Last week I went to Falmouth in Cornwall. I’d been asked to give a lecture to student designers and writers at the University. Designers and writers from the local business community came along too. The title of my lecture was ‘The writer and the world’ and its theme was the power of creative collaboration.
Twenty years ago this would not have been a subject I would have suggested. Designers dictated the terms of creativity, suffering writers to fill in the gaps and black lines between images. Now there can be more of an equal partnership.
Two events scheduled around the lecture reinforced the point. On the first evening there was a gathering of local members of 26 www.26.org.ukand the Cornwall Design Forum. The aim was to introduce 26 and a creative project that will involve writers and designers working together.
The next morning was a class at the University where seven student partnerships (writer+designer) had been briefed at the beginning of the week on a project called 26 Flavours. This is the brainchild of Tom Scott who teaches writing for business on the fine writing course at Falmouth and Rob Self-Pierson, 26 Board member and graduate of the writing course. With the design head Andy and 26 member Dan Oparison we had to judge the students’ work. The standard was very impressive. Rather than selecting just one pair, we decided that three pairs should produce work for 26 Flavours. Fingers crossed, that work on Cornish food will appear in the summer, hopefully at the Eden Project.
The evening lecture went well. Having prepared the lecture over the last two months, I now realise how much of my recent work has been collaborative. We’ve moved away from the solitary writer in a garret to writers playing more active, creative roles in the world. Here’s how I ended the lecture.
“Every day is full of storytelling moments. Stories are not the special province of writers, we all tell stories, it’s what makes us human. But to be a good writer you need to tell stories well. You need to connect with the universal emotions we all feel and if you make that connection your stories and your words will have enormous power. You need to connect with the world, and you need to see that the writer’s role is to make connections, to make sense of things, and to make the world we live in a better world.”