Members of the public asked to share their tales and reap the benefits of writing for pleasure
Members of the public are being asked to share their real-life stories by national charity Scottish Book Trust. In its fifteenth year, Scotland’s Stories is an annual writing opportunity where people can share a true story from their life, around this year’s theme of adventure. A selection of stories submitted will be published in a free book, distributed during Book Week Scotland.
Research has found that flexing your creative muscles can support mental health and wellbeing, increase happiness and even delay or reduce symptoms of dementia. The charity wants as many people across Scotland to take part and enjoy the benefits of writing a story for fun.
The opportunity is open to everyone in Scotland, whether they write regularly or haven’t penned anything since school. Stories can be about little everyday happenings to new challenges or once in a lifetime adventure. Submissions of up to 1,000 words can be made in English, Scots or Gaelic in any form, such as a written story, poem, comic strip, play or letter. Audio and video formats are also welcomed.
A selection of stories will be chosen to be published in a free book, distributed across Scotland through libraries and community groups during Book Week Scotland (13–19 November 2023), Scotland’s national celebration of books and reading. All entries will also appear on the Scottish Book Trust website.
Alongside the stories from the public, Scottish Book Trust has commissioned pieces from several writers: poet, columnist and performer Len Pennie; current Scots Scriever Shane Strachan; poet and spoken word performer Mae Diansangu; author and food writer Sumayya Usmani; as well as Gaelic writers Seonaidh Charity and Alistair Paul.
Stories should be submitted by Friday 2 June 2023 via scottishbooktrust.com/about-scotlands-stories or by post to: Scotland’s Stories, Scottish Book Trust, Sandeman House, Trunk’s Close, 55 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1SR.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said:
‘Scotland’s Stories is one of the highlights of Scottish Book Trust’s work, giving a platform to people all over Scotland. This opportunity is open to anyone, whether you see yourself as a writer or not. It’s a privilege to collect and share these stories. We’d love to see as many people as possible pick up a pen and enjoy the positive benefits of writing for pleasure and share a story of adventure and what that means to them.’
Alison Lang, Director of the Gaelic Books Council, said:
‘Tha sinn an dòchas gum bi cuspair na bliadhna, ‘dànachd’, a’ brosnachadh dhaoine gu bhith a’ cur peann ri pàipear. Tha Seonaidh Charity, Alistair Paul agus ùghdaran stèidhichte eile air pìosan a sgrìobhadh mar-thà, agus tha sinn airson guthan a’ mhòr-shluaigh a chluinntinn cuideachd mar phàirt den iomairt inntinneach seo. Siuthadaibh, ma-tà… agus bithibh dàna.’
‘We hope that this year’s subject, ‘adventure’, will inspire people to put pen to paper. Seonaidh Charity, Alistair Paul and other established authors have already written pieces on this theme, and we want to hear the voices of the public too as part of this fascinating initiative. So get writing… and let the spirit of adventure lead you.’
Len Pennie is a poet who writes predominantly in the Scots language. She is passionate about the promotion of minority languages and the destigmatisation of mental illness. She has a regular column in The Herald, and her first collection, poyums, will be published by Canongate in February 2024.
Shane Strachan is the National Library of Scotland’s current Scots Scriever, writing new work in Doric inspired by the national collections. His stories and poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, Northwords Now, Gutter, Stand and other national literary magazines and anthologies. He has staged work with the National Theatre of Scotland and, following the award of a Scottish Book Trust Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2018, he exhibited his spoken-word project The Bill Gibb Line in Aberdeen Art Gallery across 2020–2021. He holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Aberdeen.
Sumayya Usmani is a Pakistani-born writer, author, and mentor. Sumayya won the Scottish Book Trust, Next Chapter Award 2021 for her memoir, Andaza (Murdoch Books, 2023).
Sumayya went from practising law for twelve years to pursuing food writing. Her first book, Summers Under the Tamarind Tree (Frances Lincoln, 2016) was the first Pakistani cookbook in Britain. It won the Best First Cookbook category in the Gourmand Cookbook Awards in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award. Her second cookbook, Mountain Berries and Desert Spice (Frances Lincoln, 2017) was shortlisted in the Best Cookbook of the Year category at the Food & Travel Magazine Awards. Sumayya is a regular on Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet with Jay Rayner and writes for national and international publications.
Mae Diansangu is a poet and spoken word artist from Aberdeen. She has performed at literary festivals across Scotland and appeared on BBC Scotland’s Big Scottish Book Club and BBC Radio 4’s Tongue and Talk. Her series of poems ‘black lives, heavy truths’ is part of the National Library of Scotland’s collection. You can read her work in the anthologies Tales fae the Doric Side and Re creation – a queer poetry anthology. Mae writes in both English and Doric and is working on her first collection.
’S e tidsear àrd-sgoil a th’ ann an Seonaidh Charity. ’S ann à Loch Bhraoin ach tha e a’ fuireach san Eilean Dubh. Chaidh a’ chiad nobhail aige An Làmh a Bheir fhoillseachadh mar phàirt dhen sreath ‘Lasag’ le Sandstone Press. Chaidh na sgeulachdan goirid aige fhoillseachadh ann an irisean leithid danamag, Northwords Now agus 404 Ink.
Seonaidh Charity is a secondary school teacher who works in Inverness. He is originally from Lochbroom but now lives on the Black Isle. His first novel An Làmh a Bheir was published as part of the ‘Lasag’ series (Sandstone Press). Seonaidh has had short stories published in danamag, Northwords Now and 404 Ink.
Tha Alistair a’ fuireach an Eilean Arainn far a bheil e ag obair na ghàirnealair. Chaidh na leabhraichean ficsean aige, Linne Dhomhain agus Fir an Diùraidh, fhoillseachadh le Luath, agus tha an obair aige air nochdadh anns na h irisean Tuath, STEALL agus Poblachd nam Bàrd.
Alistair lives on the Isle of Arran where he works as a gardener. His works of fiction, Linne Dhomhain and Fir an Diùraidh, are published by Luath and his writing has also appeared in Tuath, STEALL and The Poets’ Republic.