New Writers Awards 2018: Mary Fitzpatrick
When Mary was in primary seven her teacher, Mrs Boyle, knew how to quell her rather unruly pupil – she allowed Mary to sit in a corner writing stories. Mary was hooked but, even though she went on to study English at Glasgow University and work as an English teacher, she didn’t really return to her first love until she was given early retirement in 2010. Since then she has taken several creative writing courses, for example an Open University creative writing module and two at Strathclyde University, ‘Taking Your Writing Further’ and ‘Keep Writing’. As well as these she has taken part in Donnie O’Rourke’s poetry writing group and attended a writing weekend through the Arvon Foundation. Mary was runner up in The Jane Austen short story award 2011 and 2015; winner of The Lightship short memoir prize 2013, the judge of which was Rachel Cusk; runner up in The Fish short memoir prize 2013. She keeps plugging away, writing and being inspired by great writers (her two current faves are John Banville and George Saunders!).
The rain is falling. Kitty stops, crosses out falling. The rain is sweeping down over the hills, down onto our house and all the houses around, turning the rooves – She stops again, bites her lip, looks up at the ceiling. Yes, rooves is right. Rooves, like wolves and hooves. Turning the rooves as black and shiny as liquorice. Kitty, reading over the words in her jotter, wriggles on the edge of her bed, feeling that familiar excitement in her belly, as if a big finger attached to a generator has come down and touched her head, flooding her body with electricity. This is great, Kitty thinks. This is going to be great. She closes her eyes, sees Brother Everard holding her composition in his nicotine stained fingers, holding it up and reading it to the class, the way he did last week. Letting out a long suppressed, shuddering breath she opens her eyes, wriggles, continues writing.
The next day Brother Everard isn’t there, in his stead Big Dot the PE teacher takes the class. She throws grammar books at them and they have to sit there in silence doing exercise after exercise on punctuation and verb tenses. At her side, in her schoolbag, Kitty’s composition stirs, wanting to get out, she can feel its warmth coming through the bag’s rough leather. But Big Dot is, of course, not interested in such things. Instead, through fierce eyeballing, gum chewing, head swivelling, she communicates the message: just keep your heads down and work, you unwashed scum. Kitty glances over her shoulder, registering the faces of the others; no one, it seems, apart from her, misses Brother Everard, who lets them write lovely, long stories and read really weird, hard poetry, all of which Kitty loves even when she doesn’t really understand it.
"I am amazed, moved, confidence-boosted-beyond-belief! Scottish Book Trust have told me I am a writer – thank you…"