The Road (Not) Taken

‘Before I became a writer, I had already failed quite a lot. I like to think it was good practice.’

Essay 13th March 2024

After the Alphabet: What we do with words

The text of our 2023 lecture, which was delivered by short-story writer and novelist, Evelyn Conlon.

Essay 26th January 2024

This So-Called Writing Life

A chance to look back on our essay series reflecting on the pains and pleasures of writing and publishing – with a new Afterword by Series Editor, Olivia Fitzsimons.

Essay 13th December 2023

The Gay Panic is About Me

‘They may not realise it, but the positive impact queer people in progressive countries have on queer people across the world cannot be overstated. For those of us who live in countries where it is dangerous to express our identities, this connection means everything.’

Essay 22nd November 2023

We can’t all be a fresh new voice in literature

‘When I say I am lonely, my friends tell me, “At least you have your book,” as if the publicity stands in for a partner.’

Essay 9th November 2023

The Curse

‘As I write the curse, my daughter turns inside me like a root shifting underground, carving a path through tonnes of soil and rock, cracking the paving stones. I send the curse speeding through the ether to its target. I feel, for the first time in a long time, emptied of hornets.’

Essay Issue 48: Summer 2023

Caerphilly Flyers

‘Thinking about friendship now, I think about the ways in which we are able to do things with others that we could never do on our own. The way that friends drag unknown parts out of our bodies, allowing us to be braver than we can feel by ourselves.’

Essay 6th September 2023

On community

‘I was not an open-minded person when I first began to publish books. Writers befriended and accepted me with all my fundamentalist baggage. They gave me the time and space to change. They did not judge me.’

Essay 16th August 2023

You gotta have faith

‘Sometimes I tell myself that the words will come if I just sit here long enough.’

Essay 2nd August 2023

Doing the work

‘After the book I’ve been working on for three years gets rejected countless times by publishers and agents, I happen upon a bit of spare cash and say, fuck it, I’m getting a shed.’

Essay 12th July 2023

The House That Shame Built

‘Writing is the only time when the papery thinness of my skin feels like an asset; when curiosity climbs over shame to burn like a guiding beacon; when the right arrangement of words feels like the gentle closing of a door.’

Essay 10th May 2023

Traditional Music

‘I don’t want to be looked at but I sing, amplified in a crowded hall. I don’t believe in admitting opinions but I agree to explain myself in essay format… This is the want and the shame of wanting.’

Essay 29th March 2023

Online essays and criticism 2022

Contributors: Dizz Tate, Olivia Fitzsimons, Danielle McLaughlin, Jill Crawford, Neil Hegarty, Angelique Tran Van Sang, Anna Walsh, Mia Gallagher, Thomas Morris, Kevin Power, Niamh Campbell, Ian Maleney, John Patrick McHugh, Mary Morrissy, Tadhg Hoey, Susannah Dickey, Sean O'Reilly

Criticism Essay 6th January 2023

Online Fiction Series 2022

Contributors: Nicole Flattery, Niamh Mulvey, Najat Abed Alsamad, Gianluca Nativo, Louise Hegarty, Roisín O’Donnell, Lisa Owens, Oisín Fagan, Chetna Maroo, June Caldwell, with an introduction by Editor at Large, Thomas Morris

Essay Fiction 2nd January 2023

Attempted Rescues: Notes on Writing

‘We are many selves, and often these selves have rival needs. Some kind of truce must be established, if the work is to get written.’

Essay 2nd November 2022

On waitressing

‘Waitressing is a career of invention. An old manager of mine once convinced a table that a nail that had fallen into a guest’s grilled fish from a loose shelf in the kitchen was, in fact, just part of a fish hook, leftover from the fisherman’s own line that morning.’

Essay 28th September 2022

Chop Wood, Carry Water

‘Rejection, back when I’d just started sending out stories, felt crushing. It sat upon me like a physical thing, squat and heavy.’

Essay 28th July 2022

On Rejection

'I got through it, not by talking, or thinking my way out, but by feeling. At one point over that painful weekend, my gut in knots, I realised: if I can feel this, I can get through anything.'


Always Rather Risk

'I received detailed rejections last year from editors who had requested over ten pages of my work. I have rewritten a specific story for a journal on the editor’s advice and it was still not accepted. None of this means I am a failure, or a bad writer.'


An Industry of Rejection

'There were times when I loved a book and felt in my bones that I could publish it well, only to bring it to a meeting and find that my colleagues didn’t feel the same.'


Do Better

‘Writers have an advantage in this process: vulnerable as we are to the judgment of the world, we are also instinctively aware of the strength of an inner place, from which our best work always comes.’



‘I am the person and writer I am because I failed at a previous incarnation of life. Like most actors, I accumulated countless rejections and humiliations, surpassing in number my accomplishments.’


Notes on rejection

A series of short essays reflecting on the experience of rejection. Contributors: Danielle McLaughlin, Jill Crawford, Neil Hegarty, Angelique Tran Van Sang, Anna Walsh, Mia Gallagher, with an introduction by Thomas Morris.


Notes on resilience

"It hurts to struggle, to reach for things that you might not yet be able to meet... When will I be enough? All I can do is keep writing, keep meeting my ideas and my words with an openness that I encourage in others and struggle to find in myself."

Essay 4th May 2022

Butcher’s Dozen

Sean O'Reilly on the reissue of Thomas Kinsella's ‘Butcher's Dozen’ to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday: “a timely reminder that the past has to be fought for and poetry is not beyond lending a hand.”

Criticism Essay 25th January 2022

My Life as a Plagiarist

“I had come across the diary of a war criminal and been surprised to find it was also a love story. My idea in rewriting it and the title I chose – ‘First Love’ – was to invert this expectation.”

Essay 9th December 2021

Boys, Crying

An essay concerning the experience of crying as a trans masculine person, and the ways in which our gender and character are scrutinised based on our most instinctive, unstoppable expressions.

Essay Issue 44/Volume 2: Summer 2021

A Boat To Bilbao

An essay about Ludwig the cat, and the writer who lives with him.

Essay Issue 42, Volume 2: Summer 2020


Essay Issue 44/Volume 2: Summer 2021



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