Stinging Fly Workshops
We run intensive workshops every summer and a six-month workshop, which runs from late September until the end of March each year. Our workshop programme is led by short-story writer and novelist Sean O’Reilly.
The inaugural Stinging Fly Summer School took place at the Irish Writers Centre from July 2-6 2018.
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2018-19 Fiction Workshop with Sean O’Reilly
Are you writing a novel or short-story collection? Do you feel you would benefit from a relationship with a group of others engaged in the same process?
We are currently accepting applications for our 6-month fiction workshop, run in association with The Irish Writers Centre. The application deadline is Wednesday August 15th 2018. We are accepting submissions via our Submittable page.
During the 6-month workshop, participants meet once a week on Monday evenings at the Irish Writers Centre. At each evening workshop, two participants will present their work in progress (a draft of a short story or novel excerpt) to the rest of the group for close scrutiny.
– The workshop starts in late September 2018 with an introductory session on Monday September 24th and runs until the end of March 2019.
– Places on the workshop will be offered based on work submitted. You can submit either a novel extract with synopsis or a short story. Short stories should be no longer than 6000 words and novel extracts should be no more than 15 pages.
– No more than ten places will be offered.
– During the workshop, each writer presents work-in-progress to the group for discussion.
– All work is shared in advance and is closely read by the workshop leader and the other participants.
Note that there will be no attempt to impose a rationalised schema of creative writing exercises. The writing up for discussion each week is the raw material; any questions of writing technique or prose style will arise naturally from the work itself.
Over the course of the six months, each writer can look forward to having their work on the table on four occasions. In this way, the group will witness and contribute to the development of all the novels/collections in progress. The ultimate aim is for each participant to complete a strong first draft of his/her novel or collection.
Alongside the weekly Monday workshops, on four Saturdays during the period, there will be a series of specialist talks on issues around the process of writing and the imagination. Previous guest speakers have included Evelyn Conlon, Gavin Corbett, Mia Gallagher, Neil Hegarty, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Claire Keegan, Lisa McInerney, Danielle McLaughlin, Martin Malone, Thomas Morris, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Conor O’Callaghan, Keith Ridgway and Sally Rooney.
Cost of 6-month workshop: €1500 | €1450 for existing IWC members
A €200 deposit will be payable once a place on the workshop has been offered and accepted. The balance will be payable in two instalments in September 2018 and in January 2019. The fee includes free membership of the Irish Writers Centre for one year.
Sean O’Reilly’s published work includes Curfew and Other Stories and the novels Love and Sleep, The Swing of Things and Watermark. Levitation, his second collection of stories, was published last year. Sean has a wealth of experience facilitating fiction workshops, as Writer-in-Residence with Fingal County Council, Dublin City Council and IADT/Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council amongst others. He is a member of Aosdána.
Some praise for the Stinging Fly Fiction Workshop:
“I highly recommend this workshop. The act of submitting and reading participants’ work interwoven with Sean’s ruminations on narrative voice, dramatic tension, character triangles, scene setting and action created a unique blend of the practical and theoretical. I found the interaction and peer learning on the course challenging but valuable, elevating my writing from the personal to the public. The one-to-one was frank and informative. The workshop is not for the faint-hearted. It shouldn’t be.”
“The Stinging Fly 6-month fiction workshop is a game-changer; challenging, exhilarating, and unforgettable, it completely alters the way you read and write fiction, and from personal experience of undertaking many courses, this was far superior and more intense than a Masters in Creative Writing. Sean O’Reilly is a brilliant teacher, he gives forensic care to the text, pushing participants to demand more from their story, to plough deeper into the potential of language, structure and meaning. At the end of the course I had completed a short story collection I was proud of that went on to be critically acclaimed. If I could Groundhog Day this course, I’d do it again and again for every book. Magic.”
“I had no experience at all of creative writing courses. I wondered if the six-month Fiction Workshop would involve high formalist dissection of technique or individuals opining on their ‘art’. No: I found it to be people round a table, talking about stories for two hours a week. It was, however, talking about stories with Sean O’Reilly in charge, which meant that the interrogation of work was careful and stringent, and the discussion frank, engaging and often totally exhilarating. All writing, whatever the form or genre, was treated with absolute seriousness. Sean’s remarkable generosity and unfailing ability to identify precisely why a story did or (more frequently) didn’t work meant that my own writing got a lot better. Simple as that. Was it the best six months I can remember? Yeah, probably.”
I did the six-month Stinging Fly workshop in 2017/2018 and the teaching was fantastic. Sean has a unique way of engaging with each piece of work. He is totally committed to the text, drawing on his own instincts and a wealth of literary references as he encourages students to investigate—and push—their writing. The course helped me to see my work afresh.”
“I thought the workshop was life-changing. I started (typically, I suspect) thinking that I was grappling with some intractable technical problem. I was preoccupied with isolated images and sentences. By the end of the course I was dealing with voice, drama, form—all the things that I’d been afraid of tackling. Sean is a remarkable teacher and a brilliant reader. He has the gift of finding what is best in his student’s work and encouraging it.”