Friday 4 May 2012

Writers Unblock

Today I have a new title.  I am now a Shrieker Creature.  A Shrieker Creature mother to the Screecher Creatures.  But for once I am not shrieking at them, instead I am shrieking in delight.  For this afternoon I was contacted by an Irish parenting magazine with the news that they want to use Screecher Creature No. 4’s birth story.  My VBAC story.   (Vaginal Birth after Caesarean Section) Money will not exchange hands but this I do not mind; for me it’s all about seeing my name in print, up there in black and white lights as it were.  Okay, okay, I am not completely against the idea of having a sum of money lodged into my bank account but this is good enough for me at the moment.  When No Doubt first made it big with Don’t Speak they had been a band for ten years so it was an overnight 10 year success for them.  I have been noodling or writing since I was 16.  Anyone remember Sweet Valley High and the Sweet Dreams teenage romance novels?  I wanted to write those.  Hell, I wanted to be the Wakefield twins for gawd sake!  I spent the best part of my teenage years in my tiny bedroom clattering away into the wee small hours on an old typewriter, similar to the one in Stephen King's Misery. My aunt took it as a souvenir from her old work place and it made its way into my bedroom to be placed on a makeshift table which was essentially two milk crates, a shelf taken out of my wardrobe and placed on the top to make a table.   Everything I wrote was carefully collated and tidied away in folders and boxes and stored in the bottom of my wardrobe.  Soon I had more noodling’s than clothes.  A confession here.  I used to do my sisters’ English essays for them.  I loved it.  When I was 16 and doing the Inter Cert, now called the Junior Cert, I sent off a badly typed, single spaced, yellow paged document to a publishing company in America.  Never let it be said I didn’t aim high!  A couple of weeks later I received a compliment slip telling me my “work would receive their careful consideration.”  I can still see those words and feel the elation.  This was going to save me from my Inter Cert.  I was going to become an overnight teenage publishing sensation (Tiffany and Debbie Gibson eat yizzer hearts out!) and have to go under cover due to the immediate fame that would naturally enough, come my way.  I sat on the garden wall at the same time every day for the next month waiting for the post man and my two book deal contract from America to show up.  I’m still waiting.    Over the next couple of years I wrote for everything and anything, never getting anywhere and becoming slowly disillusioned with the whole thing.  I took a big, long break from it for a couple of years when I moved to Dublin as I had drinking and partying to do.  But as these things have a habit of doing, the words started to clamour for space in my head once again and I felt the strong compulsion to commit them to paper.  I got my first short story published and I was back on track.  Over the years I have had many letters printed in various magazines and the like, some for monetary gain and others for prizes such as clothes for my kids.  Still though, the rejection letters towered over the bits and pieces I managed to see making it to print.  Then I discovered I was pregnant and began to record the trials and tribulations of ante-natal visits and the well intentioned advice from others. The boys grew older and I had a nice little stock pile of cute stories and anecdotes to read over.  But much in the same way that looking at other peoples’ holiday snaps is like watching paint dry, these stories were cute to me and me only.  Then came the day I answered a post on a parenting website from a Canadian born Cork based writer who was looking for the pregnancy, birth and labour experiences of Irish mothers.  “Write as much or as little as you like,” Maria told me.  Sure that was akin to opening lock gates and I e-mailed her back tomes of stuff.  I was lucky enough to see a lot of it included in her book The Mammy Diaries.  If I wasn’t bitten by the writing bug before, I definitely was then.  Shortly after that I was delighted to find that my VBAC story made it into Tracy Donegan’s The Irish Caesarean and VBAC Guide.  An edited version of which will now appear in this parenting magazine.  A few people congratulated me on my “overnight” success and even suggested that I try and get something published independently.  I approached the parenting magazines I read every couple of months and even a local regional newspaper.  I got promising responses from the magazines but nothing came to fruition.  The newspaper kindly informed me their budget didn’t stretch that far at the present time.  Fair enough. Then Mister Husband suggested a blog.  Eeekkkk!  But people would, you know, read my stuff.  Have an opinion on it, maybe not even like it.  No, it was much too risky.  I’d have to put my name on it and everything and everyone would know.  But I found myself mulling it over and at the sound advice of Mister Husband, that if it didn’t work out, or I didn’t like it, I could always stop.  No one would be any the wiser.  Try it for 6 months and see, he said.  So last November I started blogging about my gorgeous boys.  I gave myself the task of posting three times a week and always before 9pm.  It’s good to have a deadline, a little bit of discipline.  And I’m still at it.  I’m loving it more and more.  I’m having people tell me that they love it too and thank god someone is honest enough to tell it like it is sometimes.  Maybe this is the start of something for me, maybe not.  Maybe I’m destined to write for me, myself and I for the foreseeable future.  But this is what I do.  I can’t help it, I can’t stop it.  It would be more than nice if my hobby morphed into a little career for myself but there is only one way to find out.  So I shall keep writing and hope that people keep reading.  If you still are, thanks.  Thanks a million.  Be sure to keep an eye out for Easy Parenting over the coming months containing my first shiny, published article.  Marian Keyes, you can stop looking over your shoulder.  But just for a little while.  Wink.  Wink.         

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