Michelle Green, one of the life-writing specialists leading two of our workshops.

Women’s Words Manchester are running three, free to book onto, workshops at Longsight (10.00 am – 12.00 noon on the 18th of October), Crumpsall (9.30 – 11.30 am on the 19th of October) and Chorlton (2.00 – 4.00 pm on the 4th of November) libraries called “My Own Story” workshops based on the autobiography of Emmaline Pankhurst.

The workshops are to help those women who are working on their submissions for the archive and have reached a point where more help would be perfect for completing their story.

The workshops will centre around life-writing, and be an aid to getting over the dreaded writers’ block. So, if you have a desire to submit your story to our archive, but don’t know how to begin, where to begin or even what to say, the workshops are for you.

One of the exercises that we hope to use at these workshops is going to centre around word association. Women’s Words Manchester is collecting stories of women living, working and growing in Manchester. So, that means we’ve got three themes we are interested in, that of living, working and growing in Manchester. When trying to think how that translates into a story about you, word association is a good place to start.

What are the words that come to mind when you think of your life in Manchester?

Are the words that spring to mind related to the cotton industry and the many factories Manchester used to have?

Kate Feld. She’ll be leading the life-writing workshop in Chorlton.

Did you work for the NHS and see our great hospitals grow to what they are today? Is this the city of your birth? Perhaps you have memories of going to school here, or playing in one of our green spaces? How have you seen the city grow and change? Were you here when the IRA bombed the Arndale Centre?

Perhaps, you moved here to be closer to your children and grandchildren? If so, the words that come to mind may be connected to doing the school run, or centre around taking your grandchildren swimming or to the park. Those then would be the words, the images that are associated with your experiences of what it means to now live in Manchester.

Were you in Manchester when the Commonwealth Games came to our fair city? Did you volunteer or go to see any of the events? Have you seen Usain Bolt run down Oxford Road? Run the 10k? Did that make a difference to the woman you are now in anyway? Think of all the various things that happened to you because you were in Manchester. Did those experiences shape you? If so, that’s the story we want to hear.

Perhaps, therefore, it might be possible for you to begin a sentence or paragraph with the words, “LIVING in Manchester is ….” This is the kind of thing we are looking for. A real personal account of what the city of Manchester means to you in terms of your life here, or your work here, or even your experiences of becoming the woman you are today.

Perhaps you got a job here as a musician or an artist? Perhaps you teach or lecture at university? Whatever your story, we’d love to know what brought you to our fair city.

If you came to Manchester to go to university, then the images that come to mind might be of the work you did, all that studying, partying, and enjoying of lasting friendships. Perhaps Manchester drew you because of its rich music scene, or the closeness to the Lake District. Whatever the associations you have, that’s the best place for you to begin your life-story. Remember, the rules are simple. It needs to be up to 1000 words, it must be in your own words and be your own life-story, and the link to Manchester must be there.

We are really looking forward to hearing your life-stories. Don’t be afraid. This is not a competition but a celebration of the women of this city. It is not your writing skill, but your story, your voice that matters. Don’t be left out in having your story, your journey preserved and protected in the archive.

The only rules are that your submission is up to 1000 words, that the life-story be true and in your own voice and that it have something to do with your experiences of living, working and growing in Manchester. So there you go. Be a part of our archive. Add your voice to our collection and do get in touch with the libraries if you’d like to book your place at one of the workshops.

It’s easy to book onto the workshops. You can do so by either calling in at the three libraries or giving them a ring. Hope to see you there!

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