This article about my classes is in the latest edition of the Skerries News. It tells of how my classes began five years ago and have developed since then:
It took Megan Wynne a long time to discover what she wanted to do with her life. She studied History and German at college, but on graduation couldn’t get a job, so she did a postgrad in business. After that she landed a very good marketing job, but unfortunately she couldn’t quite see the point of it. And so she returned to college, this time to train as a secondary teacher. After three years of teaching History and German, she left her pupils behind to travel the world. On her return she was supposed to resume teaching, but a bit like Goldilocks and the bowls of porridge, Megan fancied something different. Unfortunately, Megan didn’t quite fit her job the bank, or waitressing in a French style café on Strand Street (now Tarragon) or teaching in a post leaving certificate¬ college. For years Megan walked the South Strand in Skerries wondering what it was she was supposed to do. How come everyone else could stick in the same job but she could not? Determined to keep searching, she taught business German to employees in I.T. companies and then English as a Second Language in a primary school.
Then one day Megan began to write. That was wonderful and it was brilliant. Megan knew she had found her ‘thing’ but unfortunately it didn’t pay very many bills.
A few years later, Megan was invited to speak in a library about her journey to publication. She had achieved representation by a literary agent in London and it seemed as if she was about to the make the ‘Big Time’. The director of a literary consultancy heard Megan speak and invited her to teach creative writing to children on the agency’s behalf. That was in 2005. The following summer Megan ran her first Creative Writing Summer Camp in Ardgillan Castle, and in November 2007 she began weekly writing classes for adults and children in the Skerries Bookshop. Four participants squashed together around a kitchen table in the tiny storeroom upstairs, and made up magical stories about books and people passing by on the street below.
One adult student attended that very first Monday morning class in November 2007 and still attends the writing classes today. Her name is Barbara Coleman. She has become Megan’s right hand woman – co-editing the book of Christmas stories and promoting Megan’s classes to all who’ll listen. At this stage Barbara could probably run the courses herself! Other students have stayed for many terms. Some have had stories published, won national writing competitions and received excellent grades for English at school. Others are working on novels, one has published his own memoir and novel, and another has gone on to complete the Masters in Creative Writing in Trinity College Dublin.
At the end of her first year of classes, Megan stapled together five children’s stories into a booklet. For fun she held a small launch in the bookshop where the authors signed their books for family and friends. The following year she did it again, this time with ten or fifteen stories. As there was quite a demand for these books, she decided to sell them for a charity. The following Christmas Megan published thirty-eight adult, teenage and children’s stories. The launch was held in Skerries Mills and all one hundred and twenty books sold out before everyone got there. To avoid arguments, Megan had to ration copies to the eager punters. Since then the Christmas book has become a tradition. Each year the students’ nominate a charity to receive profits from the sales. The Pulmonary Hypertension Association, St. Vincent de Paul, Remember Us and Turn the Tide of Suicide have all benefited. The books have been posted all over the world. There are even copies in Trinity Library in the local studies section. Last year three hundred copies were sold – but again it wasn’t enough to meet demand – so this year five hundred copies have been ordered for the biggest and best collection yet!
This Christmas the book is entitled ‘A Stocking Full of Stories,’ and all profits are going to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin. As Skerries Mills was so packed last year, the launch is moving to Ardgillan Castle on Sunday 9th December at 2.30p.m. Friends, children, aunts, uncles, grannies and granddads are all welcome! There will be readings and afterwards the authors will sign their books in the grand dinning room! The books cost €7 and will go on sale in December in The Skerries Bookshop, Skerries Mills and C&T’s Supermarket, and other outlets in Malahide and Donabate.
Megan is very proud of her writing students and is delighted to have finally found a job that she loves. Support, from Paddy in the bookshop and Ray in Skerries Mills makes her classes possible. So for all of you who don’t know what career to pursue – keep searching. You’ll find it, if you keep looking.