Sometimes I cringe when I see a headline that has anything to do with writing tips. There is no shortcut or secret that will make it easier or a guaranteed success, whatever your definition of that is. But sometimes insights from writers resonate and motivate and need to be stuck on a post-it at your desk or saved as a screen saver or tattooed on your hand.
In The Stinging Fly’s publication of the six prize-winning stories from the 2014 Davy Byrnes Short Story Award, they included an Author’s Note for each piece. Two of these talk about the process of writing the story as well as what it’s about –
Julian Gough – ‘Harvest’
“One morning, I decided I’d write a story, because I hadn’t for a while. I sat down, and asked my subconscious, which is always composting experience into material, to give me something…”
“I’m very happy with how it turned out. But I’m still not entirely sure who wrote it.”
Colm McDermott – ‘Absence’
“When I started writing the story I’d no idea where it was going. All I knew was that I wanted to write about a woman stripped of the things which, in her mind, made her a woman…”
“In the end, the story became about endurance. A person’s need to go on and their ability to go on, despite everything. Since I was on the road so much, and could only cobble together a few hundred words at a time, the story was written in this spirit, a spirit of defiance, a refusal on my part to stop writing until I’d wrung the whole thing out.”
Not only have these writers given us stories that are beautiful, powerful and enduring, they’ve also shown that there is no better tip than this: Write. Just Write.