It has been a couple of months now since the unit has started. Before the summer, I had planned to use the Writing in the Community unit to practice my copywriting. However, a lot changed for me personally in one summer: Gemma (my partner) got pregnant and our son came early at 23 weeks and 4 days. We had 8 days with him, before he passed away. Since then, I have found a sense of purpose in my writing: I want to raise awareness about 1) what can happen during pregnancy, 2) the male’s POV during pregnancy, and 3) the grief around the loss of a baby. This resulted in an idea for a book: ‘9 months, my arse’ – something I started writing a couple of weeks after returning from the hospital in Oxford, back in late September. All the while, I kept in touch with my course leader at university, not wanting to fall behind in my third year. Around this time, my idea for my Writing in the Community project completely changed.
‘9 months, my arse’ had initially been an idea to capture mine and Gemma’s story, plus the aftermath/grief. However, when I decided that I wanted to emphasise the male’s POV too, it dawned on me that I could open up to having the likes of my father, plus Gemma’s father, to write features for the book too. Thus, running the idea and getting it okayed by my course leader, my project changed to invite my father, Gemma’s father, Gemma herself, and my brother to write features for the book. I would also approach The John Radcliffe Hospital’s charity, SSNAP, to see if they could write a feature too.
Since the idea game to fruition and got okayed, my course leader had met with the ethics committee at the university to see if the project was ethically OK. We proceeded to agree that the word count for the features would max at 2K words, with no real minimum – aware that the four people being invited to write have never written creatively before, and that the subject would be extremely personal. Personally, it will be difficult for me too. Where the creative process will include me editing their features, I will be reading family members’ words about an emotional subject. Knowing the power of writing, there is a high chance that through the features, my family members may mention feelings and thoughts that they have not mentioned to Gemma and I previously.
Importantly, however, I am hoping that the sense of purpose and the therapeutic qualities that writing offers will help myself and those involved complete the features despite the sensitivity of the subject.
Next up, I have to email / make contact with SSNAP to see if they are happy, and that it is possible, for them to write a feature for the book; to get the project officially okayed (with the decided word count) by the university’s ethics committee; and to formally ask the four family members to write the features. Meanwhile, I have been writing the story for ‘9 months, my arse’ – this will help me discover the voice for the book, thus making the editing of the feature’s clearer too.