Over the past two months I have felt privileged to have access to the Irish Writers'Centre, and not just because of the strength of their coffee. For the last seven Tuesday evenings I have been part of Connor Kostick's group of people who are finishing their novels. Conor has been patient but demanding; who is our intended reading audience, where is the story going, how about this character, why is he in the story. Each week the first hour was studying some aspect of novel writing as dealt with in great literature; Pride and Prejudice, War and Peace, Heart of Darkness, and others.In the second hour half the group reads from work in progress and we discuss points raised. Once I got used to the Irish voices, (soft spoken and rapid) I was fascinated by the very high level of work presented. I am sorry I will not be in Dublin for the final three sessions because the stories are developing; last night I heard about a servant girl summoned home not knowing her young sister was to be married. That probably happened often in the days before universal literacy and postage. I heard the final chapter of a detective story, a clinical psychologist's report, and others read by people with madonna like faces and names like Clodagh and Nu sala and Maighred. I don't know if all this effort is because of the coming 'Novel Fair'planned for the centre on March 10th 2012, but they would all gain a high placing in any Novel Competition.
The concept of the novel fair is brilliant. A Novel Competition will close on November 11th and is designed to give 'novelists q chance to by pass the The terms and conditions of this opportunity are on the centre's website www.writerscentre.ie/novelfair.html. Oh how I wish I was sixty years younger and Irish by birth rather than ancestry.
As well as learning the structure of novels, I learned a great deal at Charlie Connelly's Travel Writing course, and met his wife, swapping reminiscences of the Blue Hotel in Methven.
Fridy afternoons is Ink Slingers, a group of writers who meet at the Centre under the inspiration of another angelic colleen who poses suggestions for us to write about. I am going to miss them all when I leave next week, even though I shall be with my old friends from the Poetry Kit list and of course I am looking forward to seeing them.