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Great Stories? Start here

Andrew Kells in the NWS Studio

[Creative Nottingham welcomes guest posts from the creative community. Today’s post is from Andrew Kells from the Nottingham Writers Studio and the images are from him and Pippa Hennessy. Andrew writes tall and short stories for young and old readers, and has recently been published in the Boo Books anthology ‘After the Fall’ and the Nottingham Writers’ Studio ‘Crime’ anthology. He’s currently writing a contemporary urban fairytale, alongside the sequel to his debut children’s adventure, ‘King of the Rails’. More on his website and you can follow him on Twitter @Andrew_Kells.  Over to Andrew:]

Rob Howie Smith in the near derelict NWS Studio before upgrade work

Before: NWS Studio with Rob Howie Smith

The blank page.

As a writer, it doesn’t matter how many of them I fill, I’m always wary of the next one. How should I start? How will it turn out? Will people enjoy it when it’s done? Then I forget all of that and get stuck in. I felt exactly the same way when I first visited 25 Hockley, once known as the Old Pram Shop, now known as the new Nottingham Writers’ Studio. As blank pages go, they don’t get much bigger than this one.

Nottingham Writers Studio was founded in 2006 by a handful of writers including our patron Jon McGregor, as a space for writers to meet and work. From a couple of rooms above a curry house, it’s become one of the fastest growing members groups in Nottingham, in no small part due to the positive welcome visitors receive when they join one of our monthly socials or workshop events. The trouble was, being above the ground floor made it hard for writers to find us! As one of the aims of NWS is to become progressively more sustainable, so we can continue to help writers develop their craft and careers in Nottingham, that had to change. That’s why we stepped out of the safety of our serviced office on the third floor, and into the unknown. Fortunately, we had a hand to hold while we did it.

The Robert Howie Smith project has a proven track record of transforming forgotten spaces in Nottingham through, with successes like The Corner, Five Leaves Bookshop and Cobden Chambers already blossoming in Nottingham city centre. Rob’s vision for a creative, collaborative Nottingham matched the direction Nottingham Writers Studio was taking; which is how we started our new chapter on the giant blank page of 25 Hockley. Rob’s team had their work cut out, building offices we can rent on the ground floor, access ramps to the basement performance space, and all the other bits and pieces that turn a Pram Shop into a Writers Studio.

As Rob’s builders moved out, writer volunteers moved in under the guidance of Development Director Pippa Hennessy. Windows were washed, curtains made, sofas moved, desks built. The result is a bigger, better space for writers to meet, learn, and most importantly, write. Two of our four offices are already rented out, and our basement performance space has attracted interest from members and outside organisations looking for a creative space to develop their work. Even before the launch, it felt like home.

Last Friday brought our chapter of aspiration and dedication to a fitting close, with members and guests welcomed in to the studio by James, Rob, and Pippa, plus member and Booker nominee Alison Moore, alongside local MP Lilian Greenwood (special thanks to Lilian for her impromptu poetry performance). Every guest and member I met was stunned by what they saw – a home for writing, created by writers, for writers, at all stages of their careers.

There’s more to do, but with the continued participation of our members and supporters, we’re ready to take on the next blank page.

Because great stories start here.

Opening night at NWS Studio with chair James Walker speaking

NWS Opening Night with chair James Walker