Maynooth (Epic) Writers group

So a friend of mine started a writers group in Maynooth recently. We’re hoping to get a blog and a facebook page set up eventually and possibly an online critique system but for the minute I’ll just explain what it is.

Anyone is allowed attend and we critique each others creative writing. You don’t need to be attending the college, no restrictions on age, genre, ability etc. There are other groups in Maynooth but the Literary and Debating society is only for students and we’ve heard of a group that meets in Carton House but is really only for pretty serious published author’s. You don’t even have to be from Maynooth to come, it’s just a convenient, central enough location with lots of free rooms we can use.

All kinds of writing are welcome, from poetry to short stories to novels to screenplays to graphic novels/comics to song lyrics to videogame or rpg scripts… you get the picture

We’ve met twice so far and things have gone well. Bring copies of your writing for people to read (Or you can read aloud) and we each take a turn reading our own stuff, critiquing others and debating issues such as the difficulties of getting published or feminism on the Irish writing scene. We might eventually hold events if we can get any funding, and last time we met up was extremely casual and informal as it was the end of exams for a lot of us so we met in a local pub. I didn’t have time to write anything new but I still got ideas from a few of the people there and I looked several creative Writing drinking games (which I’ll post later).


So basically is you write at all and live within commuting distance of Maynooth come along, we meet every few weeks and I’ll post details of the next meeting as soon as it’s organised

Ugh… Vampires

Says it all really, doesn’t it?

But why does it say it all? Why do so many of us cringe at the word Vampire these days? Hmm… I wonder…

Oh yeah, this heap of shite:

Or “Twi-Shite” as it’s fondly known amongst my friends.

I know this is probably like flogging a dead horse to most of you out there at this point but after spending copious amounts of time in the presence of teen girls at recent family events I feel it can’t be reiterrated enough. Twilight is a scourge on the face of prose and it is extremely frustrating seeing stuff like this get published for vast sums of money. There is clearly little or no quality control in some publishing houses and unfortunately many good writers are being overlooked in the face of this ‘make-a-quick-buck’ utter brain fluff type fiction (I wonder if Easons would consider replacing their ‘paranormal romance’ section with the ‘make-a-quick-buck’ section?)

Rather than go on about the series many flaws (though I’m not ruling it out as a future blog post) I thought I’d introduce a particular Vampire favourite of my own, This:

Vampire: The Requiem

It is a LARP (Live action Role-playing game for all you muggles) where you create a character who’s more often than not a vampire and you attend ‘court’ or vampire meetings. It’s similar to drama improv and it is immensely cooler than I’m making it sound here. For example on a typical evening we’d meet somewhere on Maynooth campus because they have plenty of rooms we can use for free. We show up in character, some people even dress up. There’s a Prince or head vampire that runs the meeting and there is endless amounts of scheming, backstabbing, violence and crazy events. Most recently my character made a deal with a much older, higher up vampire to put my powers at her service in exchange for information on my missing sire (the vampire who turned me into a vampire), however, my character is far too young to actually have these powers and now that other vampire staged a coup and became Prince she will be calling in her debts pretty soon…

Awesome right? I used to play games like this with my cousin when we were kids only much less detailed and much more PG, We’d pretend we were dragon riders or the crew of a space station and inevitably run around his back garden with various props yelling at each other. So I’m still a big kid really.

 Everything is interconnected, political manoueverings in Dublin games affect us in Maynooth and the best part is I’ve been playing for about nine months and I still haven’t had to read the rulebook! (take that Warhammer 40k and your ridiculously complicated game) People are more than willing to help noobs ann as my character is a vampire who’s only just come out of hiding after 80 years it makes sense that she wouldn’t understand anything. For more info check out Camarilla Ireland

The reason I went on about this in such length is that the games are excellent resources for writers. Not just for people writing about vampires, they have games involving all manner of mythical creatures and horror scenarios, their Changeling: The Lost  rulebook helped me with my current WIP. The fluff surrounding the games is often well written but the real reason they’re useful is characterisation.

I initially had trouble with this, all my characters seemed the same or else they were crude, sitcom style cut-outs. It is difficult to underestimate the effort some people put into their characters for Vampire. It’s more than just amazing acting (Disclaimer: I do not count myself among the good actors), there is huge detail to their back stories and motivations. If anyone wants to know how to write really in-depth characters with complicated relations to each other but not use an information dump then go to a Cam game. I specifically made my character shy and distrustful so I could sit and observe, as she (and I) gradually learned about the people around me so the plot gets managebly more detailed and compelling. The characters seem realistic because it is real people considering their actions and motivations based on their character sheets, It’s a great example of character driven fiction as we have no foreknowledge of the plot.

A schedule of games can be found on their website and they are played monthly in Dublin, Maynooth and Cork.

Go forth and characterise!

Decisions Decisions…

So I applied for a Creative Writing MA next year. There’s not much choice in Ireland, there’s one in University College Dublin (UCD), Trinity College Dublin (TCD) or Queen’s university Belfast (QUB). Some people argue that there’s one in National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) but that’s really a masters in Writing; it has modules in journalism, biography, travel writing and other horrible practical stuff like that. I applied for the first year and intended to do an M.Litt in my alma mater if all else failed (no way on earth do I want to enter the real world yet)

So the applications process gradually leeches away the will to live. I applied for all of them in the midst of my regular essays, reading list and dissertation. some such as ucd required application essays, Belfast wanted obscure enough information (Why does it matter what hospital I was born in?) and just when I thought I was finished with trinity I got an email listing no less than 10 items I had to send to them immediately. Though the PAC is supposed to streamline this somewhat it fails misereably as most colleges still use their own system and all the acceptances come out at different dates, so you could pay a deposit in one college only to find out a month later that you’ve gotten a better offer elsewhere (and don’t get me started on the utter nightmare of getting Professors, who are lovely but really have their heads so far up in the clouds of their own research that they can’t function in a normal everyday level, to write a reference).

So I fought my way through all this and sat waiting (I had no idea when any of the acceptances were coming out) gradually convincing myself that I wouldn’t get in anywhere so that I wouldn’t be too disappointed if that were the case.

But I needn’t have worried, over the course of a month I got offered a place in all of them, I even got a scholarship oin Belfast. So now with a hat-trick (a situation I never expected to find myself in) I had to actually pick one.

I never really wanted to go to UCD. I know Flann O’ Brien did his masters there but in Folklore not English whereas Trinity and Belfast have Oscar Wilde and Seamus Heaney. I’ve heard to many bad reports about UCD, from strained resources, to poor course content to a lack of interaction with students. The list goes on and I know a handful of people who dropped out for these very reasons. ALso it just looks horrible, like a airport that’s halfway through being blown up. Too much concrete and buidling everywhere. One of the best things about Maynooth was the gardens, the grass, all the trees etc. It really helps with writing. So UCD was out. (It had only really been a back-up anyway)

Belfast sounds awesome, really really awesome. But a lecturer of mine made the really good point that all of it’s writers in residence are poets and I really want to specialise in prose and novels. Also there’s the hastle of moving so far away from family and friends and all the writers resources that are in Dublin. Also (as my mother put it) the danger of being a Catholic/having a Southern registered car around Belfast at the minute. to be honest I don’t think the last one is really an issue but Parents worry. So there’s nothing too wrong with Belfast and I would have been happy with it but…

Trinity is in the city center + Terry pratchett is an adjunct Professor (He gave the current class several workshops) + there are a lot of Irish literature modules on the course making it much easier to get a PhD out of it + I can move in with my boyfriend, removing all the anxiety I’ve had from living with crazies in student accomodation + writing being an industry that is partially based on ‘who you know’ and Trinity still having the prestige (though I’m not really sure if it’s deserved) means I can build up contacts and if I go to UK publishers with anything in the future they’ll be pretty impressed by the letters TCD on my CV  = Trinity for the win!

I already have several friends standing by to slap me if I go rogue (Trinners for winners loike y’know) so I reckon I’m in for a pretty interesting year, YAY!


so this blog died a swift death…

Rest In Peace little blog, Rest In Peace.

It was probably never a good idea to make a commitment like this coming into my final year of college – unless I can get into some sort of routine with a new activity I tend to abandon it pretty swiftly, so here we are, I have a degree now and a summer of unemployment in which to bring this blog back from the dead in the form of my new Blog 2.0!


I’ll be doing a masters in creative writing next year so the writing/english rants should hopefully get prolific enough over the summer to keep me going yet another intense year of reading and writing (when will I learn)

So thank you to all my loyal fans (all none of you) for sticking with me during this minor disruption and normal services shall resume shortly…….