More on Writer’s Stamina In yesterday's Irish Times, Frank McNally wrote about Michael Collins, the Limerick writer who now lives in America. I met Michael two years ago at the West Cork Literary Festival and he’s a most interesting man to talk to.
Anyway, according to Frank, Michael writes between 3am – AM! – and 6 am, then he teaches all day, writes again between 4pm and 6pm, and sometimes between 9pm and 11pm. Holy moly! Superman writing stamina that. Oh and he also runs ultra-marathons. And yes, the man really does exist.
But this got me thinking about writing mothers and their stamina. When Amy was a small baby I used to write while feeding her, scribbling in my notebook over her little prone body. And I’m by no means the only mum who has written a book while their child was tiny.
Most writing mums don’t really get much in the way of maternity leave. With Jago, my third, I gave myself a much longer break from writing, but it was still only a few months before I was itching to (and needed to financially) get back to my desk. I know, I know, it’s a disease!
Ireland has produced an explosion of strong, intelligent, creative, witty, highly professional writers over the last fifteen years, women who are respected and loved all over the world. We have authors like Anne Enright and Claire Kilroy flying the flag for literary fiction; in the popular fiction corner, the great Maeve Binchy, and the other popular fiction giants, Marian Keyes, Sheila O’Flanagan, Cathy Kelly, Patricia Scanlan, and more recently Cecelia Ahern; Alex Barclay and Arlene Hunt heading up the crime team. And Galway based Kate Thompson has won more children’s literature awards than I can remember. And now, and now, our first Children’s Laureate is a woman – the wonderful Siobhan Parkinson.
Let’s hear it for the girls!
Last time I counted there are around twenty-five Irish women writers making a living from writing fiction. If you include children’s writers, illustrators and non fiction writers, I’m sure there are at least a dozen more. So there close to forty Irish women writers chipping away, day after day, creating, creating, creating.
Isn’t that something to celebrate? I’m proud to be part of the tribe.
McNally said in hsi piece ‘Any writer who starts work at 3am every day deserves some respect.’ Hear, hear. But please also raise a glass to the writing mums: the writing and minding toddlers at the same time women; the mothering by day, writing by night women; the juggling school runs, book launches and what’s-in-your-handbag-interview women; the ones desperately trying to keep their plot running in their head while sitting in the hospital waiting room with a teenager with a broken finger women (ie me!) so they can drop the teenager back to school with a strapped up finger and get back to work; the ones who wrote whole books while sitting outside the school waiting for their kids. Here’s to me and you, ladies!
Yours in writing,