Yesterday morning, I removed two toy cars and a packet of baby wipes from my handbag, replaced them with a brand new notebook and a leopard print pen and put on my prettiest shoes for courage. (Not especially easy on a caravan site where fit flops and crocs are de rigeur.)
The day before, I'd been sooooo ready for my week away at the John Hewitt International Summer School -Don't judge me, I'd wager that the heady mix of torrential rain, a caravan and four stir crazy, endlessly bickering boys would tip even the Dalai Lama over the edge. But the following day, in the misty drizzle of a Donegal morning with a two hour drive ahead of me, I was a little less gung-ho. Nerves and the sinking fear that I was going to be so far out of my depth this week that I'd drown, taunted me.
Bravely, (just run with it) I kissed goodbye to Loverboy and the little 'un, put my fabulous shoe down and made for Armagh. And then gradually, somewhere along the way the rain stopped, sun came out and I started to feel excited.
And it turned out to be no ordinary Monday. First up, we heard the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins speak with such depth, knowledge and warmth that he held the entire theatre in the palm of his hand. As a fellow attendee rightly commented 'he didn't write that on the loo this morning!'
After that, himself and his wife came into the theatre foyer for coffee, where he was immediately mobbed by fans and between you and me, the retirees were the worst, ruthlessly elbowing aside as they thrust their books out to get signed!
To be honest, I almost chickened out in the stampede, but just as he was leaving, a sympathetic aide, who bore more than a passing resemblance to Ellen de Generes, grabbed my iPhone and I got the money shot.
Then it was time for the free lunch- turns out there IS such a thing- and after I listened as Joseph O'Connor read passages from his new book 'The Thrill of it All'. Honestly, it was laugh out loud funny, beautifully written and I could have listened to that gorgeous soft Dublin accent all day long. I even plucked up the courage to ask him a question after- a really blah one about where he gets his ideas from, but still.
And in case you're interested, he just gets inspiration from everywhere andsometimes characters just turn up in his head and torture him until he writes about them..... way to go, Joe, I'm not jealous AT ALL. The thing is, the glass half empty part of me DID feel a bit 'feckIcouldNEVERwritelikethatsowhat'sthepointofeventrying' afterwards, but then I gave myself a virtual slap round the head and a good talking to, which was Something along the lines of 'Give my head peace. Doing a few GCSE biology modules wouldn't have you performing cardiac surgery, and this is just the bloody same, so take a chill pill and settle yourself.' (FYI,I'm also available for motivational speeches and one to one consultations).
(And here's a little sleb trivia for you, did you know that Joseph O'Connor is actually Sinead O'Connor's brother? S'true!)
Next, I was straight into a workshop on writing children's fiction- not my first choice to be fair, but I really loved it. Turns out I find it really bloody hard to brainstorm about giant tomatoes, and an eight year old with a tail and talking butterflies with jealousy issues. My problem is that just as I'm getting somewhere, my sensible head hits the buzzkill button and rushes in and stamps all over it.
Then in the evening it was an art exhibition with a drinks reception, traditional music and despite best intentions-you guessed it-it was a very late night. (Rounded off by the discovery that my key was missing and then having to bunk into a room with a lovely lady I'd just met...who also snored a lot, but don't tell her!)
And now it's day two, I'm filled to the brim with coffee and scrambled egg and there's a day of culture ahead. Bliss! Starting with poetry and ending with literature and not a load of laundry in sight. Life is good. Laters lovelies, Emx