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The Generosity of Writers

Writing.ie | Member Blog

Deirdre Conroy

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The good thing about finishing my book and not yet published is that other writers are very kind to me. I can’t quite visualise my work in a cover sitting on a shelf, never mind the drinkies and speeches, and that is a good thing or I’d never have got it written. And everybody has been there.


This weekend I was invited by literary friend, Mariella, to go a champagne reception at the French Ambassador’s residence in honour of the Franco-Irish Literary Festival. I suppose I couldn’t say no, could I? We arrived in homage to Coco Chanel, as did every second woman in an LBD and pearls. What bliss, delicious canapés, wonderful company and utterly stylish surroundings.


Since early 2012 I’ve attended several literary events, very much as an observer, at Waterford Lit Fest I met the very charming and successful writer, Sinead Moriarty, and did an inspiring workshop with another bestseller, Monica McInerney, who couldn’t have been more encouraging.


At the Dun Laoghaire Book Festival I got up early to hear John Boyne, Claire Kilroy and Chris Binchy share their experience. That was when discovered Vanessa O’Loughlin, a writer’s angel.


I spent a week at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig in February 2012 to finish my novel and send it to the celeb agent, who’d asked to read it. You know what they say in the I.T. world – fail early! It’s really good advice, because you don’t waste time refining something that isn’t working. The agent liked my writing, but the structure didn’t work – what do I know about these things? I was trying to write in a new form, alternating chapters in the past and present, apparently the reader loses interest with that kind of thing.


I was given Lady Guthrie’s room, no wonder I’d the feeling of ‘having arrived’! The other residents included an illustrious Italian composer, who was working on an opera about Henry James; a film director, the artistic director of Macnas, a great fun girl, some strangely quiet Irish poetesses, one not so quiet, and a bevy of wonderful artists one of whom now plays on-line scrabble with me, from across the Atlantic.


At Listowel Writer’s Week I caught up with Manchan Magan, a man of many talents, who was writing his own experimental novel, and who was great on giving me tips on who to see. Which was good as I wouldn’t have thought of Patrick de Witt and am really glad I went to his interview, bought his book, loved it (The Sisters Brothers).


Truth be told, I also stalked an agent down there, he loved my pitch, asked for the book when I’d re-written it and kept in touch all last year. He got a new job heading up a flash new literary agency since then, I don’t think I’m flash enough for it!


At West Cork Lit Fest I met Anita Shreve, bought her new book, which believe it or not, alternated past and present chapters, and was encouraged by her interview. By the way, the book didn’t work (Weight of Water).


In Dublin last September I listened to a panel with Donal Ryan, Kathleen McMahon, Selina Guinness and others, I read Donal’s ‘The Spinning Heart’ and Selina’s ‘Crocodile at the Door’ over Christmas, well worthy of their shortlising.


At this stage of writing, being finished and listening to how others started, how each subsequent book is a new beginning, is part of the learning. You could spend an entire year in Ireland doing nothing but attending literary and arts festivals, some of them even clash, that would be a bit sad though wouldn’t it?


So it was that last Saturday I met Christine Dwyer Hickey, Anne Haverty and Mia Gallagher and followed it up with a visit into Alliance Francaise yesterday morning for Christine’s talk.


There are only tourists, their heads craned upwards, walking around Dublin early on Sunday morning, so why is there no car parking, surely everybody hasn’t abandoned their cars overnight? Anyway, I was very pleased I made it in, two hours of French and Irish inspiring writers, and all done by lunchtime.


Thanks for the invite Mariella, the writers I met were so encouraging it’s given me another burst of energy on a Mon

day morning to finish my review of ‘Five Days’ by Douglas Kennedy and keep editing my own book, or it will never see a cover.

Beside my desk
Beside my desk
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