I’m really honoured to be bringing you this heartfelt post from Irish writer Margaret Scott on #IrishWritersWed.
I read and thoroughly enjoyed Margaret’s book The Fallout, which was published by Poolbeg in 2016 (review HERE ). Earlier in the Summer I thought I would ask Margaret to feature on my weekly Wednesday tribute to Irish writing and she accepted my invitation..
Please do read on for a wonderful piece of writing that will inspire, encourage and touch your heart…
Thank you Margaret x
On Coming Back….
by Margaret Scott
I think it might have been early this summer when Mairead first approached me about doing something for this wonderful blog Swirl and Thread’s ‘Writers Wednesday’ feature. I can still remember my hesitation in replying.
You see I knew, but had yet to tell anyone else (least of all my publisher) that I was about to bin my attempt at a third book. I felt numb, guilty, lost and to be perfectly honest, more like a fugitive on the run than a writer.
The chances of feeling any differently on some far off Wednesday in September seemed fairly slim indeed.
One week later I emailed my publisher with my decision, put up a Facebook post and started gardening. The dream of a successful follow up to my best seller The Fallout was over. I had failed spectacularly because not only did I not produce a successful follow up, but I’d produced nothing at all bar thousands of awful words about awful characters that not only could I not fix, but that I could muster up no desire to fix. I had started to doubt my ability to write well, and worse still, started to doubt that I had ever written well.
But I said yes anyway to Mairead because that’s what I did then; I said yes. I said yes to any opportunity of paid work, I said yes to anyone who needed a hand, I even said yes far too often to my children.
It was time to face up to my first no.
The irony was, that after I pressed send on that email to Poolbeg and got into the car to drive to work, a song I loved came on the radio Thom Yorke & PJ Harvey’s This Mess We’re In. And in that instant, I thought of a new story that I wanted to tell. But during a sob-riddled conversation with my poor long suffering agent the night before, I’d promised that I would take the summer off and not write a single word under any circumstances.
A whole summer with no book to work on for the first time in four years seemed more like a punishment than a break.
But a promise was a promise, so, despite feeling the most un-funny I’d ever felt in my life – I tried my hand at writing something else – comedy. Starting with an attempt at a fifteen minute Headstuff Lecture, then a couple of speeches for launches of fellow writers, I could feel the fog starting to lift. And boy, was it refreshing to just write for fun again.
I also returned to reading. I contacted people whose opinions I valued and asked them for book recommendations. I started to read voraciously, both fiction and non fiction, anything that would help me be not just be a better writer, but a better person. I wanted to understand the issues of the day, not just pick a side based on who was bleating the loudest.
My brain, free of trying to fix something for the first time in a year, wanted to just think for itself again. Everything was about catching up; improving. I even attempted to be a better mother by filling every day of this rare beast, a non-writing summer with a flurry of trips and picnics. I made friends with new people who offered support and laughter while simultaneously making a conscious decision to cut down on any relationships that didn’t put a bounce in my step.
And I continued to garden. A lot. Plants ask for nothing but a bit of water and weeding was something I could actually do.
I actually got addicted to being outside in the fresh air. The dog couldn’t believe her luck with all the walks down our country road on beautiful dusky evenings.
And every now and again, in those new moments of quiet, that new idea would come floating out of the ether. But I’d promised, so I kept pushing it away.
I continued to succeed at pushing it away until our annual family holiday in Ballybunnion. There, sitting by the sea, the waves crashing onto the shore under the most of magnificent of skies, it felt right to finally give in. And as I let it roll over me, I felt the first twinges of a feeling that I almost didn’t recognise at first.
‘If I can pull this off, it’ll be good’
The only other time I’d felt like that was at the start of The Fallout. I remember sitting there faced with a myriad of characters, their decisions, their lives, their loves and thinking this must be how a music conductor feels, standing up in front of an orchestra, trusting that every string, every chord, every note will somehow be brought in at the right time.
Terrified but excited.
So, on the first of September – just in time for this Writers Wednesday piece – I started two things. The Artist’s Way and my own new book. I’m doing both for me. It means saying ‘no’ a lot more (sometimes even to myself) but for the first time in two years I’m excited about writing a novel. I’m hoping it will help my mental health – I’m in a far better mood when I’m over thinking my character’s problems and poor decisions than when I’m over thinking my own. And I’ve made changes. I’ve reduced my social media, I’m still reading great books and I’m listening to music that inspires me any chance I can get. I’ve surrounded myself with good people that I love and I’ve even re-read The Fallout to remind myself that I was capable once…
But more importantly, I’m blotting out all the noise that swayed my early decisions about the one-that-failed. I no longer care about what everyone else is doing, I no longer care about awards, I definitely no longer care about what genre is ‘in’ right now. And I’m not running anything past anyone until it’s a solid piece of work that I’m proud of and that, more importantly, I’m enjoying writing.
‘If I can pull this off, it’ll be good’
And well sure look, if I can’t, it’s back to the garden and the dog.
I doubt either will mind.
The dust has barely settled on the banking crisis when two letters arrive in the offices of German Commercial Bank DKB.
Kate O’Brien joined the bank one month earlier after a short break to have her children. Kate doesn’t want stress or drama, she just wants to do her job and go home. But Kate might not be the only one with an agenda.
Mary Lawlor has worked at DKB long enough to be able to see that it’s happening again, and this time she won’t stand for it. She is sick of being taken advantage of and it’s got to stop.
Leona Blake has a job to do and is going to do it no matter what the cost. Only now, as her whole world starts to implode does she finally realise that the price just might have been too high.
Olivia Sharpe is finally writing things down. Now is her chance to take control of her life again and get closure for both herself and her children. What happened to her was wrong and someone needs to pay. Don’t they?
Purchase Link ~ The Fallout
Margaret Scott lives in Kildare with her husband, two daughters and an assortment of pets.
An accountant by day, Margaret’s first book Between You and Me was published by Poolbeg in 2013, followed on by The Fallout in 2016.
Twitter ~ @mgtscott