My agent approached me last year with what turned out to be a brilliant piece of work.
This wonderful woman, Val Jeal was writing the story of the charity she founded, working with women in Bristol who wanted to exit their life of street-based sex work and drug addiction. She had an amazing story to tell, but needed a writer who would understand and work alongside her, to turn her words into a publishable manuscript.
So in January and February this year, I visited Val in Bristol, and then set about tidying, editing and rewriting her story. It was an immense privilege and also a great resposibility, taking someone’s heart from their sleeve, and turning it into words on a page. My own heart was in my mouth when I showed Val the final manuscript! She was delighted with it, as was my agent, who is now seeking the best publishing deal for the book.
This project had strong echoes of the book I wrote with a Christian Youth Project in Bradford about their work many years ago – Just Walk With Me (available to buy here). I think what makes me good at this kind of work, is that I start by really listening to the person telling the story – seeing what’s behind the story, why they want to tell it, and who they are themselves (because that’s where every story starts). Then I let my story-teller’s instinct show me how the story should unfold, whilst the logical, Civil-Service-trained part of my brain keeps track of truth, facts, wordcounts and deadines!
Watch this space.