Born This Way


February was hilariously busy at String Revolution HQ. Among my many and varied exploits, I taught a class on editing your novel to a group of crime writing students.

How did I end up doing that, you ask? Well, my father the crime novelist was giving an eight-week evening course in the Irish Writers’ Centre, and he knew in advance that he’d be away for one of the weeks, so he drafted (geddit?) me in as a substitute.

And it went really well. Everyone was engaged and energised, we had thoughtful discussions, we covered what I’d planned to cover, my pacing was good. I had an absolute ball, and the students seemed to enjoy themselves too. Yes, I talked a shade too much, but in the grander scheme of things, it was a bloody good class.

Now look away…

…because I’m about to be arrogant, and I’d hate to shatter your illusions about my essentially humble and self-effacing character.

The thing is, I wasn’t in the least surprised that the class had gone so well. I had absolute confidence, walking into that room, in my ability to steer the discussion, cover the material, engage with questions, encourage participation, all that good stuff.

It’s something I was more or less born to, you see. Teaching is in my blood. (Academic forebears: both parents, an aunt, an uncle, a grandmother, two grandfathers, a step-grandfather, a great-grandfather, a great-great-aunt, a great-great-grandfather … and those are just the ones I can list off the top of my head.) I gave my first public lecture at age fifteen, the same year I co-taught a creative writing class in my school. I don’t actually have a squillion teaching hours under my belt, but it’s something I simply know I can do.

OK, you can look back now

The question quivering on your lips, I’m certain sure, is along these lines:

What has any of that got to do with the price of eggs?

Well. I gave that class, and I buzzed around for the rest of the evening on a total high, thinking, “Yes! That was great! More of that sort of thing!” – and then the next day after I’d calmed down a bit I thought, “What would it feel like, if instead of my background, which gives me this wealth of tacit knowledge about teaching, I had a background that gave me a similar wealth regarding, say, running a business?”

Because in that arena, I still feel thoroughly out of my depth.

I wondered what it would be like to know in my bones – because I’ve been unconsciously absorbing it since infancy – what an effective marketing campaign looks like. What language will set prospective customers at ease. What systems need to be in place before you start accepting clients. What you never, ever do when designing a product. Which risks are good to take and which ones are better to avoid.

Because it wouldn’t surprise me if at least some of the people who enjoy “easy” (it’s never easy) business success had that “born-to-it” advantage that I have around teaching (as well as writing, stringy crafts, and a few other things).

And I found myself … forgiving myself – somewhat – for not yet being a Tycoon, dammit! having turned String Revolution into a viable business. I’m struggling, yes, but it’s at least partly because I’m starting from absolute zero.

Ahhhh. That feels a bit better.

What are your born-to-it skills?


I’m planning a teleclass (see? Teaching skills!) related to my Get It Done service. It’ll be for people who don’t necessarily have a specific deadline but could still do with some tips on getting their creative projects finished.

It’ll be donation-based (and geared towards getting me to Portland in April).

Look out for details of that very soon.