Seperating the wheat from the chaff

Posted on: 4th June, 2014

Category: Arts & Entertainment

Contributor: West Cork People

Louise O' Neill is from Clonakilty. Her debut novel, ‘Only Ever Your’s, will be published by Quercus in July and has been described by Marian Keyes as “Utterly Magnificent”. She will be reading at the West Cork Literary Festival on July 10, and will be launching ‘Only Ever Your’s in Tadgh an Astna square, Clonakilty on July 12 at 6.30pm.


So, you’ve managed to finish your novel. Kudos. Now it’s time for the fun part. Editing! And when I say ‘fun’, I mean soul-destroying. If you’re anything like me this is the part of the writing process where you’ve now decided that it’s terrible, it should never see the light of day, and that you’re basically a worthless human being. (I have issues.)


Hemingway may have been a misogynistic alcoholic but he was spot on when he said, ‘the first draft of anything is s**t.’ Of course there are some writers who edit as they go along, and don’t have to face the shame of seeing that they’ve used the word ‘slowly’ four times in one sentence. I hate those writers. For the rest of us, editing takes at least two to three months, so much caffeine that your eyeballs start twitching, and an unlimited supply of red pen with which to scrawl helpful notes to yourself like, THIS IS CRAP. ??? WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

I jest, but really, it’s only safe to self-flagellate like this when you actually have a finished draft to work with. One of the main reasons why frustrated writers never manage to finish a novel is because they are perfectionists – and perfectionism is, as Julia Cameron says, the very enemy of creativity. When I was in the middle of that first draft, I never re-read what I had written the day before, I never even stopped to re-read sentence I had just written. I had to keep the momentum going forward, out of blind terror that if I stopped to think about what I was doing, that little voice in my head would start, it’s not perfect, it’s not good enough, no one will ever read it, and I would never finish the story. Thus, when it came to editing, a lot of the material needed to be re-written, and – this was painful – cut out completely.

I did the first edit. And then the second, and the third, and one more time for good luck. Most authors would recommend that you show the manuscript to someone you trust at this stage, preferably someone who is an avid reader, is honest but tactful, and who can make suggestions for changes that will transform your novel into the next Booker prize winner. If you know such a paragon, please send them my way once you’re finished. Immediately.

Once you’re happy with your edited manuscript – or you’d rather stab yourself in the eyes than read it again, whichever comes first – it’s time to send your baby out to the literary agencies. I think a few of the publishing houses in Ireland still accept unsolicited manuscripts, but in the UK and the US, the big publishers refuse to read anything that hasn’t been submitted to them by an agent. An agent will take a proportion of your earnings (generally around 15 per cent) but are invaluable. My agent is like a mix between a nanny, a therapist and Sheryl Sandberg, and does all the arguing and dirty work on behalf so that I can maintain my reputation as a semi-pleasant human being.

While The Writers’ and Artists’ Handbook was traditionally the place to find names and addresses of agencies, in today’s world, Google is your best new friend. Choose an agent who has authors you admire on their roster or who represents authors writing in a similar genre to you. Look at the acknowledgments at the back of your favourite book, authors tend to have thanked their agent. When submitting to an agency, they usually want to see the first three chapters of your novel, a covering letter and your CV but check their websites for individual guidelines. Make sure your covering letter is engaging – unfortunately, while I’d love to tell you that all that matters is the quality of the book, the truth is that the increasingly challenging literary marketplace means that an author is going to have to be able to sell themselves in order to be an appealing prospect to both the agent, and the future publisher.

Lastly, expect to receive rejection letters.  While I was lucky, and had offers from five agents who represented authors such as JK Rowling and John Banville, I also had my fair share of agents tell me that they thought the market was too saturated for ‘yet another dystopian novel’. I tried not to take it personally, and when I was choosing which agent to sign with, I ultimately decided to pick the person who was the most passionate about my book. You want your agent to fight for your book when they’re trying to sell it to a publisher. If they don’t ‘get’ it, then they’re not the right agent for you anyway.

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This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

Check out this new upbeat indie-folk track Edges, released today from Inni-K with a video by Myles O'Reilly. Inni-K will be performing at Levis’, Ballydehob on Saturday 24th February, with support from Sam Clague.
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16th February, 2018  ·  

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