As part of our Arachne 5th Anniversary celebrations, we’ve asked all of our authors to come up with a blog, that might have something to do with writing or anniversaries. Some of them responded! This one is from Rob Walton whose stories we published in Stations.
Back in 2012 I was thrilled to have two stories included in Stations, and five years later I’m delighted to be taking part in the anniversary celebrations.
Another of my writing adventures which saw the light of day five years ago was the New Hartley Memorial Pathway. This was a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of a terrible pit disaster, which resulted in the deaths of 204 men and boys. It also led to legislation, which went some way to prevent such a tragedy happening again.
I visited the pathway recently and it was looking splendid in the August sun, and I couldn’t help feeling a sense of pride. This is something I haven’t necessarily felt in the same way with everything I’ve written or had published in the intervening five years. I’ve heard from others over the years that the local community are proud of the pathway and the memorial garden which is its home.
To write my stories for Stations I did what I do every day – sit at the desk in my study writing notes, scraps, lines and thoughts and seeing where they take me.
The New Hartley experience was a huge contrast in that I was collaborating with (a) Russ Coleman, a friend and public artist, (b) the lovely people who commissioned the project and (c) members of the local community, whose ideas and words were incorporated into the text.
When I first wrote about the project, I referred to myself as the writer, but I started to feel uncomfortable with this as things were much more nuanced. I was using words from contemporary accounts, newspapers, official reports and the input – including actual words and phrases – from local schoolchildren and other community groups. I decided to refer to myself as collating the text, and felt better for it. I think this possibly downplays my creative role in some ways, but I’d rather that than take credit for something which wasn’t entirely my own doing – and I don’t like to blow my own trumpet.
Then again, I am very proud of that pathway.
Come to the PARTY on the 8th September.