The Good, the Bad and the Indifferent

I was asked recently what makes ‘good’ writing? Someone who describes themselves as a ‘novice writer’ wanted to know how she could recognise good, better, best. Ha! She probably wished she hadn’t lit that particular touchpaper as I launched into a major rant. Let me tell you what makes good writing – personal taste. It really is that simple. If you want to get published, there’s the need to swallow a zeitgeist tablet, too. But really, if you are a writer enjoying the process of writing, you should not to be bullied by literary snobs or talked down from the … Continue reading The Good, the Bad and the Indifferent

The Walking Unread

I’m not usually looking for something to read – my bedside table groans under the weight of many  books, and I’ve often my nose in several tomes at once (I’ve the right shaped nose for such feats). And I admit to being swayed by the hype from social media when there’s something new everyone’s talking about (hello Booker longlist), so the to-be-read pile is ever-growing. But one day last week I plucked from the heap of unreads an anthology I have a story in. Not a recent one, but one from last year which I hadn’t bothered to finish before. … Continue reading The Walking Unread

In The Mood*

I’ve barely written a word for nearly three weeks, which must be something of a record for me. I’ve even stopped writing in my journal. My mother, less than two months short of her 95th birthday,  has died, and while I wasn’t surprised by her passing, I was shocked (they’re different). Despite my best intentions, I discovered I wasn’t a bit prepared for the loss. Me and my sister (her only children) were in agreement for some time that our widowed mother’s life as a bed-ridden cripple in a Care Home could not have given her much pleasure lately, despite … Continue reading In The Mood*

Not Quite Bananas

Just when my nerve starts to waver and I wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life, my muse knocks on the door and presents me with a cup of Earl Grey. Or he sends a WhatsApp message with an old photo to encourage me out of hiding from under the table (again). It doesn’t stop me wondering what it’s all about (oh boy, do I have a lot of poems about the meaning of life?) but it allows for satisfying recall of some of the thrills and spills of a life (so far) well lived. A life I’m … Continue reading Not Quite Bananas

Rolling Stones

Musicians, artists, dancers, writers – there are goodly numbers of creative types who can’t get it together until they’ve a few drinks taken, or smoked something, or popped a few pills. Or at the very least, taken on  board a gallon of coffee to get the creative juices flowing. In my case its crystals. There I’ve said it. I am a (sometimes frequent) user of healing crystals to enhance my creative prowess. I know, I know – Dumbo and his feather. Actually, I’m not sure crystals do anything more than focus my mind on what’s already there – but I like … Continue reading Rolling Stones

Twenty Years and Counting

Here’s news of something close to my heart (right now, serving as a distraction for me, #HennessyLitAwards): Strokestown International Poetry Festival, this year celebrating its 20th anniversary. The programme has been announced and tickets are on sale (hurry, they’re going fast!), with an eclectic mix of all things poetry-related taking place over the May Bank Holiday weekend, May 3rd– 7th. As a member of the organising committee, I have a vested interest in spreading the word about the festival, so here goes: Strokestown is one of only a handful of POETRY festivals in the country, and well worth a visit … Continue reading Twenty Years and Counting

Angelic Ever Afters

I find it difficult to write about my childhood.  Not because of disturbing memories of an unhappy past, but rather because it passed me by in something of a blur, and was relatively uneventful. I realize that to call myself a writer, I should have some agonizing incidents from my formative years to draw on, but the sad truth is, I had a vague, happy childhood. The sun always shone, I played hopscotch with my pals, and on Sundays we ate Angel Delight for afters. Well, maybe it did, maybe I did, maybe we did, the truth is, I really … Continue reading Angelic Ever Afters

My Week as a Real Writer

I am coming to the end of my writer’s retreat at Annaghmakerrig – just one more day to soak up the creative atmosphere before I have to return to the real world. When people told me what a fantastic place this was, the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, in Monaghan, I imagined most of what they said was hyperbole. Nowhere could be that wonderful, surely? Well, yes it can, with knobs on! I am staying in one of the self-catering cottages, which is stylish, warm and comfortable, with every creature comfort taken care of. And I have taken at least one walk … Continue reading My Week as a Real Writer

Beyond the January Scales

Hide the peanuts, empty the biscuit tin, lock up the chocolates – I’m on a diet.  Well, at least I’m thinking about it. Personally, I blame elasticated waistbands for most of my problems.  Plus a toaster parked invitingly beside the kettle, Marmite just within reach.  And chocolate-covered Brazils aren’t entirely without blame, either. Sitting at a computer screen pretending to be a writer is terribly hard on the waistline, even though my writing desk is right next to a freely available (and in good working order) treadmill (oops!). It helps that I have a dog to walk and beautiful Irish … Continue reading Beyond the January Scales

Thank You, Snowflakes

Look what happens when you get snowed in – the blog gets a revamp. A bit of spring cleaning, which could be me being ahead of myself for next year – or desperately late for this. Anyway, here it is, a new-look blog, where you can also see me on Twitter and Facebook. Because of the weather, I have a houseful of snow-bound snowflakes (sorry kids, couldn’t resist that one), encouraging me to update widgets and stuff (no, I don’t know either). So now, I’m even considering opening an Instagram account.  But that could just be a social media step … Continue reading Thank You, Snowflakes