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Book Review: The Maeve Binchy Writers Club by Maeve Binchy

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Fans of Maeve Binchy’s fiction and short stories will be thrilled when this book is released in March 2010. Reading The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club is like sitting down with the author and friends in her Irish kitchen.

Binchy reveals much about her years as a writer of what is now over a dozen novels and several collections of short stories. In this very personal book she shares her wisdom to help writers with the very act of being better writers. In the form of conversational letters, she shows us how she got started, how she handles revisions, and displays her admirable commitment to the process of writing.

Along the way, she’s invited successful friends to share insights on some of the issues that puzzle all writers. The guest essayists are themselves writers, publishers and editors. You’ll learn about the role of agents and editors and delve into various writing specialties with pieces by distinguished contributors including: Marian Keyes, Norah Casey, Paula Campbell, Ivy Bannister and more. The entire book is the result of a National College of Ireland project, and the book’s Appendix is a workshop in itself, bursting with inspiring reference material.

With her straightforward conversational style, we enjoy reading Binchy’s letter to us in which she wonders if the Irish have an advantage over the rest of the writing community, and whether maybe the Irish have a bigger word pool. Binchy feels it is an advantage to come from a culture that once spoke a language with no words for “yes” and “no.” Think how much people had to say to get around the absence of those two little words.

I’d agree there’s a tremendous advantage given to Irish writers. As she says, we missed the Victorian England era where people did not talk until they had something to say. Not a problem for the Irish. We have the gift of gab, which flows freely from the pen.

Marian Keyes’ guest essay reminds us that good writing requires writing and rewriting until the prose shines. “The good news is that there’s no big secret, and the bad news is that there’s no big secret.”

Binchy, such a prolific writer, will inspire you with her metaphor of a book as a journey… if you finish it. “If you don’t then it’s no journey at all, just a series of stops and starts and eventual disappointments.”

Particularly inspiring in The Writers’ Club is Binchy’s letter on “Visualizing Success.” This is a highly motivating letter for every writer, demonstrating her determination to get up early on dark mornings, and keep going. It’s hard to imagine this prolific writer would sometimes have to literally bribe herself with rewards if she would just keep going, just a few pages more.

What you read in The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club will stay with you, and it will likely make you a much better writer.

(This review is based on an Advanced Reader Copy and may differ from final publication in March 2010.)

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