Anna May Mangan is a freelance journalist, playwright and published author and has won several awards for her work. She is a regular guest on radio and TV talk shows and writes an extremely entertaining blog about her life.
Hello Siobhan and thank you so much for inviting me along as a guest to your exciting new blog. I want to tell your readers about how I won the X Factor. Even though I can’t sing a note!
What really happened to me – getting a book deal after four decades of wanting and waiting -actually feels as joyous as it must to win the X Factor, only ten times better.
I am a reader who became a writer. When I was young my mum and aunts used to tut-tut at the way I always had my face stuck in a book. I looted my local library for everything Enid Blyton had ever written and then re-read it again, and again. “The house could burn down around that one when she’s reading!” they all complained about me. They’d never been taught to read properly, a good education was only for rich people in rural Ireland where they’d been born. Learning to read was considered a luxury for boys and girls who would be in full time work aged just thirteen, and the pleasure of reading a book was never theirs to know. A fact that still makes me so sad.
I was a nearly-writer for almost forty years. I yearned to do it, daydreamed all the time about how I would next week, next month, next year..... but other things kept getting in my way. Work, children, doing up houses, being a carer, illness. The truth is probably that it was ME and my lack of confidence that got in my own way. Don’t you make that mistake, because it’s very hard to get out of your own way!
I believe it’s possible to become terrified, and paralysed, by just the thought of making your own dreams come true. For a long time I was. Inside my head was a spaghetti junction of ideas and stories but I was scared no-one would find them interesting. Until I finally got bored of being afraid and ran out of reasons why I shouldn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t try to write a book and go on to get it published. I had become more afraid of trying even than of failing.
So now I would say to any young person who wants to be a writer that you shouldn’t be scared. Fear will choke the words inside you. Trust yourself and give it a go - only good things will happen if you do.
My book is called ‘Me and Mine’ and will be published by Virago on July 7 2011. It’s about the lives of the many women in my big, jumbly family. It’s funny, and sad, and with the help of the nicest literary agent in the country it was sold to my favourite publisher. That is the single most thrilling thing I have ever achieved.
And I wish the same excitement for all you aspiring writers out there. And get started today!
'Me and Mine' by Anna May Mangan is published by Virago in July. In the meantime you can hear more from her at her hugely entertaining blog.