Welcome to a catch-up with the lovely writer and teacher of writing, Leila Rasheed. I’ve known Leila personally for almost ten years, and I got her into this interview series right back at the start, in July 2011 and then did updates in September 2012, October 2013 , October 2014, and most recently, October 2015. While she’s not a traditional self-employed person, I’m more than happy to have Leila on board the interview schedule and to let people know about the wonderful projects she’s involved with. Here’s where she wanted to be by now this time last year: “I hope Megaphone will be coming towards the end of the project, and that I’ll have gained some insight into how to go forward in making the children’s publishing world more diverse and equal”. How’s that all been going? Let’s find out!
Hello again, Leila – lovely to have you back! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Hello, Liz! I think so!
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Megaphone has been as successful as I could have hoped, and more. The project is supporting five fantastic new writers: learn more on www.megaphonewrite.com. Support from other writers and from the publishing industry has been widespread and generous. It is great to see the participants being recognised for their writing in other areas too (https://megaphonewrite.com/2016/09/26/megaphone-participants-recent-success/). We have had a lot of press coverage; most recently we were filmed by ITV News Central for an upcoming programme on the region, diversity and literacy. Megaphone has even gone international; I’ve been invited to the Singapore Writers’ Festival and one of the panels I’m appearing on is focused on diversity.
There are stresses, but most have been predictable. On the whole, this has been a wonderfully positive experience. It can be deeply frustrating being an ethnic minority writer. It is good to feel as if you’re doing something to help. You can follow us on twitter: @MegaphoneWrite or you can follow the blog: www.megaphonewrite.com.
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’m constantly learning as I seek feedback from all involved, and evaluate the project on an ongoing basis, I can already see ways of improving Megaphone for next year. For example, feedback almost immediately showed that the masterclasses could have been a whole day, instead of just two hours – that’s a change I’m going to try to make.
And … where do you see yourself and your projects in a(nother) year’s time?
I hope I will have the fundraising process for Megaphone 2.0 well under way.
I’m so pleased with how Megaphone and its authors are doing – this is such important work and I know the effort Leila has been putting into it. I’m always happy to share this news!
Leila’s own website is at www.leilarasheed.com
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.