‘Writing is a kind of play. And, if you’re still reading, you're playing too.’
I read this the other day in Michael Rosen's 'Book of Play'. It got me thinking about my own writing and, in particular, the weekly letter I write to my parents. Could this simple interaction - me writing, them reading - be an act of play?
For me, personal letter-writing is certainly a creative and enjoyable process. Unlike any other writing I do, it has to be 'old school' - handwritten on paper with a pen - but it doesn't have to be anything fancy. We're not talking Basildon Bond here. Recycled paper with an out of date letter head and a plain old biro do the job nicely.
An email definitely doesn’t hit the spot. That’s not just because my mum and dad don’t have a device or internet access or an email account. They don’t even have voicemail, but that’s another story. It’s because when I handwrite on paper with a pen, it slows me down. I think and muse and plan. I rehearse in my head what will amuse and entertain my octogenerian readers who, by their own admission, don't get out much.
As with any storytelling, I consider what comes first, what comes next, and how to end with a flourish. Before I commit my thoughts to paper, I try out different vocabulary, different word order and sentence structures. When I start to write, I have to move my pen slowly across the page to ensure decipherability. I also hate to cross anything out. There's no 'delete' or 'cut and paste' to fall back on. It is quite literally a labour of love.
For my parents it allows them to savour and digest my news, however pedestrian. They tell me they often re-read my letters, and through this act of writing and reading we all feel closer.
Now I've thought about it, I can see that every time I write them a letter, I initiate a connection which is both playful and meaningful - and that's very nice to know.
So, here's an invitation: why not put pen to paper and handwrite a letter (or postcard) to someone you care about? Think of it as playing and the experience could bring a little bit of joy into the world - both for you and the happy recipient.
Free Improv Taster Wednesday 16th September, 12-1
Fancy giving online improv a try? Here's just the thing - an hour of easy games and playful storytelling in a safe, supportive environment. There's no need to be funny - the laughter just happens.
'I always marvel at the capacity of Zoom improv classes to completely take me away from home and immerse me in the group. I finish the session and feel as though I’ve been out for the evening with friends!'
Click here for more info and to reserve your place. Only 4 places left, so don't delay.
And if you want to join our online course for beginners, visit Prince Henry Grammar School's website. Weekly classes begin Tuesday 29th September, 7-8.30.
Image credit: Mandy Long
Improv Saturdays Online
As we go into the autumn, we'll continue to run fortnightly sessions online. We'll also be trying out an 'in person' session at Clifton Village Hall as soon as it's safe to do so.
Next online session:
Saturday 5th September
11 to 12.30pm
This year's Fringe is a little different, and we'd love you to be involved.
We're showcasing local Yorkshire talent, and we want to give space to the voices and work of a wide range of local artists, including poets, performers, spoken word artists, illustrators, musicians, animators, directors and scriptwriters.
Take a look here to get a flavour of the showcase, and find out here how you can get involved.