Maria Rushe writes The S-Mum Blog. She is a columnist with Donegal Woman, an English Teacher and Director of Letterkenny Musical Society. She is currently writing her first novel.
Bless me Bronte for I have sinned. It is 6 weeks since I last opened my manuscript…
For me, writing is something that comes in bursts. Sometimes, (recently) I have struggled to know what to say about anything. Then suddenly, today I am like that porridge pot, overflowing and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get the words down.
When did I start to think of myself as a writer? I’m not sure. I’ve been writing my blog, The S-Mum for over 3 years. I’ve had a few articles published in magazines and newspapers. I write a weekly parenting column for Donegal Woman and I’m in the middle of writing my first novel, which will obviously be snapped up and published and eventually Cameron of the Diaz shall win an oscar for her performance as “Lisa with the legs.” (I practice puke-inducing optimism…)
But I’ve been writing much longer than this. As a child, I used to write another chapter if I was dissatisfied with the ending of a book. When travelling, I have made companions snort and snaughle as I regale them with the story of what is really going on in the lives of the people who pass us on the street or in the pub. I still do this in restaurants if out with Hubby. “See those two over there…” I start.
I’m an English teacher and it now saddens me that I’ve actually spent 17 years encouraging young people to write and to use their imaginations and to draft and redraft, all the while forgetting that I too could write. It wasn’t until about 4 years ago when I was helping my friend Liam to edit his book of poems that the thought of ME writing was planted. “I’ve always wanted to write” I told him. And he threw my own words back at me…”So what’s stopping you then?”
And just like that, I began.
I write best in the mornings, often getting up at 5am to get some words down before my girls get up. (Hubby leaves this early so I’m awake anyway!) I sometimes write in the evenings. My fictional pieces know no limits, especially if I have a glass of grapes inspiring me! But generally, I prefer the quiet of the morning as I’m just too knackered after the kids go to bed.
I like a strong beginning and a strong ending. Even my blog posts will usually have a word or image which tops and tails. I like to feel complete after I read a piece; as if I’ve eaten the whole pastry.
My voice is growing in confidence. At the start, I was very aware of how my readers would react. Now, I write what I want. I’m better like that. Sometimes, I’m funnier when I write what I want to rather than editing to keep the PC brigade happy. As a parenting blogger, brutal honesty and humour are key. Oh, and colourful language is something that I do not shy away from. I swear in real life, so why would I not in my words?
I carry a notebook everywhere. I write things down as I think them, or as I see them. Sometimes, these thoughts remain within the closed pages, never to be seen again. Others become a paragraph in my book, or become a blog post. Others are there, snug and safe until someday when I need inspired.
If I visit a new place, a city, a town, a hotel, a park, I’ll jot down a few sentences describing what I see. Then, if I need a setting for one of my characters, I have a starting point.But people watching is my favourite. I will never tire of watching people, of imagining conversations, of guessing backgrounds. I am a professional eavesdropper. People inspire me.
My characters are many. Currently, I have 8 mulling around in the streets of my imagination. They’re all part of the same story and even though I haven’t written for a few weeks, these characters are always in my head. They are evolving perhaps. I must wait for them to fully form before I can take them any further in my narrative. But they’re there and they’re real to me.
I just need to stop procrastinating and open that manuscript… it’d be a sin not to.