On Wednesday, 5th April 2017, well-established and highly renowned Irish author Louise O’Neill visited UL campus for the second time this semester as part of the UL ‘One Campus, One Book’ initiative. This event is run every year by the Regional Writing Centre in the University whereby they select one book to focus on for the events that year, which includes reading the book and inviting the author to visit the university on multiple occasions to discuss the topics raised in the book, among other things.
Louise is the author of two YA novels, ‘Only Ever Yours’ and ‘Asking for It’. Asking for It was 2017’s chosen book by the Regional Writing Centre (RWC) and for good reason- topics explored in the book are to the forefront of society today, including, most notably, rape-culture in Ireland. Louise engaged in a ‘How I Write’ interview with Lawrence Cleary from the RWC, which focused on her writing process and her strategies to get through this process.
Louise jokingly expressed her writing process as her “sitting at my desk in my PJs and trying not to cry”, while also describing it as Therapeutic and Frightening. A valuable lesson the audience present in KBG12 that day learned was that you need to accept your limitations. Louise underlined that there must be an element of acceptance to everything we do, we cannot constantly expect impeccable perfection from every challenge we undertake, no matter how much we might want to. We must accept that when you try your hardest at something, that the outcome is the consequence of your best effort, and that’s OK.
Lawrence then questioned Louise about her strategies for blocking out negativity and having faith in what she is producing, especially when she may have to edit more or less everything she has written in a certain paragraph! She explained that at the beginning of writing a new book you must have tunnel-vision and block out all negativity and self-doubt. You must block out everything other than the positive thoughts that the particular piece of work you are working on will be a success. She highlighted the importance of being protective of your work and the ideas behind it in the infancy stage so that mentally you can carry on working on it, while also enjoying the experience.
A good piece of advice Louise gave the audience, which consisted of students, lecturers, researchers and the general public, was to stick post-it notes on your wall with plot-ideas, so that they are constantly in your sight and circling your mind. This could very easily be transferred to an academic-writing process also. One of Louise’s biggest insights was that it’s quite OK to not know where a particular piece of work you’re working on is going, you’ll get there eventually, as ideas change as you write.
Meeting Louise O’Neill twice this semester was an invaluable experience to all who came to the events as it is a true inspiration for every woman in this country, that a woman from Clonakilty, Cork can have such a huge impact on Ireland’s conversations today.