Creativity Found

Kat Arksey – from social work to writing for children, via bullying and low self-esteem

October 03, 2021 Kat. Arksey Episode 32
Creativity Found
Kat Arksey – from social work to writing for children, via bullying and low self-esteem
Show Notes Transcript

At uni, studying sociology, Kat Arksey visited poetry reading club nights. She was writing her own poetry, but kept her creations to herself, not feeling confident enough to share her works.
Kat has now published a number of poetic writings for children. So what changed and gave her the confidence to allow her work to be seen?

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Music: Day Trips by Ketsa Undercover / Ketsa Creative Commons License Free Music Archive - Ketsa - Day Trips

Artworks: Emily Portnoi emilyportnoi.co.uk



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Claire Waite Brown:

You can find links to books by today's guest at creativity found.co.uk. If you contact any of our guests, don't forget to mention creativity found. For this episode, I'm chatting with Kat arksey, who loved writing as a youngster, but lost her confidence at a young age, partly because of bullying at school. During lockdown, she found a reason to return to her creativity. So let's find out more. Hi, Kat, how are you?

Unknown:

I'm very good. Thank you feeling okay today, but my baby was up last night. So a little bit tired. But I can cope with that.

Claire Waite Brown:

During the pandemic, you found an outlet for your creativity. What have you started doing?

Unknown:

That's absolutely right. So in January, obviously, we had another lockdown didn't play. And it prompted me to start writing for children been a bit of a whirlwind since then it's kind of sparked something in me. And I've started writing all sorts for children. So books and also bits of poetry within that as well. So it's set me on a bit of a creative journey, inspired by my own very young children.

Claire Waite Brown:

That's really exciting. I can't wait to hear more about it. But let's go back. And did you write or express yourself in otherwise creative ways as a youngster?

Unknown:

I think I always had it in me to want to write, write stories, write poetry, and I always like to English I love to read and I read a lot of books. I love to roll dial. So I was always up late read reading books when I should have been asleep. Yeah, my mom, my stepmom would come up to the bedroom and see that my light was still on. I was still read until quite late. When I was really young, I started writing poems. I wanted like a competition at school. And I really loved it. And I also would write a my Nana's house would go there a lot in holidays. And she always had like, old sort of wallpaper and stuff that were drawn and scribble on. But I like made it sort of banded it together. Sure I wanted. I wanted it to be a book. So I must have always wanted to write a book. So I remember it was black wallpaper like on white on one side, and it was all ripped. And it was all like quite sort of rustic look. And I made and I drew with crayons, and I made a story. And yeah, I spent like a whole day doing that. In the summer holidays. I've

Claire Waite Brown:

loved it. Have you still got it?

Unknown:

No, I don't know what happened to it, I think must have got taken to the bidding. Maybe I cleared out for university and I cleared out all my stuff. But yeah, I loved I loved writing that was sadly really I didn't carry on with it. You know, after sort of primary school age really, mainly at secondary school and a little bit private school. There was some bullying going on. So I was bullied and my confidence just went right down. But my self esteem was like incredibly low. And I just didn't feel like it was something I could do anymore. Like the confidence wasn't there to do it. So I think that stopped it for quite a long time. I think in my teenage years, I sort of got into all these like sort of heavy bands and like with a bit thought thought I was a bit clunky but really, and I started writing these, like lyrics kind of just for fun, really. And I think that was a way to get back into it to experiment a little bit. So I enjoyed that. I've had like little sort of dips into it where I've tried it again, but it's always been there. But yeah, I do think the bullying definitely stopped me being creative. It kind of made me feel like I wasn't good enough for it. Rather than just doing it if it was good or bad, you know, I think you have to just keep going, whether it's good writing or bad writing, like, that's my view now, but in them the other thought, well, it's not good enough, so why bother?

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah, I can understand that. That's really sad. Yeah. Yeah, it's a shame. You discovered sociology and took that into higher education. What do you think drew you to that subject? and What did you like about

Unknown:

it? Yeah, really got into sociology at a level I studied sociology, English language, and Media Studies. And I think they all kind of merged into Ireland's, like, that was sort of my interest was how society functions. But how like messages are sort of use it like, okay, and bring it in the English language and the media, how messages are sort of given to us in society about how we should be. And for my sociology degree, I wrote about body image for women and what our men but it was mainly, like, my own experiences, about women about how we're bombarded with these images, and of how we should be, you know, the perfect perfection, and the perfect body. You know, I was reading a lot of feminist literature and stuff like that to try and understand it. And I found it really fascinating.

Claire Waite Brown:

And you were exploring the language around those societal messages as well, weren't you?

Unknown:

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Just like the beauty industry, some of the language that's used like problem areas, like the use the word fix, fix your body and a Beachbody ready, things like that the messages that are often used in advertisements, I think things have changed a lot. I mean, I wrote that 2009 I think it was, I think things have changed a lot these days. I think there's a lot of marbles and body positivity, which is excellent. But that really interested me and a lot of it was the language use that, that really interested me there. It just made me think of growing up all the messages that were given, as young girls and teenagers in children even about diets and being slim and how that scene is the ideal. So I explored that really found that really fascinating.

Claire Waite Brown:

We, as listeners can can start to see how various elements in Connect are interconnected and leading to what to what you're doing. Now you're talking about messages that children and young people get. But while you're at uni, first time around other than writing for your course, did you pursue any creative writing,

Unknown:

I kind of fell into a bit of a group of writers as friends, they had their own like poetry club, where they'd meet weekly, it was my boyfriend, who is now my husband, we met at college and went to the same university. So it would be like, together since we were 16, we ended up going to these poetry reading nights where they'd all read out the poetry and I started to write, but the confidence still wasn't there to be able to share it and read it out. I kind of held back an awful lot and kind of watch these people around me sort of, you know, have the confidence they had to kind of read that out and, and share it with people. And it kind of opened up that to me that that was a possibility. I think I found it really interesting. So he still writes poetry now is he's had a few published in like journals and things recently, he kind of keeps me inspired. I think we like bounce off each other a lot. Really?

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah. Did you know what you wanted to do after university? And if so, did you do it?

Unknown:

I'll be honest, I was a bit lost. After university, I didn't know what I wanted to do. At first, I was quite confused. I was looking at all sorts of jobs. But then I was looking at other courses. I didn't really feel like at that time, like you really got prepared for after university, like so much focus on going to university, there's not much. It's like an after what you do after but I went to study a master's in social work. And I moved from whole which is where I went to uni and where I'm from, to Preston in Lancashire at the University of Central Lancashire. And I did a Master's there. So I kind of just went on my own even though me and my boyfriend were still together. We've had like a long distance relationship. I kind of just went on went there. I had made some really great friends. I still speak to now. And I study social work at my mom is a social worker. So I think that was a bit of an influence. But also I think the sociology obviously that heavily ties into it. I had a real one to help. I think at that time. I wanted to work with adults. I've never really worked with children before at that point, and obviously I didn't have my own children. But then I got a pot on a place when working with children with disabilities. And I really loved it so much. It was fantastic because I did youth groups for children. This is disabilities and I also did after school club and I organised in the summer holidays, weeks where we take them out and everything. And I loved it, I really loved it. And I thought, you know, I actually really like this. And this is something I'd like to do. And then as the cost went on, I got a second placement with children that were in care, working alongside the social workers. And when I qualified, I ended up working on on a team doing that as a social worker. So I stayed in Preston for about a year and a half, I was really missing my hometown. So me and my husband ended up moving back to home, we just missed it far too much.

Claire Waite Brown:

Oh, yeah.

Unknown:

Keep away from this place.

Claire Waite Brown:

So where were you working? or How are you working? When you got back to home,

Unknown:

I ended up working with families in need that needed support, I started working in a school doing one to one support with children. So like sessions, where they'd come in and see me for an hour, and we'd work on things that they were struggling with all sorts of things. And then the job changed. And it become more family focused work, where we go into homes and work with families, and it'd be more whole family approach. I did that for about eight years. And it was really, it was really interesting role, I really, really enjoyed it. I ended up leaving that recently. From up boys really, I had a bit of a after my second son was born a bit of a tough time, sort of with my own mental health and really difficult birth that was really traumatic. I didn't really realise it until maybe last summer, but it took me quite a while to come to terms with it and recover from it like mentally, really. So I had a really tough time with that. And I kind of with the whole COVID on lockdown and time that we've had I did a lot of reflection, and I ended up feeling like it wasn't gonna work fit in around the children and things. So I've recently left there. But I think it really did a lot for me, it was there was a lot of important work being done, I think.

Claire Waite Brown:

I mean, it certainly sounds very fulfilling. And you must have been doing a wonderful job and being really helpful for other people. I would imagine that perhaps there are stresses that go with that as well. Did you experience that?

Unknown:

Yeah, yeah, there is there is stresses that go with that. I think sometimes it's just a really difficult situation for for them and can be stressful. But I think it's the place that I was I was working. A good thing about it was there was a lot of time to do that one to one work with them, as a social worker is not often that time to do the sort of one to one work, where you can sit down and do the activities and things with them to try and help people help. You know, with the children, I did a lot of emotions work, that sort of thing that and new thing that I'm looking at that I'm working on at the moment is putting together like an emotions book for children, which is more of a prompt to journal. Some of the work that I've done with children has kind of inspired me to do that, really. So that's another thing that I'm looking at at the moment.

Claire Waite Brown:

I love sharing my guests stories with you. But podcasting isn't cheap. There are hosting fees and software costs, tech to buy and time to invest in planning and editing to make sure that guests sound great. And listeners hear the best content. If you would like to financially support creativity found, please visit kayo hyphen, f fi.com slash creativity found podcast. The books that you're writing, which we'll come on to later, are the books that children might need to help them emotionally. You mentioned the difficult birth of your second child and leaving the job you were in. Were there other actions that you took to try and heal after that second birth? Did it take a while to realise that that was what you needed for yourself?

Unknown:

It was difficult, I suppose when you're in something you don't really can't really see what's happening if you're not mean, but I think on reflection, you know, I could have really got more help. But I think the lockdown didn't help because my son was only six months at that time. That sort of exacerbated things a little bit if you don't I mean, because you know, I didn't really have the space or time to recover from it. Obviously we're all together at home all the time and childcare responsibilities. Were all on me all the time really well my husband, obviously, he did help but he had he had his full time job from her. So it was quite intense sort of time really with his own All together, I think a lot of people could relate with having children at home in the lockdown. Yeah, it didn't really give me time to properly reflect on it and heal from it. And it wasn't until last summer that I sort of decided, like, I had to do something about it. And I had some therapy, which really, really helped me realise that I do need to look after myself and, and it wasn't long after that, I had a bit of time where I had some time off sick at work, I was diagnosed with depression, that's when I started to write, I started to write a bit more. And then in the January, my son was really excited to go back to school. And there was an announcement, while he was still asleep to say, wouldn't be going back. And I just couldn't. I mean, what was what was happening, I just had to write something down, I had to, because I felt really sad for him because he was, you know, everything that we've been through. And then suddenly, I had to think about telling him that I won't be going to school that he's going to be homeschooling with me, and, and you know, so much going around in my head, and I decided to write a story to help them understand what was going to happen. So that's when I wrote when Harry stayed on that night. And then over time, I sort of edited it to what I wanted. And then a friend of mine, offered to draft the illustrations for it. And it was sort of all came together, I wasn't going to do anything with it. Because I had so many time constraints, I just didn't think because I was at home with both the children and homeschooling. I just didn't know when I was going to fit it in. But I managed it somehow. I said to my husband, I just don't think I want to do this, I just said I don't think anyone or anyone is going to like it. And he said just do it, it's really good, you should just do it. I decided to just bring it out. And they couldn't believe the response I got, I was just really overwhelmed. People look at and you know, a lot of friends were saying things like that, read it to the children and the children and said, that's just like us the description in the book of what the children are doing. And following that I've been inspired to write more stories for children. So that all started in January. So been a quite interesting really since then I've just sort of carried on and I'm really enjoying it. It's really helpful helpful for me and said about you know, mental health, it's really been quite therapeutic and cathartic in a way to be able to get things down and feel like it's helpful not only to my own children, but to other children. And that's kind of what I wanted to do.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yeah, brilliant Do you think you write from the child's viewpoint, and you're writing to help children understand, and we'll talk about your next books as well. Writing to help children understand is that help you to actually zone in and feel confident enough to write

Unknown:

Exactly. I really like to write from the child's view. But a lot of my work in the past, the work that we've done is looking at it from the child's viewpoint. And I think I'm used to writing in that way from some of the work that we do when we write assessments are things like that we we write about the chart, like the child's viewpoint and their quirks and everything. So I think I've written like that for a long time in work as well. So I think that comes into it. But yeah, I just found it a way for me to process things as well, but through their eyes. Yeah, I've written other things as well like, poems, and just to try and help me sort of process it and, and what maybe look at it from, from a child's point of view.

Claire Waite Brown:

So is writing the other stuff writing poems? Is that a release for you? Or are those something you want to publish? Or are those more personal?

Unknown:

Some of the poems I've written are more personal recently, one of them? I've submitted to something called the mum poem press. They've got an anthology out and a book, a collection, and it's all sort of a lot of them are new mothers who have written poems sort of during lockdown, and they've submitted it in the medical collection. So I've submitted a poem to their next zine Xen. Sorry, I don't know that right. I always say it wrong. The Divine. I've written a poem and the theme was identity. So I've written a poem, and I've submitted it motherhood and identity and how your identity changes after you have children and things. I find it that that's really fascinating to me, because I do think it changes you but I think it changes you in lots of really positive ways. I think I've definitely grown in confidence. Since I've had children, I think it's I do think it changes you in a positive way. I think I've learned sort of value, you know, value myself. And it sort of taught me that I do have to look after myself a bit more dinner. Because you don't always have time for yourself might take that for granted. But I think when you have children, you realise you really do have to let how important you are new Do you have to look after yourself?

Claire Waite Brown:

Definitely Good for you. Sales of your second book are supporting a charity. Tell me more about that.

Unknown:

Clap for kids is my second book. It's a poem. And it is about saying thank you to all that children have done during the lockdown all that they've given up all the difficulties they've been through all the challenges, I just want it to recognise that because I think sometimes it gets missed, really, there's a lot to focus on when we talk about the pandemic, a lot of people that have suffered, and a lot of challenges people have had, and, you know, I just want it to recognise what children have done. We did all the the the clap for the health heroes and NHS and that's brilliant. And I kind of wanted to say, well, let's say thank you, and clap for kids. So that's why I called it clap for kids, you don't get to be your child again. And that's quite a long period of time in a child's life, you can't live that over again, you can't catch up. And they've given up so much things like a swimming class, for example, things that are so important to children, seeing their grandparents having relationships with the families, I wanted to say, say thank you, basically. And the book says you ask superheroes, and that's the theme of the book is like a bit of a superhero theme to say your superheroes. So yeah, as you said, one pound of every sale of crap for kids, I'm going to be donating that to the black foundation. And the black foundation are a charity for depression. And a really good friend of mine, Katie, little shout out to keirsey she's a really good friend of mine, she really helped helped out with just being there for me really, like cheer me up when I needed it. And she sent me something called a body box from the black foundation. And it's like a little like self care box full of little psych surprise, you don't know what's going to be in it. It's a little treats and things and little pick me ups and stuff. And it introduced me to their their foundation. And then I looked into it, and they actually do this really, really good idea. It's a peer project for children, and the black foundation work with schools. And they have a programme where they can teach children how to recognise sort of mental health and the importance of it and looking after themselves, but also, for them to be peer supporters to support their peers and the classmates. So I think that's really important. There was nothing like that when I was at school. And I think it's fantastic that that is happening. And I would encourage anybody who works in schools to look into it, because anybody you know, who works in schools can apply to be part of it. As a society, I think we need to look at how we're going to help children heal from this and recover from what they've been through. Some children are struggling, which is understandable, been through a lot. So I think it's really important that we think about how, how we're going to help children really.

Claire Waite Brown:

Yes, you're right. And that's a brilliant job you're doing. Thank you. I know, I happen to know that you've also started drawing again, yeah, tell me a little bit about that.

Unknown:

It's just sort of something I do a bit of a hobby for myself. I like sort of drawing kind of cartoony kind of drawings and sketches. And I often draw like friends, I'll draw like a picture of them sort of thing. And just as a bit of a hobby, but what I'd like to do for the future, obviously, I've got my writing the children, I'd love to actually illustrate and draw myself. It's a it's a really long process, which is and time is not something I have a lot of, so maybe something for the future. I'd like to learn how to have to draw for a book, and I'll do it in my own. My own style really

Claire Waite Brown:

good for you. Good luck with that.

Unknown:

Thank you.

Claire Waite Brown:

Go for it and enjoy it. You've mentioned that as a as a hope for the future. What are the hopes and dreams and reality plans do you have for the future near or far,

Unknown:

I've got quite a lot of dreams. I'd like to keep writing. So that's something that I focus now at the moment. I've started a creative writing course recently. You know, obviously I've self published I'd love to have a book with the publishers and I'd love to see a book in a shop. I put my books in like a little local cafe, which was fantastic as Really pausing when I saw for the future, I think it's just a bit of a dream for me really to carry on with it and keep writing. I've also then sort of another side note, really, I've got chatting with a group of moms, that I've got young kids that are very similar to me wrote books in lockdown. So I found it really interesting how other people had been so inspired to write in lockdown, and not just to moms, but lots of people have written books in lockdown that I've never written books before. So similar to myself, it's just interesting to think about that a lot of people were inspired to write during that time. But I think it has sparked creativity, your routine is changed your life is change, your focus change, maybe you're noticing things that you've never really noticed before. It can be quite a lot of inspiration for it. And as I think also adversity and challenges, difficulties in life can spark creativity.

Claire Waite Brown:

Catch you very kindly offered to read some of clap for kids for us.

Unknown:

Yes, this is clap for kids. Thank you to all the superheroes. We are so proud of you. We are the kids of COVID-19. Listen up, you'll see what we mean. We've crafted and we've cried, we've been on walks we've side. We've watched cartoons on the telly. We've made big bowls of Gigli jelly. We've sat at home in our pyjamas and backed up all our black bananas. We've written our bikes really, really fast. We've said Mum, don't forget your mask. We felt grumpy, sad. And sir alone with spoken to grandparents. On the third. We are the kids of COVID-19 feeling like West stuck in between.

Claire Waite Brown:

That's really, really lovely cat. Thank you. There are many, many podcasts out there. It's difficult to know where to start. So I like to ask my guests for their recommendations. You're welcome.

Unknown:

If anybody is interested in a podcast that is for children, there is one called grab some sticks by a lovely lady called Rashi. And Roshni is, I think she's in a teacher, early years educator, she's got a beautiful reading voice, absolutely beautiful reading voice. So she reads books out on her podcast. And it's very short because it is for children. She has actually read clap for kids out on there as well. So if you wanted to have a listen on there, she reads out beautifully. So yeah, grab some sticks.

Claire Waite Brown:

What a great recommendation. Thank you so much, Kat, how can people connect with you and find your books,

Unknown:

my books on Amazon. They're available as ebooks and as paperback books. If you wanted to follow me on Instagram. I've got a page on Instagram called two moons book club, where I talk about my self publishing journey. But I also talk about books that my children are enjoying and share with other authors that we enjoy. So you can connect with me on there also. I've also read that I've not mentioned this one. But I've recently brought out a story about children that don't like wearing sun cream, one for the summer, which I wrote because my son really didn't like wearing some cream. He refused to wear it and he didn't like the feeling of it. So I wrote a little story about that as well. So that's another one if anyone wants to check that out.

Claire Waite Brown:

That whole sun cream say they get out of the sea and then they're covered in sand and then we've got to put it on to more.

Unknown:

One of the things no one tells you when you have children.

Claire Waite Brown:

It's been really lovely to talk to you. Thank you so much.

Unknown:

Thank you Claire really enjoyed Joe chatting to you and thanks to everyone who's been listening I hope you enjoyed it.

Claire Waite Brown:

Brilliant. Creativity found is an open stage arts production. If you're listening on Apple podcasts, please subscribe rate and review. If you would like to contribute to future episodes, visit kayo hyphen f fi.com slash creativity found podcast. If you contact any of the artists featured sign up to their workshops, or buy their products don't forget to mention creativity found podcast on Instagram or Facebook follow at creativity found podcast where you'll find photos of our contributors artwork and be kept abreast of everything. We're up to