Discover our 2018 Young Norfolk Laureate Ciéra Cree’s experience writing for a variety of different roles, working with NCW and developing as a writer.
Here, Ciéra describes her trajectory as a young writer: from crafting children’s book from scraps of paper to winning the Young Norfolk Writing Competition and later becoming Highly Commended by the Royal Society of Literature. She’s gone from strength to strength, and offers advice to other young people hoping to start writing.
Read on to discover Ciéra’s writing journey.
Where did your love of writing come from?
I’ve been writing ever since I was six or seven years old. There are still vivid memories in my mind of days spent at home crafting little children’s books from paper, sewn spines and coloured pencils, and others where I felt waves of joy when being set a poetry assignment in primary school. The first poem I ever got published I wrote when I was seven and it got into the school newsletter. I guess that must have ignited some sort of spark because I went on to found a newspaper there that raised money for charity when I was ten or eleven.
Co-leading and then a year later leading The Ruskin Journal, the student paper at my bachelors degree university Anglia Ruskin (Cambridge), is hands down what inspired my interest for writing articles and its coexisting intrigue in the process of magazine production. There’s just something so indescribably beautiful about creating a physical, tangible thing from a bunch of words and ideas that others have entrusted you with. The process, from start to finish, as well as the amazing team… I adored it and owe so much to the experience.
You entered the Young Norfolk Writing Competition in 2018 and became our Young Norfolk Laureate! Tell us about your experience.
My winning poem, ‘100 Years of Silence [Women’s Vote]’, was a piece I wrote in the library of my sixth form before a sociology lesson. The staff in the school’s English department had emailed me several times about the Young Norfolk Writing Competition and had given me a printed flyer, but I wasn’t sure if I could write a piece good enough for a competition.
I sat behind a computer and thought about what milestones were to occur in 2018, and found out after some research that it was due to be a century since women were granted the right to vote. The rest flowed from there. I placed myself in the position of a woman denied suffrage, imagining how it would be to wander the streets of a society where your voice was null, your image all you were, and your world not truly yours. And thus, the piece was born.
Having the chance to work with NCW gave me the confidence that I needed to pursue writing as a career. I knew that I loved to write and create, but prior to entering the competition I hadn’t previously shared any of my work. I didn’t know how my words would get on in the world: would they sink, briefly linger, or occasionally fly? But after meeting a community of people that believed in me and my potential, the spark inside me to create extended and grew into a fire.
What have you been up to since then?
After my time with NCW I undertook a degree in Media Studies, graduating as a first-class Bachelor of Arts with awards for academic excellence and extracurricular contribution, the award for best department dissertation, and the chance to write and present my ceremony’s closing speech. It felt like a dream come true, and like only yesterday when I was sat with Hannah Garrard at NCW discussing fears of taking my next steps. But more good news was set to come when I was awarded a £6,000 scholarship to study for a Master’s in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, the UK’s top school for journalism and media.
From working with The Sun’s celebrity desk on their Sunday supplement magazine, Fabulous, to becoming Highly Commended by The Royal Society of Literature, working as the Deputy Production Editor of XCity magazine, and being a finalist for Anglia Ruskin’s ‘Rising Star Award’ this year, so much more than my childhood self could have ever hoped for has unfolded. I’m grateful for every moment and anybody who has believed in me up until now.
Are you working on any writing projects at the moment? What are your plans looking forward?
At the moment I’m freelancing under different roles, including producing blogs for a marketing firm. I’m also volunteering for Arkbound Foundation, a publishing charity with an aim to improve literature accessibility and diversity within the media industry, while simultaneously completing my Gold Arts Award in publishing. It’s been a great learning experience so far juggling all these things, and it’s helping me to learn more about different creative and literature-focused industries before I go looking for a full-time job.
Do you have any advice for other young writers starting out on their writing journey?
You were born with the amazing gift to inform or make another person feel through your words, whether you’re taking them along on a journey of heartbreak or to an undiscovered land. So don’t forget what a gift it is to be able to do that. It can be hard not to compare yourself and your skills to others in the writing industry, but no matter how many other writers are out there, none of them will be able to write your poem. No one else can tell your story, produce your song or be the mastermind behind your script. That’s all for you.
It can be difficult to start, but start somewhere. Your first piece likely won’t be your best but that’s the case for everyone. Try out as many different kinds of writing as you can, take up any opportunities that you find and, most importantly, try to enjoy yourself as much as possible while navigating your way around the world of literature and art. It’s a great place with an abundance of life and colour and fantastic people if you’re willing to take the time to find them.
Ciéra Cree is a 23-year-old scholarship graduate in MA Magazine Journalism and BA Media Studies. Over the years she has undertaken many opportunities stemming from working with publications, becoming a Regional Laureate, reading her poetry on BBC Radio, and being Highly Commended by The Royal Society of Literature. LinkedIn.
The header image was taken at NCW to accompany Ciéra’s winning poem 100 Years of Silence.
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