October 26, 2014

Preparing for NaNoWriMo - it's time to write about my Dad

I'm about to embark on NaNoWriMo. A 30 day writing challenge to get a rough first draft of a 50,000 word manuscript. It was a fantastic experience last year. It left me with story that needed (and still needs) a lot of work, but it's work I'm very happy with. I was mulling over another novel idea and didn't know what to do this year, then I decided to take the advice that I give to others when they are not sure what to write. 


Write what's inside you. 


I've been thinking for a while that my Dad would be a great subject for a book. He was an amazing man, who in his early 50s had a serious accident which left him with an acquired brain injury. Though it almost killed him, he battled with that head trauma for almost 30 years; he died in March of this year, just a few weeks short of his 84th birthday.


There are so many funny stories about him - both before and after his accident. He lost many things the day he was hit by a car, but he kept his love for a sing-song, his love for a pint of Guinness, his love of a laugh and his love for his family. Writing about him is always entertaining for me and for readers. I always get a great response whenever I mention him in articles or blog posts.


So on Nov 1st I'm going to start writing him down. Please God at the end of the month I'll have 50k words of raw material for a memoir about him. As I'm one of 8 children, there'll be a lot of checking to do if ever it was to be published, but I feel it's time to start committing him to paper. I'm quite excited about it. I enjoy thinking about him, even though it's hard to get used to him being gone. I'm looking forward to scouring the memory banks for stories he loved to tell, and incidents that sum up his character. 


NaNoWriMo is fast writing. Free writing really, but I think it will work in my favour. The best way to capture him will be to just write quickly what is in my head about him. I can worry about dates and details letter. I think the speed required to get NaNo done will help me get the heart of the man down on the page. 


I hope so anyway :) I'll be sure to share snippets as I go...


Anyone else doing NaNo? Pop over to the Facebook page or tweet @amowriting 
It'd be good to connect for the ol' moral support :)

October 19, 2014

Did you know that writers serve refreshments at literary festivals?!

I’ve returned from the wilderness.


The last few weeks have been a bit strange. I’ve been having a crisis of confidence. Didn’t do as well in this year's Blog Awards, as I have done in the previous two years, didn’t feel I had anything to say for Blog Action Day, and a few non-runners submissions wise have rattled me. I suppose a low is natural; after the high of a couple of competition successes earlier in the year.


Then there’s the decision to relocate to the UK. It’s the right one, no doubt about that, but I’m nervous about moving and being nobody. You can read my travails about that one on Writer’s Fun Zone this month. (I won’t even mention the host of arts contacts in Wales, who are probably already sick of me on Twitter.) 


Truth is, times like this – being unsettled, confidence a bit wobbly - they make me dry and barren. Instead of just sitting down and getting some work done, I’ve been looking at the scary glare of a white page, not sure if I have anything to say to anyone.


On Friday evening I went to the local library in the town next to mine; the event was part of the Kildare Readers Festival. Three well established, successful authors either from or based in Kildare, shared about their experiences in publishing: John MacKenna, Mary O'Donnell and Martin MaloneThey talked about the path they took, or in some cases, the path that took them. They weren’t the first people I’ve heard say that success in writing is mostly to do with hard work and as the facilitator of the discussion, Anthony Glavin put it… ‘a crap shoot’.


I believe super-above-the-norm-talent will always be recognised by somebody. I reckon I'm one of those writers who won't peak above that captivating level of talent. This is not a fish for compliments or a moment of self-deprecation. Cos I actually think I'm doing a good job, with a lot of improving to do. But.... well... I'm going to be one of those writers who need a stroke of luck; or a moment of providence as I prefer to call it. My success aside (just for a moment mind you :D ), I must admit that I left the event on Friday night with a spring in my step. I felt that the desert wandering was over and I’d had a breath of fresh air and a splash of cool water on my face.


The reason is, these successful writers were not energised by talking about what made them successful. They concentrated on what made them writers: turning up every day, doing the work, the love of a new story idea. Contracts, agents and publishers are all great to have, no one on the panel pretended otherwise; but they were enthused by the craft of writing. Talking about it changed the expression on their faces and brightened the tone of their voices.


Anthony Glavin, Martin Malone, John MacKenna, Mary O'Donnell.
Photo by Ger Holland Photography


They were really encouraging to those of us still hoping to make it someday. "Write what’s in your heart." "Write the story that is in you." "Find the publisher whose published work you love and submit to them." "Don’t be discouraged." "Take heart." "Keep writing."


There’s something about being in a room full of writers. You don’t have to know everyone in the room to get them, or to know that they get you. It’s therapeutic.


It was a call back to work for me – the dry spell is over.

I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you do about the wilderness times, the dreaded block? Do you find encouragement at these festivals? Drop a comment on my Facebook page or tweet @amowriting 

Oh and big thanks to Ger Holland, the official photographer for the festival, for supply & permission to use the photo.
She's a good 'un :)

October 10, 2014

Three Haiku for World Mental Health Day

I'm not much of a poet, but I do try my hand at a bit of Haiku every so often. 
Here's three for #worldmentalhealthday


Today I am scared 
Looking for a better day
Might be tomorrow 
Give your love freely
In huge doses if you like
I'll take it in bits
please don't ask me why
all I know is I must stay
under the covers
Any thoughts or comments, please feel free to drop over to my Facebook page or tweet @amowriting
And if you need help - reach out to someone :) x 
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