with writers Lia Mills and Catherine Dunne
Dates: Friday 21st, Saturday 22nd, Sunday 23rd April 2017
Join writers Catherine Dunne and Lia Mills for three days of writing and discussion in the intimate setting of Brewery Lane Theatre, Carrick-on-Suir. Award winning writers Catherine and Lia will help you to come to grips with the writing process and write your way towards a finished story (fiction or non-fiction). The emphasis this year will be on the tools of fiction and memoir, with workshops and one to one meetings to discuss your work.
NB: Limited to 12 participants
Fee: early bird €160 (if paid in full by Friday 19th Feb) or €175 if paid later.
To book: please get in touch with me through the Contact page
Lia Mills writes fiction and literary non-fiction. Her most recent novel, “Fallen”, was the Dublin/Belfast: Two Cities One Book selection for 2016. Her memoir “In Your Face” was selected as book of the year by many commentators in its year of publication (2007).
She was the 2015-2016 Writer-in- Residence at Farmleigh House and the 2016 Arts Council Writer Fellow at UCD.
An experienced workshop facilitator, she has also worked as an arts consultant. www.liamills.com
Catherine Dunne is the author of ten novels, the most recent being “The Years That Followed”. “The Things We Know Now” won the 700th anniversary Giovanni Boccaccio International Prize for Fiction in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Eason Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. She has also published one work of non-fiction: a social history of Irish immigrants in London, called “An Unconsidered People”.
Catherine’s novels have been short listed for, among others, the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award and the Italian Booksellers’ Prize. Her work has been translated into several languages. She was recently long-listed for the Laureate for Irish Fiction Award 2015.
Catherine Dunne lives in Ranelagh. www.catherinedunneauthor.com
Cancellation 4 weeks or more prior to the course start date – full refund (less a 10% admin fee)
Cancellation between 4 weeks to 1 week prior to the course start date – 50% refund
Cancellation less than 7 days prior to start – NO REFUND
The next course at The Story House is ‘Writing for Young People’ with the very talented and experienced duo of Sheena Wilkinson and E.R. Murray (Elizabeth’s novel The Book of Shadows has just been shortlisted for the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards). Writer Patricia Forde, of Childrens Books Ireland, will join the group for dinner midweek followed by readings and conversations about writing in this exciting genre. The venue for the course is the beautiful and inspiring Lisnavagh House in Co. Carlow and it will run from Monday 20th February to Saturday 25th February 2017. All courses at TSH are limited to 12 participants (over 18s only) and a deposit of €200 will secure a place. The full fee is €700 and local arts officers may be able to offer financial support.
The Story House is unique in Ireland, offering an immersive taught residential experience to anyone who wishes to write. We’ve seen how changes can happen over the five day period as the outside world is held at bay and creativity is given room to grow and flourish. Participants meet and mix at morning workshops, one to one tutorials, communal meals, and also experience the luxury of taking time on their own with their writing, entering a different internal space. All the while supported by the two tutors and the TSH team.
Yesterday we were delighted to announce a very special initiative, news we’ve been waiting to share for some time – The Story House Residency. Any writer who attends a course at TSH is eligible to apply for a week’s private residency, free of charge, during May 2017 at a lovely, peaceful cottage in the west of Ireland, generously donated by a past participant, (did I mention that changes happen on a Story House course?). This will give one writer the opportunity to focus for a week on a writing project away from their everyday distractions and responsibilities. If you attended a course in the past or wish to book a place on the ‘Writing for Young People’ course above, you are eligible to apply for this special residency. See here for details of how to apply.
‘Writing has brought me up from underground. I’ve been my own Orpheus.’ Nuala O’Faolain
Join writers Selina Guinness and Katie Donovan for the 2016 Brewery Lane Writers’ Weekend. The dates are: Friday, 1st April, Saturday, 2nd April and Sunday, 3rd April, the weekend after Easter. This is Ireland’s most intimate writers’ weekend, limited to 12 participants, where writers get the opportunity to work with some of the best writers and teachers of writing in Ireland. Participants gain insights into the practice and craft of writing through group workshops, one to one tutorials and time for writing.
Here is what Nessa O’Mahony, one of our fabulous duo of tutors at the 2015 event, has written about the impact on her of attending a workshop with Katie Donovan: ‘Katie Donovan will forever have my gratitude for being the first professional writer to tell me that I had something worth developing – my own voice.’
The early-bird fee for the weekend is €160, but this must be paid by Friday, 5th February. This fee includes all workshops and tutorials plus lunch on Friday and Saturday. For payments later than this the full fee of €175 will apply, but please note that the weekend will fill on a first come, first paid basis. If you need accommodation for the weekend the Carraig Hotel is offering a special deal to participants.
For booking and payment details please get in touch with me through the Contact page.
President Higgins has replied to my Open Letter and you can read his elegant response in full below.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote that ‘If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.’ So the campaign for a residential writing centre in Ireland, that is open to all, continues. If you have any thoughts on this I would love to read them in the comments box below.
Dear President Higgins,
You are about to start a historic visit to the United Kingdom and I have no doubt that the schedule planned for you and Mrs. Higgins during this trip is interesting and full.
In a recent article in The Irish Times you raised some interesting questions. “What is necessary to human flourishing? What human capabilities does Irish society encourage, genuinely enable, or block?” I suggest that you may find some answers to those questions if you include in your visit a meeting with John Moat and a visit to any of the four Arvon houses in the UK. What is The Arvon Foundation? In its own words “Arvon is a charity that works to ensure anyone can benefit from the transformative power of writing.” Don’t you find that wonderful? That anyone can benefit? John Moat, with the late John Fairfax, founded what became Arvon over 40 years ago in Devon. To date there is nothing comparable in Ireland that offers a residential experience to anyone who wishes to write, away from everyday distractions, responsibilities and habits and that also actively engages with schools and many underserved communities. Nor one with the simple apprenticeship model of Arvon, each 5 day residential course led by two experienced writers.
Instead in Ireland there is an ad hoc provision of writing courses, writing centres and writers augmenting their income through teaching. Indeed I offer some of these courses myself. Arts officers here strive to support all the creative arts within increasing budgetary constraints and a public discourse that veers between questioning the relevance of the arts and attempts to yoke the arts to an economic project. The support available to a writer too frequently depends on the area in which they live. The writers I have worked with over the past few years have shown me again and again the value of the process of writing, how the sudden discovery as the pen leaks words onto the page changes lives in a myriad of minute ways. It’s about writing but it’s always about more than writing. When I lectured in Adult Literacy Studies in the past, particularly in the area of Family Literacy, the class always came alive when I introduced them to creative writing, to story, using the method developed by Pat Schneider, founder of Amherst Writers and Artists. Pat has written that “Art is the creative expression of the human spirit, and it cannot – it must not, for the sake of the human community – be limited to those few who achieve critical acclaim or financial reward.” I think you appreciate better than most that if appropriate conditions are put in place then creativity, and people, can flourish. For example, it is likely that there will be an increase in the numbers of writers emerging from north Dublin because of the existence there of Fighting Words and the work of Sean Love and Roddy Doyle. There will consequently also be many, many more young people in that area growing into adulthood with increased confidence in their own voice and their ability to express themselves. As Gianni Rodari said:
“Every possible use of words should be made available to every single person … not because everyone should be an artist but because no one should be a slave.”
There is quite a list of Irish writers who have taught on Arvon courses, from the late Seamus Heaney through Paul Durcan, Anne Enright, Carlo Gebler, Hugo Hamilton, Patrick McCabe, Shane Connaughton, Medbh McGuckian, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Thomas McCarthy, Colm Tóibín and others to Leanne O’Sullivan and Julian Gough, yet none seem to have brought back the spirit, the idea of Arvon to Ireland. I find this very puzzling. Seamus Heaney judged, with Ted Hughes, the very first Arvon poetry competition and was a patron of Arvon until he died. An essay of his is included in a book called ‘The Gist: A Celebration of the Imagination’, recently published in acknowledgment of the work of John Moat. Also included as an appendix in this book is Ted Hughes’ ‘Arvon and Education’ in which he says that “we have to acknowledge what is perhaps not much acknowledged – that far-reaching inner changes, creative revelations of our inner self, the only part of us with any value, are usually triggered in the smallest fraction of time.” If there is to be one piece of writing that I would press on you to read in relation to the importance of developing a residential writing centre here, modelled on Arvon, it is this essay by Ted Hughes.
In ‘Renewing the Republic’ you wrote that “Unlike the characters in a play, we can change the script of our lives. We can reflect on the choice of selves, societies, masks and fictions. If we lock the arts away for an occasion, for an evening, for an indulgence, we lose out on much of their potential for the future, and for their revelatory and pleasurable potential now.”
Now to return to your recent questions: “What is necessary to human flourishing? What human capabilities does Irish society encourage, genuinely enable, or block?” Establishing a residential national writing centre in Ireland would serve as the tangible symbol of a belief in the importance of writing as a vital part of the creative arts and also provide real support for developing writers of all ages. There would also be opportunities for cultural tourism. It would provide a focus for the development of a community of writers, teaching opportunities for writers, and also “ensure anyone can benefit from the transformative power of writing”. It is my belief that many people in Ireland, indeed Irish society as a whole, would benefit and flourish from such a development.
Dawn Sewell McKeever has written an interesting essay in Glimmer Train on becoming a writer, noting how often in her life she was sidetracked from writing.
Maybe you have been sidetracked from your writing just once too often. Is it time to make a definite commitment to put pen to paper? If you are living in the south-east my Saturday morning writing workshops will start on 1st February in Brewery Lane Theatre, Carrick-on-Suir. These workshops are informed and inspired by the work of Pat Schneider and are suitable for anyone beginning or beginning again to write. You can get in touch with me here.
It’s here! ‘Tidings’, this year’s poetry pamphlet from the writers who read at the monthly poetry sessions in Brewery Lane Theatre, Carrick-on-Suir, has just been delivered by the printers. This year’s edition, with contributions from 12 poets, is in aid of Carrick’s River Rescue, a voluntary group whose work forms an important part of the fabric of the town.
‘Tidings’ will be for sale from Friday, 13th December in the pop-up Artisan Christmas Market at 42 Main Street, Carrick-on-Suir, beside the old Post Office – with thanks to Linda Fahy for providing this showcase for craftspeople in the area. Only a limited number of copies of ‘Tidings’ have been printed so get there early.
Read Julian Gough’s splendid new novel ‘Crash! How I lost a Hundred Billion and Found True Love’ if you
- live in Ireland / Europe / rest of the world
- would like to be introduced to a hen called ‘Enda’
- are tired of listening to ‘newspeak’
- know that economics is not that complicated
- have walked in Ballyhea
- want a novel to reduce you first to laughter then tears
- have a ghost estate in your Irish town / village
- are on an ever-lengthening waiting list for a health procedure anywhere
- your adult children are in Canada / Australia / New Zealand / Hoboken
- appreciate darned good writing
- ditto masterful satire
- can afford to spend less than €2 on same
- know that the truth is to be found in fiction
Click on the link above, download the book then go on to spread the word. (Julian Gough is also responsible for ‘The Great Hargeisa Goat Bubble’)
Ted Hughes‘ book ‘Poetry in the Making’, first published in 1967, is a compilation of a series of BBC radio programmes that he wrote and presented for an intended audience of ten to fourteen year olds. It contains the following advice on how to ‘capture’ an animal in poetry which, to my mind, also captures the essence of how to get that first draft written and how to build up writing confidence whatever the writing genre or age of the writer.
Here is what Hughes says: “See it and live it. Do not think it up laboriously, as if you were working out mental arithmetic. Just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourself into it. When you do this, the words look after themselves, like magic. If you do this you do not have to bother about commas or full-stops or that sort of thing. You do not look at the words either. You keep your eyes, your ears, your nose, your taste, your touch, your whole being on the thing you are turning into words. The minute you flinch, and take your mind off this thing, and begin to look at the words and worry about them … then your worry goes into them and they set about killing each other. So you keep going as long as you can, then look back and see what you have written. After a bit of practice, and after telling yourself a few times that you do not care how other people have written about this thing, this is the way you find it; and after telling yourself you are going to use any old word that comes into your head so long as it seems right at the moment of writing it down, you will surprise yourself. You will read back through what you have written and you will get a shock. You will have captured a spirit, a creature.”
Ted Hughes’ poem ‘The Thought Fox’ is the first animal poem he wrote, and it is about a fox but it is also about the act of writing.
I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.
Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:
Cold, delicately as the dark snow
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now
Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come
Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Coming about its own business
Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.
In the coming weeks, starting tomorrow in Brewery Lane Theatre, I will be encouraging writers (and myself) to keep their ‘whole being on the thing’ in my weekly workshops. I can hardly wait to see what we capture. Shocks? Surprises? Pretty much guaranteed.