Sunday, January 1, 2023

2022 The Literary Highlights



I can’t remember whether I usually go ten down to one or one to ten on these lists and I refuse to peek at the last post, so here goes.


10. Early in the year I entered the New York Midnight Short Story challenge. It’s expensive to enter, but the money goes partly to charity and you get feedback on your entries, so you at least get something in return. It’s the only competition I entered in the year. It is great fun – the prompts force you to try new things and the deadline makes you complete it. I highly recommend it. This year I got to round two with my comedy caper that had to include divorce and a perfectionist yielding a wonky divorce themed festival that was a front for a criminal couple. I still think the idea might be a runner – MCD – get on to me and I’ll tell you more.

9. I went to Tyrone Guthrie Centre in the Summer, thanks to my agility award from the Arts council, for the heatwave. It was the most delicious experience. The place is stunning and the environment created, the camaraderie with other artists made me more determined than ever to cling on to this part of myself. I felt like a big pretender at first and was only a month into a new job that I was totally absorbed in at the time, so it took a day or two to adjust to it, and realise that I am actually as much an artist as anyone. It was a productive and motivating time.

8. Visitors came while I was away. I was sorry not to get to see them, they are the most lovely people in the world, but it was nice timing as the family were well distracted with them and there was a happy co-incidence surrounding their visit. It necessitated the moving in of a bed into our home office, which meant the eviction of a desk out to the shed. The desk in the shed is now a key attribute in my fight to stay writing.

7. I’m making the shed writing ritual into another highlight. I go there first thing every single day, and guess what, the desk is always there, never piled with laundry or with things missing like used to happen when I used the office. It’s free from distraction, the kids don’t find me there as often, and it was been nothing short of crucial to keeping me in the game rather than letting me get sucked entirely into the new job.

6. I read at Munster Literature Centre’s Cork International Short Story Festival in October. It was my third time getting the opportunity to read at it, and the kids were very impressed to see my photo in the brochure. It’s a great festival with brilliant events throughout. That same day I heard a feast of flash fiction, which is really such a different discipline, but so yummy. Also saw the wonderful Wendy Erskine and Alan McMonagle whose book “Psychotic Episodes” I’m really enjoying right now. So grateful to Patrick Cotter for the invite again.

5. Have kept in touch albeit a little sporadically thanks to GAA, with my lovely writing friends in Cork, who I met through the fantastic fiction at the friary (which I hope against hope will be back in some form… say it ain’t so!). They have done fantastic things this year in writing, amazing illustrated poetry, organising incredible literary events up the country, and going back to full time education too. They are an inspiration and their writing is fantastic, so I look forward to hopefully seeing a bit more of them next year.

4. The kids had a lot of activities for the year – sort of because we’re playing catch up on covid, getting them out while we can. This is giving me lots of time sitting waiting for them in cars, which is productive writing time, so I’m excited about that.

3. I’m also still in touch with the wonderful Dublin writers who I love and who are dear friends. One of them has begun work on a fascinating novel that I’m waiting on with bated breath. Another won the prestigious highly commended prize at the Johnathon Swift competition – always a precursor of great things. Another has her debut novel coming out next year on the exact anniversary 101 years to the day of Ullysses. Triona Walsh’s Snowstorm, you heard it here first (unless you’ve already heard the buzz building). It’s gonna be huge.

2. I’ve learned first aid. It’s not exactly a writing highlight, but is a life skill, and while I hope I never have to use it, it’s something for the cv, so I’m throwing it in here. I know it’s tenuous but the list is pretty pathetic/ thin these days – the new job has been almost all consuming, so I’m constantly trying to balance life and it, and this is an example of something it has given back for all that balancing. It has been a challenging year from that point of view and I feel the one ahead will be tough too.

2.5 Twitter getting really bad can only be a good thing. Just need someone to buy insta and make that rubbish as well, so that I spend less time online.

1. I’m still writing. Plugging away. Got a first draft completed of the novel, have gone through it once, now going through again by character/ changing tenses/ highlighting dialogue, a lot of busy work while the big issues in it simmer in the subconscious and hopefully emerge solved shortly so I can fix it into something that might be readable (this usually takes 8 drafts in a short story – so we could be here a while). The process is enjoyable though, sometimes lifesaving, it’s an escape and a therapy. A secret delight I can dive into – one thing that’s all mine and really helps keep me sane. So I’ll keep going at that, so I will, and you cannot stop me, don’t even try….


Hope wherever you are/ whenever you read this, you have something with equal meaning and truth in your life, that feeds your soul and makes you know it’s all worthwhile.


Happy new year to you wherever you might be.




Rachel Fox said...

Happy New Year to you! 'cling on to this part of myself' - love that. Sometimes I cling, sometimes my hold is quite slight (to the point of almost letting go). Looking forward to reading your novel!

Niamh B said...

Thanks Rachel - Keep holding on!!! On the novel it might be a good while yet before it meets the world, but like I say - happy out working on it :)