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'Words gave me a career'

3 February 2014

'This is certainly not the writer's life I anticipated when I opened that first acceptance latter, when I first met someone who'd read me. This isn't what I aimed for when I sneaked out short stories between working in all kinds of centres and hospitals and facilities. The workshops taught me that you move beyond your fears, find the words to name yourself, make demands, celebrate joys, protest pains, then you can start to move your world. I grew up as a writer seeing that language is a monumental force, that it constantly works upon us, for good and ill, that it can redefine us, rehearse the changes we want, establish our humanity...

Words gave me a career, but for a while my own story was slipping away. I'd ended up simply rattling along within an unruly life, inside a country intent on dismantling its schools, boiling down its libraries, dismantling its media, swallowing its tongue - a country that went to war on the strength of deceptive phrasing. What made me first love words was the idea of a story being shared between people, of voice- it was the big, daft joy of making a noise to prove you're still here and maybe about to make something happen, something impossible, but you'll make it anyway. I needed to get back to that love.'

A L Kennedy, author of What Becomes? in The Times