Tag Archives: sue healy

It’s How I Roll, baby

writing woman

I’m at my professional best when I’m stressed, with a to-do list in hand and no time to take a break.

We all work in different ways. Some writers need planning and easy, soft pacing. My approach is broad stroke, manic, if slightly anarchic – but I get stuff done. Likewise, we all perform better at different times of the day. Many writers keep their notepad by their beds and make sure that the very first thing they do when they open their eyes each morning, is write, hoping the dream state will have left a creative legacy. The resultant notes are called “morning pages”. Morning pages might contain what a writer remembers of their dreams or perhaps the writer will simply jot down the very first words that come to mind that day. There are writers who say that this exercise helps them ‘slip’ more easily into what writers’ call the “rapture” when a writer feels ideas are pouring into their mind from elsewhere.

Just as the waking moments are a bridge from the sleeping state into sober reality – the hour before you go to bed is often a creative time with the brain slipping into that semi conscious state.  Hence there are plenty of writers who write late at night.

And to show that there are no rules, there are other writers who find their most productive hours are in the middle of the day when all of life’s busyness is in full swing (the Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling is a good example. She wrote her first book in a busy Edinburgh café).

What is important is that you write and that you find your ideal writing time. Experiment. Find what works for you and then set an hour aside each day at that time and write. Likewise, writers have very personal tastes regarding an environment conducive to writing. There are those who like music or TV buzz in the background and those who can only write in silence. Manic or meditative, find whatever works for you.


Girls’ Night Out

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The inaugural Fizzy Sherbet evening of new writing by women, features my 12 minute play “Lakukuku”. The seven rehearsed readings will be presented at the Hackney Attic on January 24th – if you’re up that way, do come along!


1916 Remembered

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Podcast available here

On this Armistice Day, I’m re-posting my KCLR 96fm BAI-funded play CAKE. This 45-minute play, set in Waterford 1915-1920, focuses on a local family challenged by opposing allegiances: Lance Corporal Joseph Bohan-O’Shea is fighting at the Somme whilst his Northern Protestant wife May raises their four children down south in Waterford City. However, Joseph’s staunchly Nationalist mother is angry with her son for taking the ‘Saxon shilling’ and betraying the family by joining the British Army. Her gender barring her from taking up arms herself, Mother persuades Joseph’s poet twin, Michael, to fight for Irish freedom, but Michael’s true passion is his unrequited love for his sister-in-law, May…. This story is a fictionalisation of my great-grandparents’ own story.

CAKE is directed by Jim Nolan, and stars Michael Power (winner of the Portsmouth International Film Festival’s 2014 Best Actor Award), Madeleine Brolly and Jenni Ledwell. CAKE also features a special recording of Waterford anthem In Happy Moments by William Vincent Wallace, performed here by Matthew Sprange, fresh from his Olivier Award winning performance in English Touring Opera’s Paul Bunyon.


The Blue King of Trafadden – Oct. 30th

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An action/adventure radio drama in 45 mins, in English and Irish.

Scéal eachtraíochta, ar raidió, in nGaeilge agus i mBéarla. 

The Blue King of Trafadden is my 9th radio play and concerns a troubled Afro-Caribbean dentist, Henry Ryan, who returns to the birthplace of his ancestors, Trafadden Island, Co. Waterford, with the intention of burying his grandmother’s ashes. Henry lodges with the ferryman Seamus, his partner Eimear and her son, little Óg. Secretly, Henry also hopes to exorcise the curse he is convinced his abandoned grandmother has put on him, a curse he believes has driven him to drug addiction and robbed him of his marriage and career.

Henry is not the only one on the island with a secret. Ferryman Seamus, afraid he is losing Eimear, is determined to make his fortune by developing a plot of land  of historical significance and is worried that the authorities are going to slap a protection order on it. Seamus comes up with  an illegal solution… Meanwhile, nine year old Óg, finds a skull, which he decides must be the head of his father. Eimear  spends her time in earnest, secret Skype conversation with her sister….

The Blue King of Trafadden is funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the television licence fee.


Finalist for Nick Darke Award

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When I’m holed up at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig,  Co. Monaghan,I don’t like to check in with the outside world too much. However, I’m glad I did yesterday as t’Internet brought me some welcome sunny news. My latest stage play, ‘Palimpsest’ is one of seven finalists for the 2016 Nick Darke Award. Submissions topped a thousand, so I’m proud of the achievement. The Award ceremony will take place at the National Theatre, London on November 9th. Excited!

More information and the full shortlist here:

 


A Little Rejection Tale

MurderedAngel

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t give up. If you keep going you improve and you’ll break through eventually, but you must keep going.

Some years ago I had a room-mate, lets call him Robert, who was an exceedingly talented writer and a super bright individual. Robert had come from a north of England working class family and had won a scholarship to a top college at Oxford to study law, and then proceeded to get a 1st. In a class ridden society such as England is, this is quite a feat. He then went on to barrister pupilage in London. So far, so successful. He struggled in London however, his working class roots a subtle bar from invitation to the glossiest circles, and he let it get to him. Robert decided to jack the law trade in and devote his time to his hobby, writing prose.

Robert was blessed with a wondrous poetic use of language and could craft very beautiful, visual prose. He also had an instinct for story. Within a year, a short story by Robert, had won a prestigious national prize. The way seemed set for a glittering career as a writer. Robert sent out his first novel manuscript to an agent of his choosing. It was rejected. Robert was speechless and sunk into a depression for a few months. Eventually he rallied round, spent another six months moving commas around pages and plucked up the courage to send it out again. And again it was rejected. This process was repeated a third time, after which Robert hit bottom and decided to never write again – and I learned a valuable lesson by proxy.

Robert’s book was slow-paced and poetic and not to everyone’s taste, but there’s no doubt it was good. It may have even eventually have been published had he persevered and found the right agent/publisher. However, Robert’s issue was that he could not take rejection. Following a lifetime of over-achievement, he had unreal expectations and a sense of privilege and entitlement that often accompanies high success at a young age – yes, even for those from working class backgrounds. If Robert had had the skills to roll with the blows, he would have no doubt become a barrister and a published and acclaimed author – but he did not know how to handle rejection, so he gave up. Dealing with the turn-downs is the most important skill a writer needs.

Robert had three rejections and then stopped writing. It’s July, I’ve had 33 rejection letters since January this year alone, and I’ll have the same number again by December (I’ve had 10 acceptances thus far this year, however, just to give you an idea of the percentages). If you are not willing to take the hits, you need to get out of the writing game. The upside is that if you keep going, keep sending those ships out, keep improving and keep rolling with the punches, you absolutely will break through… eventually.

 

 

 


May Pay Day

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The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Monaghan.

Well now, that was a month! You struggle and scrimp and study and scribble for ever and a day and you’re on the cusp of giving up… when, it happens.

May happened for me. Yes, this month I had my first stage production (without decor) in a leading London studio theatre (The King’s Head) which was funded by Arts Council England and played to full houses with very positive feedback. The same play is now a finalist for the 2016 Eamon Keane Full Length Play Award (winner announced next week). Then, yesterday, I was granted the Waterford Council Annaghmakerrig Award for a two week stay at the famed artists’ residency,  the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Co. Monaghan. And just before the clock says goodbye to May, I receive an email to say my play ‘TreeHouse’ has shortlisted for the Little Pieces of Gold showcase at the Southwark Playhouse. Yes, if you wait around long enough, it happens…

So, keep on writing … there are months like these!


Podcast of Strongbow’s Clock!

Strongbow’s Clock podcast on WLRfm (broadcast Oct. 27th).

Set in Brennan’s Bar, a peculiar pub on Waterford’s O’Connell street, Strongbow’s Clock is a comic ghost story concerning a pair of barflies, an immigrant Hungarian barman and the events that ensue when the pub’s clock stops working and a mysterious young woman is swept in the pub door.

Nick and Angela have met at the same time in Brennan’s Bar every evening, for years. They are served by Gabor, a Hungarian who has become ‘more Irish than the Irish themselves’, and who is a keen, if confused orator of Irish history. On this particular evening however, the antics of a Hallowe’en circus in town delays both Nick and Angela’s arrival and interrupts Gabor’s daily ceremony of winding the grandfather clock. The regular flow of events is thus unsettled, jovial banter turns nasty and the exposure of a dark secret looms. Then, the evening takes a further surreal turn with the arrival of a dazed young woman from Ferrybank…

Strongbow’s Clock is a comic ghost story. It is also a study of the consequences when unrequited love is toyed with carelessly, and the violence such passions can stir.

Strongbow’s Clock is directed by acclaimed playwright Jim Nolan and stars leading Irish talent Michael Power, Jenni Ledwell, Ema Lemon and Nick Kavanagh. Strongbow’s Clock was my fourth radio drama and followed Cow, The Daffodil and Cake, also directed by Jim Nolan. My radio work since includes: The Angel of Trafadden, Shellakybooky, The Cat in the Box and Mussels.

Strongbow’s Clock was made with the support of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the television license fee.


Feedback for #BrazenStrap

 

The show is up. Two dates down, one more to go. The journey has not been without its hiccups but all was alright on the night (or matinee). I have yet to go through the feedback forms (on to do list today), though a quick glance says that this show appears to have struck a chord. There’s some really encouraging feedback on social media:

His Excellency the Irish Ambassador Daniel Mulhall came along and had this to say on Twitter post show:

@DanMulhall
Well done to Irish playwright @SueHealy & cast of That Brazen Electric Strap of a Wan. A well-constructed, sharply-scripted, enjoyable play.

And the director Shevaun Wilder:
@ShevaunWilder
Saw great performance of new comic tragic ‪#‎Irish‬ ‪#‎play‬ ‘sans decor’ @KingsHeadThtr today ‘That Brazen Electric Strap of a Wan’ by Sue Healy

From the actor Corinne Wicks:

Funny, poignant and moving new play with no set and a fantastic cast That Brazen Electric Strap of a Wan (yep that’s title!) – @corinnewicks –

Powerful and funny new writing – @popaganda

From TripAdvisor: “What a performance ! This funny pacy short play had a full house when we were there for the opening yesterday.
If you find yourself in London on 14th or 19th – see if there are any tickets left. It is a touching story of Irish life, youth, ageing and the need to have fun. 4 great actors and a nice,taut text.
Hope it gets picked up by the telly and radio. I see from the website it is shortlisted for a prize.”

The final show is on Thurs. 19th at 3pm. Come along!!! http://www.kingsheadtheatre.com

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Limerick for Brazen Strap

A bauld brazen strap from Trafadden

Had wild, wild ways that did madden

Her good sister, Treas

An cailin go deas

‘Til a rent boy from Dublin did happen….

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