Sharyn Hayden is a journalist with Irish parenting website www.herfamily.ie, a blogger, a comic actress and a business owner. In 2015, she published I Forgot To Take My Pill, a non-fiction book and honest diary of being a first time Mum. She is working on a number of projects including a novel with dark undertones.
Tell us about your writing background, have you always written?
I wrote short stories when I was a small kid, then theatre plays when I was a teen. My twenties got all jumbled up with disastrous dalliances with the wrong men, working in the wrong jobs and flitting around a bit aimlessly so I really have nothing written for most of that decade. What a shame! Anyway, I am now 38 and have been firmly back at it for seven years or so – I realised that I couldn’t live without it.
What are you working on right now?
I am trying to finish a few things that I started two years ago and haven’t been able to get back to until now – a novel, a play and a sitcom – in that order!
What is your writing routine? Has it changed over time?
It changes a lot, especially now that I have two small kids and family needs change so frequently. At the moment, I am sort of lying to everyone that I’m in work if I have a day off and parking myself somewhere quiet to work on my own projects. You won’t tell them, right?
Tell us about your non-fiction book you published? Why did you write it?
I wrote it because I was determined to tick ‘Published Author’ off my list of Things To Do. Whichever way it had to happen was fine with me (I self-published ultimately) – it just sort of confirmed to me that I am a writer, and I needed that.
How did you feel when you held your own book in your hands for the first time?
It’s really something, a thrill. You are giddy because all of the times you demanded some space and free time to get it done actually resulted in something tangible. Something that you could show everyone and say ‘See? It’s REAL. I wasn’t just being difficult and playing Solitaire on my computer or something. I wrote a bleedin’ book!’
Do you think it will feel different when you hold your finished novel in your hands?
Yep, the novel is SO different in the sense that it’s very dark and has a really serious subject matter which is so far removed from the comedy of I Forgot To Take My Pill. I think I will be far more protective of the novel and, if I’m honest, worried about setting it free.
What would you say to writers who are considering self-publishing?
It is a bit of a long road in terms of learning how to do it all and do it well, but I really think there’s a sense of empowerment about taking your book’s journey into your own hands. You don’t get all the benefits of having it on the shelves of major bookstores, but you do have your pride and I think that counts for a lot.
You took part in a writing event called Date with an Agent in 2015. Tell us about this? Would you recommend applying?
Most definitely. I also did it the year before, and the agent I spoke to was the one who encouraged me to self-publish I Forgot To Take My Pill. I think it’s a fine opportunity to ‘get your house in order’ as it were with your book, as you really have to know it in order to sell it in a professional way.
You recently took a job as a journalist with www.herfamily.ie. Has this helped or hindered your novel writing?
At the beginning, I was learning the ropes of the job which took up a lot of my energy and mental space, so I didn’t get anything done. But now that I’m settled into the job, I find that the process of writing creatively for work really has given my brain that bit of exercise it needed. I’m now bursting with ideas again.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
No but I find I have to walk away from things if they are affecting me too deeply. This novel that I’m writing definitely takes it out of me and leaves me a bit sad so I normally give it a couple of months to wreck my mood at a time.
Where do you find your inspiration – do you find yourself writing about the same themes?
I dream a lot and find inspiration there, I listen to a lot of people and their stories and craft further tales out of them, and often an idea will just hit me suddenly and I know I have to run and write it down before I forget about it.
Do you ever sacrifice anything to write?
I have had to shout a bit in order to be given the space to write within my family. Sometimes other non-writers really don’t understand and so I’ve definitely had several arguments about being left alone to get on with it. It takes me away from the kids too but they do get a lot of me otherwise so I don’t really feel too guilty about it.
What do you like to read?
I like to read autobiographies by strong women, comedies, thrillers, anything by an Irish author and whether I like it or not – LOTS of children’s books at bed time!
Where do you write?
I can’t tell you in case you come find me!
LadyNicci comment: I know Sharyn to be a very funny and upbeat person, so it’s interesting to hear that her novel can leave her so worn out sometimes, that she needs to take a break from it. It touches on some other interviews in this series where we find that writers extract deep and disturbing thoughts and channel them through their fiction. It’s inspiring to hear the stage that Sharyn is at; having worked on her novel for some time now and been through two agented industry events. Finding the time to write, the space and the ‘permission’ can be difficult, especially when there is a young family, business and working writing career to look after. But as I and other writers often contend, writing is not something we want to do – it\s something we have to. And so we will find that space, no matter what. I look forward to reading Sharyn’s novel when it is published – and seeing quite how disturbed, she really is!
How I write is a blog post series published on Sundays on www.ladynicci.com. The posts aim to give a voice to writers, published, unpublished and everywhere in between, to help and encourage other writers. If you would like to take part email firstname.lastname@example.org with How I Write in the subject line.