I tend not to post my stories and poetry online now, as uploading your work onto a personal blog still counts as publishing, and most literary journals and competitions won’t accept work already in the public domain. I’ve a fair few stories and poems written, but my collection isn’t endless, so until now, it’s stayed hidden up here on the north coast.
However, this week I received some fantastic news – and all on the same night! On Monday, I discovered that at least one of the three poems I submitted to the Northern Ireland Community Arts Partnership will be included in their 2015 poetry anthology, Making Memories. My work will also therefore be considered for the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing, which is very exciting, although I think it’s a bit ambitious to even entertain the idea of winning that 🙂
I also found out that one of my short stories will be published in the second print edition of the new literary magazine, The Lonely Crowd, so I was doubly over the moon.
You always wonder when you send your work out, if it’s actually any good – no matter how much editing or rewriting you do, so to have someone actually say they like it and want to publish it is validation, for me anyway, that you’re on the right tracks. It helps to boost you onwards in your creative journey – to keep going – and, while I know not everyone needs such validation, I’m afraid I do, as I never quite trust myself when I think I might have written something ‘good.’
But I also had an enlightening chat with crime writer, Eoin McNamee, this week as well. Eoin is this year’s writer in residence for Libraries NI as part of Creativity Month in March, and he was carrying out writing clinics this week, so writers like myself could get feedback from him on our work. I’d sent him in an extract from a piece of faction I’d been trying to write (a short story based on a real-life story), and I wasn’t happy with it, so I was prepared for the worst.
Being the gentleman that he is, Eoin was very kind about the writing, but said that yes, the story lacked something, and I told him I usually wrote magical realism fiction.
In this story, I’d tried something that wasn’t really me, and being so close to journalism (it was based on a news story), it had turned out a little too, well, factual. I was reporting rather than writing.
His advice? Stick to your own voice – when you find it, keep at it, and don’t write something just because you think that’s what you should write. It was a piece of rather timely advice for me, so I thought I’d pass it on 🙂