Meet the Members: Alan Walker, Chair of the Board
For this latest edition of ‘Meet the Members’ we have the pleasure of introducing you to Alan Walker, the current Chair of the Nottingham Writers’ Studio board.
What is your best benefit from being a part of NWS?
In the summer of 2014, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with my business as a Management Consultant. Standards of British management seemed at an all-time low, and I felt the need to retire early. I wanted to return to music journalism that I used to enjoy in my spare time in my 20’s; but was I good enough, and had I the confidence to make the switch?
I was recommended by a friend to join NWS and get involved – and it certainly made the difference! I talked with published writers and did a couple of weekend workshops, and my confidence grew. As a result I took the leap and retired early in 2015.
I have much to thank NWS for, and was therefore happy to put my business head back on three years ago and advise the Board as a non-exec Director. Then in 2019, I was truly honoured to be elected Chair and be given the opportunity to lead the studio and assure its future for other prospective writers.
Who are or have been the important writers for you?
In my teens, I grew up in the Nottinghamshire coalfields, where I was drawn to the writing of D.H. Lawrence. He wrote a lot about actual people as well as places, and they were quite easy to locate. It was the fabric of my teens and taught me a lot.
As I drifted in my early 20’s into part time music journalism, I looked up to a journalist called Pete Frame. His attention to detail was outstanding, and his research beyond compare. I loved all he wrote, and when I wrote to him seeking advice, he wrote me a memorable reply. Later a journalist called Nigel Williamson was a writer I always enjoyed reading, and was a great source of inspiration.
In more recent times, my son bought me a book by Patrick Ness, but more of that later…
What has happened to make you feel proud of your written output?
I began writing articles and reviews in 2015 which I submitted to various publications with varying degrees of success. I knew I needed to reach a level of acceptance where my views were trusted, and unlike the 70s, it took time. One day however, a top singer played the Midlands and I got a call to ask if I could meet them backstage after the show. The result of that meeting was being asked to write website reviews for all the back catalogue for which I was well rewarded. The highlight came though when I got a call asking me to write the sleeve notes for the new album. I expected it to be edited but it was released with every word intact. A huge highlight indeed!
How often do you write?
Initially, I wrote as the work came in, even working through the night at times to achieve deadlines. As I learned to structure the work, I started giving commissioners realistic deadlines that I knew I could achieve during ‘office hours’ at home.
It’s unfortunate that Covid has undeniably been very tough on the music business, and work levels have fallen since March 2020. Health reasons then also created a forced break, but I knew I had to diversify if I was to still have an outlet for my writing, and I am now getting back into new work with a clean bill of health.
Tell us about the book that made you want to write?
Returning to a previous question, 5 years ago my son bought me a copy of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, and I was hugely impressed. A book about an adult subject, but seen through the eyes of a child. The writing treated a hugely challenging subject with compassion while showing how hard it was for a young boy to come to terms with it. I decided that given the opportunity, I wanted to try and write about adult issues for people of that age group.
The drop in music work, and the excellent Novel In A Year programme available through NWS in partnership with Imagine, has presented me with that opportunity and I’m now looking forward to joining the class of 2021/2022 and writing my first novel!