Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A meme - Call yourself a writer?

Lovely Keris tagged me for this one.


Which words do you use too much in your writing?
I'm told I use the word "wee" too much. In fact one reviewer said it marred her enjoyment of RD&T - only on reflection did I realise it really was quite prolific in the book.But that's us Derry ones for you - we say "wee" a helluva lot to describe absolutely everything on the eeny side.
I was also told in Jumping in Puddles there is a fair smatterng of chided.
It is arguable whether or not I overuse the word feck.

Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?
Ooooh, toughie. I can't say anything springs to mind but I cannot read RD&T any more without cringing at every single "wee". I think also melee is a word which is overused as I've yet to hear anyone say that outside of a news report.

What's your favourite piece of writing by you?
Probably either this from RD&T
When I was in labour, when I thought I was literally going to be torn apart, when I was begging for death or, at least, an epidural that worked, my midwife told me it was time to get angry.
She told me I was to get angry with the pain and use that anger to get through this trial and succeed in having my baby. By Christ, did I get angry – only problem is, for a long time after, I forgot to get un-angry again.
And when that anger did subside, when it faded to nothingness, it was replaced by an overwhelming sadness. I felt, and I don’t know why, a grief – the loss of me, Grace. The loss of what motherhood should be like, the loss of that dream that I’d always had that being a mammy would be perfect and wonderful and I would never have to question my feelings for that little bundle of love I called my child.
I felt empty, like I could do what I needed to do but I couldn’t feel any of that love and joy it was my right to feel. Surely my months of pregnancy, my hours of labour, my bringing this gorgeous boy into this world entitled me to be happy?
I couldn’t look myself in the face. I couldn’t say I felt like a mother. I couldn’t accept the compliments heaped on my child because I was a fraud. I was a failure. I didn’t swan through my pregnancy enjoying this most natural of states. I didn’t even bloom. Well, I did for three hours one day before the heartburn hit again and I threw up.
And when I was giving birth to my much-wanted, much-needed child, I begged for someone else to take care of that birthing process for me – to cut my child from me, to suck him out; to beam him up – whatever the fuck it took to make the pain stop.
But the pain is still here. I can feel it now, pushing through, and maybe, just maybe, it is time for me to angry again. To get angry with that pain, to push it aside, to tell it to piss off and leave me alone and let me be me. Let me be a mammy.
And I’m angry now. Angry for all the times I’ve cried when I should be laughing. Angry for all the times I felt lonely in a crowded room. Angry for the size 20 trousers in the wardrobe when I used to be a 14. Angry for not standing up for myself when I knew I was right. Angry for all the chocolate bars I ate to try and make me happy again. Angry for not demanding to be listened to. Angry for pushing Aidan and Jack away when the thing I wanted most in this entire world was to pull them as close as humanly possible and never let go.
And I’m throwing things. I can hear my shouting and grunting and I can see plates smash on the floor – those fecking ugly plates I’ve kept using just to keep my mother-in-law happy. And I’m tearing up those stupid books the so-called parenting experts sent me. I’m going through the photo albums and tearing out any picture where I’m with Jack and I don’t look happy because how dare I not smile in the presence of such innocence?
And then the tears come. I run upstairs, spurred on by some force I’m not quite sure of and I throw some clothes in an overnight bag. I leave my mobile sitting on the hall table. Scribble a note saying that I love Jack and I’ll be back tomorrow and I jump in the car – my body heaving with sobs, my ribs sore from the exertion of all the squealing I’m doing – and I start to drive.
Or this from Feels Like Maybe
“It will be alright,” he said, “and if it isn’t all right then we have options. This isn’t the end of the world for us.”

I nodded, grateful for his tenderness. Who knew what was ahead. I certainly didn’t. Maybe we would be fine and we would just have to continue our monthly dance. Maybe we would need IVF or some other intervention. And maybe, although I’m not sure I wanted to contemplate it just yet, if all that failed we could adopt. We would make great parents. There were children out there who needed a happy home and we could be the people to provide it. But for now, I didn’t really want to think about that. I wanted to think about my baby. Our baby. I wanted to feel the nauseous waves of morning sickness. I wanted my trousers to tighten and my bra to get uncomfortable. I wanted to buy trousers with elasticated waistbands or those funny tummy panels which go up under your boobs. I wanted to curse heartburn and drink Gaviscon by the bucketload. I wanted to feel those first magical bubbles Aoife had spoken off. And I wanted them to get stronger and stronger and turn into thumping great kicks. I wanted to gasp, hold my tummy and say with a smile “That was a big kick”. I wanted to sit on the Tube and rub my bump and when I got home I wanted Dan to rub Cocoa Butter cream into my stretching tummy and laugh as it jumped about. I wanted my waters to break in Tesco and I wanted to make a frantic call to Dan telling him “It’s time”. I wanted to suck on gas and air and cringe as a doctor did an internal. I wanted to watch the contractions ebb and flow on the monitor by my bed. I wanted to swear at Dan and tell him he was never, ever getting near me again before pushing with all my might. I wanted to hear a moment’s silence, a pause for an intake of breath and then a shrill cry. I wanted the midwife to tell us we had a son or a daughter and then hand him or her to me and for me to cuddle my baby – our baby – close and look at my husband and see love in his eyes like nothing I had ever seen before.

It was the most natural thing in the world to want, wasn’t it? And if I had to switch that off, I would switch it off – but I didn’t want to yet. Just please, God, not yet.
What blog post do you wish you'd written?
I'll steal this answer from Keris who said anything by Catherine Newman, whose book 'Waiting for Birdy' helped me survive pregnancy - either that or any of the stories at Slightly South of Sanity
Regrets, do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn't written?
I sometimes read certain sections of my past work and have a little cringe - but they are all part of a learning curve I suppose. Just as a writer, I do a lot of my learning in the public eye.
How has your writing made a difference? What do you consider your most important piece of writing?
I hope that by speaking openly and honestly about Post Natal Depression in RD&T I helped break down some of the taboos surrounding that awful illness. I wrote with humour too - to make it accessible. I know I received so many emails from women who had read the book and said it prompted them to get counselling. Indeed I received a couple of emails from men who said it had helped them understand their partners.
Most of all though I hope my work entertains. I write about tough subjects, PND, infertility, unplanned pregnancy, bereavement, domestic violence etc but I hope I do it such a way that people never feel preached at.

Name three favourite words
Feck. Streaming. Dusk.

...And three words you're not so keen on
No thank you.

Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?
Marian Keyes inspired me to be a writer. Her books convinced me that people would read the kind of things I so loved to write. And her personal story is so very impressive also. I am also in deep awe of Melissa Hill, who is incredibly prolific and incredibly talented - and a nice person to boot.
But when it comes to mentors or role models, my writer friends keep me going - Sharon Owens, Anne Dunlop, Fionnuala Kearney, Keris Stainton - they are the folks who keep writing and pick me up when I need it.
What's your writing ambition?
In the short term my ambition to be published outside of Ireland and to have some degree of recognition away from this lovely island. But I'd also like to be a "household name" here - and my publishers seem to have faith that I could just get there.
Beyond that I want to be recognised as a writer - not a chick lit author, or "yer wan who writes books" but as Claire Allan and have people rush out to buy my latest releases with the same urgency I rush out to buy the new MK with.
Plug alert! List any work you would like to tell your readers about:
Jumping in Puddles is OUT on September 24. It's a fabulous read about love, loss, longing, friendship and Donegal villages and I'm exceptionally very proud of it.
Do the tagging thing:
Anne
Fionnuala
Erm... would pick Keris but she's done...
The rules:
If you have time to do this meme, then please link to my original, then link to three to five other bloggers and pass it on, asking them to answer your questions and link to you. You can add, remove or change one question as you go. You absolutely do not have to be what you may think of as a "published" or "successful" writer to respond to this meme, I hope people can take the time to reflect on what their blogging has brought them and how it has been useful to others.

2 comments:

The Pineapple Tart said...

You did not use 'wee' too much in RD&T!

Yummy Mammy said...

I swear too much - allegedly that is. Thus I can't share with you the words I use too often lol xx

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