We love having Elise Valmorbida at our lit fests, as she always brings something new and dynamic to the festival. The Outsiders Welcome creative writing workshop we had at our June Bookie was no exception. Margate Bookie chats with her about The Happy Writing Book and her event with us.
What was Outsiders Welcome all about?
There are various chapters in The Happy Writing Book—my new guide to creative writing and wellbeing—that highlight positive ways of being a stranger. One chapter is entitled ‘Foreigners Welcome’ and it’s all about the way migrants lean towards metaphor without even thinking about it, the way our different ‘places’ can be geographical, cultural, but sometimes entirely notional. So it was about transition and change—which fuel storytelling. It was also about being different. Even when difference appears to be disadvantageous, it can be a source of strength for the creative writer.
Where did the idea for Outsiders Welcome come about?
I am twice foreign. I grew up Italian in Australia. I learned ways of thinking and behaving that were sometimes alien to the majority culture. And my head was full of migrant stories; people and places that seemed exotic and yet were utterly familiar—part of me, like my Italian face and surname. A scholarship brought me to England to study, but my temporary stay ended up being a migration (I’ve been here for most of my life). Over time, I became intrigued by the idea of migration stories. I devised and taught my first ‘Suitcase Stories’ workshops ten years ago. My workshop for Margate Bookie connected that creative writing/teaching experience with elements of practical philosophy.
How did it go?
The workshop was a delight. A lovely group of people. A beautiful view through the huge windows of Turner Contemporary—ideal for our thinking time. The creative writing ranged from intense poetic fragments and personal observation to savvy journalistic prose. It took my breath away.
Where can we find more out about you?
You’ll find words, images and links on my website. There are random posts about all things creative/writing on Instagram (this is the only social media I do, and I promise not to post pics of my breakfast). I’d be very grateful for reviews and ratings on Goodreads, where you can also follow me.