Kathryn Azarpy can’t believe how far she’s come over recent years. ‘I wouldn’t be where I am today without the decision I made to come to College and turn my circumstances around’.
Kathryn, 56, was living her life with her family, working as a teaching assistant when she had a fall at home five years ago and suffered a debilitating back injury.
The resulting injury left her with a chronic condition and a despondent Kathryn was left housebound for 2 years. In pain and unable to continue with her job Kathryn was forced into a situation she hadn’t wanted. ‘I was trapped for a long time, I asked myself is this really the life I’m living?’
Kathryn refused to let her life continue as it was and she spent 3 years exercising and dieting. Healing slowly she began attempting voluntary work and decided to look at courses, eventually deciding on a ‘Creative Writing’ community course with Solihull College & University Centre.
Avid reader Kathryn was initially frightened to put herself out there, ‘I was scared to share my words and to put my ideas in a public forum. I hadn’t done creative writing since school so I had no idea what the class would be like. However the group were immediately supportive and encouraging. People came to the classes for all different sorts of reasons to explore aspects of their lives’.
With the support and encouragement of her classmates and the prompting and guidance of her tutor Matt Nunn, Kathryn grew in confidence, ‘I got my confidence back, I never expected to come on like this’.
Letting her inhibitions go Kathryn thrived in the class. Kathryn who enjoys drawing too, collaborated with a fellow classmate to illustrate a story over 9 months. The book then went on to Kindle.
The group dynamic lended itself to collaboration and with her regained confidence she decided to collaborate with other people. This led to her setting up RedSox Press her own publishing company.
Over the past 18 months Kathryn, who was housebound for so long, has been visiting lots of events. She now publishes not only for classmates but for people at literary events too. She has a novel coming in from a lady in Egypt, a historical romance, the manuscripts having already been sent. Kathryn looks at trends in the market providing cover designs and page layouts; she then decides whether to invest in a print run or print on demand and promotes the book.
Building her contacts and working on asserting herself, Kathryn has already registered for the next term of her course. Alongside her classmates she is on an email list and they attend events together as a group. ‘Community education is key. The tasks they give push you on. Tutors and fellow students are encouraging and supportive. Writing is so important in lots of fields, we need writing more than ever in today’s world. Courses like these give you an edge in all sorts of walks of life’.
Kathryn has published a string of books now including fellow classmate Richard Fenwick’s children’s story ‘Castle of the Skull’ and a number of others by classmates and strangers alike.
Using Illustrator Kathryn designs the pages, edits, publishes and promotes. Through her publishing work she has healed herself further. She recently hosted a ‘Poetry for the Mind’ event to help others through their own mental health battles through the medium of poetry.
‘Just go and try a community course’ Kathryn advises ‘I had no idea it could lead on to this and now I have my own company. I get to share my love of writing and literature and not only get my own ideas out there but others too when I publish their work. It really is a wonderful thing’.
For more information on Solihull College Community Courses visit https://www.solihull.ac.uk/demographic/adult-learner/category/community-education/
To read more on Kathryn’s company visit http://www.redsoxpress.co.uk/