I’ve been sitting on two brilliant pieces of news recently, mostly because I’m still absorbing them. Why is it easier to handle rejection than acceptance, I wonder? In any case, my head’s been in a spin so it’s taken a while to compile what feels like the braggiest post in all of braggingdom. I apologise in advance.
First was the news that I’ve won this year’s From the Well competition. Run by Cork County Council Library and Arts Service, it has an amazing prize in several parts. The winner – in this case me – gets to choose a five-day writing workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry in July, and receives money towards accommodation. There will also be an anthology of the top 20 stories, with an official launch in Cork. My story Smoke in the Rain will be the title. Then there’s a From the Well event at the festival, with readings by some of the shortlistees and yours truly (this being marginally less daunting thanks to my recent opportunity to practice at the only gorgeous Fiction at the Friary).
The next revelation was that I’ve been selected for one of two mentorship bursaries with the recipient of the 2017 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Fellowship, organised by the Munster Literature Centre. This year’s Fellow is American novelist Marie-Helene Bertino, author of 2am at the Cat’s Pajamas and award-winning short story collection Safe as Houses. I will have weekly one-to-one sessions with her over a period of eight weeks. As Marie-Helene lectures at NYU and will be teaching at the UCC creative writing faculty over her time in Cork as well as a masterclass during the Cork International Short Story Festival, I am pinching myself at having the opportunity to work so closely with her.
I applied for the mentorship programme last year and wasn’t chosen, but received a really encouraging email with feedback from the 2016 Fellow, Canadian writer Zsuzsi Gartner, who advised me to try again. I subsequently took part in her masterclass, which was fantastic, as was Zsuzsi herself. So if you’re a writer in the Cork area, I’d really recommend applying for the bursary and/or doing the masterclass. It will certainly broaden your horizons. And if I can do this, you can too.
Bragathon complete. As you were, people of the internet.