Thinking back and moving forward

Posted on: 6th May, 2014

Category: Arts & Entertainment

Contributor: West Cork People

Louise O' Neill is from Clonakilty. Her debut novel, Only Ever Yours, has been described as 'The Handmaid's Tale meets Heat Magazine', and has received a glowing endorsement from Jeanette Winterson who said, 'O' Neill writes with a scalpel.' It will be published by Quercus in July 2014. You find her on twitter at @oneilllo or through her website louiseoneillauthor.com

One of the first things people ask you when you’ve written a novel is, ‘and where do you get your ideas from?’. It’s a fair question, although it was only when re-reading ‘Only Ever Yours’, that I could begin to see how my personal experiences had influenced me. It’s a dystopian novel (I read Post-Apocalyptic and Catastrophe fiction at college) set in a sealed female environment (I went to an all-girls primary school from the age of four to 18) in a world where women are no longer able to bear daughters. (When travelling in India, I became interested in how sex-selective abortions and the high rate of female infanticide were skewing the gender ratio there.) I hadn’t initially intended to write a novel for young adults, but after moving back into my parent’s house at the age of 27 and beginning to conveniently forget how washing machines/ovens/dishwashers worked, slam doors, and scream things like ‘WELL I NEVER ASKED TO BE BORN, DID I?’, I found that the main character, Freida, had the voice of that of a 16 year-old girl. And while ‘Only Ever Yours’ is fiction, and Freida is not anyway based on me, at times it did feel like a love letter to my sixteen year-old self, to all those feelings of self doubt and insecurity I had, which I hid behind a well-polished veneer of an easy laugh and a constant refrain of ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.’

Whatever your idea is, and however you came up with it, the most important thing is that you feel passionate about it. This might sound obvious but when you’re hoping to write between 80,000 to 140,000 words, it’s crucial that you feel there’s enough material to allow you to do so. You’re going to spend months, or maybe even years, telling this story — if you don’t love it at the very beginning, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever make it to the end. After that, there are a few tips to help you to start writing and to stay motivated:

•Set yourself a deadline. I arrived home from New York on September 1, 2011, and I said I would give myself a year to try and write a novel. I finished my first draft on August 31, 2012.

•Allotting regular periods of time to write is crucial. Forget any nonsense about waiting for The Muse to arrive, and just ‘start writing’. I made myself sit at my desk from 7am to lunch every day, whether I felt like it or not, and refused to leave my desk until I had written at least 1,000 words.

•I have never taken any classes or joined a creative writing group, so I can’t speak for their efficacy. What did work for me was ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron, a 12-week program to unblock creativity, and found the ‘morning pages’ to be unbelievably helpful.

•Read, read, and read some more. Stephen King has said ‘If you don’t have time to read, then you don’t have time to write’. If you want to write in a particular genre then read as many books of that kind as you can, taking note of what works and what doesn’t.

•Be prepared to make personal sacrifices. In my case, the first casualty was an active social life. Jodi Picoult describes writing as ‘successful schizophrenia’ and I found it very difficult at times to interact normally with other people when all I could think about was this world I had created in my head.

The thing about writing is, while yes, it’s incredibly fulfilling and rewarding, it can also be lonely and frustrating. Some days are easy, it’s as if the words are streaming through me from a Divine source. Other days, it’s more difficult, and one sentence seems to take an hour to construct.

And there, at the end of it all, is the unfortunate truth. Sometimes it never seems as beautiful, or as perfect on the page as it did in my head. And I have to be okay with that. For all those years when I wasn’t writing, when I wanted to write but didn’t have the nerve, I kept myself happy with the knowledge if and when I did write my first novel, it would be a Pulitzer prize winning masterpiece. When other people got book deals, I told myself it was okay because my idea for a book was so much better than anything they could come with anyway. Writing means confronting the fact that it might be not be a masterpiece, that it might not be ‘perfect’, but that I just have to keep on trying. Because I would rather be the person who tries and fails than never risk anything, than be the person who never dares to challenge themselves creatively.

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17th October, 2018  ·  

SuperValu and AsIAm host unique exhibition in Clonakilty

SuperValu and AsIAm.ie will host a unique exhibition which will enable the entire town of Clonakilty to experience what it is like for people with autism to deal with the world around them. The exhibition, which is free to visit, will be hosted in the Clonakilty Parish Hall from 10am to 4pm on Thursday 27th September. The exhibition represents the final part of the four month journey the town has been on to becoming Ireland’s first ever fully accredited Autism Friendly Town and guests are invited to join on a ‘pop-in’ basis.

The exhibition uses an engaging “questions and answers” format as well as a series of activities to answer people’s questions and enable visitors to step into the shoes of those with the condition. This includes using sound, smells, touch and sight experiments to bring neurotypical (those without Autism) people into the world of those with the condition.

“People with autism often experience a sense of being overwhelmed and confused by what others see as normal life, and this exhibition will allow those attending to understand this more than they have done before,” according to the CEO of AsIAm Adam Harris. “Through visiting this exhibition we believe people will be much better equipped to engage with people with autism who they meet regularly in their day-to-day lives.”

Visitors are given an MP3 player which gives them an audio guide through 15 stages which allow them experience different aspects of life with autism.

Under SuperValu and AsIAm’s guidance, the town of Clonakilty has undertaken a commitment to become fully Autism Friendly – a first for anywhere in Ireland. Over the last four months Adam Harris, founder of AsIAm, and his team have been working with the entire community to receive official Autism Friendly Accreditation.

To do this the town as a whole must deliver:

Engagement and training 25% of businesses and voluntary organisations
Engagement and training of 50% of public services
Engagement and training of 50% of school communities
Engagement and training of 50% of healthcare professionals
Engagement of 3 employers
Reaching 25% of the town’s population
The town has almost reached these targets with this exhibition representing the last piece of the journey reaching and educating as many of the community as possible.

The exhibition was developed by the AsIAm Youth Leadership Team, a group of young people with Autism who act as advocates for the organisation. It is part of a larger campaign to engage young people in Autism issues which includes a social media campaign and a website, youthhub.asiam.ie

Around 1 in 65 people in Ireland live with Autism and are to be found in every community and school in the country. They apply for every type of job but are often misunderstood, excluded or left behind due to a lack of understanding in society.
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25th September, 2018  ·  

Schull Regatta have made some changes to the schedule due to adverse weather. Still lots of fun to be had... ... See MoreSee Less

10th August, 2018  ·  

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