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Beth's story

Dancers, athletes, musicians and other young people who are passionate about what they do have clubs and organisations to support them, but young writers are often isolated and have few opportunities to develop their creative writing and illustration.

Beth Banerjee-Richards felt cut off from the writing community when she applied to What’s Your Story in 2016. Beth lived in Orkney, and didn’t feel like there were any opportunities to develop her writing skills with other young people. All that changed when she was offered a place on the What’s Your Story development programme, which supports young people aged 14-17 to hone their writing, illustration and storytelling skills.

Over the course of a year, Beth was given time and support she needed to develop her creativity. She and the other What’s Your story participants visited the National Library of Scotland and Edinburgh International Book Festival, and attended a five-night retreat at Moniack Mhor creative writing centre. The group also had the chance to shape the Scottish literary scene by planning StoryCon, a free creative writing and illustration conference for 13–19 year-olds. Beth learned new skills and got useful career experience, all while creating events and opportunities for other young people in Scotland.

At the end of each programme year, all the young participants have the opportunity to showcase their work. For her showcase piece, Beth read an extract from her short story Aurelia at the National Library of Scotland. Her reading was a huge hit with the audience. Even more excitingly, she was talent-spotted, and asked to speak as a panellist and read the full work at the International Women’s Day Symposium 2018.

Beth says, "What’s Your Story? has offered me more opportunities than I could have imagined. From the mentorship to interviewing authors that I love at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, it’s been absolutely amazing and I can’t think of anything else like it."