Sitting at the other side of the table

For many years I have attended writing seminars and workshops and listened to writers talk about writing.  I absorbed their words and imbedded their advice and used their sharing of experience to start building my own.  And so it was with a little delight and a lot of gratitude, that I was given the chance to sit on the other side of the table this weekend.  As a now published author, I was invited to the Cork World Book Festival to speak on a panel of writers about our experience of getting published.   I was delighted to share the stage with my friend (we started off as bloggers together) and New York Times Best Seller Hazel Gaynor, and new friend and incredible writer Elizabeth R Murray… hosted by the lovely Mary Malone, we spoke about our writing techniques and gave advice based on our experiences. And as I looked around the room at the eager emerging writers I wondered how long it would be until one of them will sit proudly on the other side of the table.

Mary, a prolific novelist and just all-round gorgeous and generous person, named the thing that happens with writing sometimes – she called it the Magic.  The magic happens when we find our groove and the words begin to write us, not the other way round.

But there is also another sort of magic – and I suspect it might be a particularly Irish thing.  The Irish writing community is so generous and supportive and giving that magic happens all the time.  I am now friends with some of the people who I listened to all those years ago, and it was their generosity and support that helped guide me to publication.  I have to cite Inkwell though, and Vanessa O’Loughlin who just may be responsible for more people getting published in Ireland than anyone else.

And here’s how the magic sometimes works.   Eight years ago, I attended one of the first Inkwell writing workshops. I had recently given up my job, and adjusting to being a mum at home I had started exploring my love of writing. That day I met a girl who had recently lost her job. We chatted over coffee at the break and within a month both of us had set up blogs, and we became writing pals.  She is now on her fourth book, and is an award winning, New York Times best seller.

Someone else joined us at the coffee break and her name was Elizabeth.  Her first book last year was voted the Dublin 2016 Citywide Reading for Children campaign run by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Council’s Libraries Service, and she will have not one, but two new books published this year.

And this year, my first book went on to the Best seller list.

IMG_5326But when we stood like frightened stooges in that hotel foyer eight years ago, drinking over-stewed tea and barely able to say the words out loud that we wanted to perhaps, maybe, you know, just a bit, I’m not very good, but you know, if I could, I’d like to you know, write… who would have guessed that in a few short, hard-worked years we would all share a stage together with our books in front of us, and now be in a position to support and encourage other emerging writers.  So if anyone wants it, here is my advice. You want to write?  Say it out loud, and embrace the community.  It will embrace you back.

Because magic happens it seems, on and off the page.

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