We’re now in Myanmar (Burma), where we’ll be for the coming months. We’ve got a number of projects in the works, but first up is a six week writing workshop at the Parami Institute of the Liberal Arts and Sciences in Yangon. Starting later in November, we’ll be teaching a course on the fundamentals of short story writing. We’ll be drawing on published stories from both Myanmar writers and writers elsewhere in the world, and will be looking at short stories in a cross-cultural and cross-linguistic context. It promises to be a lot of fun.
Today we’re leaving Ubud after a hugely stimulating few days at the Writers and Readers Festival. Our final event yesterday was our workshop on writing and ethics. We had thirteen or fourteen participants – a nice mix of Indonesian and non-Indonesian writers – for a leisurely three hour exploration of how to get in and out of trouble with words. It was a massively stimulating afternoon, with a huge breadth of experience and insight around the table.
We started out with the question of discomfort and how (as the truly brilliant Clementine Ford put it in her talk here the day before) for there to be ethical change, it may be necessary to allow ourselves to be uncomfortable. From there we went on to explore the various issues that we faced as writers: everything from balancing personal and professional or institutional ethics to cultural appropriation, from ensuring the well-being and safety of those we write about to the difficulty of writing and reading that crosses between seemingly incommensurable value systems.
As Socrates knew, once you open up these kinds of cans of worms, things get complicated, and ethical questions are not the kinds of questions that are easy to resolve. But by the end of the workshop, we hope that the participants had a sense that there are better, deeper, more careful ways of asking ethical questions about our work as writers (as we certainly did), as well as having a few concrete ideas about how we might respond better to (if not resolve) some of the ethical issues that trouble us all.
Along with fellow writer Alexandros Plasatis, at the end of July 2018 we’ll be co-running a workshop at Leicester Cathedral to run alongside Arabella Dorman’s exhibition, Suspended. The workshop will take place on the 26th July, and then on the following day we will be involved in running a creative writing performance event in the cathedral.
Image: Leicester Cathedral
We’re delighted to be running two creative writing workshops on the 13th and 14th of August in conjunction with our good friends the LECTI (Language Education Culture Tolerance Information) centre in Varna, Bulgaria. LECTI are a fabulous organisation who run a feverish riot of activities in multiple languages.
We’ll be in Bulgaria for a good chunk of August, so we’ll post a bit more about any other Bulgarian events closer to the time.
Image by Ivan Milev, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.