26 Oct 2014

Writer in Residence in a Children’s Hospital by Linda Cracknell

Writer Linda Cracknell talks about her residency at Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital.

In June 2012 I joined the arts programme at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, affectionately known as the ‘Sick Kids’. 

I work in the Hospital only three days a month – engaging with patients, parents, staff or volunteers. The accent is on fun and providing distraction through creative activity much of it in league with illustrator-in-residence, Cate James.

As a teacher and facilitator I’ve taken creative writing into a variety of community settings but the hospital is the most unusual. The last thing people are expecting to hear from someone approaching with a clipboard is ‘Would you like to make up a story with me?’. 

Typically any encounter with patients is at their bedside, or sometimes in ward playrooms. This often results in informal mixed-generation groups in which the presence of children seems to be liberating for the adult imagination.

A further three days a month I spend writing for and about the Hospital. Life there includes every kind of petty and grand drama, high emotion and extreme boredom. Within it are people from all walks of life and every type of technology is used. As a writer I’m naturally curious and there is a great deal to learn about and set the imagination onto.
From the All Write Kreative Kids Blog

My projects have included a Christmas story for The Scotsman set in the haematology lab; a set of children’s stories that Cate and I have created about the ‘Whatsits’ hospital characters – such as Stephanie the Stethoscope and Cathy the Cannula – designed to soften sharpness and simplify complexity. 

Currently we are making a film ‘Night Porter’ based on my poem echoing W H Auden’s ‘Night Mail’ about the journey around the current site as the porter collects and delivers mail; a way of creatively archiving the site and what it means to people before the move to Little France in 2017.

For more information about the programme that Cate James and Linda Cracknell are delivering, visit: http://allwritekreativkids.blogspot.co.uk/http://allwritekreativkids.blogspot.co.uk/

Linda Cracknell is a writer of fiction, creative non-fiction and radio drama. Recent books include a novel, Call of the Undertow, and non-fiction Doubling Back: ten paths trodden in memory.

Image of Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh  by James Den#nham [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.