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Sinead Ryan: Think you have a book in you? Well, good luck. Becoming an author for me was like giving birth

SO, you think you have a book in you? Well, join the club. Everyone seems to think penning the next Cecelia Ahern or Maeve Binchy is easy peasy. Well, I got my book out of me, finally, and let me tell you it was bloody difficult.

It's a bit like giving birth. You spend nine months in excited anticipation and, after it all, the only thing you want is a cup of tea and a lie down. Well, I'm exhausted after my 'baby' too, and it turns out being a writer in real life doesn't equip you at all for the experience.



gaping

I've written two previous books which remain, quite sensibly, unpublished. They're in a drawer in my office but I can't quite bring myself to chuck them in the bin. The difference between writing a book and getting published, I have discovered, is that you really, really need to want to be published.

So badly that you would happily give away the book for free (and, believe me, you almost will) and that not writing it would leave a gaping hole somewhere inside you.

Pulitzer winner Toni Morrison says: "If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."

Well, not writing this one would have left me frustrated, unfulfilled and incomplete. Writing it left me slightly less so.

For years I've been writing articles about the financial crisis and it occurred to me that nobody was talking to the one group of people who are owed an apology: the next generation.

Every child in Ireland already owes about €30,000 for our debts, and they're not yet earning a crust. That's despicable. If we can't say a big fat sorry, then we should at least tell them how to stop repeating our mistakes. That's what my book tries to do. See now, that doesn't sound hard, does it? I mean, I know this stuff -- I do it all the time. I even teach teenagers about money in school. This. Should. Be. Easy. Then I started writing.

I thought it would be like a series of long newspaper features, cobbled together over gallons of caffeine and long lunches with interesting financial types. Author friends told me it would be head-wrecking, mind-boggling and energy-sapping. Oh, how I laughed. Then I started writing.



updated

Half the book was out of date by the time I got to writing the second half. That was fun. Then the second half had to be updated while I was re-writing the first half. The first half was written before we invited the IMF in; the second half afterwards.

My careful descriptions of banks and building societies had to be dumped after the former were nationalised and the latter ceased to exist. Oh, joy.

Then there's editing. Try this: take a simple nursery rhyme and re-read it 4,000 times, staring at the page long enough to see letters dancing about. Then recite it with the joy and vigour of the very first reading. In ancient Greek. You're now an editor.

The hoopla that comes with publishing, launching and selling is, I'm told, the really hard bit. Great. I know every comma, every letter, every full stop.

I am terrified nobody will want to buy it; I'm inordinately excited that some might. Friends say it's a "great idea". I want strangers to agree.

I want to hide under a rock and shout it from the rooftops simultaneously. I am an author and I've never felt less like one. I feel like the most inexperienced of new mothers. I want my baby to be independent but never want her to leave.

I'm told it doesn't get any easier with the second, or the 22nd. Too late, I'm afraid.

Cents & Sensibility -- A Financial Guide For Young Adults will be published in September


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