I stumbled across an interesting sign at Nottingham Station the other day – #rebelnotts. It woke me up to something that’s been brewing in the city I made my home 20 years ago. It seems I ended up in a hotbed of creative talent without realising it.
Nottingham was home to writing talent like Lord Byron, DH Lawrence and Alan Silitoe, and is still churning it out. I read Nicola Monaghan’s ‘The Killing Jar’ while relaxing by a Majorcan pool last summer. It follows the story of Kerrie-Ann Hill, who has a junkie mother incapable of looking after her. It was the least relaxing, but most mind-blowing read of four books that holiday, and one of the best novels I’ve read. And she’s from Nottingham too.
As I learnt more about Notts’ Rebel Writers, I discovered that Nottingham is applying to become a UNESCO City of Literature leaning on its history of rebellion against authority. I learnt more about Nottingham Writers Studio and about Telling Tales, Nottingham’s Kids’ Festival of Imagination, something I want to take my kids to.
And it all made me think of my own start in writing. In 2001 I was working for Boots in Nottingham. My brief was to find the best writers in the land and bring them back to write for all the different teams in the company. Working alongside many of those writers, and developing Boots’ first brand tone of voice guidelines I found my own writing turned upside down. I found myself as a writer.
I discovered an urge for digging up truth, a zeal for plain English and mission for turning the corporate claptrap and marketing bollocks into language real human beings can understand and relate to.
And that’s the mission I’ve been on for the last 11 years, since leaving Boots and starting Afia. Now we’re wedded to Nottingham, it’s our home.
And we’re on the lookout for other Nottingham creative types – are you a local writer, creative director, client manager or language trainer? If you are then I’d love to chat – just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.