Am… Strong
To me, this was the most amazing chapter. The poems and pieces.. gosh, they spoke to me. I love to share Susie’s poem – it’s brilliant!
It’s time to go, reluctantly
And leave the light behind
Look forward to… I know not what
Or whatever I may find.
But feart to glance back
For the self I may find
That darkened shadow
That’s always behind.”
Where to Buy
This unique, heartwarming, touching and simply wonderful book is exclusively available on the Ceartas website.
Do yourself and others a favour – order your paperback copy now and you also support all the good work Ceartas Advocacy do! I highly recommend it!