Bridging Literary Divides aims to provide tailored 1-1 mentoring for disadvantaged and under-represented writers by experienced authors and literary agents.
The aim of the programme is to empower people through writing and to increase literary representation of authors from socially disadvantaged backgrounds.
By pairing up mentees with experienced authors and literary agents, we aim to boost their confidence and develop their writing skills to publishing standard. At the same time, the mentoring expands mentees’ writing portfolios by supporting submissions to competitions, magazines and other creative outlets. One of our mentees’ novels from the successful 2021/22 six month trial of the program was published by her mentor’s publisher (Jasami Publishing) in October 2022. All of our mentees are published on the dedicated blog at the end of the programme. To see some of what our writers have worked towards click here.
Bridging Literary Divides is a programme run by the Arkbound Foundation, a charity based in Glasgow. Our purpose is to support people from a range of diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds develop their writing and get published.
We ran a 6 month trial of the programme across 2021 and 2022, and have recently acquired additional funding from Creative Scotland to run a 10 month long version of the programme for 2023.
Since being founded in 2015, Arkbound has published an impressive selection of works from marginalised voices, demonstrating our vital contribution to an industry that is well known to struggle markedly with equalities.
We have also previously delivered successful mentoring initiatives in both creative writing and journalism (the latter of which was a lead project funded by the Council of Europe). Through our workshops and mentoring, we have reached people who would otherwise be excluded and communities who face multiple levels of deprivation – building skills, improving capacity and creating new opportunities.
Our ethos is one of sharing and collaboration, which has allowed us – despite being a small charity in receipt of minimal funding – to deliver a range of projects, from tree planting to national writing competitions. As well as supporting books that cover important social and environmental themes, we like to creatively explore ideas outside of the mainstream, including new socio-economic models (www.arkbound.ac.uk) and grassroots initiatives that build on local resilience and self-sufficiency.
The Bridging Literary Divides creative writing mentoring programme is funded with the support of Creative Scotland and pairs aspiring writers with experts in the literary field, from creative writing professors and authors, to literary agents. Each mentee will meet with their mentor between 3-6 hours a week and will receive 1-1 tailored support throughout the program. There are no set expectations for mentees: some need help with finessing their writing skills; for others it is around building confidence and contacts in the industry.
Over time we encourage and support mentees to build their writing portfolios, whether this is submitting to competitions, other media, or working on a book proposal with an agent or publisher. Working with their mentors, mentees can hone their writing skills and gain knowledge of the publishing industry. Through the program, we have seen mentees become published authors, freelance writers, journalists, editors and proofreaders.
The programme is open to anyone living in Scotland aged over 16, who identifies as experiencing social exclusion or being from a disadvantaged background.
The eight mentors for this project are published authors, editors/publishers and experienced literary agents. We are careful to ensure that mentors don’t just have professional literary and publishing experience, but also a background in tutoring individuals, both from disadvantaged circumstances and otherwise. Arkbound ensures that our mentors are fully supported and managed by our core team. As part of our training for the group, we provide an introduction to, and digital training of our safeguarding policy and working with vulnerable adults. Our mentor group for the upcoming 2023 program consist of: