Draft Dodging. Not.

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.

Fake Muse

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

On the Winning Side

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

The Numbers Game

I’ve been crunching numbers over the past few days, trying to figure (excuse the pun) if I should take up a new pastime. This writing lark has cost me a lot of money one way or another (residential poetry masterclasses don’t come cheap), and I’ve managed to crawl to my 100th submission this year. That averages out at less than nine submissions a month, which doesn’t sound too excessive. And included in ‘submissions’ are applications for grants, pitches for freelance articles, and several other writing activities. I enter a lot of free writing competitions (there are a lot about), and  … Continue reading The Numbers Game

And the Winner Is…

When I first dipped my toe into the Irish writing market, I admit I didn’t have a clue as to where I should start sending my creative endeavours. What to do with all those words? The shoebox under the bed was stuffed to overflowing. Perhaps a writing group would help? But I soon discovered the people around me were equally clueless, or worse, secretive. I guess they thought sharing information about publishing opportunities was likely to do them out of success. A few years down the line and I have now garnered a good bit of useful information about where … Continue reading And the Winner Is…

Are We There Yet?

As a wordsmith, when do you ever know your work is done? By that I mean finished and complete with no more amendments and tweaks to be made. It goes for most creative work – even cooking, you can keep going, adding more seasoning, stirring this way and that, changing the presentation as well as the content. Likewise with art in all its forms – another brush stroke here, an extra shave of the plane there, more this, less that. And so it goes with writing: more words, fewer, different order, wider vocabulary. Recently, I ‘finished’ a major re-write of … Continue reading Are We There Yet?

May Day, May Day? Can’t Remember…

I nearly forgot to boast about my recent win at Strokestown Poetry Festival – I took first prize in the Roscommon Poets’ Prize, a competition in which I came third the previous two years. That was certainly a good start to May! Of course I’m delighted. The poem is about memory, a theme that keeps coming up to bite me on the bum, to remind me what to write about when I’m stuck for ideas. You can read it here. The competition was judged by a friend of mine, Sligo poet Jessamine O’Connor, who would know my style and usual … Continue reading May Day, May Day? Can’t Remember…

The Boy Stood On The Burning Deck

Last year I was lamenting the potential demise of Strokestown Poetry Festival – Ireland’s longest running poetry event.  Thankfully, enough people rattled the right cages for the funding to get re-instated, and the festival goes ahead as planned this year, starting on April 28th. Once again I am short listed in the Roscommon Poet’s Prize, and I’ll get to read my entry at the prizegiving ceremony in the lovely Strokestown House. It’s on at 10.30am on a (Bank Holiday) Monday, so if you can’t get there in person (I might struggle a bit myself), you can read the poem at … Continue reading The Boy Stood On The Burning Deck

Sex is good but have you ever been shortlisted in a writing competition?

I have been spending a lot of time recently wondering why on earth I write. Of course, it’s rejections that bring on that ‘what’s it all for?’ mood. I seem to have had a good few negatives explode in my in-box recently, like badly placed mines ready to tear off my writing limbs. They are somehow counterbalanced by an unequal number of positives of course, which is what keeps me going. I carry on because, as I’ve said before, ‘Sex is good but have you ever been shortlisted in a writing competition?’ (I need to get a fridge magnet made). … Continue reading Sex is good but have you ever been shortlisted in a writing competition?