where the writers are

Influences

I often want to know how someone came to write, what motivates them to 'hang in', often against all the odds. So I thought that I'd tell my story here.

MY NEED TO WRITE

I have always had a desire to write. Putting words together seems to be an innate ability. Over the years I exercised that (or maybe I should say, 'exorcised') in my business life by writing business papers and other creative documents - while my scribbled poems ended up in the 'sock drawer'. Many of those poems are now available in my collection, Childhood Hills. Some years ago I left a senior position in finance in the US and returned to live in Connemara in the west of Ireland. I had always wanted to write but I had never had the time. Of course, that was a convenient excuse. I was afraid that, if I ever sat down to write, I'd discover that I couldn't. Now that may seem to be a contradiction to you if I always had an innate ability to put words together. Contradiction or not, that's what I felt. So, I forced myself to write. I reserved three or four hours each day for writing. The weeks and months passed and one page turned into ten and ten into fifty. Soon I realized that I had written 25,000 words of my first novel and that I had created a family of characters. The new world they inhabited took over my consciousness. I stayed with it. It's a lonely pursuit and one that demands lots of fortitude and stamina. So the muse was always there with me. But I exorcised it by scribbling poems that conveyed my feelings or described an event I had witnessed. Over the years this became a kind of poetic diary. I never considered myself a poet. I still don't. When I think of poets I think of names like Yeats or Wordsworth or Seamus Heaney. When I think of American poets I think of Theodore Roethke, Galway Kinnell, W.S.Merwin, John Ashbery, James Dickey, and Dan Masterson who once told me "you can write - no doubt about it";..you have a voice that is your own and that's important. I want to help your voice confine itself to the pure statement that carries the image to the reader." I get most enjoyment from listening to a poet talk about the written work and the work in progress: why a poem was written, the spark that ignited the vision, the snatch of overheard conversation, the incident that retrieves a past memory, the choice of words and imagery, the simple scene transformed, the need to be a witness.

WRITING AND IRELAND

There's no way that one can grow up in Ireland without being surrounded by writers. Everybody writes! And, if they don't, they tell stories. The Celtic oral tradition is alive and well. When I was a little boy in our country farmhouse home, people (neighbors, friends, strangers) would come in of an evening, sit around the fire, and tell stories till the 'wee hours' of the morning. Later Irish writers: James Joyce, John McGahern, Brian Moore, Brendan Behan, Oscar Wilde, Sean O'Casey - and today there's so many, starting with my old schoolmate, Seamus Heaney, and others such as Roddy Doyle. Of course my favorite read is the thriller and I love Irish thriller writers such as Jack Higgins and Victor O'Reilly.But I must not leave out my favorite American writers and there are so many of them: Hemingway, Steinbeck, O'Connor, Clancy, James T. Farrell, and many more. I've been scared by Dean Koontz and by Stephen King and Evan Kingsbury ( whom you may know better as Robert W. Walker, author of the INSTINCT and the EDGE series ) and I've laughed out loud in bed reading Carl Hiaasen. Lately I've been reading my favorite Irish author, Ken Bruen. At College I read the great Russian writers, such as Turgenev and Tolstoy and began a whole new love affair. I suppose every writer that I read has influenced me. I believe that if one wants to (has to) write, one must read, read, read ...