Inkwell Success Stories

Success in Unexpected Places: Alana Kirk

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a determined writer in possession of a good skill, must be in want of a publishing deal.

All happy writers are alike; each unhappy writer is unhappy in their own way.

Inkwell helps with both of these adapted literary lines.  I have always wanted to be a writer and it was as a tentative explorer of this new world that I first came across Inkwell. When you want to write, and need to craft your craft, the workshops and supports that Vanessa and her team offer are second to none in Ireland. And when you have perfected those crafts and developed a manuscript, Inkwell will help you prefect that and make all the right introductions.

I first attended an Inkwell workshop nine years ago when I was at a crossroads in my career.  These were meaty, generous sessions where I was inspired by the guidance of real writers and taught by the experts on how to develop my craft. I also discovered there is a real and vibrant community of writers in this country – of which Vanessa seems to be at the heart. There are a myriad of events and festivals all year that are a wonderful opportunity to meet and mingle with aspiring and published writers.  Roll on several years during which time I wrote alongside setting up a business and raising young children. I always kept in touch with Vanessa, whose incredible enthusiasm won’t ever allow you to give up too long on your dream.  During that time, she recommended an creative writing online support course from Inkwell which really got me back to regular writing and helped me burst out of a rut of quite singular writing.  I was able to do the homework in my own time and it allowed me to start exploring a broader range of skills.

Eventually I had something akin to a manuscript but I became stuck. So who did I call?  Plot-busters.  Vanessa’s plot brainstorming service was the difference in breaking through a block and never completing the book. She made me kill one of my literary babies, and after I cried I made the cut and almost immediately the words flowed again.  Having an external objective look at your work can make all the difference. I finally had a finished manuscript.  Vanessa was so generous with her advice and support as I built up the courage to start pulling a pitch letter together, writing my bio and getting myself ready to face the obligatory rejection frenzy of searching for an agent / publisher.

I submitted to the 2015 Date With a Agent event as part of the Dublin Writer’s Festival – everything is read blind so I had no idea how it would fare, but my manuscript got through! And I met my now agent Sally McSweeney.

Even without meeting an agent, hearing from a panel of editors and agents is hugely important for getting a feel for the industry. It also helped to discover they are not monsters behind a towering slush pile of manuscripts, decapitating people’s writing hopes and dashing dreams with the swipe of a red pen. They are in fact, real people with a passion for books and they want to see good books published as much as you. It was around this time that I got an email every writer wants to receive. It was from Ciara Doorley, Editorial Director of Hachette Ireland. Vanessa had sent her my work, and she asked would I be interested in meeting?  Does a writer get shoulder cramp?  She loved daughter other memy writing, loved a blog I was writing, and offered me a book deal.  Through the whole process of writing Daughter, Mother, Me; a memoir of love, loss and dirty dishes, Vanessa has been an invaluable support.

My book was published in February 2016 and I can honestly say, although I wrote the words, it wouldn’t have happened without Vanessa and her knowledge, passion and support.   I am working on a second and hope also to pursue my fiction writing too.

At every stage of my writing career, Inkwell has been able to provide a service and support. From the early workshops where I began to craft my skills, through to writing support as I started to work on a manuscript, through to helping me reach out and get noticed, Vanessa has been standing alongside.  Writing is a solitary business, but success is a team effort and I am Team Inkwell all the way.

(c) Alana Kirk

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