Thursday, December 30, 2021

2021 The literary Highlights

 Hard to believe another year is almost done. Hope everyone has had as good a festive season as possible so far (It's not over yet!!!) 

As is my tradition, hereby find my 2021 highlights in terms of writing life. 

1. Entering the NYC Midnight Short Story competition - they give you a character, a genre, a subject - and a deadline to get your story done by - the deadlines get shorter with each round. It's hefty enough cost wise to get in, but I found it so much fun and inspiring, that I'm doing it again this year.  They give feedback within each round too which is fun.

2 Getting accepted to go to Annaghmackerig - I have heard magical things about this place, so will be super excited to go there to write - sometime Summer 22.

3 Winning a mentorship from Munster Literature Centre with Billy O'Callaghan. A workshop with Billy got me back to writing a few years ago, so it was super special to win this and get to pick his brains in a one to one setting. He was really so great, totally inspiring, encouraging and really thought provoking. Such an honour.

4 Great to get to a physical launch this year and see people in person, it was to see the launch of Madeleine D'Arcy Lane's "Liberty Terrace" collection which is a super warm book about Cork lives. It was amazing to meet Madeleine and other Fiction at the Friary friends at the event. A very special evening.

5 Physically meeting some Zoom writers. I had joined an online group in which I only knew one member up to last year, and got to enjoy lots of great writing by them via the internet, so it was a lovely writing highlight to meet them in person this year.

6 A friend convinced me to apply for an Agility Award from the Arts Council and an award was granted to me, to do some writing. I'm still a bit shocked, but delighted about it.

7 I moved jobs this year. Not exactly a writing thing, but after 10 years in one company (almost two of those within my own house), branching out into a new industry and getting to go out to work every day again has felt like a shot in the arm inspiration wise. Meeting grown ups, seeing a bit of drama, getting to chat, it's all so much better than sitting at home with a mountain of boxes clogging up the writing room.

8 Got accepted to an online workshop given by Caoillinn Hughes, which was pretty magical. She's very interesting and had lots of thought provoking things to think about. It felt like she delivered a 3 week course in a morning, so it was pretty full on, but brilliant.

9 The reclamation of the office has allowed for set up of a Reading Nook - ie two bean bags and a stack of books, that has been a lovely place to pass a bit of time reading - instagram records the high points of this.

10  Keeping going - I've been encouraged by the successes of the year, and have been devoting a lot of energy lately to one big project, which is hard enough to keep at, if you've ever taken on big projects you probably get me. It's been up and down, but I'm still showing up for it most days, and intend to keep at it too. So that's a win too.

Wishing you an inspiring and amazing 2022, if there's anything you are doing daily for the first 100 days to make your life better, do let me know, am looking for ideas...  

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Happy New Year

 I thought about doing my usual literary highlights for the year last year, but felt a bit hesitant about it, having been such a weird and hard year for so many, it seems strange to celebrate it as a whole.  Having said that, I've a terrible memory, so for my own sake as much as anything, I have decided to continue the tradition, just with the more sedate title of Happy New Year.  And I do wish you a Happy New Year too, and hope all is ok in your world wherever you are.

So here they are:

10 - I landed a few nice publications last year - starting with online - in the Honest Ulsterman, Wilderness House Literary Review, Fresh Ink. So that was great and encouraging.  The last acceptance of last year was just published today on Coffin Bell - can be read here:  Cold Light – Coffin Bell

9 - Got a story made in to a podcast by the wonderful crew at the white rabbit drama group in the UK - a kids story, so it was lots of fun to listen to their interpretation of it.

8 - First publication on paper in the USA (for some reason paper is more exciting!!) in Issue 5 of Orca Literary Journal, only got around to enjoying the issue in full over the Xmas, so that was great and got to appreciate I was in really good company there.

7 - First publication on paper (and indeed at all) in Australia - Melbourne University used a story of mine in their annual anthology - Antithesis.  I sadly missed the launch of the anthology due to miscalculating the time difference, but the thought of it alone was all very exciting. 

6 - Online course in Short Story Writing with Billy O'Callaghan - this was a joy to do during the first lockdown - it was a bit of light and joy and enthusiasm that really  helped keep me going with the writing, as when the old existential angst was high at the start of all this, I couldn't write at all, found it impossible, so this was a bit of a lifeline to keep my toe in the water.

5 - Fiction at the Friary and on Campus - this is a lovely podcast of readings and interviews by the amazing Danielle McLaughlin and Madeleine D'Arcy and features open mic readings (including one of mine) from their fab live monthly events (which are so badly missed with this whole pandemic thing)

4 - Saturday Stories - this is something my son has taken up - writing a story of a saturday morning, which he reads then for anyone who will stand still long enough - they are dependably funny, a great way to kick off each weekend.

3 -Reading - reading is always important to writing, and though I haven't done as much as I should have this year, I was grateful to get to read some great books, standing out was Doireann Ní Gríofa's "Ghost in the throat" - if you're an international reader - Hi Bug/ Titus/ Rachel - and haven't heard all the fuss, get it ordered, it's bloody beautiful

2 -100 rejections - this was the magic number Billy O'C gave that you have to aim for, I think I may have even got 101, but it's true for him and very motivating to realise that if you get your 100 rejections then you've done your job for the year.

1 - Writing Buddies - I missed my real life local writing group this year, but have found more groups online that have been just fantastic, some with old friends and some with new, (and my local group have even set themselves up now, so I've more groups than every to be going to) but all of them brilliant and all have kept me somewhat motivated and sane for the year that was in it. 


Anyway - here's hoping for a creative and beautiful year ahead for us all.