Ah sweetheart, me auld blog. How I’ve missed ya. I started blogging after finishing my post grad in primary school teaching. So, about mid to late 2011. And that all started ’cause I found twitter. Normal people were calling themselves writers and showing themselves getting published in local newspapers, online journals (not many around back then as now) and by publishers that were not the top 6.
I had no idea that you could write and call yourself a writer unless you were a white male, with a masters from Trinity, lived in London, and were published by one of the top 6 (or is it 5, who cares anymore) publishers.
I love Twitter because of the people on their way somewhere – they are all verbs. Sharing their news, celebrating their small publishers…wow it changed me.
I set up my profile and in my haste called myself a – “wrighter.” Never noticed until an American made fun of it but didn’t @ me. The messer. Sure what did I care, I was on my way somewhere. I’d rather be ignorance on fire than knowledge on ice. Someone else said that one now.
But yea, gas. I’d so much to learn. But my mantra became – if they can do it, then why not me.? So I set up a blog. Now, I do have an honours bachelors of science in Information Technology and Telecommunications from University of Limerick. And my thesis was The Authoring Methodologies of Web design. So it normalised tech for me, but as one of the few females in the courses, it showed me how to be like the boys and pretend to know it all, get your mates to help, and buy them a pint after. Most of what I know about web design I learned from YouTube, trial and error, and seeing what the writers I admired were doing.
I remember thing, back in 2011, I’m a teacher and work with little kids so I should write a kids book. I tried. Lord knows I tried. But I didn’t like the false narrative the usual novel wanted to impose on itself – think the hero’s journey. And any of the cool books (like Meg Rosoff, David Almond, Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd) seemed different and I didn’t know how to even approach them.
I kept at it, wrote kids books, YA books, all would eventually loop in circles, the villain would turn out to be a figment of imagination, the hero a coward, the second character would end up the hero…loops. I got lost and the writing wasn’t very good.
It wasn’t until I was at a workshop in Listowel that something very weird happened. A lady was bugging me asking me about Irish mythology, I (like a fool) said I was a teacher, so she assumed I was Google (hello like, I’m one page ahead of the kids) So, to avoid her glaring and whispering me questions in front of the whole class while we were supposed to be doing a writing exercise – I turned on a switch in my brain and really concentrated and well….
Wow. When I read it out the very fancy lady leading the workshops (a publisher, writer and so cool) was screaming (yeah, quite literary,) whooping, shouting, gasping at my work. But what I wrote really scared me. It was dark, grim, like an old voice with a prophecy. It felt like I was in a room I should not be in and to run.
I haven’t written prose or tapped into that meditative like energy again. (I practice Transcendental meditation, think I have a blog about how I started somewhere here.) Infact, I stopped writing for a long time.
Now, I’m not going to go into detail but everything I wrote came true within 5 years. 3 major life (and very dark) events and they all came true.
I turned to poetry during Ireland’s first lockdown as there was no more playdates, toddler group, coffee mornings, lunch dates, house visits. And my imagination spiralled. I drew up a Wellness Wheel (I’ve studied Wellness Coaching, Hypnotherapy, NLP, and more…) and I realised that my hobbie sector was blank.
Where did I go – yup, back to Twitter. I saw a cool lady I used to follow back in the day and she had switched to poetry and seemed happy, was published by indie presses, pamphlets out, and published in online journals and some print. I thought – I can do that. So I did.
That night, I listened to a youtube of her reciting a poem, that poetic beat helped me tap out a poem and I started subbing that very night.
Loads of rejection, buying subscriptions to mainstream journals (now I prefer to buy from indie presses, cool online journals, small cool journals with print issues and maybe one or two big journals,) invested in an advanced course, listened to podcasts, invested in mentoring. And read. And googled. And wrote. All on my phone, mind you. Lockdown meant no childcare, no teaching job for me, no income, but hubby and baba at home full time. Twas busy, but Thank god for smartphones and sore wrists.
I found John Ashbery via The New Yorker Poetry Podcast and finally, FINALLY, fecking FINIALLY – it all clicked. 10 years of writing and desperation for an authentic voice, and a lifetime of literary yearning. I loved Ashbery, he wrote with distance, used language sets, played with signifier and signified, and almost had a hypnotic (did I mention I’m a trained Master Hypnotherapist, how they use the spoken word….scared me, too much power, I do not practice it but I see others using it…sales people, persuasive people…question everything) feel but allowed total ownerships of his work, and my mind felt expanded after reading. He is a language poet (postmodern) and the whole vibe is about expanding the mind to question linear thinking. So, it’s like wellness coaching but literary. Honey, I’m home!
And don’t even get me started on visual poetry, love it. That glorious mark making, destroying “language” to create a new meaning, maybe hiding your truth in marks or letting go and letting something else out…the cover image is a vispo I made in June 2014, six years before I was given that term. Make sure you check out SJ Fowler for info on vispo.
Experimental poetry, my baby! Hello Beir Bua Journal, Hi ya Beir Bua Press, and now I publish ( and write – poet first!) Someone said to me last week, I admire your energy. Ha! HAHAHA! I was born to do this. My IT degree, my teaching postgrad, all my wellness learning, all my reading, my work life from stock market banking, my dreams all pointed to being a poet and publisher, I just had to dig into the dirt, wash the clay pieces, glue it together, wait for morning, and see it in the light. I needed a word, title for it. And twitter gave me that be showing me normal people doing amazing thing.
What’s next – porse, maybe.
And maybe someday, I’ll tap into that energy of prophesy again….but till them – my work is here and I love you for your support.