Saturday, 25 May 2013

Twenty Years a Writer! by Malachy Doyle


I do things for ten years, and then I get bored.

I was a wee fella for ten years...


And then I decided it'd be a whole lot more fun to be a teenager, and let my hair go all shaggy, and buy a Lambretta...


But ten years of zits and raging hormones is quite enough for any human being, so at the age of twenty, I decided to do all those grown-up things, like getting wed and working in advertising...



I'm not bored of being married yet, but ten years in advertising is quite enough for any sane individual, so at the age of thirty I chucked it all in for the 'good life' in Wales, raising children, runner beans and pigs.  Oh, and working as a care assistant in a residential school for young people with special needs.



(That's our own children in the photo, by the way, all dressed up for Saint David's Day.)

But, much as I admire people who can do such work for ever, it has a habit of grinding you down.
So after ten years, in 1993 - 20 years ago today, roughly - I found myself enrolling on a creative writing evening class in Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, Machynlleth, run by a very nice young lady called Zoe.

I was forty by then, three times bored.  Among other things, Zoe got us writing about our childhood memories.  I did a little piece about my mother's button box.  It had been my job to fetch it down from the high shelf above the stove when my Dad wanted to play poker.  I didn't care how badly I lost, as long as I could keep that little pink rabbit - half a century later, I've still got it.


And there was something about sinking into those memories.  Something about dwelling in the headspace of that young Malachy, aged 4 and 5 and 6 and 7... About looking at the world through his eyes.  Something about writing...

This is what I want to do, I thought.  This is what I HAVE to do.


So I did.  I did it for ten years, and forty books.  And guess what?  I didn't get bored.

So I broke the habit of a lifetime.  I did it for another ten years.  Another sixty books.  And guess what?  


   

28 comments:

  1. Happy 20th birthday to your writing career, Malachy. That makes us writing twins, I think, in that I wrote my first book in 1993 .... and I'm not bored with writing yet either!

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    1. Congratulations on yours too, Pippa! Mind you, it took me 5 years from writing about button boxes to getting my first book published, so I think you're the senior twin.

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  2. Lovely post. Long may the not being bored continue!

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  3. I LOVE this post... looking for 2O more years and another 40 books, Malachy!

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    1. Thanks Joanna. I'll do my best but I'm definitely slowing down...

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  4. Congratulations on your 20th writing birthday, Malachy!

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  5. 100 books in 20 years! Wow! Congrats, Malachy.

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    1. Poetic licence, Marie-Louise - I'm actually on 96, but here's hoping...

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  6. Love this post too! So the writerly stuff all began in Machynlleth, huh? And childhood memories ..... what fun!

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    1. Thanks Wendy. Good old Mach - I was walking down Maengwyn Street on market day just three weeks ago, and so many people stopped me to say hello, tho' I haven't lived there for nearly 15 years. It's such a friendly place!

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  7. Lovely post. Congratulations, Malachy, and here's to you never getting bored and lots more books!

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  8. Congratulations Malachy, and I am delighted to find another child who loved their mother's button box. My Mum gave hers to me recently, and I was awestruck, as if someone had seen fit to give me fabulous diamonds. I had some buttons with ladybirds on them. One of the treasures of my life. Here's to you, and to all seekers of childhood delight.

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    1. Yes, there's a whole family archive and emotion in those button boxes, Moira. The passed-down clothes, our first coats, our mother's cardigans... It's lovely that you've got yours, too!

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  9. Great post and very inspiring. I found myself getting bored with adult themes in my mid-forties, but I've read children's stories and books all my life (except for a certain tragic period of over seriousness in my late teens). At 52, I can say with firmness I will just never be bored with children's books. Thanks for bringing your stories to light and sharing them with us.

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    1. Thank you, Joy. Yes, as in Lucy's wonderful blog here (immediately previous to mine), children's books can speak to us all, if we keep our hearts and minds open. In fact, they can help to keep our hearts and minds open.

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  10. And do you know what? Children are not getting bored with your books either, which is probably the best part of it all.

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    1. Aw thanks, Ragnhild. I hope you're right!

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  11. I liked the little spider/ bug one with the red eyes. Happy 20th!

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  12. Great post Malachy, here's to 20 more years. Unless you might want to retire at some point. . Do writers retire? Not sure it works that way ;-)

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  13. Damn, I was going to make some comment about Father Ted and Mrs Doyle. . . but you must be sick of that ;-)

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    1. Yes, being married to a Mrs. Doyle and living on a little island off the west coast of Ireland (Cruit not Craggy), you're not the first, Jonathan...

      Retire? No way!

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  14. Adored reading this and seeing the photos, even though I have a button phobia! Thankfully 'retirement' doesn't necessarily happen to writers, so there should be many, many more years.

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    1. Seriously, Paeony - a button phobia? Even my little pink rabbit? Doesn't that make life rather difficult? I take it you're a zips and velcro type...

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    2. Your pink rabbit is cute. There, I said it! I feel proud of myself. But that grey one at the top with four holes... shudder.

      By the way, I adore the photo of your children in costume.

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  15. What a fab post. I used to think I had a short attention span - think you've beaten me there. Oh and thanks reading this has just given me an idea for a story. Off to scribble it down.

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    1. Great, Lynne! Good luck with the story.

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  16. Congratulations, Malachy - keep on going! I want to read the 30 years post, and the 40 years post...

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