Our Writer in Residence Radhika Iyer has written a blog about how she is getting on during her residency at An Táin Arts Centre, read all about it below.
On July 3rd, 2023, on the first day of my writing residency, I stepped into my writing studio – Dressing Room 3 at the An Tàin Arts Centre, Dundalk. As I sat down, an overwhelming feeling of being watched took hold. The walls of the studio are entirely covered in mirrors and I felt I was watching myself from every angle possible. Since then, I’ve been bombarded with an unsolicited bulletin of my physical flaws on a daily basis! The mirrors also sometimes cast shadows of self-doubt as I wonder if the reflection before me is one of a writer!
However, the mirrors are also conduits of motivation because when inspiration strikes, it’s amplified innumerably! And I must say inspiration has struck more than a few times. I’ve gone from a writer who was scrambling to find a few hours to write every weekend to a full-time writer, writing 5-6 hours a day, surrounded by artistic and creative people.
I can’t believe I’ve already completed one month of my residency. I get up every morning, thinking about what I’m going to write that day. At the end of each day, I write meticulously in my journal, recording what I did and what I still need to do, what I’ve learnt, what I found challenging and what I need to work on. Reflections seem to be endless in this mirror-enclosed studio!
I’ve lived in Dundalk for over 8 years but as I’m based in the centre of town for the very first time, I’m seeing Dundalk with fresh eyes. I go for short jaunts around the town (these have been limited as it’s been a very wet July!); I’ve discovered charity shops that I didn’t know were there before, and I’ve gazed at some of the murals which are breath taking displays of artistic grandeur. I’ve begun to view Dundalk like a set of mirrors. Just as many images of me are simultaneously reflected in my studio, I see many facets of myself during my wanders. I am a woman, I am a writer, I live here but I also live all the elements of my complex roots and origins.
My main genre is fictional short stories so I’m continuing to churn out short stories, and revisit and edit stories written previously. I’ve also been trying my hand at flash fiction recently (250-500 words) and that’s quite challenging. However, my prime focus during this residency is to rewrite one of my previously published stories as a performance piece. The story is called ‘Why Are You Here?’ and is the title story of my eBook collection of short stories published in 2021. It’s the only story in my collection that’s primarily dialogue driven. The process has been tough and challenging but also extremely rewarding. I’ve been experiencing a rather steep learning curve as I’ve had to delve into the intricacies of playwriting. The story is now taking new shape, form and direction. I’m terrified and excited to see how my story will be brought to life. In the meantime, I’ll carry on seeing myself (can’t be avoided!), carry on reflecting, persist in my wanderings, and continue evolving as a writer…..