Take Your First Writing Step

Review stock photoI love festivals, those concentrated bursts of shared energy that set thoughts alight and creative engines humming. If you’re anything like me, events such as the Dublin Writers Festival leave you with twofold desire. Firstly, you’re craving more of the literary drug. Secondly, you’re hankering to cobble together some words of your own.

It’s easy to let that dizzy fervour fizzle out on the workaday Monday following such an event, your seed ideas (so carefully sheltered from the rain on the long commute) falling prey at the office door to that familiar refrain of “Sure, what am I doing? Nobody wants to read what I wrote.” Then, with a sigh and a shaken-out umbrella, it’s gone.

Don’t let that happen this time! Everyone has something unique to say. Today, I’d like to tell you about a few Irish literary journals and writing courses that could give you the impetus to nurture your seed idea into a finished piece that showcases your voice to an eager audience. So, after this year’s festival, you have no excuse not to sharpen up that those gathered words lurking in the back of your mind, waiting to be written. No excuse. NO EXCUSE.

Writing Courses

There are loads of writing courses out there. Check out Writing.ie for a complete list of all courses happening in Ireland over the next while. Here, I’ll just highlight two course providers that worked really well for me personally.

Irish Writers Centre
The Irish Writers Centre offer many courses, from one-off workshops to weekly classes for beginners, there’s truly something here for everyone. I’ve attended Dave Lordan’s course in experimental fiction for the last two seasons and cannot recommend it highly enough. From the quality of the instruction, the calibre of the participants and the intoxicating material, I’ve been inspired and entertained in equal measure.

Big Smoke Writing Factory
I loved the courses I took at Big Smoke Writing Factory. Claire Hennessy’s patient and supportive mentoring style is invaluable for nervous beginners and seasoned writers alike. With courses in screenwriting, playwriting, speculative fiction and more, the tough choice is which one to take.

Irish Literary Journals

In the interest of wordcount, I can only go into some detail on my absolute favourite few of the current journals, but there are so many great ones out there; from Wordlegs to Gorse to Number Eleven to The South Circular and on and on!

The Stinging Fly
A thrice-yearly print publication since 1997, The Stinging Fly seeks out the best new Irish and international writing. The launch for the latest issue was held in the Irish Writer’s Center last week, where attendees got hot under the collar for Dimitra Xidous’ poem “Ovum” before the incredible two-for-one tale from June Caldwell. I recommend everyone purchase it for the joy of the reading, and if you want to submit, they are open to postal submissions.

Colony is a new contender on the block. In just its second month of operation, there is great talent on show. It’s an experimental, online-only journal based in Ireland that incorporates translation, music and spoken word. Submissions are open now for their “Trans” issue. The latest issue features a clever and thought-provoking piece by Roisin O’Donnell called “Twenty-Four Hours In Tahoma”.

The Moth
A quarterly arts and literature magazine, The Moth features poetry, short fiction and art by established and up-and-coming writers from Ireland and abroad. Beautiful copies are available in print for only €5. The piece “Paperchase” by Thomas Maloney from Autumn 2013 still haunts me.

The Bohemyth
Run by Michael Naghten Shanks, The Bohemyth is an online-only literary journal based in Ireland that features short fiction, poetry and essays on a monthly basis. They are open to submissions right now. I was really impressed with their last women-only issue for March, especially the stellar pieces from EM Reapy and Lucy K Shaw.

(Charlene Putney)

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