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Avani Shah Discusses Her Apprentice Award

Posted on December 4th, 2018 by Paul McVeigh


At the beginning of 2017 writing had been forced to the back of my mind. I was a few months out of my Masters and struggling to stay afloat. My MA at UEA had been a wonderful experience and watching how my friends came at their own work (some of the best fiction I have ever read) changed the way I approached the discipline completely.  Finishing the course felt like waking up.

I applied for the Word Factory Apprentice Scheme amidst a flurry of job applications. I didn’t think I would win, but I needed something to make me feel like I hadn’t given up on writing altogether. If my MA tutors and coursemates showed me the kind of writing I was capable of producing when I put my mind and devoted my time to it, my apprenticeship with Word Factory has taught me how to incorporate my writing practice into my everyday life.

I first came across my mentor Nikesh Shukla’s writing in 2014. SHAHS, I wrote on Facebook, tagging my cousins who shared names with the characters, I just finished a hilarious book about a GUJARATI kid from HARROW. Over the next couple of years, I read Meatspace andThe Good Immigrant and when I found out Nikesh would be my mentor I was thrilled and intimidated in equal parts.

‘I’m totally starstruck,’ I blurted out when he introduced himself to me at my first Word Factory event.

Nikesh was nice. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m an idiot.’

Needless to say, he’s not. Working with Nikesh has done wonders for both my word count and my ego. He has a solution to everything. When I told him that I was struggling to fit writing in around my other obligations, he shared his secrets. When I needed career advice, he offered his input but also listened to me while I worked out my next steps aloud. Thanks to his encouragement and ideas, my novel has grown and continues to grow in ways I could never have imagined.

My apprenticeship with Nikesh also turned out to be at the centre of something much bigger, something I hadn’t expected to find as a part of this experience – the wider Word Factory community. My fellow apprentices – Melissa Fu, Durre Shahwar, and J. Fergus Evans – and the apprentices who came before us – Rebecca Swirsky, Holly Dawson, Uschi Gatward, Kerstin Twatchmann, Claire Adam, Divya Ghelani, and Emily Devane – are all such wonderful writers and I have learned so much from getting to know them and reading their work.

The apprenticeship scheme comes with access to a host of literary masterclasses and salons and as well as learning from Dave Lordan and K. J. Orr, I was lucky enough to be an apprentice in the same year as Word Factory’s inaugural festival Citizen: A New Story. The two-day event brought together poets, philosophers, journalists, novelists, translators, film-makers and activists to discuss nationality, identity and belonging and how as artists we can use our voices and imaginations to unravel art from artifice. The classes and lectures were full of such thoughtful and considerate conversation and I came away each evening buzzing with ideas. Over the course of the festival, witnessing how hard Cathy Galvin and her team worked to put it together, I realised what Word Factory was all about: a community coming together to celebrate something they love.

Both Cathy Galvin and Paul McVeigh have been so welcoming and encouraging and it has been a pleasure to get involved. I am now lucky enough to be a member of the Word Factory Social Media team – it is a great way for me to remain in touch with an organisation I love and serves as a constant reminder, now that the apprenticeship is over, to make sure writing stays a part of my daily routine.

You apply for this year’s Apprentice Award here.

12/18: New & Opportunities Round-up

Posted on December 1st, 2018 by Eloise Wales

Compiled by Content Manager Eloise Wales from Associate Director Paul McVeigh’s blog. A monthly listing you can’t afford to miss. See the links below.

News & Resources

Short Story Deadlines

Flash Fiction


Other Literary Opportunities

Free Reads & Podcasts

Lift a Glass to the Apprentice Award

Posted on November 16th, 2018 by Eloise Wales

By Cathy Galvin

Cathy GalvinIt’s time to prepare: choosing the winners of the Word Factory Apprentice Award is joyous. I love (almost) every part of the process, which feels a little like wrapping a great gift and then waiting to watch someone open and receive it: the gift being a year’s free mentorship to a group of emerging short story writers and becoming a part of the Word Factory team.

Time and time again, our award winners reward that faith in their work with their own generosity and success. What’s not to like? There is more…

11/18: News & Opportunities Round-up

Posted on November 1st, 2018 by Eloise Wales

Compiled by Content Manager Eloise Wales from Associate Director Paul McVeigh’s blog. A monthly listing you can’t afford to miss. See the links below.

News & Resources

Review: Reservoir by Jessie Greengrass

Posted on October 28th, 2018 by Eloise Wales

By Natalia Theodoridou

In Reservoir, Jessie Greengrass offers an intimate account of an apocalypse, one that comes quietly, in the form of a drought. It is this drought that forced the protagonist’s family to leave behind her childhood farm and move to the city. But with the reservoir that was built to supply the city with water failing and the city itself finally succumbing to thirst, the narrator, now thirty three, returns to her childhood landscape, ‘for want of anywhere else to go.’

Here, the history of her drought-induced displacement becomes entwined with an earlier one: Tucker, her family’s closest neighbour, used to tell her the story of how the valley was flooded to create the reservoir when he was young, and how his family was relocated to a new house by the dam. Young Tucker bore witness to the flood that consumed the valley, together with its six houses and a church, his family left to oversee their own extinction event. There is more…