I spent last week in Listowel, Co. Kerry, at the Listowel Writer’s Week festival. This is why I didn’t post anything on my blog but it is also why I have this post and two short stories ready to put online over the next two weeks.
There are so many things that went on during the past days that I had to read the notes I scribbled on my notebook to write this post! And just consider that, with the exception of the walking tour, I haven’t been to any of the events simply because I’m too ignorant to know all the writers reading their books. But I don’t mind, simply because I found out that there is always time to learn more and there is always a way to improve yourself. I met extraordinary people who go here and there, without stopping doing things, learning or living even if they’re not so young anymore. Take Mary for example she’s a wonderful X (no good saying a lady’s age, but let’s say greatly more than 50) years old who was at the workshop wanting to try to do something different, living her second youth with her new partner, running an activity in a foreign country. Believe me, I’ve always thought that at that age the only adventurous thing you were able to do was travel around the world and that’s it for my personal experience. And she isn’t the only one I met there who lives this wonderful life. I hope I’ll be like that at her age!
Anyway what I want to concentrate on in this piece are the wonderful, mixed and confused feelings I experienced in the past seven days! Marvellous thing!
The first class is always something new, you meet your teacher and the people who we’ll stay with you for the days/weeks the course lasts. The one I attended was a 3 days short fiction workshop run by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne who, through the analysis of short stories, taught us how to write them correctly. Or at least my don’ts list is a bit longer now!!! At the very beginning I felt overwhelmed by the atmosphere, fifteen new people to know, some of them already published authors (I would like to underline that this teaches everybody that you never finish to learn. Which is amazing!). Of course all of them were English native speakers (something I was the only one to be worried about, really!) and some of them veterans of the Writers Week. I remember that I looked around me and I thought “What the hell are you doing here, Fran!?”. But I have to admit this uncomfortable sensation didn’t last long! They were one nicer than the other and I spent a wonderful time with them. I met some of them outside the course as well and got some new contacts. I’m really happy for this. I have also to admit that I had the courage to talk and ask the contact information of people that I admire and I thought immediately were nice instead of staying in a corner and think how it would be nice making their acquaintance! It is also true that here in Ireland it’s really easier to make new friends or at least knowing new people. Maybe what I’m learning is to be braver in social relationships and that when I want something, I should go and do it instead of staying in one corner wishing!
I found the method of “learning through the reading” really interesting. That is probably something we all should do when we read. Well, I wouldn’t want to sound obvious but maybe that’s why we’re told to read more than write! I think I have to improve this skill anyway. I’m usually so absorbed by what I’m reading that after a while it’s pretty hard to keep the concentration on the technical point of view.
The first day we were given homework as well and I wrote a short story staying up till 1 that night. But it was worth it, because it received a nice feedback. You’ll see it on this blog in a couple of weeks. I’m so glad of this and most of all it could mean that I should start thinking that I’m not that bad. What it needs for sure is some correction. Actually I think I said this before, and this experience didn’t change the matter, the toughest part of the workshop is reading every time after you produced something without the time to revise and correct it properly. I feel just a bit better knowing that I’m not the only one to feel like this, so maybe it’s not really connected with the fact that I’m an Italian native speaker, or at least not only, but also with the character itself. If only I felt more self-confident after all these workshops it would be great.
I was sad when the workshop was finished. It was a good experience and it was so funny and enjoyable that I wanted it to last longer. It taught me a lot but also that I have to learn even more.
On Friday my partner came over and we spent the weekend together but what I think with nostalgia about are the two days I spent by myself, simply because I passed all day long doing what I love the most, writing and reading. It was an incredibly fulfilling and satisfying sensation I was doing something for me and something I’m proud of. I hope that sooner or later I’ll be able to be a full time writer and spend my days like the old writers did. I’m a bit romantic, I know, but I feel like whishing this to myself.
Talk to you later!