Monthly Archives: May 2018

A year on…

One year and one day ago, I woke early and looked at Twitter – horrified by the news from Manchester Arena. I spent the day with friends, counting my blessings.

It was a gloriously sunny day and, as more news emerged about the victims, I reflected on how I’d feel if someone I loved had been involved. How would you feel if you’d had an argument then never got the chance to make up? Or, perhaps worse in some respects, you’d parted on perfectly fine terms but never got to tell them how much you loved or respected them?

That was when I decided to start writing to friends for no other reason than to tell them how much I loved them. My friend Emily, who moved home to the US, and I had been corresponding the old-fashioned way for a little while but that attack in Manchester made me realise that although I spend lots of time with my friends, I don’t tell them how much I appreciate them – because it’s implied. Well, I decided to make it explicit.

All we seem to get in the post these days (oh, how I’m showing my age) is bills and junk but when someone receives a heartfelt message in the post, it makes them feel valued. Ever since then, I’ve sent card and postcards and letters in the post and the feedback I’ve had has been lovely. People have reciprocated, of course, which was never the plan – I but it is a glorious feeling, knowing someone has taken the time to think about you then put pen to paper.

To me, a letter (or postcard or even an email) shows that the writer has thought about this. They have not just hugged you because you were standing in front of them, they are writing to you because they were thinking of you when you weren’t even with them. They have taken time out of their day to write to you.

I am not a tactile person – quite the opposite, in fact – but I am able to express myself with words far better than I ever could face-to-face. On the odd occasion that I found myself on the wrong side of my parents when I was a child, I would write a letter to apologise. Weird, I know.

I know some people wouldn’t feel able to express themselves fully through writing. To this I say: choose whatever works for you and do it.

Emma Whitehall once said to me that Elementary Sisterhood was partly borne out out of the support she had felt from receiving messages of support and encouragement through the post.

Yesterday, I had a massive wobble. Something inconsequential happened but it really threw me for a loop. However, when I messaged the sisterhood to tell them, the words of love and understanding I received heartened me. The people – in the sisterhood and beyond – who rushed to tell me what they felt for me and how I’d helped them really made me see the positive impact I’ve had on others.

So, in short, the message of this post is: if you feel something, say something.

Vic x

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Presenting: Elementary Sisterhood

Sisterhood

Back row L-R: Victoria Watson and Kay Stewart; Middle row L-R: Rebecca Sowden, Felicity Watson, Alex Heppell and Michelle Fox; Front row L-R: Emma Whitehall and Sarah Jeffery. Photo courtesy of 137 Imaging: Victoria Ling Photography. Not pictured: Jennifer C Wilson and Allison Davies.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present Elementary Sisterhood: a women writers’ collective.

I set up Elementary Sisterhood in 2017 to create a support network for the female writers I work with. The aim of the group is to provide a support network and to increase each woman’s confidence. We also talk writing, share books and have the odd cocktail!

It may be one hundred years since some women secured the right to vote but recent research shows that women are still encountering prejudice in many walks of life, including publishing. For example, during the last decade, there have only been three female winners of each of the major literary prizes (the Booker Prize, Nobel Prize for Literature and Pulitzer Prize).

Personally, in my work as a Creative Writing tutor, I have noticed the difference in dynamics between women-only writing workshops and those in a co-ed setting. When there are men in the group, some women are less likely to share their work for feedback.

Elementary Sisterhood comprises of ten women from diverse backgrounds, ages and writing styles including journalism, screenwriting, non-fiction and fiction. The collective also features a mix of professional playwrights, published novelists, bloggers and award-winning authors. Check out our Facebook page for updates on the group members. So what better way to make our mark than publish a book?

The anthology, which is edited by writer and copy-editor Emma Whitehall, will be available in special limited edition copies on the launch night and as an e-book. All proceeds from ‘Sisterhood’ will be donated to Newcastle Women’s Aid.

We have each written a new piece of work on the theme of sisterhood for inclusion in our first anthology. ‘Sisterhood’, is a collection of ten short stories which explores the wide-ranging issues which affect women today, celebrating and promoting collaboration and friendship as the ultimate empowerment tool. 

Stories featured include a mermaid who befriends a girl who reads to her, a tap-dancing octogenarian and a gripping tale about a murderous female friendship.

‘Sisterhood’ will be launched on Saturday, June 23 at Women of Words, an evening of poetry and readings celebrating the centenary of women’s suffrage, at Old Low Light Heritage Centre, North Shields from 7:30pm to 10pm.

Tickets cost £10 and can either be bought in advance or on the door. To find out more visit Old Low Light’s website.

Vic x