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Introduction to Special Issue by Derek Neale
Author: Derek Neale
Attachments: WiP 2021 1 Intro.pdf

Writing in Practice Volume 7

 
Principal Editor: Derek Neale
Volume 7 co-editors: Derek Neale and Josie Barnard
Issue editors: Josie Barnard, Yvonne Battle-Felton, Oz Hardwick, Amy Spencer
Publications Manager: Lisa Koning
 

Special Issue – Multimodal Writing

 
This is the last introduction I will write as principal editor of Writing in Practice but happily there are a couple of firsts too. This issue is co-edited for the first ever time, with Dr Josie Barnard. Writing in Practice does not ordinarily run volumes on specific topics, but due to the important impact of the “digital turn” on writers and writing, the editorial board made an exception, inviting Dr Barnard to co-edit the journal’s first ever Special Issue - its subject: multimodal writing. The importance of multimodal writing to creative writers internationally has been confirmed by the fact that the Special Issue received twice the usual number of submissions. Those submissions included articles from writers who are academics (ranging from early career researchers to Heads of School), practitioners in places ranging from Falmouth to Eire, Northern Ireland to America. Writers have perhaps become split between those who feel “techy” and those who feel they are falling behind. This volume attempts to share knowledge, methodologies, and approaches. It is apparent, looking through the contributions, that the Special Issue has empowered a wide range of writers. The sense of empowerment is palpable in writers’ confidence when talking about, for instance, the importance of play to creative practice. This can be seen again and again in the rich discussion and range of topics covered in the articles.
 
Multimodality and the “digital turn” are having a huge impact on the Creative Writing Higher Education sector and Barnard’s work, some of which has been, appropriately, undertaken in collaboration with NAWE, has meant that writers’ concerns and interests, and those of NAWE’s membership, have been tended to. This is a national and international matter of some importance to the sector; the impact affects not only all Creative Writing programmes, but the nature of communications in general, given the way in which literary, digital and media culture has become inseparably linked to educational institutions and Higher Education writing programmes. Looking forward, it is essential to further develop work in this area, specifically around the issues of creativity, publication, performance and the broadcast of multimodal works. The Special Issue’s topic and Barnard’s work has facilitated awareness and generated creativity, aiding our membership, writers and teachers, to more fully comprehend and embrace multimodal approaches.
 
Whether directly or indirectly, the digital revolution has affected every aspect of the writing and publishing process. Writing – often thought of as primarily text-based – now routinely involves multiple modes of reproduction and presentation, with photographs, emoji and audio – just to give three examples - featuring as integral parts of online narratives. The explosion of new media may lead a writer to experiment with new technologies (perhaps writing Twine poetry, producing podcasts or moving into self-publishing). Conversely, it might inspire a revived enthusiasm for using old technologies such as pens, pencils, paper. In her book, The Multimodal Writer, Barnard notes that “In a digital age, the ability to move between types of writing and technologies - often at speed - is increasingly essential for writers” (2019: 1). In order to not just survive but, rather, thrive in an era characterised by fast-paced change, “creative flexibility and resilience [are] necessary” (2019: 119). How to develop such creative flexibility and resilience is an important aspect of multimodal writing practice. All technologies were new at some point. In order to tackle new challenges, writers draw on past experiences of tackling something new, and in so doing they are “remediating” their own practice (Barnard 2019: 29).

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