Get to know… Kathryn Bodenham

“Everyone has a book in them.”

I feel like I’ve heard that so many times. But could it be true? Could I be harbouring the Next Great Novel somewhere? If I was, I was keeping it so well hidden, I didn’t know it was there…

I was a reader, not a writer – all kinds of genres, all kinds of authors. But there were words in me. I could feel them. Sometimes they spilled out in a journal entry or some content for my job, but there couldn’t possibly be more to it. Could there?

In 2023, a move to a new city where I know no-one sent me to the internet in search of ways to fill my time. I tried pottery, but had no patience for rolling endless coils. Then I tried painting but, apparently, all the patience in the world doesn’t make up for a fundamental inability to hold a brush properly.

But I was determined to find something. And that’s how I discovered Writing Room. The idea of taking a creative writing course was new to me. What would it be like? Would everyone be better read? More talented? And the ultimate fear – would I have to read my work out loud?

It turned out, of course, that all my concerns were unfounded. The Introduction to Creative Writing was the safest of safe spaces. Guided by the brilliant Alison Chandler, I discovered the tools that are the foundation of good writing: how to create characters, build a world for them, give their story structure.

Each session was filled with both new and familiar texts illuminated by Alison’s skilful explanations. Alongside the theory, I was challenged to test my learning with practical writing exercises and I have shared the output of one those below. The beginnings of what I think will be my first ‘proper’ story, it is very much work in progress. But I am proud to call it mine and send it out into the world.

As for my fellow learners, they WERE well-read, WERE talented, and they brought warmth and intelligence to every group discussion. And when I read my work out loud, I felt supported and encouraged. Joining with other writers (whether new like me or those returning to the craft) gave me a sense of community which is at the heart of Writing Room’s philosophy.

I’m just at the start of my writing journey, but now I’m sure it’s a journey I want to be on. Part 2 of the introductory course awaits, and I have my eye on Paul Lyalls’ poetry courses. And then, who knows? I may not produce the Next Great Novel but, like the world of writing, the possibilities are endless.

More day to dawn (an extract)

Grace could barely tell where the ocean ended and the sky started; everything was so very blue. The September sun was already bright and the ice shimmered around her as she pulled her coat tighter, a chill wind breathing past. The engines had stopped. There was only the sound of the sea and, somewhere, metal knocking against wood. She looked out across the water, wanting to appreciate the stark beauty of the Arctic shoreline. But Grace felt only its desolation; she felt far from anywhere or anyone. A tear rolled down her cheek as she stared down at the icy waves lapping against the side of the boat.

Andrew had been standing away from her, on the other deck; she could hear him laughing with their fellow passengers. Now he walked back towards her, his smile broad as he gestured to the snow-covered landscape. Grace knew she was being ungrateful. This trip was a privilege and she had no right to feel so… sad.
“Have you seen this?” Andrew said. “I can’t believe we’re actually here.”
“Yes. It’s lovely.”
“The Captain says if we wait a while, we should see some whales on the other side. Everyone’s there. Come on.”
Grace smiled weakly but he was already walking away, not waiting for her answer.