New Leaf & Me

I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the New Leaf organisation for their wonderful Annual Staff Conference event yesterday at which I was guest speaker.

The theme of the day it seemed to me, was networking and feedback on the advantages of contacting bodies with a similar ethos to that of New Leaf, and signposting to raise awareness of what’s available in Cheshire in terms of helping people like me get back into employment, housing etc…

I’d been invited along to give a talk on the benefits I’d found from New Leaf, which I am more than happy to extol. Naturally I’d done a lot of preparation for my talk, rehearsed over and over in the peaceful arena that’s my living room. But when I reached the venue and saw and heard what was going on, I felt an inspiring buzz of creativity, so asked the organisers if I could slightly shift emphasis, feed off the dynamic and turn my allotted 45 minutes into an inclusive workshop more than an exclusive address.

It was a bit of a risk, but one that I’m delighted to say paid off in spades, or at least that’s how it felt to me. It’s testament to the 100-strong audience’s supportive willingness to participate in the exercises with which I put them on the spot. But the most memorable moment of all was when I talked about my Ottermobile project and the novel that ensued called “Here Am I Sitting in my Tin Can“. The audience appeared to be very interested, deeply engaged and entertained as I read an excerpt from the novel called “How to Not be Lonely” (which can be found on the blog in the menu above or here: https://markbickerton.com/2019/02/18/how-to-not-be-lonely/)

I’m saying this because something profound struck me as I read out the final line of the story and there was spontaneous applause from the floor. It felt great to have this warm and immediate response that would normally not happen for a writer, and it got me thinking that I should do more of this at future events, or even explore the idea of podcasts.

But of course there has to be something in it for the audience, it should not be an indulgence or simply a platform to showcase one’s work. So the theme of the story, loneliness, worked well in the context of “networking”, finding partners, making associations and the need thereof, and the benefit of raising awareness of worthy organisations.

New Leaf is a programme funded by the ESF and the National Lottery Community Fund which deserves to be shouted about from the rooftops; it’s helped thousands of people, including me, and as I said in my peroration yesterday, it is due in no small part to New Leaf that I’ve regained the belief in my talents and the confidence to stand up and tell my story to large audiences.

So I’m in a good place right now, and feel it was the right decision to go about making a living from this. Obviously I could do with more bookings, one can never have too many, so need to make more people aware that New Leaf is there and I AM HERE TOO, and I can inform, include and inspire.

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