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Open Mic Memories from the Scripts Festival 2018

Writing.ie | Member Blog


Mary Campbell

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Open Mic – Taking the mic

When I think back on it now I can laugh, but as a fledgling writer at the time I can only describe my first experience of open mic events as horrifying. Last summer I was dragged along to the Scripts festival in Birr by a fellow Wordsmith who shall remain nameless. Not that I needed to be dragged, as it is well known throughout the land that the Birr Arts committee puts on a wonderful display of culture and creativity to show case exceptional Irish talent every year as part of its Scripts festival. My problem was that an uncanny sense of self preservation was screaming “Lamb to the Slaughter” in my ear even though I was assured that I was simply a plus one, there only to show support. As predicted, through no fault of my own I ended up in front of a large audience of extremely talented poets, writers, musicians and other culturally gifted types, faced with literary suicide and spontaneous self combustion (the latter prayed for).

Having had no preparation or thought for what verse would best show case my career thus far, I launched into the first piece that came to hand from my scrap book. As it happened it was a far from high brow ditty written for fun some months before which spewed forth from my vocal chords with all the comical delivery of a Limerick and which for some strange reason brought out the class clown brash confidence in me of my teenage years. Well as only happens in the really cheesiest of cheesy Netflix fairytales, I somehow brought the house down. Go figure! Then to add insult to injury when thrown to the wolves and the audience vote, in truly unbelievable fashion, I won the competition! Not I can assure you for my literary prowess as there were some heavy weight super talents taking part to whom I offer my sincerest apologies, but perhaps for sheer entertainment. Ill coiffed or made up and still in my washing up garb from earlier battles with the kitchen sink before dashing to my weekly Wordsmiths meeting late as usual, I was the epitome of every one’s notion of a typical Irish mammy, so when I laid into my piece aptly titled Never Mind the Housework I think I gave the infamous Mrs Browne a run for her money. As I said before, I was green and terrified, and the shock of having to perform that night is one that will need a fair bit of therapy to erase if ever, but winning was such a buzz.

Deserved or not, that win was momentous for me and I grew a set of you know whats that night. Whether good or bad, I now know that what I wrote was the best on the night for whatever reason and that is good enough for me. It has given me the realization that no matter what I write, I too am a writer now. I have joined the ranks of those great writers I aspired to be, albeit on a different plane perhaps but I am in it for the long haul and little steps are good enough for me!

This my friends is the now legendary (in my head only) piece I wrote (they do say to write what you know!) so like it or lump it, it was the verse that launched my career (whenever it takes off that is). Enjoy or not, pas difference!

Never Mind the Housework!

What a cheek have I, putting paper to pen
When all about me is falling apart
The shower is broken and laundry piled high
But I’m bursting to pour out my heart

I always say never mind the housework
When I’ve a Nobel Prize story to be told
And as soon as I get it all on paper
I’ll be worth my ample weight in Gold

The children in school, I’ve all the time in the world
The dishes can wait in the sink
It’s the only time that the house is this quiet
And I have time to sit down and think

Yesterday’s dinner will stretch, I’ll microwave some spuds
It’s too cold to bring the dog for a walk
Sure the beds will only be slept in again
If I visit my mother she will surely want to talk

I’m determined to write a bestseller at some point
Ideas are rolling around in my head
And it’s hard to concentrate on ashes and soot
When I’m stacking shoes in the box with the bread

My time is better served if I’m writing this stuff
I’m a much calmer mammy by far
Instead of unloading the wash, I’m offloading my angst
Not getting speeding tickets out driving my car

For better or worse my husband married me
And I know his patience is put to the test
But while his wife is content and less vocal
He’s well prepared to put up with the rest

We won’t starve I promise that, I still sew and cook
I promise to always put my family first
But this Grá I have for writing my very own book
Comes close second, before dealing with dust

I live out in the country and that helps me
No frequent visitors knocking on doors
So long as the house gets a skim over now and then
There’s no one looking down on my floors

The children don’t notice, as long as they’re fed
I glance over their homework, praise stuff that they’ve made
I’m not fighting with them for the remote control
And I’m a lot more lenient about sending them to bed

With all of that said there is no guarantee
That my scribblings are even that good
But there is one sure thing it can never be said
I’m ever unhappy or in a bad mood

I will write till I drop, and type through the night
I’ve no other hobbies to drag me away
And as long as the hubby gets his way now and then
There’s no reason for him ever to stray

Between jobs at the moment, my prospects are poor
I’ll simply knock together a poem or two
The prize money should keep the sharks from the door
While I gather my thoughts for my book

Flowery words are flittering around inside me
My text messages now turned into rhyme
I’m giving the Brontes a run for their money
With emails that are simply sublime

My job applications are really quite eloquent
Why use one, when ten sentences will do
I’m a dab hand at enhancing my Resume
Never mind that so much of its not true

Sure I’m living in hopes of a best seller
I’ve a Pulitzer or Man Booker in my head
If I can hide from my kids and keep writing
Let the PTA continue to believe I am dead

I shall never get roped in to car pool
That’s pen time I would never get back
I discourage my kids from sporting activity
Offer video games time instead of track

For all of my lot, it’s still a win win
Fed and watered and with nary a nag
And not a one of them notices the clutter
The dog eating out of the bin bag

Now I’m looking around me and all that I see
Is disorganised chaos and dishes stacked high
Yet inside I’m feeling deliriously lucky
That I’m blessed with the opportunity to write

By the now infamous (in Birr theatre circles only) Molly Campbell

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