Stepping Out for Inspiration

Before Composing a Syllable
Before Composing a Syllable

There are times when  I seriously doubt my sanity and those doubts came in massive waves the other morning when I went for the two hour walk around Tramore Beach on what was the most bitterly cold morning we’ve had in years.

I just couldn’t resist it and was heartened by a teenage memory of walking on Baltray Beach, Co. Louth with my father when our faces were battered by the hardest, cruelest hailstones that ever fell from the sky! It was a day we laughed about right up until he died over half a century later.

As I huddled into the wind, determined I would never tell anyone I’d gone for this mad walk, I doubled back to take a second look at a chair which someone had lodged securely against the elements and which was obviously a special place for him/her. It was at the half-way point where one walks up the ‘channel’ towards the Backstrand.

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford
Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford

That chair brought me to this poem from one of my poetic heroes, Billy Collins. It’s a poem that I read over and over and is one which never fails to inspire me.

Advice to Writers

Even if it keeps you up all night,
wash down the walls and scrub the floor
of your study before composing a syllable.

Clean the place as if the Pope were on his way.
Spotlessness is the niece of inspiration.

The more you clean, the more brilliant
your writing will be, so do not hesitate to take
to the open fields to scour the undersides
of rocks or swab in the dark forest
upper branches, nests full of eggs.

When you find your way back home
and stow the sponges and brushes under the sink,
you will behold in the light of dawn
the immaculate altar of your desk,
a clean surface in the middle of a clean world.

From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift
a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet,
and cover pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants
that followed you in from the woods.

Billy Collins

(Source: Billy Collins, 2000,  Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes: Selected Poems, Picador)

Writing from the Heart
Writing from the Heart

Tides of Inspiration for Bloggers

StonesWalking along the seashore is my place of endless inspiration. I’ve realised over the last while that it’s all to do with the ever-changing nature of the sea and the many lines that it offers. These are lines that are full in their own right but which invite thoughts, reflections, words, sentences, paragraphs, pages …..

So many colourful stones with lines ~ not even requiring that one’s writing is straight ~ a perfect art gallery or pages begging to be filled.

And what about the horizon? That line that stretches the eyes and mind and makes one think of the breadth, width and depth of life.

Annestown, Co. Waterford
Annestown, Co. Waterford

And in-between are the waves ~ sometimes only the tiniest ripples, other times massive breakers carrying one along in great surges.

Fanore, Co. Clare
Fanore, Co. Clare

There are times, too, when the huge canvas of the lined sand on a beach like my precious Tramore provides the ultimate inspiration.

Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford
Tramore Beach, Co. Waterford

The certainty that that the sea with its multiplicity of lines is ever-changing brings a newness with every tide that encourages, hand-holds and sets the pen of the heart and mind free like a kite sailing in the wind.

What, oh what, will the next tide bring?





Send out Your Boats!

“If  you don’t send out your boats, they won’t come sailing in.”

I was reared on this saying and had been under the impression that it was first uttered by some very important personI went looking this morning, but can’t find any references to it so am assuming, until I hear differently, that it was a makey-up of my parents.

It’s a saying that I think of every time I enter a writing competition, especially by post. I have no qualms about giving my entry a heartfelt kiss before popping it into the letter box in the Post Office.

It’s all about creating hope, isn’t it?  Okay, one has to be prepared for the fact that some of the boats will get washed up along the way but it’s always good to know that one has boats gone out that may well come back to  safe harbour with an abundance of hope on board.

I mentioned this to an artist friend a while back and this was his lovely response:

A Boat called 'Hope'
A Boat called ‘Hope’



The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

I’ve always loved playing with words and have been enthralled by the WORDS Writer’s Group which was set up almost a year ago now.  It is held at the Art Hand, which is situated near Bonmahon at one of the most scenic parts of Co. Waterford’s stunning and historic Copper Coast.

The Group meets on the first Wednesday of each month and the whole essence of the event is that we share words ~ be they our own or those written by others. These are words across genres, generations and are local, global ~ mainly in English but sometimes not; mainly face-to-face but sometimes via Skype from far flung places.  You can sit and listen, sit and respond or stand up and perform ….. with performance being as widely interpreted as the words themselves.

Sword 3

My contribution for this months event arose out of  staring at a blank page with the letters W O R D S scrawled at the top. It dawned on me that moving the letter S to the beginning brought a SWORD into play and suddenly I could see a ginormous paper knife slitting open a huge envelope of words, thoughts, emotions, imaginings … that have been evoked by the WORDS Writer’s Group since its inception. The words  that tumbled onto the page included:


Wounds                 Opposites            Roots                     Darkness                Ships
Winnings            Ordinary               Remembrance   Dawnings             Secrets
Worth                     Opportunity        Realities               Drawings             Senses
Welcome               Openings             Records               Drives                    Seamus Heaney
Warmth                 Oddities                 Reading                Drinks                    Storms
Wonderment       Observations       Responses           Death                     Sea Pinks
Wrappings           Oneness               Reactions            Direction                Songs
Willow                   Order                       Roadways          Dread                      Singing
Winding                 Oceans                   Rhyme                 Doors                      Sounds
Wine                                                           Rhythm               Dreams                   Silence
Whispers                                                 Reaching            Desserts                 Sophisticated
Whipping                                                                                Deserts                   Simple
Writing                                                                                      Daftness                 Soft
                                                                                                     Daughters              Sadness
                                                                                                     Dots                           Sailing
                                                                                                     Daring                      Sassy
                                                                                                     Darkness                 Sunset
                                                                                                      Dressing-room      Sisters

WORDS Writer’s Group is very much a work in progress and I know that all the participants will have their own special words from the year that flown. I can’t but wonder what will be unleashed as we move into the future together….

Looking Ahead .....
Looking Ahead …..

Co. Waterford ABC ~ I is for Inspiration

Co. Waterford ABC is a feature here on Social Bridge where I am identifying mhighlights of  this diverse county in Ireland where I was born and which has been ‘home’ for the last 26 years. There will be just 26 posts ~ one for each letter of the alphabet and I hope you will join me in discussing your views about the places, people,  events, things that I select. Would you have chosen differently? In a county with such natural beauty and diversity in terms of history and heritage, one could quite easily identify 26+  highlights for each letter! 

See all previous posts in this Series Here

Map of Co. Waterford (Click to Zoom)
Map of Co. Waterford
(Click to Zoom)

Co. Waterford is a source of incredible Inspiration for writers of different genres and has produced many notable writers over its long history.

I hope you enjoy this Podcast which I produced to celebrate the inspirational beauty and heritage of Co. Waterford as well as the many writers and festivals which are associated with the county.

Eclectic WORDS ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 261

Co-Founder of WORDS, Roisin Hackett, performing at the Art Hand
Co-Founder of WORDS, Roisin Hackett, performing at the Art Hand

The October, and fourth, meeting of WORDS Writers’ Group took place last night and my mind was full of Autumn, John Keats and, for all sorts of reasons, T.S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,  as I drove towards the dynamic Art Hand of Sean and Miranda Corcoran on the Copper Coast here in Co. Waterford.

This was the first evening since the Group started in early July that it was dark on the outward journey but I still got out of the car to look  at the waves crashing against the cliffs on a road that is so intensely evocative.

The cosy room at the Art Hand was buzzing with the chatter of both familiar and unfamiliar faces. It’s fascinating how the Group is developing a core of regulars and also newcomers who may well become regulars. As ever, there was a comfortable mingling and, for me, a huge highlight was finally getting to meet a local blogger with whom I have been conversing online for about two years now!

The words of last evening brought us back to the wonder of children’s story books with those big colourful pages; off on an adventure to an island in the Pacific; into the world of traditional music played in front of open fires; swimming on a deserted beach along the Copper Coast;  down the historic cells at Duncannon Fort;  into the intricacies of making a silent film …..

It was a night on which the death of  never-to-be-forgotten old dogs wove its own little thread, along with the significance of hugs.  The hugs extended into the past as loved ones were honoured through words about them and the reading of words by them.

Plenty of laughs too, the character of the fig, spiders spidering, and an unexpectedly risque poem of a late grandfather and former policeman about ‘Women’s Fashions’, read by his grand daughter.  I will never see stockings, tights or the merging of the Barrow and the Nore in the same way again after last night!

Oddly,  it didn’t seem dark at all on the way home!

Inspiration ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 98

New Page at Garrarus Beach, Tramore, Co. Waterford
New Page at Garrarus Beach, Tramore, Co. Waterford

I’m intrigued by the world of writing, and ahead of the Waterford Writers’ Weekend which starts today, I have been thinking about inspiration and where it comes from.

For me, I think it derives very much from nature and the lovely surroundings here in Tramore, Co. Waterford. How could one not be inspired by the sea, the ebb and flow of the tide,  gulls calling, daffodils in bud, in bloom, knocked over by the wind, the pigeons nesting in the monkey puzzle in the garden, driftwood on the shore, the bluebells getting ready to bloom …..

But writers write in all sorts of places and more than anything, I have been captivated, of late, by the way in which the trees in Newtown Wood, just outside Tramore, have thrust the concept of ‘frames’ in front of me.  Really, we see life through frames ~ be they nature, time, people, food, music, film,  memories, everyday snippets of conversation ….. the list is endless.

Framing Life at Newtown Wood, Tramore, Co. Waterford.
Framing Life at Newtown Wood, Tramore, Co. Waterford.

Where does your inspiration come from?