I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told I shouldn’t wait for inspiration to strike before I sit down to write. Successful writers just get on with it, regardless of how inspired they feel. Being precious about having the right pen, desk, light, music et al is all very well, but sometimes, good ideas can be genuinely hard to come by. And that has nothing to do with the so-called ‘Writers’ Block’. Which is why I’m often to be found in writers’ groups and workshops. As well as knowing I’m likely to come away with a new … Continue reading Fake Muse
I’ve written before about how some of my best ideas for poetry and short stories come to me as I walk the lanes of County Roscommon. These days, an inspiring walk usually involves me taking an arthritic dog, a pen and paper, and my phone (of course). But while walking, I’m often distracted by having to name wildflowers. And then I have to stop and take photos. Because one or two thousand is never quite enough is it? The naming thing is a bit strange. I have no recollection of learning the names of so many plants, but somehow, plenty of … Continue reading Flower Power
I’m riding a particularly delicious literary wave after winning the Hennessy Award two weeks ago – my feet have hardly touched the ground, but in a nice way. I shouldn’t really have had any time for thinking, let alone writing, should I? What with radio interviews, trips to Dublin, and all those Facebook and Twitter messages to respond to (and I was the reluctant social media participant a while back. Ha!). But here’s a surprise, I’ve been as busy writing as ever, scribbling away, plucking poems from the ether and wondering where such creativity comes from. I like to think … Continue reading Creative Thinking?
Competitive creative writing. Now, who would have thought I’d buy into such a thing? I swear I’m not a competitive person, although I’ll have a tantrum if someone beats me at Scrabble. But creative writing competitions? What’s that all about? I don’t hold with that, do I? Um, well, yes, I do… I’m involved in running a little creative writing group in Charlestown, County Mayo, and I’m often to be heard urging members to submit their writing to competitions. It’s that third party validation thing that I’m always on about. Winning, or being shortlisted, in a writing competition offers proof … Continue reading On the Winning Side
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
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
Every writer should have a dog – and cats, lots of them. Although, as someone who used to be terrified of dogs (after being savaged by an Alsatian), that’s a pretty radical statement coming from me. The benefit of having pets in your life is well documented, and a quick trawl of the internet will show you that cats and dogs seem to feature in the lives of many famous writers. This story is mostly about my dog, Tully, although I’ve been the mad cat woman since I was three years old and was introduced to an energetic tabby kitten … Continue reading Hopelessly Devoted
One of the best things about being a writer is having free reign with imagination. Writers can create whole worlds – plus all the creatures that live in them. And they can make up characters and force them do whatever they like. What power! There’s that fridge magnet/bumper sticker that says something like: ‘I’m a writer. Yes, of course you’re going to be in my book. You come to a grizzly end on page 27’. I feel a bit that way at the moment as I’m writing a longer-than-usual short story based on something that’s been going on in my … Continue reading Imagine that!
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
I have kept my head down lately, trying to complete some half-finished writing projects, not least because there seems to have been an unusually high number of competitions and submission opportunities this month. I’m still out there, trying my luck with poetry, flash fiction and stories (and wondering if I’ll ever find time to finish my ‘prize-winning’ novel!). Proof that persistence pays off has been publication this month of my poem in literary magazine Skylight 47. I went down to Galway for the launch with my friend *Jessamine O Connor, who was representing the Hermit Collective, featured in this edition. We … Continue reading Reinventing the Wheel (or not)