The Writer is ‘In’

You can tell when I’m ‘writing’.  The kitchen floor’s immaculate (yes, really), there are freshly baked scones in the tin, I have washed the car (yes, really), weeded the borders, walked the dog, groomed the cats, spent an hour on Twitter, done four loads of washing, and ironed my way to the bottom of the basket (yes, really). In other words, I’ve put off the dreaded deed until I’ve completed one hundred zillion important chores which simply HAVE to be done before I can park my bum on the chair in front of my computer, and get down the actual … Continue reading The Writer is ‘In’

Word Juicing For Scribes

It can be quite difficult to keep coming up with new writing ideas and ways of making those creative juices flow (yes, I agree, that sounds borderline disgusting), but if you are looking for some writing inspiration, read on. I run a lovely fortnightly creative writing group in the far reaches of County Mayo, Ireland, where we’re often looking for something to write about while we’re waiting for the kettle to boil (again). I thought I’d share some of our prompts and writing exercises, should you find yourself in a similar predicament. In our group, we have writers of all … Continue reading Word Juicing For Scribes

Pet Shop Noise

I can’t remember how I ever came to think that keeping alpacas was a good idea. We imported a small herd of them into Ireland in 2003, convinced they would make us a fortune and they’d become pets, alongside the laying hens and lying cats. Trust me, alpacas don’t make friends with humans.  They like other alpacas, of course. But they only ever tolerate humans, no matter how nice you are to them. Ours had a very cushy billet in the west of Ireland, and thankfully, they rarely spat at us.  The spitting thing is a way of keeping order … Continue reading Pet Shop Noise

Fur Coat and No Knickers?

One of the best things that ever happened to me was becoming a mother. I can’t imagine what I would have found to do with my time without children to fill my every waking minute.  They still try do it, and they’re (allegedly) adults now. Although, these days I do sometimes manage to snatch a few hours free from them demanding what’s for dinner, or where are their socks/phone chargers/car keys (delete as appropriate). It sounds like there are dozens of them. It only feels like that sometimes – they are just two, one of each, as they say. A son … Continue reading Fur Coat and No Knickers?

A Shed Called London

I want a shed. Pretty please. Somewhere I can hide away and write my masterpiece. And wallow in self-pity, should the need arise. Of course, a week-long writer’s retreat in Monaghan might help get me started on the masterpiece, but it appears that’s not to be – more of that later. But what is it about wanting a room of one’s own? I’ve written before about how much I long for my own space, claiming the lack of same is what’s holding me back from becoming (ahem) a best-selling novelist/children’s author/poet/playwright (delete as appropriate). But of course, I know it … Continue reading A Shed Called London

A Beginner’s Guide to Procrastination

So. You are going to have a Writing Day. No appointments, no need to leave the house, no distractions – the kitchen floor doesn’t even need mopping – brilliant! Ahead, a whole day of writing . Here’s what you do: First, take a nice view, preferably one with a lovely comfy chair in front. Settle down to spend some time relaxing into the moment (mindfulness – it’s all the rage these days), watching the birds/clouds/treetops/passersby/traffic (delete as appropriate). Imagine what a wonderful poem you could write – a sonnet, perhaps, 14 lines of stunning verse with a twist in the … Continue reading A Beginner’s Guide to Procrastination

Of Mice and Then…

    I wrote this article a good ten years ago. And now, after catching another NINE mice in our garage (not all at once I have to say), I thought it might be a good time to publish it… If you happen to be driving through the quiet lanes of north Roscommon and you spot a mouse trying to hitch a lift, please ignore him.  Even if he’s in smart shorts and t-shirt and looks like Stuart Little, harden your heart and look the other way.  It’ll be one of ours trying to get back home after I’ve evicted … Continue reading Of Mice and Then…

Poking the Bad Tooth Side of Writing – Trying to Make Money

What do you call a group of writers squashed into a hot room in County Leitrim’s Ballinamore Library on a Saturday afternoon? It’s a trick question. Everyone knows there’s no collective noun to describe a gathering of writers tripping over each others’ egos as they describe their life and times as scribes. But a few words sprang to mind as I drove home through the beautiful Leitrim countryside (Google Maps was right – Ballinamore is exactly one hour away). Just in case you’re wondering where this is going, let me say from the start that all the words I thought … Continue reading Poking the Bad Tooth Side of Writing – Trying to Make Money

Spitting Nails and other Pointless Activities

I’ve been helping to get a new Creative Writing Group up and running in Charlestown Arts Centre, here in County Mayo. It is proving to be an interesting exercise in perseverance and determination – and of course, creativity. We’ve a core group of hardened scribes with significant publication credits to their names, alongside biro-wielding retired ladies looking for something interesting to pass the time on a Monday morning. Plus a few others who drop in and out, who aren’t quite sure if creative writing is their thing. Over the years, I’ve belonged to a number of different writing groups, some … Continue reading Spitting Nails and other Pointless Activities

Working Titles and The Sound of Time Passing

Why has no-one ever before told me about the joys of audio books? Faced with the prospect of a boring, solo four-and-a-half-hour car journey last week, I asked around about the best way to pass the time.  Obscure local radio stations and over-used MP3 playlists notwithstanding, the consensus seemed to suggest listening to stories. So I ventured into a dusty corner of my local library and discovered a small but significant collection of audio books. I chose ‘The Hills of Kilimanjaro’, a collection of Ernest Hemingway short stories. (Him again. I’m re-living my teenage years somehow).  Good enough, as they … Continue reading Working Titles and The Sound of Time Passing