Louise O’Sullivan – ‘What do you write?’

So … What do you write?
If I had a euro for every time I was asked that question I wouldn’t need to play the lotto any more…well, within reason! Let’s just say I get asked that question by pretty much any new person I meet and I get it, if I was meeting someone new for the first time I’d be asking similar questions. Someone who was into sports, what do you play or similarly a musician or an artist but in all honesty I find it one of the most difficult questions to answer. For me it’s like asking what the weather will be like in Ireland at any given time of the year…it changes. So my writing style or genre is like the Irish weather.. unpredictable. Which isn’t always a bad thing.. right?

The first major writing milestone I remember in my life was when I was about 8 years old. I entered a writing competition in school and having no expectations whatsoever I ended up coming third nationally in my category. I was chuffed with myself. I rang my father at work just to tell him the news. After that there was a gap until maybe around fifth or sixth class in school. This time it was for a handwriting competition because not only do I love getting thoughts out on to a page through typing I also have a passion for just sitting down with pen and paper. I could be writing the most mundane thoughts but as long as the pen is gliding across the page, I’m happy. It’s incredibly therapeutic.
In secondary school, English became one of my favourite subjects and as I got further into my teens I started to wonder more about journalism. This came about in Transition year when we had to select a profession to do a project on. Arguably, this became one of the reasons I went on to study New Media & English in the University of Limerick. I had UCC down as  my first choice but a last minute gut decision told me go to Limerick and get the media side of things. This was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I ever made for many reasons. During my third year in 2009 I got published in a local paper in Cork and wrote 5 – 6 pieces for them. It was my first taste of it and I wanted seconds.
With great intentions to embark on a journalism career after college my youth and lack of discipline took precedent and I decided to do a bit of travelling instead. I ended up teaching English in Thailand and subsequently in Prague before finally settling back in Cork at age 25. At that point I started to look for other routes that would allow me to write. I took on a HDip in Public Relations while interning at a PR company and I began to learn the more disciplined form of writing. The press release. Not a natural form of writing for me as I see myself as more of a free spirit with writing but it was beneficial nonetheless.
By this time I had written for about 2-3 years on my own blog and had also been writing for an Irish website – intrigue.ie. I wrote mainly lifestyle pieces on observations that would cross my path. They were everything from thoughts on friendships, work, fashion, relationships, travel, self confidence and everything in between. Much like now, no area was off limits but admittedly my writing had been put on the back burner with working and college pressure taking centre stage. It wasn’t until the following year, and a stint of not writing, that I realised it had to be a constant presence in my life. I had to make the time to write. I had that moment where I realised this is what makes me happy, this is what I always come back to, this is what my makes me feel like me and having lost that along the way one too many times I vowed it wouldn’t happen again. From then on, age 27, I started to take this whole thing a bit more seriously and give it the respect it deserved.
I needed to build up my confidence with writing again and so I started looking for various places I could write and it’s grown from there. I love to write about experiences, I live to be able to capture something in words and communicate it so that others can relate and when I manage to do that successfully I don’t think there is any better feeling. These days I am gravitating towards memoir and poetry mainly because they allow me to write freely. I’ve never been one to focus on grammar and punctuation, that’s what editors are for! However, there is a dark shadow of insecurity that hangs over me from time to time when I say this is what I write. I somehow feel like some kind of fraud because they are more subjective ponderings than the hard hitting facts of a news correspondent. Am I lesser of a writer because of this? Ultimately, I don’t think so but there’s just a bit of the imposter syndrome lurking about.
My main focus now is my book. A collection of poems which I am very excited about and although there is plenty work to be done I can start to see the light!
by Louise O’Sullivan.

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