Oct 7 2011

Emerging Author with an Identity Crises

Posted by     50 Comments    Posted under: The Snug

This is the only known photo of me 'not' smiling and was taken for my green card application. No smiling allowed.


It might be all the talk about Dana ( pronounced Dah – nah ) running for president.

Or it might be the fact that when I meet people for the first time — those who have been reading the blog — they are taken aback at the sound of me. Mostly, it is a case of mistaken identity, and because of this, I always find myself apologising for the way I ‘sound’. I am either (a) American sounding or (b) Irish sounding. But which ever way I end up sounding, it is always the complete opposite of the way I ‘sound’  to them, when they read the words I write.

One of the very first things I was taught when I started this writing course in 2009 at NUIG  was about finding my ‘voice’. My first batch of homework exercise came back from my teacher all red-penned and perforated with comments like: ‘great voice, but are you American or Irish? Pick one and stick with it’.

Hmpf….easy for teacher to say because he clearly did not have to listen to all the voices in my head, all day long, nattering on and on and on in Ah-merhi-kahn……or in Oi-rish.

So here it is. I am laying my cards on the table. I, Móna Wise, can (apparently) never run for president, it appears in America, or in Ireland. I knew I would never make it to the White House. They make that very clear when you get your citizenship. Unless you are a natural born citizen, you ain’t got a chance.

Now, because I have the privilege of holding dual citizenship, not being able to make a run for Irish presidency comes as devastating news to me. I always fancied a stint at the Arás myself.

Irish by birth and American by choice.

I was born and raised in Ireland and moved to the US when I was 19. You could say I grew up there. I was a US Visa lottery winner and had a green card. I never needed to gain citizenship. The only thing I was not able to do was vote. That was why I got my US citizenship. I am a voter who firmly believes that every vote counts. I have never been ashamed of either of my nationalities. Carrying dual citizenship/passports is like saying ‘It’s ok to have dual personalities Móna. Be who you are’.

When I moved to the US I was welcomed so warmly I did not return home for 15 years (except once a year on holidays etc).When I moved back home a few years ago, I was welcomed so warmly I am still sad I was gone so long.

Both of these ‘personalities’ of mine, that I find myself sometimes trying to hide or hush, are who I am.

I can’t be one or the other. I am both.

I am me.

Now, I know there is no talk of food in this blog post. For future reference, I am posting all my ‘WiseWords on Writing‘ in the little section called ‘The Snug’ at the top of the blog. I like to sit in ‘The Snug’ in several bars in town and write. No, I will never tell you which bar snugs I sit in because I like to be alone, with my white noise playing on my iPhone, and pretend that I look important. I can’t do that if you are sitting next to me chatting.  (For those of you that do not know what a snug is, it is a teeny tiny cosy nook in a pub where people will leave you alone. The nicer ones are right beside the fireplace and seat only three or four people).

 * We interrupt this programme to give you a break from the girl on her soapbox. Have a look at the cute photo, take a break and resume reading in five *

Hey – it's seasonal! Little Rory-Belle aged 3


* and we are back *


Today, I hit a big mile marker with my book writing. I have cleared the 10,000 word hurdle and am carrying around a hefty weighted manuscript in my lovely leather tote these days. (disclosure – there are lots of photos so it ‘looks’ bigger than it is!). I feel that this book has about one hundred thousand words of a story in it, but after I edit out all the fluff and typos and extra exclamation points, I figure we are looking at a cool 70,000 for the final word count. I have no idea how many pages this will be, but there will be enough pretty photos in it to keep you interested.

Earlier this morning I had a nice chat on the phone with ‘my editor’. I love saying ‘my editor’.

His job is to make sure I actually write the book and he has the power to pass or fail me at the end of the school year (May 2012) if I do not listen and learn from all the advice he is giving me. Failing is not an option because I am still afraid of my Mother and her large collection of wooden spoons.

After our chat on the phone I reviewed my notes and lined up all the comments, so as to make sure I would incorporate all his advice into my next batch of writing. Now before you go all ‘oh, here she goes all bragging etc’ I just want to make a little statement.

I am in college to learn how to write. Many people are natural born writers that never need to go to school to learn how to write. I envy them. It has taken me almost forty years to come to terms with the fact that writing is all I want to do. And now you know I am old.

Here’s what the editor had to say:

Your story is compelling and interesting

This is a relief to me because he is a dude from Dublin. My target audience is a female one, so I like knowing a manly man like Eoin can read the book and find it interesting.

‘You are presenting your story very well and you have a fairly good shot of having this be picked up with interest from a few publishers

This is so nice to hear and the exact words any emerging author wants to hear. Am I right?  I am hell bent on self-publishing. T’is my first book. I am a control freak.

Drop in another section like your ‘Larder of love’ . It is so personal and really gives the reader a feel for who you are‘.

I about peed with excitement here because the ‘Larder of love’ is my little introduction at the begining of the book and — squeal –  I love it too!

So, yeah, I now have to come up with one or two other fabulous things to ‘drop in’ to the book. I’m on it!

You might run into a bit of trouble when it comes to marketing your book because it is straddling the lines of split genres, however, you are doing it very well, so do not change what you are doing right now and we will worry about that later‘.

He is so right. I know it. Haven’t I just told you all about my split personalities? Well, the book is split genres. Attention seeking if you will.

It is straddling the lines of Memoir/Biography AND Lifestyle/Cookbook.

Ah feck it. My teacher told me in first year that he really hated all those people that were young and writing memoirs. How can you write a memoir if you are only 30 and have not even lived yet? He is right. But the Chef & I have crammed an awful lot of living into our first fifteen years together.

Oh, and the last one is about voice, which is what started this whole bloody identity crises blog post to beging with….

Watch how you sometimes ‘talk’ directly to the reader. It is working for now, but we need to keep an eye on it‘.

Yes. I know that I do this. This is what happens when you blog. I assume that everyone is sitting there reading my words as I type, nodding their heads and participating as I ramble on. Like when I crack a joke, I can hear the audience laugh.

I so need to get out more. I am such a recluse.

He never once mentioned anything about how I ‘sounded’. I am guessing that I have put that demon to rest and can carryon just being me.

And that’s a wrap for today folks.  I am on cloud nine. I feel that I am finding my groove and I already love the look and feel of the book.

10,000 words a month. If I can do it (being a full time student, mum to four and wife to an exceedingly needy husband) then so can you.

What are you waiting for?


All words and images are my own. © 2011. 

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50 Comments + Add Comment

  • Ah Móna, good for you – pity about the Aras, mind, but personally, I’d take the glory of a well written tome over that any day of the week – and you’ve reminded me that my own goals and aspirations, writing and otherwise, could do with a bit of care and attention these days. Must stop procrastinating and get on that one.

    • Good woman Aoife! It is just a matter of sitting down and forgetting about how scary the numbers are.
      I think (all summer long) I freaked myself out over 100,000 words. Now, ten thousand in and I am afraid I will have too much….
      and not be able to cram it all in to 100,000.
      Thank you for your (always) lovely comment!

  • Congrats on hitting the 10,000 word mark! And I’m sure that once you hit your stride with your voice, it will sing out loud and clear. x

    • Thank you Kristen. It is a great feeling to be moving along with the flow of the book.
      I was just thinking, imagine if I got this far, and I hated the process. That would make for a very different blog post :0)
      Thanks for the visit!

  • I love your voice Mona. Both in real life (i can still hear your actual voice when I’m reading your blog!) and in your blog. I seriously cannot wait for your book to actually be published as I just know it’s going to be wildly successful! I mean; how many facebook followers did you get in just four days? I rest my case… all of those will – ofcourse – buy your book and their friends and the friends of their friends…
    And 10.000 words… I can sort of imagine how many that is, if I write a blog post (or a comment! lol) that is 300 words long… So well done you!

    • Thank you Simone. I love your voice and your LAUGH!
      Ten thousand words is not really a lot when you think of it in ‘blog posts’.
      But it is a great milestone to hit when you know that the end goal might be 70,000.
      My goal is to sell 1,000 print copies and 1,000 eBook copies. I will do my best to achieve that!
      I hope you have a great weekend Simone xx

  • Great to read that you got positive feedback from your editor 🙂 It’s real pleasure to read your blog 🙂

    • Thank you very much Magda. I appreciate you commenting and letting me know you are reading!

  • Mona, what an inspiration you are. I write a little, but find it impossible to contemplate writing a whole book. Love the old photo of you. Best of luck with the writing. If I’m ever in Galway, I’ll hunt you down in one of those snugs 🙂

    • Thank you so much Vicky!
      I will come out of ‘snug hiding’ for you especially if there is cake or breakfast to be had ;0)
      And do come to Galway!

  • Having never met you… I think you have an amazing voice, even if I only hear it, in your words. I really enjoy reading your Blog & I’m so looking forward to your Book…

    • Derval,
      Thank you very very much…..I appreciate that. I just hope that if our paths cross in real life you are not
      disappointed with my real voice ;0) and that you find they are two (or three) of the same.
      Thank you very much for your kind comment. I am looking forward to the book myself!

  • Wasn’t JK Rowling the supreme genre-splitter with her school/wizardry stories, and look how her work flopped…

    I think you speak directly to the reader very well. We’d feel ignored if you didn’t, and we’d have to turn to chocolate or women’s magazines or seamanship certificate courses or rum for consolation. You tell that editor man that. Tell him not to mess with us.

    • Ah Mise,
      Thank you for this. I am so glad you understand that it is my very goal
      to keep the reader occupied and distracted from the flimsy magazines and certainly the seamanship certificate courses.
      But when it comes to the rum my friend, isn’t it alright to have a wee nip when necessary?
      I have forwarded your comments to the editor. I do not think he will bother us again, unless to perhaps get a recipe.
      Thanks for the visit and I hope your weekend has gotten off to a wonderful start.

  • A voice is only any good if you have something interesting to say – and you my friend, have interesting something to say!

    • Thank you Amee,
      Let’s hope I have interesting something to say for another 80,000 words!
      I hope all your buttons are back in working order. :0)

  • Great job, friend!
    These days we are all a mix of identities, backgrounds and loves. I say that’s what makes you you – and I truly believe your readers will love you for it
    A. Because they’re tasting something new and different
    B. Because they feel the same: split, torn, etc.
    So excited for you, and looking forward to reading more.
    Enjoy the snug 🙂
    Sending a soft wind to blow into your inspired (and inspiring) sails.

    • Hi Gabriela,
      I hope you are settling in to your new home and all went well with the big move.
      Thanks for your comment. You are right, of course, I am sure that there are a lot of people
      that feel the same way. Thanks also for the soft wind to help inflate the sails of inspiration.
      A gift like that is always welcome xxx
      Enjoy Autumn in New York!

  • Do I even need to say that I understand? 25 years in the US, 25 years in Europe and raising 2 sons with 2 passports, 3 languages and 3 cultures… and don’t ever change because that is what makes you YOU (as you so beautifully put it). And I cannot wait to read your book, Mona, so excited! I love reading all about this adventure as it happens to you! And to your lovely family! Keep going, girl, we are all behind you – even us crazy straddlers….

    • I knew this would resonate with you Jamie and a lot of our friends and family members.
      Globalisation is a big word and now families are exposed to so many different cultures
      and ways of life it is hard to know ‘what’ to be. I have become very comfortable with being ‘me’.
      Thanks for reading Jamie, hope your weekend has gotten off to a great start xxxx

  • “You might say I grew up there…”

    Yes, you might… you’d be lying, but you might 🙂

    Maybe some day you will grow up but I think most of us know it’s never going to happen. We have actually read your blog you know 😉

    Let’s meet in the Snug and toast to “keeping the dream alive”

    • Ha ha ha …thanks Shane. You are only afraid if I do actually ever grow up then you will be expected to
      follow suit. You being next in line to the throne and all.
      And, I am sure if you came a looking you would know exactly which snug to find me in.
      Kiss those beautiful babies of yours for me xxx

  • Móna – your words about being told to pick one voice over another remind me of an interview I saw with John Connolly (one of my favourite authors) who says he hasn’t been accepted as an ‘Irish’ author because he hasn’t written his famine book yet (he’s a Dubliner who writes the darkest of dark crime fiction based in Maine). No one is wholly described by one word or one voice in this day and age.

    They are wonderful words from your editor -well done on such a fantastic achievement
    Karen xx

    • Thanks Karen. I appreciate knowing this tidbit of information about John Connolly. Nice to know I am not the
      only one with multiple voices in my head ;0)
      I am loving the process. I was so intimidated by the idea of writing a book but now that I am getting stuck in I am really
      Enjoying the (very steep) learning curve…..
      Have a great weekend. xxx

  • Well done Mona on reaching 10,000 words. It must be thrilling to receive good feedback from your editor! The photo of Rory is so beautiful. 🙂

    • Aw Thanks Nessa. It is thrilling and I do not take
      it for granted at all. I love the course I am doing in college and
      feel lucky to be able to attend – and have such a supportive hubby and
      Mum ;0) Thanks for the visit Nessa!

  • Well Mona, you look about 12 years old in that photograph I can’t believe you were old enough then to get a Green Card.
    I love hearing about the processes you are going through to write a book. I know the refrain is that we all have a book in us but I think I would be far, far to sensitive to criticism (and I’m also quite huffy – although I try not to be) that at the first hint of criticism, constructive or otherwise I would put down my pen/computer/dreams.
    Good luck with the next 10,000!

    • Thank you Glynis!
      I have a few books in me and it was that feeling of needing to write them
      that made me enrole in University. I am fairly thick skinned.
      Living and working with a Chef does that to a girl. You might surprise
      yourself Glynis when it comes to getting feedback. I trust those that are
      teaching me because they are the experts and I want to learn from them.
      Thanks for the visit and the comment! Enjoy your weekend.

  • Delighted to hear you are getting on so well and getting so much brilliant feedback. As a procrastinator with my own book (and yes, I need to do that course you are doing and learn how to write) it is lovely to be able to read about your progress.

    • Thanks Lorna. I am loving having the opportunity to do this but
      It would be hard for me to encourage any Mum to go back to college for four years to do this course.
      It puts a huge strain on ‘life in general’. However, that being said, I would also encourage anyone out there to
      follow their gut and make it happen if it was something you felt you had to do and couldn’t ‘not’ do …
      Dishes waiting to be washed in the sink!

  • Some say split and I say perfect. It is your dual American/Irish persona that makes you unique…I say don’t you dare pick, I like you just the way you are (and yes, I heard some music at the end of that line!).

    • Aw – thank you Barb. I heard the music too!
      Thanks. I have always kind of stuck out like a sore thumb so reading the word unique
      made me smile. Hope you are having a nice weekend so far.
      We are going to make your Bourbon cider drinkies tomorrow xxx

  • I feel I have to comment on your voice since I taught you your first words.

    First word on tape was an answer to ‘Where is Daddy?’
    “Gome” was the answer.

    Then we had a Bunny Yabbit for a while but that all changed with
    “I’m the Dog Who did’nt win a Prize.

    You were a perfect speaker from then on.

    Loud maybe because of my Shouting? “yes you can” and “you will”
    (first wooden spoon) long before Obama was heard of.

    Do you recall your speech for President Mary Robinson?
    I Still remember how proud I was of you on that night.

    Im just saying nice things so that when you make lots of money you will be able to afford a really nice home for me when I get old in 20 yrs time.

    I’m all for the Snug and” keeping the dream alive”, sooner rather than later. xx

    • Aw shucks Mum. Thanks. Glad to see you have put a twenty year warning on your ‘getting old’ timestamp.
      Also, we have already picked out the nice ‘home’ for you ……… it is out back right beside the duck shed :0)
      Glad to have made you proud Mother and hope to continue to do so, now and in the future.

  • I love all your comments and even more so the fact that you take the time to respond to them ALL! Your Mom’s was sweet and funny.

    Your voice (s) will ring true from the pages of your book just as they do from this blog so keep toiling away in your snug. You are who you are, you make not apologies (nor should you) and I tend to think that you more than anyone, knows that rules were meant to be broken. I’m looking forward to your projected release date in May. If your book is anything close to this blog then it and your voices are going to be heard and loved by much more than your goal of 2000.

    • Hi Paula and happy Thanksgiving to you!
      You know, I find that sometimes, on a lot of my favourite blogs, it is the comments that make entertaining reading.
      Yes, my Mum is funny and sweet but do not be mislead, she rules with an iron fist around here ;0)
      I think, now that I have identified the voices and I am not trying to hide them any more, the words are flowing s bit freer.
      I am enjoying the process a lot and I will do my best to stick to my own, and my editors, deadlines!
      Thank you for popping in for a visit Paula.

  • First, love the young pic of you!
    Second, in my mind a good writer is someone who can move me to tears or laughter or both and you have managed those deeds in this blog so whatever voice it is I reckonn you’ve got IT!

    • Hi Caroline,

      Thanks a million for the lovely compliment. Glad you like the photo too!
      I think it is going with my gut…that is what I am learning.
      To trust my instinct and stop hitting the backspace button……which I do all the time.
      Thanks for the visit!

  • Well now, what can I say? Go, Móna! I didn’t to read this til today and having had our little Writers’ Forum yesterday all I can say is ‘fantastic work, deserving of a HUGE readership.’ The journey so far has been so much fun and it wouldn’t be the same without your support, innate understanding and laughter. Let the fun continue 🙂

    • Thanks Karen. I keep forgetting that you live in the land-of-no-internet and do not get to view n’ read until you are in the big house :0)
      Twill be an interesting year, and as we discussed yesterday, not easy at all.
      See you next week xx

  • I’m lucky, Mona. Having met you I can hear both your writer’s voice and your spoken voice in my head when I read you. You definitely have picked up a pinch of ‘American’ along the way and I think it seasons your Irish voice. I’m glad you haven’t picked one or the other because we’d be missing out on a lot of your experiences if you did. Lovely post. Hx

    • Thank you Hester. I feel lucky to have met you too. I think I tried to ‘hide’ it too much, when I moved to the states I had to stop
      being so Irish because I was just trying to get on with my life and work, earn a living etc. and then when I came back home
      it was the opposite, I had to smother the American in me. Now, after fighting the demons, I think it is best if I just write it
      as I hear it …….. and hope y’all tag along for the ride. Thanks for the compliment though, I really do appreciate it.
      Galway soon for a visit I hope?

  • Hi Mona!
    Congratulations on hitting the 10,000 word mark. Though your book is targeted toward woman, I will be one of those “1,000 people” (your goal) who buy the print version:) Your blog is like candy corn, very addictive.

    • Hey Robert,
      Thank you thank you thank you! I have a few ‘men’ following the blog and I love that because
      there is quite a bit of mannish food going on around here! Thanks for lining up to buy the book Robert.
      When we come to do the US tour we will meet up in Cincinnati or somewhere nice on your side of the river!
      AND – did you know, that you cannot buy Candy Corn in Ireland! Not a bite to be found. Hard to imagine
      Halloween without it, right?

  • Good on you Mona. I love your writing style – great wit and balanced self-deprecation going on so no fear of being taken as ‘bragging’ at all. Writing is something that you fall in love with but unlike love you are in complete control and you make it happen, cliched as that sounds it’s true. Best wishes with it all 🙂 Sheila

    • Ah- thanks Sheila. I appreciate that very much. It is a matter of taking control of all these words and I am
      ever hopeful that they will un-wrangle themselves in an orderly fashion.
      Thanks for the good wishes and have a great weekend!

  • Congrats on hitting the 10,000 milestone Móna! I have to admit it’s incredibly exciting seeing the word count jump up to such an extent.

    Great post on voice; really enjoyed it.

    Marése x

    • Thanks Marése. I know. It is intimidating but lovely to reach a milestone! Here’s to the next 10,000!

  • All very exciting for you! I know about those two voices, being American born and bred- I became an Irish citizen as well after marrying my Irish husband. When I moved to Ireland I felt like I had truly come home. I love America, but feel I know and love Ireland even more if that makes sense.
    Best of luck with your book! It’s a process – when I did mine over six years ago I had only 4 months to get it all done, photography and all- it got done somehow!! Keep plugging away at it.

    • Thanks Lisa. It is exciting.
      I think there are a lot of people out there with the ‘voice’ quandary. Even when I lived in the US I met
      so many people that had such blended backgrounds and uber cool accents. It was one of the things I loved the
      most about living in the states….Having a sense of place and home happens organically when you are happy Lisa.
      Isn’t it true that home really is where the heart is, no matter where you lay your head? AND – FOUR MONTHS?
      I am so thankful I am a student and have been given this gift of ‘time to write’ this year. Thanks for the encouragement.
      Plugging away I will be!

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About Móna
I am a native Galway girl that seems to be drawn to professions that rhyme with 'err'. Writer, Mother, Restauranteur, Wedding Planner, Dishwasher, Grass cutter, Cocktail maker. I suppose you could say I am a well rounded entrepreneur.
You can find me here
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