Tag Archives: funding

Proper Job!

A wise writer once said to me that it’s not so much the pram in the hall that’s the impediment to a writing career, but the bills on the door-mat. Money worries are the bane of creativity. And unless independently wealthy, the emerging writer will have to make a living while waiting for that book/film deal (and probably for a while after that fact too). Writers need to work; the question is what kind of jobs are out there?

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Many will consider other (more lucrative) forms of writing to bring home the bucks. Journalism is an obvious choice and is still, probably, the most common second career for many creative writers. Moreover, a journalistic background provides marvellous training re editing and brevity of approach. Copy-writing, particularly website copy, is also a popular income booster for writer but both copy-writing and journalism are less satisfying forms of writing for the creative writer and spending all day writing on the day job can make it difficult to come home and do the same at night.

Teaching English and/or creative writing is another common earner for writers. My TEFL training and experience has given me a sound grip of grammar and the intricacies of the English language – all of which is of great practical use to a writer. A TEFL teacher also (usually) travels and such experiences can feed into your work. Teaching creative writing allows you to deconstruct the tools of creative writing, which may benefit your own writing. However, you usually need a track record of publication before you begin to look for work in this area.

It is not uncommon for writers to work a mundane job such as on a factory line or as a manual labourer. Such tasks sit quite well with a writing career as they give the writer time to think, to let ideas bubble and boil ready to write down after the shift has finished. Also, with a job so utterly removed from writing, you will be fresh and eager to sit at your laptop of an evening. The downside of any brain numbing, repetitive work is that it has no status. This fact should not be important but it is because writers are human, so for a writer to stay in a lowly job, s/he needs determination, focus and confidence in their reason for doing this type of work.

Writers, of course, come from all walks of life and all career backgrounds. For those of you who may be considering giving up your job to write full time, you need to remember that you’ll (most likely) still need to make a living. Maybe the job you have is not glamorous or interesting, but these are often the best complementary jobs for writing. So, if you really want to be a writer, the greatest sacrifice you make may be NOT giving up the day job –  but staying with it.


A Definite Daffodil

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Just got news that my KCLR 96fm radio drama series The Daffodil has been given the funding nod by Broadcasting Authority of Ireland – should be hitting the studio in October. Oh yeah!


Shipping News

Waiting for ships, Brighton.

When one launches a ship, one surrenders responsibility to the waves. Once the vessel has disappeared over the horizon, it’s on its own. You’ve got to get on with life and other ventures until it either returns to port or news comes in that it hasn’t made it (admittedly and thankfully rare these days, but you get the picture).

And this is how I see writing projects I’ve sent off, as ships.  Whether they be short-stories sent to competitions/magazines/anthologies, a funding application, chapters of my novel sent to an agent, a script sent to the Beeb, a script sent to a theatre – whatever, they’re all ships into  which I’ve put all the skill and talent I’ve got. Once they’ve gone, it’s up to the seas of luck, taste, fashion and need to put them to the test and see whether they sink or come back to port laden with goods (acceptance/publication/a win/a short-listing etc..).

Last year I sent out a total of 61 ships. Some 20 returned to port with bounty, 41 never made it. For various reasons, I’ve been slightly less productive this year, but am doing my best to rectify this situation.

Thus, my stats thus far this year:

Ships sent out: 37

Wins/acceptance/short-listings/publications/performances:11

Ships sunk without trace: 17

Awaiting any news on 9 ships launched.

The year is not over and I intend to launch quite a few more ships before 2012 draws the curtain. It’s what keeps me going…

Bon Voyages!


The 3 Rs: Residencies, Retreats, Respites

The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Co.Monaghan, Ireland.

When people say that they’re jacking in the day job to write that book, in the same breath they usually tell you where this project is taking place. “I’m going to move to Paris/rent a shack in the woods/go to a monastery/live by the sea” they say, as if the locale will lend more credibility to their project.

It doesn’t. You can spend a year on a prestigious writers’ colony and come up with a heap of unpublishable, self-indulgent nonsense. Whereas, an amazing novel can be written in a council flat full of screaming kids, between the hours of 6-7pm every day – the important factor being “every day”.

Still, time and seclusion in an attractive environment do nurture creativity and attending a writers’ residency or retreat is not a bad idea – so long as you don’t think that the mere fact of being there is going to produce the goods. Personally, I’ve found the greatest benefit from such places to be the cross pollination of ideas via conversations with other artists. So, yes, I recommend residencies and retreats, so long as you’re prepared to put the work and craft in too.

I’m Irish, so I know most about the residencies and retreats in my country – and there are a disproportionately large number in Ireland, a land noted for its writers. Surprisingly, there are far fewer over in the UK, even though they have a much larger population. America is where the writers’ colony was born however, and it still provides the best, the most prestigious and the most difficult colonies to get into.

Yes, “get into”. Therein lies the difference between a “residency” and a “retreat”. Residencies are institutions to which you must apply and demonstrate your professionalism as an artist via a portfolio, and perhaps references and a CV that shows you are considered by your peers to be a practicing artist. Residencies are often funded by an arts and/or educational body and can mean you must also provide a service such as creative writing classes in the locality. Residencies can last from two weeks to a year.  In Ireland, prestigious residencies include The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Cill Rialaig and the Heinrich Boll Cottage, Even if accepted, you may have to pay for your stay. However, attending one of these establishments is an impressive addition to your C.V. and you may come into contact with some top tier “names” during a stay.
Then you get retreats. These are institutions that sometimes offer courses – the UK’s ‘Arvon Foundaction’ is a good example which has three properties around England and holds intensive writing courses throughout the year. Other retreats just offer room and board to writers for a fee, somewhat like a hotel but with an emphasis on creativity and productivity during your stay. Anam Cara and the Molly Keane house are Irish examples. They’re not as prestigious residencies, so you won’t find yourself having dinner with Seamus Heaney etc… but you might meet some interesting people and the surrounds are usually very picturesque and perhaps inspiring. Retreats are good for novice or emerging writers who are not yet at the stage in their career where they might gain acceptance on a “residency”.

Finally, if all you want is some peace and quiet, why not rent some respite a holiday cottage in the wilds of Connemara in autumn, or stay in a B&B on Dartmoor or a shack in the Catskills – you may be able to get a ‘low season deal’ and it may provide the inspiration you seek.

A sample (and by no means exhaustive) list:

Ireland

Residencies

http://www.araseanna.ie/
http://heinrichboellcottage.com/html/Residency.html
http://emergingwriter.blogspot.com/2009/04/cill-rialaig-residency.html
http://www.dlrcoco.ie/arts/pp.html

http://www.tyroneguthrie.ie/

Retreats:

http://www.anamcararetreat.com/

http://www.dinglewritingcourses.ie/

http://www.mollykeanewritersretreats.com/

France

Residencies:

http://www.chateau-lanapoule.com/residencies/index.html

http://www.centreculturelirlandais.com/modules/movie/scenes/home/index.php?fuseAction=residences

Retreats:

http://www.lamuseinn.com/

UK

Residencies:

http://www.writersservices.com/agent/bur/Hawthornden_Castle.htm

http://covepark.org/apply-or-book

Retreats

http://www.arvonfoundation.org/p1.html

urbanwritersretreat.co.uk

USA

Residencies:

www.andersoncenter.org

www.atlanticcenterforthearts.org

www.calderaarts.org

www.coloradoartranch.org

www.saltonstall.org

www.djerassi.org

www.dorlandartscolony.org

http://www.exeter.edu/about_us/about_us_537.aspx

www.albeefoundation.org

www.hambidge.org

www.headlands.org

www.hedgebrook.org

www.jentelarts.org

kerouacproject.org/application-page

www.khncenterforthearts.org

www.artomi.org

www.montanaartistsrefuge.org

http://www.macdowellcolony.org/

http://www.millaycolony.org/

springcreek.oregonstate.edu

http://www.kfw.org/grants.html

www.kulcher.org

http://www.lynchburg.edu/thornton.xml

www.nmwcolony.org

http://montalvoarts.org/programs/residency/

www.onewritersplace.com

http://www.radcliffe.edu/fellowships/apply.aspx

www.red-cinder.com

www.soapstone.org

http://www.stanford.edu/group/creativewriting/stegner.html

www.poetrycenter.arizona.edu

www.vcca.com

http://www.ucrossfoundation.org/residency_program/

http://www.vermontstudiocenter.org/

www.writersdojo.org/residency

http://www.woodstockguild.org/artist_in_residence/index.html

http://www.wurlitzerfoundation.org/

http://www.yaddo.org

Retreats:

http://www.myretreat.net/

http://thompsonpeakretreat.com/

http://wildacres.org/about/residency.html

http://www.creativeledgestudio.com/

http://espyfoundation.org/

http://www.astudiointhewoods.org/sitw/?page_id=72

http://artcroft.org/eligibility.htm

http://www.montanaartistsrefuge.org/residencies.html

http://www.nisda.org/air.htm

http://www.ragdale.org/residency

http://www.nps.gov/romo/supportyourpark/artist_in_residence.htm

http://www.ozarkcreativewriters.org/

Canada

http://www.skwriter.com/?s=skwritercolonies&p=colonyguidelines

Australia

http://www.tasmanianwriters.org/self-funded-residencies

If you know of more, please feel free to post!