Aisha took part in the programme at Judgemeadow Community College. She was awarded a fully-funded place to attend Arvon, Lumb Bank in 2019 and continues to write creatively alongside studying.
“The single most important thing that First Story has taught me is that the beauty of writing isn’t just putting pen to paper. The beauty of writing is to see your final piece at the end and to understand that it was your passion and dedication that allowed it to be written. First Story has taught me to value my work with love and respect.
I was introduced to First Story after being selected by the English department to participate and decided to take part because I have always been extremely passionate about English. I wanted to find a way to channel my passion into words as I felt that there was a lack of opportunities for subjects like English, in comparison to Maths or Science.
Before First Story, I knew that I enjoyed writing but I still somehow always ended up with half written pieces that went nowhere. I was unable to transfer my love of writing to the page. In addition, I held the philosophy that ‘more is more’ – editing was a foreign concept to me. However, during the programme, I learnt valuable techniques and ideas about writing that have guided me.
My Writer-in-Residence, Dan Powell, was absolutely amazing and I really am grateful to have had him as a writing mentor. His style and approach to writing has had a real impact on me. Although our niches in writing are arguably different (his being sci-fi and mine being romance), I received so much support and thoughtful insight on my work.
My favourite piece in my school anthology, Meraki, has to be ‘Seventy Years’. It is a piece of prose about an elderly man who is reflecting on the loss of his soulmate seventy years ago, and how it had defined his life. I really enjoy re-reading this piece because I feel I have truly captured the essence of my passion and imprinted it onto the page. I feel a heavy bittersweet nostalgia when I read it because I feel at one with my character. I really did pour my heart into this story. This piece will always have a special place in my heart.
I have also attended a number of First Story trips. I remember seeing the poet Rebecca Tantony perform her poems at the Young Writers’ Festival at Cambridge University and being absolutely awestruck by her zeal and passion for poetry. I instantly marked her as one of my role models in writing and was extremely grateful when I discovered that she was, alongside Dan, the writers at the summer residential.
The summer residential was such a phenomenal experience for me. I truly felt at home with fellow young writers in such a beautiful setting. The nature around me heavily influenced me and my work – it was such a beautiful and tranquil setting. I felt like I was in The Sound of Music! I am so grateful for having had this experience because it truly did have a profound impact on me and my writing. I met so many great people: from the writers, to the First Story staff, to my fellow young writers.
I am still currently writing, though unfortunately not as frequently as I did before due to the stress and burden of upcoming GCSEs. However, I always come back to writing as a means of comfort.
In the future, I most definitely want to pursue a career heavily based on writing. Whether it be screenwriting, song writing, writing novels, writing poetry or something else that is completely different I am not sure, but I am confident that my passion for writing will always drive me forward.
I sincerely cannot find a fault in my whole experience at First Story. It was such a well-thought-out programme that was designed to truly allow young writers to blossom. Even when I was at the First Story summer residential, I felt completely at peace and in real harmony with writing.
Taking part in first story has allowed me to flourish as a writer. My confidence and drive for writing has also improved. It allowed me to truly find my love for writing.”