Barbara Henderson, Author at The Open College of the Arts
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Barbara Henderson


Calling all Level Three creative writing students!

The Creative Writing department is now offering Zoom-based peer hangouts and workshops for students at HE6 (Level 3) on a regular basis. 

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OCA Wellbeing: A trip to the bibliotherapist

Imagine going to the doctor’s and coming out with a prescription – for a good book. It’s really not as daft as it may sound. And what’s more, the notion that our mental wellbeing can be improved by something other than pills is far from new.

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OCA wellbeing: Gardening for mental health

Lockdown in mid-March prompted two responses. First was a recognition that getting outside for parts of the day without bumping into other humans would become a very valuable thing. Second, I had some new time, that used to be spent travelling and trolling the train companies about their poor service, and I could put this to good use by sorting out my embarrassing back garden.

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Student stories: A bright light in lockdown

Congratulations to OCA Level 2 (HE5) Creative Writing student Elaine Simmonds, who’s been long-listed in the second Comedy Women in Print Prize. The CWIP is the UK and Ireland’s only prize to shine a light on work by funny women. Elaine, who’s just completed her Life Writing unit with OCA, submitted her novel The Club For Mature Indulgence. 

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The writer’s role in climate emergency

It’s all too easy to feel impotent when it comes to saving the planet. We can recycle, take the bike to work, have our meat-free Mondays – and even go on a march. As writers we can use biodegradable pens, recycled paper and search engines that put their profits towards planting trees. But deep down, we fear our individual efforts are a drop in the plastic-choked, over-fished, polluted ocean. But I’m here to try to inject a little optimism. Because individual writers, and artists of any kind, can do something huge. They can change the way we think. The arts make us empathic to the plight of others and they can make us change what we do, every day.

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Less of the ‘same’, more of the BAME

The UK publishing industry has not moved fast enough to reflect our current society. And when you’re talking about children’s fiction, it’s particularly white.

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What is your tutor up to? Chapter 9: Barbara Henderson

Creative writing tutor and programme leader Barbara Henderson’s fifth novel will be released on 1 March. Barbara uses the writing name Bea Davenport for her children and adult fiction. The Misper, her latest novel, is aimed at readers aged thirteen-plus.

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On taking advice

‘Bad writers often believe they have very little left to learn’. And this, for me, sums it up. As soon as we start to dig in our heels and claim that no one can tell us anything useful, or that everyone else just doesn’t get what we’re trying to say (yet somehow, one day, a publisher will) then we’re in dangerous territory.

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Show your workings

I was delighted to hear, on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, that the British Library is to make available online its archive of contemporary writers. It means any one of us, regardless of geography, has the privilege of peering into the workings of a writer’s mind.

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