Patrick Holloway is a writer of stories and poems. He is the recent winner of the Molly Keane Creative Writing Award. He won second place in The Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and was the winner of HeadStuff Poem of the Year. He’s been published by Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, Carve, Overland, The Irish Times, The Moth, Southword, among others. His story ‘Counting Stairs’ was highly commended for the Manchester Fiction Prize. He has been shortlisted for numerous other prizes including: Bath Short Story Prize, Moth Poetry Prize, Moth Short Story Prize, Bath Flash Fiction Prize, Dermot Healy Poetry Prize, Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Award (for both fiction and poetry) and the Alpine Fellowship for Fiction.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a writer?
To keep sending things out. I remember when I first started, a rejection meant the writing wasn’t good, so I’d stop sending that specific poem or story out. With time I realized the importance of researching where I was sending my work. Also, being kind to myself in terms of my writing. Being tough with what was on the page but by no means taking away its worth.
What has been the biggest surprise of your writing life?
How difficult it can be. How, especially when you are not a full-time writer, you have to sacrifice other things in order to write. That can be challenging on relationships and on yourself. Difficult in terms of the craft, in terms of being disciplined and dedicated. Difficult in terms of rejections and self-doubt. Littered among the difficulties though are the joys of writing well, of surprising myself by winning some writing awards and seeing my words among those of brilliant writers I admire.
If you had to use a metaphor to describe yourself as a writer, what would it be and why?
It’d have to be tennis-related — my other passion. Especially writing a novel now, I see it like watching a 5 set grand slam final. There are so many ebbs and flows, lots of layers, lots of backstory, tension, rivalry and conflict. The points themselves are the sentences, some are hard and fast, others full of finesse. Games are chapters. I suppose the win is getting a publisher.
What’s the single best piece of writing advice anyone ever gave you?
I think a huge shift in how I saw writing and my relationship to it came when I was in the U.S and I had a class with Karen. E. Bender. She told me after to think about doing an MFA. It suddenly made writing something altogether different, gave it stature. Also, I suppose, it gave me the belief I didn’t know I was lacking.