Have you ever noticed the dictionary sandwiches ‘writhe’ between ‘writer’ and ‘writing’? Continue reading Horses, Camels and Collaborative Poems
Apologies if you’ve already seen this on Facebook! Park your bum on a chair and WRITE! Pen and paper or keyboard, your choice Read a lot: magazines, books, journals, books, cereal packets, books, Join a friendly, supportive creative writing group (see below) Do more writing (ahem, that’s what writers do) Read some more: books, newspapers, books, filmscripts, books, stories on-line, books Mix with people who get it – ignore the detractors (what do they know anyway?) Keep going, write every day if you can. Get good by practicing If you want to be a writer but you’re not enjoying the … Continue reading Ten Tips for Becoming a Better Writer
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
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
You might know the ‘G’ in my name covers Giddy, Gush and Gabble? No wonder – I’m trying to decide which part of yesterday’s memorable birthday was the best. Maybe all of it? Coffee and a chat with legendary American poet Billy Collins, then being showered with wonderful gifts when I got home, one of which was a canvas print of a photo from last year’s Hennessy Award. Even if you don’t like poetry, you’ve gotta be impressed that I had a Dublin pub named after me, if only for a weekend! My lovely family had heard me claiming I … Continue reading Concerning the Chopping of Onions
I won a short story competition this week and now have some lovely comments about structure and style ringing in my ears. I’m flattered the judge, Dr Kevin Hora, liked ‘The Potential Pleasure of New Soft Furnishings’ enough to award me the 2019 *New Roscommon Writing Prize. It’s worth €500, which for 2,000 words is good payback! After the presentation, as everyone was scrambling to line up for the cameras, Kevin quietly asked me how many times I’d re-written the story. I owned up to many, many drafts, 10 wouldn’t be unusual, neither would 20. I’m always wanting to improve, … Continue reading Draft Dodging. Not.
Trying to find new ways to say old things can be a bit wearing. In my case, wearing on the old computer keyboard. My laptop was bought with the winnings from a short story competition in…damn, was it really three years ago? Anyway, I’ve worn the face off some of the keys. A R E S T to be precise. I don’t touch-type, but I know my way around a keyboard, so it is no real bother for me. I’m even trying to squeeze a poem out of the scenario, all about naked keys, worn to the bone. I think … Continue reading Filling in the Gaps
Retreat. The word conjures images of battle-bashed battalions backing off, or of a cowed religious heading for the caves of a hermit life. Or even tea-and-dry-toast navel-gazing and prayer on an island for a weekend. But a writer’s retreat? Well, that’s different. Think stylish, distraction-free space and time to write. So, in need of just that, some creative headspace away from home, I headed for County Down in Northern Ireland last week. I could have chosen a remote seaside cottage from Booking.com, but it is unlikely I’d have enjoyed it as much as my stay in the River Mill Reading … Continue reading A Bolthole for Writers
I’ll cut to the chase here and tell you I attend four different writers’ groups. I also turn up at workshops, seminars, lectures, readings, any event with writing as the theme. Some are fun, some aren’t, but I invariably learn something – or more pertinently, I write something I wouldn’t have done otherwise. You might wonder how I have time, but two of the groups are fortnightly, and only one of the others meets weekly. For me, this is all about mixing with ‘my people’, the ones who get it, the ones I don’t have to explain the writing compulsion … Continue reading Writers’ Groups? What’s the Point?
So here’s some cracking news for what would otherwise be a miserable day (rain, and the first of my mother’s birthdays without her): ‘Soft Touch’ is now available to buy (well, to order before its proper publication date of February 1st). Ta da! Soft Touch is my book of 20 poems chosen by the UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy in her Laureate’s Choice series for 2019. I’m not hiding my light under a bushel here (although I might be found hiding under the table after the book is launched). Here are some of the endorsements it has garnered so far: … Continue reading Trumpets (Own, and the Blowing Of)