There’s nothing quite like hitting the middle of the year for taking stock. More intriguing insights and searing honesty this month as our writers share their pains and gains …
What a Difference a Year Makes.
I mentioned Listowel Writers’ Week in previous blogs, so I ventured there again, and it did not disappoint. I got a sinus infection and as good as lost my voice but hell if that was going to stop me enjoying it. From talking mindfulness with photographer Ger Holland and Bressie, to talking all things bananas with Jane Casey (don’t ask!!), it was a wonderful week and a credit to the Chairperson Catherine Moylan and all the volunteers.
I discovered a new author too, Marianne Power and her novel Help Me! My friend is a huge fan and was dying to meet her and meet her we did. We had such a lovely chat. I could not put this book down. I stopped at chapter 16 because I didn’t want it to end and then picked it up again and was glued. I did Liz Nugent’s brilliant masterclass, I managed to meet Andrea Mara to toast her wonderful agent news, and Mary Bradford and I caught up every night to debrief on each day’s adventures. To put this into context, and touching back on a previous post about choices, last year I went to this festival alone, stayed on my own and booked workshops on my own. What a difference a year makes because I was busy catching up with fabulous friends I’d made last year, including heading to John B. Keane’s for a drink and the gang of us nearly taking over one of the restaurants on Friday night.
This month I did an online police procedural talk with Sharon Thompson’s Indulge in Writing. I also had the honour of consulting on two crime novels which are due out later this year and they are absolute crackers, folks. Let’s just say your crime reading is sorted for the year. In relation to all things publishing, there is positive momentum, nerves and butterflies, and I will share all when I can.
Casey King @letstalkcrime is represented by Kate Nash of Kate Nash Literary Agency
Hi, my name is Clare and I’m a catastrophiser. Got a situation that needs a good injection of doom? I’m your girl. Last week my car overheated in city centre traffic, smoke billowing from under the bonnet. Late for a meeting, I pulled into the nearest car park and left it there, convinced that when I returned the south side of the city would be an inferno, with lives lost and irreplaceable buildings all destroyed by my crappy Zafira. In the meeting my mind wandered to the heat from the too-hot-to-touch bonnet, the cloud of condensation that swept my windscreen and the Japanese tourists who ran by it, in case it might explode. Yep, I would be responsible for the Great Fire of Dublin 2019.
I told the guy operating the valet cleaning service, if only to explain that that smell was coming from my car and he just shrugged. It’ll be fine, he said. And it was. I returned, heart thumping to find it sitting there, cool as you like. No fire. No catastrophe. Just a tow to the nearest garage and a bill for a new water pipe.
When I started writing, my lifelong catastrophising finally made sense. I was looking at scenarios, endings to stories. Granted they were a bit grim, but it was my imagination at work and I now had a channel for that, where it came in handy. I wasn’t a disaster. I was a writer! Some days, like last week, I wish I could just switch it off. Especially when it comes to waiting for news on the submission front. I remind myself I’m in a good position, where agents are reading my full manuscript – and my Date With An Agent last month with Simon Trewin ended with a request to send it to him (high five) – but as the weeks pass, I have to work very hard to hold back the doom. The voice that says – just give me the bad news so I can get over it – and it physically hurts me to hope. To build myself up. To tell myself that no news is in fact good news. That the wait is good. That the mental limbo is worth it. That it won’t end in catastrophe.
Why do I write? I’m not sure, only to say I can’t not. While ‘in the zone,’ I become fully immersed, time ceases to exist, and my return to the reality is only brought about by my realising I’m cold, as the heating has gone off, or I’m starving, as it’s long past lunch. This moving from the real world to the one I’m writing of has always been a joy, however, such is not the case with my memoir.
Mine is not a story filled with nostalgia but rather one of abuse, loss and recovery. What would encourage me to sit down daily and go back there? Take today for example. I’ve structured my book as a series of short stories, each one telling of an event or moment in time. So, today do I continue with the story of my going to the guards, having never told a soul at the time, including my husband? Or write how I prepared myself for court, despite struggling to recover memories deeply hidden? Will I share my shame and embarrassment at being the subject of intense publicity as I hid in plain sight with only a few close friends knowing those on the news were speaking of me? Or do I write of the good times, finding love, and the many glorious days I’ve lived since? And even as I wonder, a part of me shouts who cares? Yes, that annoying voice within is as loud as ever. However, today I didn’t entertain it. I set myself a goal of one hour writing and, as night follows day the words found their way, and with each one a part of me rejoiced.
I know I can do this and I will. But you know what? Writing the story of you is a lot harder than you might imagine.
Don’t forget that we are now open for bookings for our next Inspiration Project event. Head to our bookings page for more information, and to secure your place!