Hello fellow creatives!
My name is Lucy EJ Woods, and I am writing a blog series for NOA about some of the many exciting, new, creative happenings across Dumfries and Galloway.
Photo of Lucy EJ Woods, credit: Andre Anderson
First, a little introduction to let you know a bit more about me and how I got here:
I began my creative adventures as a journalism student, at the University of East London. As part of my degree, I travelled for short stints to India, South Korea, and the USA to learn about journalism. In my final year, I studied Arabic and Journalism in Cairo, Egypt, during the Arab Spring. While there, I managed to land an internship at a national magazine, called Egypt Today – and it was having features published here: in between the bylines of other great writers, and being able to write about leading protests and political movements, that cemented my love of journalism.
Just before graduation, I landed a full-time journalism role as a specialist reporter in a London newsroom, writing about renewable energy and climate change, this included many reporting trips to Europe, and one to Thailand.
After a few years in London newsrooms, I wanted to travel more long term again, so I began freelancing. Freelancing was just meant to be temporary, but I ended up accepting freelance commissions for the next few years, writing about a variety of environmental issues while travelling in Russia, Mongolia, The Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, and Nepal, I was published by many titles, including The Guardian and New Internationalist.
Then in September 2017, I moved to Dumfries: I had decided to brush up my research skills and study a Sociology master’s degree (in Environmental Change and Society), at the University of Glasgow’s Crichton campus. In between essay deadlines, I attended events at The Stove - including LGBTQI events run by the fantastic Lavender Menace. I met lots of other creatives, and one night, a bunch of us attended the popular ‘Queer Haggis’ show at the annual Burns’ Supper Festival. It was here that I was asked to put my journalism skills towards editing a local magazine, by, and for, the LGBTQI community in Dumfries and Galloway. We decided to revive a pre-existing leaflet called The Queerier, and to empower local LGBTQI artists and creatives with local, grassroots journalism. I volunteered my journalism skills to edit the first issue, and on 21st April 2018, the first D&G Queerier magazine was born. It was published and distributed at a lively launch party at The Stove, with drag, comedy, poetry, live music performances, art, glitter and even a bespoke-Queerier cake!
Early D&G Queerier days Photo: (Left to right) Ayla Fudala, Lucy EJ Woods, Andre Anderson, Leo Marsh, Matthew L Byers, Ella Dutch
However, just before handing in my master’s dissertation, I was awarded, and accepted, a reporting grant, and got on a plane to Papua New Guinea, to write a series of articles on environmental issues. I then headed to the Americas, freelance writing for various outlets from Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador. After almost 2 years of travelling, I returned to Dumfries…just in time for the first COVID lockdown!
…An April 2020 reporting trip to Hungary was cancelled. A reporting grant to visit Finland last June: cancelled. An editorship which originally required travel to Amsterdam, was instead completed from my bedroom. Like many creatives during the pandemic, I had to figure out new ways of working as I could no longer travel internationally to get stories.
Luckily, while I had been away, my friends had published two issues of the D&GQ, keeping the magazine going. So, at the end of 2020, I took up editorship of the D&GQ once again, publishing a Christmas issue, and this February, a Valentine’s issue. In a few weeks, D&GQ’s 3-year anniversary issue will be published.
D&GQ hopes to keep on growing, with the specific mission of empowering excluded and marginalised voices in traditional media spaces. One D&GQ writer and volunteer, Matthew L Byers says D&GQ, “was an amazing opportunity. It allowed me to express myself through my writing in a way that was incredibly liberating.”
Through the D&GQ I have been able to learn about, collaborate with, interview, and be a part of, the vibrant, artistic community within Dumfries and Galloway. It is through D&GQ that I get to meet a variety of other creatives in the area, and hopefully through NOA, I will get to meet many more. (If you would like to find out more about the D&GQ, you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
So that’s a bit about me and how I got here, and now, for this blog series, I want to hear from you! If you are a local creative or artist with a new idea or project to shout about, get in touch: email@example.com, and you and your creative practice could feature in the next NOA blog!