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The Misadventures of a Mature Student (Part 2) by Katy O’Dowd

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Article by Katy O'Dowd ©.
Posted in Resources ().

The last time we spoke, I had finished my first semester and was writing essays. This time, I am writing essays. I am writing essays like I have never written essays before. I can say with all honesty that I will not mind never having to write an essay again. Before you tell me not to tempt fate, my typing-cramped fingers can still do serious damage should they need to.

It is Easter. The sun is shining for a change, I can almost hear the little lambs gambolling, the daffodils bursting up through the soil and the remains of chocolate eggs calling me from the fridge to come and eat them all up, yes even the ones that aren’t mine. Yet here I sit at my desk writing about editors, even though I am not one. I am clearly a fraud and yet need to sound knowledgeable. I love editors. They are marvellous people who do a magical thing that I can’t do, and thereby improve what I have written. I wonder if I could get away with an Ode to Editors long-form poem and decide that since I am not a poet either I can’t. Is there such a thing as a long-form poem? I should ask one of my lovely Writing classmates, Alice Kinsella who has just launched her first book of poetry, Flower Press.

There are two weeks of my second semester as a mature student at NUIG left. I’ve kept up with Fiction and those 6am Wednesday starts to get there which I suspect I’ll never recover from. The class is great, work progresses on my novel in progress. Whether anyone will ever want to publish a short Celtic fantasy with animal narrators is another question entirely.

I have added another day to my roster which is knackering, and added a new class, Books Journalism which is brilliant. I trained in radio years ago, and have had a chance to revisit it in Flirt FM, the on-campus station. The classes are such fun that I find myself drawn to a new idea about what I’ll do when my MA is all finished which would slot in nicely alongside writing. It’s not the only unexpected thing to have come out of my university experience, but more on that another time perhaps.

Publishing, in which I was the cuckoo in the nest, has turned into Copy-editing and Proofreading, in which I still am the cuckoo in the nest with the lovely Literature and Publishing students. I surprise myself by really liking it. I must be quite pernickety after all. We have another publishing trip to Dublin before our time is up, and I am looking forward to once again sighing in pleasure at huge stacks of paper.

The great and the good of publishing still come to talk to us every Thursday, this semester we were visited, among many others, by the highly-entertaining Dave Rudden who has just released The Endless King. Which is the third of a trilogy he started while doing his MA.

After the upcoming two weeks is Cúirt, Galway’s International Festival of Literature during which is the launch of ROPES Literary Journal 2018 which was created by the MALP students. I have a story in it about a man who can’t get to sleep. Speaking of sleep: now that I am a student, I can fully understand those university students skipping class to have a snooze. Pity the students, people, stop giving us a bad name. I have actually looked up at windows, while on campus, and wondered if the classroom behind was empty so I could sneak up for a quick nap.

My feeling is happy-sad. I have loved my time at the university, but I will be so glad to work from home on my final portfolio, all 30,000 words of it for which I have yet to decide what to do with, for the third semester. Small son has been telling me that he misses having me at home, altogether making my heart-strings twang like the best country song. Big son is telling me to come back in for another MA so I can continue to be his driver until he passes his driving test. I suspect I’ll end up somewhere in the middle of both.

I will be so glad to have my weekends back, to not have to spend so much time travelling (Big son notwithstanding), but I will miss all that dedicated, intense writing time which can be hard to get at home. I suddenly understand why writers go on retreats and am sorely tempted to apply somewhere very soon but there would be outrage. It might become my new treat.

For now though, I have to return to my essay on editors, those fabulous people. See you on the other side of the semester.

(c) Katy O’Dowd

You can read Part 1 of Katy’s Misadventures here.

About The Scarlett Ribbon:

The Scarlet Ribbon follows James Quinn, a young Irish surgeon battling prejudice, suspicion and personal demons in his controversial quest to change the face of medicine. Following his marriage, tragedy strikes, thrusting James into a life of turmoil, alcohol and despair. Throwing himself into his work, the young surgeon eventually begins to find solace in the most unexpected of places. From the backstreets of Paris, through the glittering social whirl of London, and finally back to Ireland again, this is a story of the thorns of love and the harsh reality of life in the eighteenth century, where nothing is simple and complications of all kinds surround James Quinn, man midwife.

Order your copy online here.


Katy is a fiction and non-fiction writer who has worked for Time Out, Associated Newspapers and Comic Relief and her articles have appeared in The Times (London), Metro (London) and many other arts and entertainment publications, paper and online. She also writes with her Dad under the pen-name Derry O’Dowd, whose first book ‘The Scarlet Ribbon’ was chosen to launch the History Press Ireland’s fiction line. Find her fiction at https://www.amazon.com/Katy-ODowd/e/B006292ELG
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