Lately, I’ve been too busy to write. Well, that happens sometimes.
Lately, I’ve been too busy to do housework. Well, that happens more often than one might care to admit.
Lately, I’ve been too busy to read. Well…Sorry? What? That NEVER happens.
Yes, February and March 2017 have been non-stop madness and the total of books read in that whole period is about 6 in total. There have been some crackers though: 1847 by Turtle Bunbury, The Faerie Thorn by Jane Talbot, Once we sang like other men, John MacKenna and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale which, I assure you, is far scarier this time round than when I read it 20 years ago and the internet was for university researchers and no-one I knew had their own mobile phone.
And what has had me so busy? I’m delighted to say I was assisting as PRO for an amazing celebration of International Women’s Day at the Irish Writers Centre, showcasing the talents of some of Ireland’s hundreds of women writers, and the brainchild of Women Aloud NI.
I honestly don’t have time to describe the day itself, a four hour readathon, readings on public transport, communications with Ireland’s main literary organisations and panel discussions, so I’m going to refer you here and here for eloquent descriptions of the day and here to some footage I took of the culmination of the day…a public massed reading in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance.
What I want to talk about instead is community…finding a community and plunging right in. I don’t think I have ever joined a community online. Every one of the groups I belong to, I’ve been invited into or signed up without my knowledge. Margaret Scott, author, brought me into Facebook right at the start, Margaret Bonass Madden, book blogger extraordinaire, enrolled me in the Rick O’Shea book club, Ana Dorado, photographer, brought me into Bite the Biscuit and really crucially Kerry Buchanan, writer, introduced me to Women Aloud NI. And there are a dozen more.
At first I was bemused…why should I spend time online when I should be reading? Or writing? Surely everyone’s just faking anyway? These aren’t real relationships? What do they want from me? And the answer is: they want as much or as little as you are prepared to give. And these relationships are real, and vibrant and rewarding as any other. As the women of Women Aloud NI spilled into the reception of the Irish Writers Centre, to meet forty women writers from the Republic of Ireland, I greeted friend after friend, hugged, laughed, exchanged views on their books, asked about their parents and children and knew that these women, most of whom I had never met before, are as real to me as some of the neighbours that I smile and wave at every day (or more so.)
Writing is a lonely occupation, especially so, I’d imagine, for those who write full-time. Find yourself a community. and plunge in. Here I am reading from The Accidental Wife at the four hour readathon.
My dear Orla, if you read the comment I made one moment before I came to read this blog you will see that I think you are right. Women Aloud N.I. is the beginning of something very important. I’m not trying to predict but it is saying something very powerful about community, something that needs saying. Speak up, you’ll have so many cheering for you!