I had never been a fan of creative writing workshops. There I said it! I write what I like, when I like and that’s always been my modus operandi. If you don’t like the words I dribble… then don’t read them. Simple. I have always deemed creativity to be subjective, organic and a safe haven where nobody can be judged… because how can one person critique the expression of an individual… right?! What would I gain from someone’s opinion when they have no understanding of me or my motives. You don’t know me… you don’t know my struggle!! Let my people go… and so on and so forth until my argument becomes null and void.
I was an idiot. In fact no… think of the dumbest person you know. Double it… now write down the name of your first pet and your mother’s maiden name. Times that by the amount of calories you had for lunch on Wednesday, and subtract the number of letters in your crushes first name… and THAT my friend is how ridiculous I was. I can raise my hands in the air and admit that my short sighted opinion is probably why I had yet to even try to take my writing seriously. I’ve wasted years of procrastinating and excuses, and if I could go back in time… I definitely would have punched myself in the face.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited along by Vanessa O’Loughlin from writing.ie to be part of the panel for a workshop on writing for children and young adults. It was filmed live online for WritersWebTV at The National Concert Hall in Dublin. So lights, camera… sweating from areas I didn’t know existed and forgetting all the reasons why I thought this was a good idea. Super.
It was an all day event where Vanessa chatted to the likes of fab children authors and picture book maestros Marie Louise Fitzpatrick and Michael Emberley and Norton Viergien of Brown Bag Films… who had my full attention when he told us he worked on Rugrats! #90sKid
It was however the writer Meg Rosoff who wrote “How I Live Now” (in cinemas right now with Saoirse Ronan!) who I fell ever so slightly in love with.
I hung on her every word like some mentally unstable One Direction fan thinking of ways we could be best friends without me getting arrested. I just loved the fact that she didn’t seemed fazed by the fact that her book which she said she banged out in 3 months and threw in world war 3 because it was boring… had just been made into a massive movie!
The exercise Meg (obviously on first name basis at this point) set myself and the other 4 writers on the panel, was to focus on and pay attention to your writing voice. We then had 10 minutes to write a letter to someone who had made a lasting impression on us or who simply wrecked our heads! Naturally I went for the latter because I’m constantly pissed off. It was a letter to an old school teacher who didn’t think too much of me as a youth. Yep, I apparently can hold onto anger for years. Who knew!
Reading aloud the letter trying not to melt under the studio lights, I successfully stuttered over all my words and felt like a giant tit. BFF Meg however seemed to like it and that’s all I cared about! She pulled me aside at the end after signing a few autographs and offered me kind words of encouragement. BUT instead of saying thank you like any normal person… I went completely mute. I mumbled something about how I can be very loud and stared for far too long at her glasses that I thought looked cool. This brief engagement had epic fail written all over it.
Of course if I had my time again I would tell her how she’s massively inspired this fuzzy headed girl into getting her shit together. But alas I won’t… so will forever endure the memory of being a most excellent muppet. Virtual high fives for the guys at WWTV who put such a superb day together. Oh and apologies again to the sound techy men when I dismantled your very expensive mics because I needed the toilet. Soz and kisses!