Maeve O’Lynn’s piece, ‘One and the Same Thing’, can be found in EPOCH Issue 03: Roots, available to purchase here.
Why do you write CNF, and do you explore other genres in your work?
Until quite recently, I mainly wrote short fiction and poetry with occasional experimentations in CNF. I was the recipient of a bursary from the Irish Writers Centre last year and I used this to take a class in Autofiction taught by Joanna Walsh, and this allowed me to go back and revise some of my earlier experiments and find a more confident, directional approach to take with them. I have long been very inspired by CNF / autofiction and essay collections in women’s writing, particularly work by Eavan Boland, Marguerite Duras, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, and Bernadette Devlin.
Did you have a piece already written when you learned about Epoch’s theme, or did you write a new piece? If so, how did you approach the theme of Roots in the creation of your work?
My piece is about the birth of my daughter in 2019. I wrote it just a few days after she was born, while the experience of it was still clear in my mind. I already very much had the idea of family, roots, place, and belonging in my mind when I first wrote it and this was a theme I developed in the piece when I was editing it before submitting to Epoch.
What is the biggest challenge when writing CNF?
If the work is based, however loosely, on your own lived experience, all the details are important in your memory and understanding of an event, but perhaps less so for your reader. I find it to be a balancing act between knowing which details are essential to include, which make the work immersive and immediate and speak to the reader, and which fall under the heading less is more.
What’s your favourite piece of art in your home?
A painting in oils of a boat in a quiet harbour at sunset, painted by my granny, Eileen Martin, which hangs in the hall. I see it every time I go in or out the front door and, for me, it is a reminder of the importance of creative work and women creating the space to do this work.