Barbara Henderson, Author at The Open College of the Arts - Page 2 of 5
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Barbara Henderson


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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It’s a 'No’: Part 2

In the last blog post on the detested rejection letter/e-mail, I mentioned that the word ‘No’ comes wrapped in all sorts of sweet and sour coatings. Agents and publishers are practised at the art of rejection. Writers, though, have no training in how to receive the bad news. We promise ourselves we won’t be hurt if someone doesn’t love our work, but deep down, we know it’s a lie.

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It’s a ‘No’: Part One

For an aspiring writer with a few rejections under their belt, the name J.K. Rowling is either an inspiration or a curse. The fact that the impossibly successful Harry Potter books were initially turned down by almost every UK publisher is something that can keep the weary author’s chin up. On the other hand, it’s what well-meaning friends always trot out when they’re trying to raise the spirits after another ‘no’ from an agent or publisher. Before my own children’s novel found a publishing home, I remember thinking that if anyone else mentioned Rowling’s name to me, I might just scream.

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Dealing with Creative Blocks

‘If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do’

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