The Making of 100 WORDS OF SOLITUDE


Dr. Philippa Holloway and Dr. Simon Holloway

This project was conceived on the first day of the UK lockdown, during a late-night conversation about whether it was ever possible to understand the varied, lived experiences of people all over the world, who might be all sharing the same fears and concerns we had, facing similar challenges, but in very different places and in very different ways. We wondered how it might be possible to write about the pandemic, and if writing about it was even the right way to approach such a complex situation.

We both wanted to do something to help people during the lockdown, but are not medical professionals, and apart from supporting our neighbours, felt a little helpless. However, we do know that writing can help when faced with difficult and challenging situations. We’ve both taught Creative Writing for the mental health charity MIND in the past, and know how it can help us to take control of our thoughts, to make sense of emotions and behaviours and cultural/social interactions, and to find connection with others. And so, 100 Words Of Solitude was born.

We wanted to ensure it was open access for all, no submissions fees, all voices welcome, aiming for the small, personal reflections of individuals amongst the media overload of mass, impersonal coverage. We hoped to get as many voices from as many places as possible to send us work, but didn’t expect such an overwhelming response – hundreds of submissions in the first week, demanding extra help in reading and shortlisting, and the challenge of selecting only 100 pieces for the project!

Over the space of a few months we published 100 established, award-winning and debut writers from over 31 countries, and had tens of thousands of readers in 109 countries. The experience was humbling and uplifting, and the response from both writers and readers, and how we felt ourselves, revealed that this opportunity for connection, to write and be heard, to share and develop a small global community, and to learn, was a lifeline amid the disturbance of the pandemic. Together we grieved, renegotiated, breathed, laughed and shared our experiences and ideas.The project was always set up to be not-for-profit, and we have given every spare second to running it without seeking any remuneration.

Rare Swan Press, and its journal publication Literati Magazine, share our values and ethos: they champion diversity, human rights, and literary excellence. They recognised the value of the project as a source for connection and artistic expression, and offered to publish the collection also without demand for remuneration, ensuring all profits are pledged to humanitarian causes.

We feel honoured and humbled that the amazing writers in the collection also chose to share their work for the benefit of these charities. What started out as a late night discussion over the kitchen table has now become not only a chance to raise money for those in need during and beyond this pandemic, but a way to document the myriad ways the world-wide lockdowns have impacted people from diverse nations and communities. These literary responses will resonate for years to come, telling a polyphonic story of 2020, when the world was put on hold, and everything changed…

The original announcement went live on Wednesday 15th July. 2020

Read More about the project, courtesy of ” Writers & Artists

Meet the Editors . . .