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Happy New Year!
Gosh, I don’t even care about the whole New Year’s Even thing but I do like the tidiness that comes with a brand new day on the 1st of January and when the supermarkets take all of the nonsense away off their shelves and start preparing for Easter or Halloween or something.
Christmas is an excellent time for getting the reading done. The open fire. The glass of fizzy minerals to sip on. The chocolates. They all add to that reading feeling. This Christmas Day I received 2 books. It is a strange one, surely my gifts should be 100% book related. Don’t all of you know I LOVE reading? My husband knew and my writing group homie knew. Therefore, I received a huge copy of the mustard-coloured Winter Papers Volume 2 annual. It is fab. It is made up of artwork, interviews, fiction and poetry. It is a true fest. Despite the fact that Kevin Barry is one of the editors(with Olivia Smith), there is no new fiction from him but it might be a bit egotistical if he did that, I guess and I think he is not that way.
The second gift I received was the Mslexia Writing Diary for 2017. Full of prompts, sections to write my personal details in(I love this!), interviews, recommended reading and prompts, it is a real writer’s gift. It is simply gorgeous and will be used and is being used already!
I treated myself to Donal Ryan’s new novel, All we shall know. I have a problem remembering the title always of this book. I keep thinking it is “All that we shall know” or “All that is left behind” or simple “All” The novel is narrated by a pregnant lady and it is broken up into weeks. I am at 20 weeks already and Donal, as per usual is compelling, full-on with his strong language and depressing all at once. It will catch you by the first paragraph. I am reading this for a book club I set up in work.
Plenty to keep me busy and out of trouble anyway. I also keep calling the Kevin Barry annual by its incorrect name of Winter Pages. It is Winter Papers!
Hope you had a good one!
Last weekend I was one of the participants at Anthony Glavin’s workshop on the short story. Anthony is very well-known in the area of short story so I was eager to hear what he had to say. He kept us extremely busy throughout the day, writing, writing and writing.
The workshop was full, 13 participants! But, there was plenty of time for discussion and critique from Anthony despite this.
Thanks to Anthony Glavin and the Penfest organisers in the Carlow Library, Fiona and John for another successful Penfest!
Heading to one of the best cities in Ireland on Friday-Galway, of course. This Friday is Culture Night all over Ireland and Galway are celebrating it with one event-The Over the Edge open mic for fiction and poetry readings in Kenny’s Bookshop from 4 p.m.
Simon is reading from his poetry collection there as well as Karl Parkinson and Elizabeth Reapy so it should be a great evening.
I have had a story long-listed and will be reading some of it too at the fiction open mic so it is all fun and games if you want to hear me read.
See you there, maybe.
Writing Groups:West Cork Literary Fest 2016:Danielle Mc Laughlin, Marie Gethins&Bairbre Leahy
Danielle McLaughin seems to speak a lot about her writing group and how it helped her immensely and still does. She is obviously very talented and very published but her two writing group colleagues are on the up and up having being published and short listed for almost every prize going too!
Danielle McLaughlin, Bairbre Leahy and Marie Gethins talk up the writing group movement
How do they get the time and what can we learn from them? Here are my notes from the discussion, this is what works for this group, Danielle was keen to point this out but if I can get any bit of the style and writing skill she has, I am willing to listen up carefully to her!
- should try to have similar abilities within-don’t have a mix of beginners and more advanced. Or even wriiters at the smae point of the writing journeys.
- should be closed and small enough of up to 5 max.
- should submit their work to each other to be read at least twice and fellow group members read, mark up and give critique on the hard copy and then talk through at the meeting. Otherwise, the feedback is not considered or measured and potentially can damage a writer’s thoughts. I totally agree with this one.
- transcend genres
- transcend personal tastes of the writers.
- need to attend regularly. Absenteeism is not cool or useful.
- meet regularly.
- should have few aims:improve writing, support rejections, celebrate successes.
- need to understand how to give and take feedback.
- Savage and nasty criticism has no place as does the “It’s lovely” or “I do not like it” or “Poetry is not my thing” If you have something to say, offer a suggestion with evidence of whay you lke or do not like.
- Do not offer ways in which the writer can change or write the story, though tempting. The “how” is up to the writer.
- Take care when giving feedback, take time to formulate thoughts.
- Do not tell the writer what to write about, the subject matter is up the writer Do not tell the writer which stories to write.
- Start with what is RIGHT about the writing. Writers ofetn do not know what is good about their own work and might delete this if not told!
- Be aware of your own personal biases or likes or tastes in writing.
- Do not read work our-complete waste of time. Spend the few hours critiqueing the writing NOT the writer!
- When you receieve feedback, Listen! Be open! Listen! then you cna improve! Improvements are needed in EVERY single piece of work(Danielle believes this, therefore it is true!)
- Don;t interrupt, listen to the feedback. Don’t be defensive or argue. Be polite.
- Every submits work and everyone takes feedback. This helps the group dynamics.
- Danielle showed a story of hers from her collection that benefited from her writing group. They suggested changes in the title, the opening, awkward phrasing, superflous words and phrases, poor word choices, imagery, language registry, general story confusion and times where Danielle was taking the reader out of the story by going bac to the past when the story was moving in the present action.
- No one member should have the limelight and keep trying to retain your own voice as we don;t want 5 exact same writers.
- It is about mutual trust and respect, you should feel honoured that someone has shown you their work so respect that and respect their opinion though you may not agree. Go and think about it instead.
- Sercret to success-shared aims and similar skill set in writing.
This was a different type of talk, it was very interactive with lots of audience members asking questions. I am really looking forward to reading more of Danielle, Bairbre and Maire’s writing. Thanks for this.
We are heading off on a road and family trip to the very cool city of Belfast today. Simon is reading with his Doire Press mates in the Crescent Arts Centre tomorrow and my Mum and I are going to eat fish and chips on a constant basis and hopefully get time to hop in a black cab and have a black cab tour of the city.
Festival of Writing and Ideas in Borris 2016: Best talks to go to on the Sunday
From the 10-12th June, the amazingly lovely and pretty Festival of Writing and Ideas will be launched on the very pretty town of Borris in Co. Carlow.
I’ve been to many, many lit festivals and Borris is absolutely in the top two to visit in Ireland. (Bantry is the runner-up this year, IMO) The FOWI (Festival of Writing and Ideas) 2016 is in its 5th year. We have been to every single one, the first was small but so nice and this year it is big but absolutely keeping its edge and uniqueness. It is spreading into the town/village this year with some events taking part in pubs and the Step House Hotel. Brilliant move.
I am going to name-check a few events that you really should make an effort to go see if you are in the area of Carlow on the Sunday, 12th of June 2016. I have also a small article on what to see on the Saturday on the blog.
Early start at 11 with the Granta New Irish Writing editors along with Sara Baume, Lucy Caldwell and Donal Ryan in the chapel. I am really enjoying this magazine at the moment so this talk should be good.
You will have about half an hour to breathe, drink coffee, eat sweet things and then saunter over to the Book Tent where Tom Morris has a curated reading hour with Claire-Louise Bennett, Gavin Corbett, Lisa Mc Inerney, Deborah Levy and Rivka Gachen. Lisa has just won the Bailey Prize and Deborah Levy just rocks along with Tom’s wonderful short story collection, this is going to be most excellent. Get in there and buy some books after!
Don’t leave the Book tent though as there is a @Two poets@ event with Simon Lewis reading from his just launched poetry collection, Jewtown and American poet, Rachael Mennes will respond. Should be interesting. Both of these events are free.
At 1:50, in the Bookshop there is a reading from the guys at the Long Gaze Back anthology with Sinead Gleason.
Throughout the day, you will have lots of book signings in the Book Tent so it is the place to gaze at authors from afar trying not to look like a stalker!
At 3:30, Donal Ryan will talk to Vincent Woods about his craft and the boundaries between traveller and mainstream society. I’ve read a short piece of Donal’s upcoming novel and it is going to be great.
These are my tips for the Sunday. You can choose to ignore me and just sit in the grass and frolic and saunter around Borris House. I’m easy like that.
Elizabeth Reapy has written her first novel. We all knew she could edit but writing a novel is a different thing! Former WordLegs Editor, Elizabeth has released her new novel under the pen name E.M. Reapy.
I am a third way through in three reading sessions. This is very telling and it predicts a ” must finish”and satisfying read. She can write, she is utterly observant and witty. I am enjoying.
Elizabeth had her short story published in the Hennessey Writing section last weekend and her star is rising, as those people say. You can read it here. She launched “Red Dirt” this week in Dublin so if you fancy a new, pacey read for the summer then don’t say I didn’t tell you.
Red Dirt is published by Head of Zeus Publishing and you can read about her future appearances here.
Am making my way slowly through this stunning-looking magazine. It is full of “new writing” and not “new writers” at all! This is good though as many of my fave writers are in this.
Donal Ryan has a piece from his forthcoming novel and as always he is sickeningly brilliant at hooking the reader in within seconds. The story sounds brilliant, cannot wait to get a copy.
The Granta mag also has some really, really nice photos of the Travelling community and a disadvantaged estate in Ireland. It’s funny that girls in communion dresses always seem to pop up in a photographic feature on Ireland. Time for a show on the other cultures and religions we have in Ireland?
Anyway, the photos are not only pleasant to gaze at but they are going to be brilliant for using as inspiration for my own writing and any writing classes I may teach in the new term in September.
Granta New Irish Writing Magazine is available in Easons and all good bookshops as well as the granta.com website.
Last month, Patrick Cotter, poet, writer and head of Southword and Cork Poetry Festival (and many other things) put together a list of his successes and rejections for the year 2015. It was encouraging and honest and it made me compile my own. To be honest, I have not had as much time to revisit and edit or even submit new and reworked stories but am happy enough with a few publications. I will go with my rejections first up.
Rejections-no way, man, you are just not getting in!
Banshee Magazine-twice with a lovely reply!
Moth Magazine-no reply yet!
Dromineer Flash Fiction-2nd time, 2 years running.
New Irish Writing-at least 4 times..
Success! Published in…
Spontaneity Magazine Issue 7
Boyne Berries Issue 17
Bray Arts Journal 2015
Readings and other great things for me!
Claire Keegan Fiction Workshops, December 2015, Bunclody.
The Summer Writing Institute for Teachers of Writing:University of Maynooth:July 2015
I was accepted onto a week-long pedagogical program for teachers who teach writing. The National University of Ireland, Maynooth, in consultation with a range of teaching and learning networks, including Maynooth University Early Childhood, the Further Education Support Service, the Reading Association of Ireland and the IrishNetwork for the Enhancement of Writing, hosted this institute. It drew from the US National Writing Project model and is designed to provide an opportunity for dedicated teachers, from all education levels, to meet, share good practice, and learn more about writing and supporting the development of writing and writers. It was amazing!
The Mc Henry County College June 2015-Deighton Hall-Carlow Arts Festival
I had the chance with my writers’ group to read with the U.S based McHenry County College National Champion Literature and Performance Group at the Carlow Eigse Arts Festival.
A Taste of Visual March 2015
I read one of my short stories “Can’t rewind” as part of the Carlow Writers’ Co-operative in Visual, Carlow. It featured wine and cheese (and other delectables), as well as Marton Sipos on piano with a wonderful series of self composed improvisations accompanying a series of readings by members of the Co-Operative. The audio recording can be heard here. https://goo.gl/XaYO1a