Emerging writers to get help from Helena Close

Norma Prendiville

Reporter:

Norma Prendiville

WRITERS and aspiring writers around the county are being given a gilt-edged opportunity to take their work to a new level or to realise their ambition by signing up for a series of writing clinics now being organised by the County Limerick Arts Office.

WRITERS and aspiring writers around the county are being given a gilt-edged opportunity to take their work to a new level or to realise their ambition by signing up for a series of writing clinics now being organised by the County Limerick Arts Office.

The clinics will be run by established Limerick novelist Helena Close who is writer-in-residence for Co Limerick. In the first phase of the residency, Helena engaged with young writers in primary and secondary schools around the county. And she is delighted that this strand of her work is set to continue. “I loved the response and the energy I found in so many classes,” she says.

Now, in a new departure, Helena, in partnership with county arts officer Joan MacKernan, is setting out to help adult writers – or adults who want to write.

The plan is to first establish a series of one-on-one writing clinics and from that, to proceed to set up a creative writing workshop.

“There are many people in the county with manuscripts under the bed and we would like them to send those manuscripts into me,” Helena explains. Her role will be to offer advice on structure, plot, character, the writing itself – but above all to encourage people.

“People can be quite shy about their writing,” she explains.

The writing clinics, she continues, are a chance for people to come in and chat, to talk about their work and what they want to write.

And she is keen to stress that the clinics are open to all: to adults who are already writing but also to adults who are interested in writing creatively. “I wouldn’t ever exclude anyone,” she says.

Part of her role, she continues, will be helping people to make the leap from wanting to write to actually writing. “It’s about getting the confidence to put pen to paper, or rather fingers to the keyboard.” And she is keen to meet people who have manuscripts stuffed into drawers. Get them out and bring them in,” she encourages.

Helena, who has four published novels to her credit and has also co-written four more with Patricia Rainsford, believes you have to work at writing. “A lot of it is discipline,” she says. You have to see writing like that. You wont’ get the results unless you put in the effort. It’s about creating a discipline, a routine around writing on a day-to-day basis.”

“The only way you can improve is by writing more. Even if that is just a little bit every day.” And this holds, both for people who have already started starting or who want to write.

Her advice at the clinics, she vows, will be very practical and will also include looking at self-publishing, e-publishing and blogs.

Arts officer Joan MacKernan who is supporting the initiative says no fee will be charged for the clinics.

“The writing clinics will be held in County Hall and will work on the basis of people setting up an appointment with Helena. Depending on the response, we hope to build on the clinic format with a series of creative writing workshops in October and November.”

It’s up to you now. If you are looking for some creative or practical advice on how to realise your writing ambitions, please contact Limerick County Council Arts Office on 061 496498/ 496300 or email arts@limerickcoco.ie