I am still feeling the repercussions of my mum’s death and my car crash… so like an injury keeps me from running for a while, so sometimes an experience can keep us from writing for a while. I have two new writing demons chasing me round my own head at the moment. The first is a second non-fiction for which I am gathering my thoughts and my ideas (and a lovely burgeoning file of notes). And the second is a fiction novel for which, at the moment, all I can do is let this character I want to write, come into my life. I’m not quite ready to write her, I am currently just listening to her. She is settling into my head like a new friend, who I feel I must have known a long time. She is real, and forceful, but blurred around the edges. All I can do with her is write little snippets to see how she is, watch her form, hear her voice.
I have just booked a lovely writing retreat in the Andalucian mountains for June, so hopefully that will give me a little space (and a tan) to get going.
In the meantime, my current book Daughter, Mother, Me, tiptoed into the Irish non-fiction bestseller list which was very exciting, and continues to do well.
Mostly though, I’ve been reading, finally, slowly, starting to make a dent in that groaning pile of books beside my bed. Just finished the amazing, makes-you-cry-the-writing-is-so-good Anne Enright’s new book, The Green Road. Although the family she writes about as the adult children gather round the widowed mother in the family home for one last Christmas before she sells it, are nothing like my family, I felt I belonged. That is the art of great writing…. making me fit in a place I have no experience of. The book was so good I still have it sitting on my desk, unable to quite put it away on the bookshelf yet, giving it a little pat every time I walk past. (I know, but good books are like pets).
Now I am immersed in a completely different book, the brazenly brave first book by another Irish writer, Louise O’Neill. It is a area of fiction I rarely read… futuristic fantasy of sorts… so I was a bit un-enthused when I started. But I really want to read her second book, Asking For It, so felt I should read her first one. It has surprised me. It’s been called the Mean Girls meets The Handmaid’s Tale and the feminist messages about peer pressure and body image for girls is powerfully delivered. As an avid listener of the Irish Times Women’s Podcast, I have heard Louise O’Neill speak on feminist issues and I think hers is a voice we’ll be hearing a lot more of. Loving the book.
So I’m in the lull after the storm of my first book, before I dive into the intensity of writing another. Gathering myself, gathering my thoughts, gathering my appreciation of other writers. It’s a good place…. and it doesn’t hurt that I’ve got my garden ready for Spring .. happy writing..