Why read a book? (Competition)

Fuel for the soul
Fuel for the soul

Several years ago I attended the wedding of a friend. At the table I was chatting to one of the guests and the topic of reading came up. I was flabbergasted when she asked ‘why would you read a book?’ She simply did not see the point. For someone for whom books have been central for most of my life it was like being transported to a foreign planet where I had to try to understand the aliens. Bookshelves, libraries, the comfort of being tucked up with a book, the feeling of never wanting a book to end, stories, lives, places, all these feelings a book engenders. At the time I stumbled over an answer to the woman’s question, I was so taken aback. So I want to ask you. What would YOU answer this woman? To make it interesting I will offer a signed copy of Housewife with a Half-Life and a Ten pound Amazon gift voucher to a winner I choose. Entries in by July 19th. Just add your thoughts to the comments.

Also interesting is this article on how reading helps with anxiety. I certainly find reading great for gathering together my overactive thoughts and it gives me a feeling of relaxation and comfort.

Update: Dear Readers Heather Walker has won the Amazon voucher (more reading!) and complimentary copy of the alternate worlds comedy Housewife with a Half-Life. Thanks for all your comments and congratulations to Heather!


Glug, glug, glug.  Have gone under for a while, under housework, mainly 3 feet of ironing, under homework, teething, the whirlpool chaos that is a very mobile eighteen month old. I have managed to revise and tweek some entries for the Bridport Prize 2009 a very presitigious prize that is several steps up the ladder of my ambition but its good to aim high, even if you have to scrabble round in the dirt picking up the arrows afterwards. It is being judged by Ali Smith, one of my absolute favourite writers.  Please read Hotel World and The Accidental. Wacky but wonderful.

(I am working on another story ‘Angels’ that seems to be writing itself (inspiration from on high ha ha!)  but writing at this stage of family life is excruciatingly slow.  But there are plenty of mother’s out there who are freelancing, creative writing, building their careers. To see how it can be done check out and sign up for Christine Katz’s Writer’s Mama e-zine. She gives you insight into all the tricks and tips you can use for developing a writing career, marketing yourself, getting known etc etc. For now I will tag onto her energy.

While I’m underwater I’d like to also recommend a wonderful collection of short stories ‘How to Breathe Underwater’ by Julie Orringer. There are some beautiful and memorable stories in the collection.

And finally some tips for creativity.

1: Have a notebook beside your bed for the odd times when you are not jerked rudely awake by a crying child or even if you are woken at night and can’t get straight back to sleep (?!). Your consciousness as you wake from dreams is swimming with unusual associations, threads of stories and ideas, it could result in a unique idea for a story or other creative project.

2: Write anything. Describe the (very slow) walk with your child to playschool or the sounds and sights as you stand hanging the washing. The other morning I heard pigeons cooing and by the time I went back in I had composed half a poem resulting from a memory they evoked! Write something and edit it later.

More of that next time.

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.