1. Join the Irish Writer’s Union (IWU) and protect your rights.
2. Have the good luck to win a bursary of 300 euro in the IWU’s raffle at their AGM. That’s the lazy way of doing it. Some of you with fabulous skills and wonderful imagination will win bursaries on merit. That involves the blood, sweat and tears of writing something. As I said, I did it the lazy way.
3. Sit back and enjoy the glow of having spare money to spend on something just for you and your muse. DO NOT pay an electricity bill, buy plants, or food, or go on the tear.
4. Survey the well-stocked landscape of supports and treats for writers in Ireland. Maybe you’re an indie who can now afford a good editor or a designer for your book cover. (Apologies to all editors and designers who need more than 300€ per job – I have no idea how much it costs. Suffice to say, 300€ will go some of the way).
5. Or you’re keeping your chin up after fourteen rejections of your magnum opus and possibly, just possibly, need to polish your talents. Or sorely lack the peace and quiet to do yet another edit/rewrite/throw it in the bin and start again. (If it’s the latter, you should definitely go someplace where you can cry your eyes out, alone).
6. If you’d been toying with the idea of turning a story into a play, spend the May Bank Holiday 2022 weekend studying playwriting at the Fishamble Theatre HQ, with Gavin Kostick. Learn that the key elements for a play are the same as for a novel – who, where, when, what. (Sounds like a crime thriller, too.) It’s the story that counts.
7. Discover that Denmark Street Great – location of Fishamble’s HQ – is a continuation of Gardiner Row, off Parnell Square. Your gps may not know this. The ground floor is Olivier Cornet’s super gallery.
8. Dip into the wealth of courses offered by The Irish Writers’ Centre. I chose an innovative one by Roe McDermott – ‘Fragmenting Experiences, Fragmented structures’, Hooray, meeting people again, in the flesh. This course was mind-opening and stimulated me to write in a different way. It got my creative juices flowing. Other people’s work was awe-inspiring to hear, too.
9. Savour the acquisition of new knowledge and skills, and your increased confidence in tackling new ways of wielding your pen.
10. Finish that book, short story, poem, essay, non-fiction tome on life, the universe and everything.
That’s how to spend a bursary. Enjoy.
(This first appeared in ‘Final Draft’, the newsletter of the Irish Writers’ Union.)
(c) Audrey Mac Cready