Orna Ross writerYou've found my blog, excellent! Scroll down to read.

On Friday expect fiction extracts or updates. Sundays, I post the poem that got the most likes on Instagram this week. In between, anything can happen!

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Questioning the Answer

Gertrude Stein's famous quote – “There ain't no answer.  There ain't going to be any answer.  There never has been an answer.  That's the answer.” – has long been a favourite among non-believers, most lately appearing on the cover of The Atheist's Bible.

I read this morning, though, that Gertrude's pronouncement wasn't   

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Eight Stages of Writing #1: Preparation

Preparation: The Challenge

The challenge in this phase is to give preparation enough time, but no more than that.  Many beginning writers get stuck in this phase, unable to move on; others (me!) avoid it altogether and plunge right into working, which is just as debilitating.

Preparation: The Steps

Step 1: Create Time.

When are you going to work?  First thing in the morning? Last thing at night, after the day's work and the kids are in bed?  Your choice — but once you've decided, take out your diary and mark out the time blocks. They don't have to be big but they must be regular.  A 17th-century French Chancellor, D'Aguesseau, on noticing that his wife was habitually 10 minutes late coming down to dinner decided to

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Good Things from Cancer #2

We're all going to die, we all know it.  As Mary Oliver puts it in her poem, The Summer Day, “Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?”

Hell yes, Mary, yes.

The poem then asks: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

That is just the kind of question I've

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Time Out At Glendalough

I consider Glendalough, Co Wicklow, Ireland, to be one of the most inspiring places on earth.  It's where Iseult Gonne is buried and where some chapters of But A Dream, the third book in my WB Yeats trilogy are set. I spent as much time as possible there when I lived in Ireland, especially while researching  that novel.

This poem is a tribute to all that was given to me there.

Time Out At Glendalough

After you have walked the ruins
of seven churches,
tilted back your head to seek the top
of the tower that took
the rounded point
of Kevin’s steeple
and thrust it up,
three times as high,
from earth to sky to mark
the ground you walk upon
as holy;

after you have circled green lake paths
that urge you up, then further up,
to top the crashing
waterfall, then

after you’ve been stopped and stopped again,
by sight of ice-sliced mountain cut to valley
its mesh of rivers and falls,
rushing to empty all into two, long lakes
that somehow take this ceaseless gush
and hold it

you will know
the allure of here,
as of all the places we call sacred,
is the silence.

You will have heard
the voice
of your own blood
dropping into
the deep.

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Where Writers Go Wrong

Last night, I said goodbye to my “Get it Written” class who, since January last, have been beavering away at the task of completing a book.  

Some are now finished, some have completed first drafts, some have not got quite as far as they hoped when they started — but a core group has worked steadily towards their goal and are well along the way.

One of the handouts they took away with them was “Where Writers Go Wrong”.  In my experience as a writing mentor and literary agent, one

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Good Things from Cancer: #1

Everybody says you are supposed to fight cancer.  Newspapers carry stories of brave battles against the disease.  And Western medicine pulls out its biggest guns for the war – chemotherapy, radical surgery, radiation…

I am having all those treatments and more — but the battle metaphor just doesn't work for me.

When I was diagnosed, I had reached a point of my life where I was learning to love what is. To accept that whatever was happening in a particular moment was just as it ought to be — however much I might wish it otherwise.  To understand that what I called problems were often blessings in disguise.

This hardwon learning had me happier than I had ever been in my life.

So when

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Beyond Belief

Beyond Muslim, Hindu, Atheist, Christian, Buddhist, Jew… Beyond socialism, nationalism, feminism, capitalism,  tribalism, communism… Beyond power, politics, money, identity, sex … Read more