We’ve been working on a new issue project recently. We didn’t realise we were, we thought we were doing one of the old ones but it kind of got carried away.
We started out by bringing White Water Writers to inmates at several prisons. This presents difficulties:
- the process is *highly* collaborative, and for a range of sensible reasons, inmates aren’t allowed to collaborate on documents.
- surprisingly (to us) you CAN’T assume that the inmates will be available. There are quite a lot of doctors appointments and so on that inmates have to go to other sections of the prison for, and then they can be waiting quite a long time for someone to bring them back (the guards effectively run a walking taxi service)
- It’s quite hard to get the book back out again, both technically (someone has to go to each terminal and save the work separately) and organisationally (various levels of people have to approve the book before it can go on sale and this takes a while). It’s very much different from the ‘book is published before I leave the site’ policy that we try and deliver in schools.
On the other hand, there are some interesting bonus aspects. We’ve been working with groups of fathers, who obviously don’t see their kids much, and the key thing we’ve been doing differently is that, rather than making a character from scratch and seeing how that character fits into the story, the writers have been using their kids as the characters in the book. Better yet, the kids get an extra visitation day and come in during the project to illustrate the book. It’s really quite emotional.
So for various reasons, we’ve ended up with someone that really isn’t White Water Writers, and indeed, we haven’t been publishing it under that imprint. In fact, for various sensible reasons we aren’t publicising anything about the books at the moment. To be clear – it’s still a book, it’s still five days of work, but because it’s a little less collaborative and and a bit more about the illustration, it’s developing differently.
We’re calling this new project “Caesar Bond”, which will also be the pen name for the books.