The Great Margin is a mass participation project, a collection of stories written from isolation, during a time of global crisis, when people need connection more than ever before.

Photo of a mobile phone and a plantRight now, we are all vulnerable. Loneliness and isolation take a serious toll on physical and mental health. More than ever, we need to find ways to share our experiences and connect with others. It’s possible we didn’t realise just how much our sense of wellbeing was lifted by being able to walk down the street, catch the eye of a stranger and smile, meet a friend in a café, stop and listen to a person sing and play guitar.

How do we thrive in a world where the most basic behaviour that makes us human is taken away?

We do what we’ve always done – we share our stories.

Responding directly to the current crisis, for the next few months we will be gathering pieces from writers across the world with a focus on experiences of writing, reading, and living during a time of isolation. We’ll update you about the project and about how to get involved via the Paper Nations twitter feed.

The pieces we are collecting will be written during the time of Covid-19, self-isolation and instructions to ‘Stay at Home’, though the stories needn’t be overtly about the current situation. (See Submissions Page for story themes.)

Once we have gathered a selection of these stories, we will start publishing them online, culminating in an international event.

The Stay At Home! Festival

How will it work?

The project will be facilitated through a series of flash initiatives over the next three months, reacting quickly to the evolving needs of those in isolation in the hopes that we can bring communities of readers and writers together. These will include writing groups, workshops, and festivals where stories, writing, and experiences will be shared.

The first of these flash initiatives is The Stay-at-Home! Festival, an online festival developed by bestselling author and poet CJ Cooke, of which Paper Nations is a partner. The festival will celebrate the power of writing and reading in preventing loneliness and champion connectivity and community amidst social distancing.

More information on the festival is available on: www.stayathomelitfest.co.uk.

Where can we read the stories?

Stories will be shared by blog on the Dare to Write? Atlas in the coming weeks, and will be sorted into themes that respond to the needs of writers in this time of crisis. Our first piece, by Engagement Manager, Joanna Nissel, is already live. Read her no-pressure advice to writers in isolation.

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