I would hesitate to call myself a writer. I know a lot of people who would disagree with this philosophy, but I am old enough, and possibly square enough, to feel that I won’t call myself a writer until I have an established catalogue of books to my name. I am awaiting my first collection of short stories from Sowilo Press, and I have sent my first completed novel out into the world looking for representation…. until these birds come home to roost, I just don’t feel comfortable calling myself a writer yet.
So what would I call myself? Among the many, many words I could choose, one springs to the tip of my tongue. READER!!! I have been reading since before I started school. Apart from sleeping, no activity takes up more of my week than reading. Four, five, six novels a week wouldn’t be unusual. I read while stirring the pots, and while brushing my teeth! It’s a sickness really.
How wonderful, therefore, to find a festival just for readers, a stone’s throw from my own front door, at Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge, hosted by Lucina Russell and a team from Kildare County Council Arts Service. A huge range of free events was available, some events sold out, others appealed to a smaller audience, but each one was of high calibre, featuring established writers, academics and critics from Kildare and nationwide.
I was delighted to meet Nuala Ni Chonchuir, who, as Nuala O’Connnor, is set for international stardom with her newest novel, Miss Emily, a fictionalised account of the relationship of Emily Dickinson with her Irish maid, Ada Concannon.
Also, it was thrilling to meet Anthony Quinn, author of Disappeared, one of the best detective novels I have ever read, set in and around Lough Neagh, featuring ghosts and memories of Northern Ireland’s darkest days, which, I assure you, lurk still beneath the thinnest veneer of “normality”. Anthony has written several novels since, and I went home clutching one of them, The Blood Dimmed Tide and it was fascinating to hear him speak of how the spirit of WB Yeats informed the writing of this novel, exploring Yeats’ spiritualism and mysticism in this, the 150th anniversary of his birth.
Maybe, one day, I will feel comfortable and wholly in place at a “writers’ festival”, but for now, from this grateful reader, well done and thanks to Kildare Arts Service.
I understand all about the reluctance to claim the title “writer;” I found it hard to do myself; but you have every reason to claim it, and with pride. Just look at that list of awards and near-misses. I think using the title is giving respect to your own craft, and also validating all those other writers who work very hard but just haven’t got recognised or published—yet.
This Kildare County Arts event for readers sounds delightful! I am especially interested in the sound of “Miss Emily.” Thanks for telling us about this.
I am reading fewer books than I used to. I must examine this; what has happened….? The internet. The wonderful British newspaper (which I didn’t have when I lived in USA). Sudoku. Other distractions….yet reading a book was for me too a continual activity, a thing I would do, like you, while stirring the pots….not quite so much, now. Why has this changed? I still buy them, though!
No, no, this is all wrong… you must find time to read. What could be more important? Just wait til my book arrives, you will have to set aside a few hours!!!! Thanks for your kind words.
I think this novel about Emily Dickinson will be the book that makes Nuala O’Connor’s name in America, she is a household name already in Ireland!