Hand sewing a hem with invisible thread

It’s one of those mindful things, isn’t it, sewing? One of those repetitive actions, that, if you are comfortable with the process and more or less left to it, you can sink right into and your thoughts gently flow through the sense of what you’re doing, the rhythm, the steady harmony.

I suppose that’s what, as a writer, you might call ‘getting into the zone’, that beautiful time when the words write themselves or seem to come from your unconscious, fully formed and gorgeous.

The moment, it’s exquisite. But it doesn’t often last. Being human and not a Zen master, deep moments are had but not held. I have, in reality been hand sewing the hem of a curtain with invisible thread for the past half hour.  I was, for a while, at one with the thread and the movement, as I may, when I go to write a novel or story, be at one with its thread and momentum also.

The invisible thread also provides me with another analogy (if laboured). It was a very long hem,  like a novel or a story where you cannot see the beginning and the end at the same time.  I moved forward with the invisible thread but at times I couldn’t clearly see how far I’d come and whether or not the stitches were well-crafted or pleasing. As it turned out, I couldn’t complete it in one go, it needs a lot more work, and as its the curtain for my children’s bedroom window I need to keep at it and get it done as soon as I can.  It would be great if someone could do it for me, but like writing, it’s down to me.

This morning I was working on new story (working title Integrity). It was one that I laboured with for quite a while, finding the ‘flow’ hard to get into. There was plenty of stopping and starting on my part, plenty staring into space, procrastination.  I was going to swap over to something else but I gave it another read through and finally, things started to click, connections were made, the thread came through the story intact  all the way to it’s satisfying conclusion.

So as in writing this (hypothetical, No!) novel or story, when that beautiful easy moment is gone, I need to pick up the needle, commit to sitting back down, hope that I can retrieve the feeling and whether I do or not just keep going with the thread as best I can, until its all done.

Writing Endeavours

Since the children were born, I have been picking away at creative writing, finishing one (quite woeful) novel and still progressing another, with a third whirring away in my head (busy writing itself I hope!). In the last couple of years I have revved up a little and wisely turned my attention to short stories. I have been previously published in the Ireland’s Own but my current claim to fame is having one of my short essays The Flask published in the anthology Sunday Miscellany – A Selection from 2006-2008 – out now in all good bookstores!


Sunday Miscellany goes out on RTE Radio 1 on Sunday mornings. My essay the Flask and another one entitled Buntyland were broadcast in my own voice in May of 2007 when I was expecting baby number four. (Click Podcasts on Sunday Miscellany: April 2007, May 2007.) (Check back to this post will update exact dates shortly.)


This year I tried my hand at the RTE Radio 1 Frances Mac Manus short story competition with an amusing story The Plumber’s Uncle. The shortlist has just been announced and sadly I’m not lucky/literary enough to be included (however I console myself that there were over 700 entries.) Some excellent advice (I can’t remember who said it though!) I read over the last while was that a writer should have their work circulating continuously, so I keep trying, entering competitions and submitting to magazines. I’ll let you know from time to time how it’s going.


For details of the shortlist see: Frances Mac Manus Award

These stories will be broadcast throughout the year on RTE.