Irish Wanderings of an Irish Writer

Niamh Griffin is a full-time writer and she loves saying that! You can read more at her blog Irish Wanderings where she blathers about culture shock, travelling and women who love sport.

Have you seen the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie realizes that she could have bought an apartment in Manhattan with the money she’s spent on shoes? Men roll their eyes at that, women wish they were her. Me? I want to know how much she gets paid for her one column? And how can I get a gig like that?

Yes, being a writer takes over your life so even watching telly becomes a hunt for leads and story ideas. But my favourite part of writing is actually shaping the story. When you’ve sold the idea to wonderful editor, talked to all the people connected to that idea, gathered the facts, statistics and startling pieces of information – that’s when the fun starts. My first writing teacher was Valerie Khoo at the Sydney Writers Centre. She showed us how to define the main idea of the story, and then create a diagram with the key information around it.

This stage can take me forever – moving information from the beginning to the end, choosing which quotes to use and deciding which pieces of information to leave out. I love chatting to people so sometimes end up with completely irrelevant information. (Ahem, yes working on my interview technique now.) I used to feel bad that someone had spent time talking to me for a short piece but now I appreciate that sometimes the best quotes come at the end of a longer conversation when people are relaxed.

I love the feeling when I find the shape of the story – the setting for a profile or the key point to drag lots of interviews together. It’s like magic when you can take that pile of papers and recorded interviews and turn it into a story someone will read over their coffee. I’m still on the hunt for that elusive generous editor – if you see her, do let me know.

8 thoughts on “Irish Wanderings of an Irish Writer

  1. Great post! It’s lovely to read about the joy someone gets from creativity :)

    The way Niamh described the long interview before writing an article – It reminds me of documentary film-making, where an interview might be filmed over the course of few days and the best moments will be pulled out and edited together – Or in general film-making, where a scene will be filmed and re-filmed in order to get the best possible take.

    If I hear about the elusive generous editor, I’ll post it here!

  2. Lovely post, great that Niamh spends the time getting her ‘subjects’ relaxed and full of great stories. if you find the elusive editor, Niamh, send her over to me, thks.

  3. Great post by Niamh… so that’s how you do it! I have never had the courage to pitch an idea in case I cant follow it up with decent information! So I shall print out your post here and pin it to my fridge.. Then I only to find that elusive author everyone mentions…. She gotta be out there somewhere

  4. I like your post. I hope you’ll find an editor one day. And I wish I have the same spirit that you have in writing

  5. Thanks Olive for posting this! Just put a link on my blog too.

    @ Roisin – thanks. That’s a really interesting insight into the world of film. It must be difficult to cut down a few days of filming into a coherent talk! I hadn’t thought of it like that before, but I guess all forms of creativity look different to the audience than they do at the start?

    @ Brigid – When you first interview people they can be shy or reticent, it can take a while to get someone to open up. Hmm, or else I need to get sharper with the questions, there is probably a faster way to do things

    @ Barbara – you have great ideas in your blog posts already! For sure other people will be interested in reading them :) Don’t know how much Brown Thomas shopping you could do on the income though!

    @ Novroz – thanks! Your own blog is packed full of enthusiasm for reading and movies. New discovery for me, look forward to reading more

  6. @Niamh Definitely! I wonder what Beckett’s first draft of Waiting for Godot looked like!

  7. @Niamh; You’re welcome! Thanks again for the post:)

  8. It’s great to hear your writing process, Niamh.

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