Posted by Móna Wise in Features.

Finding my voice
Oh, I know. I have a voice. But this writing lark that I have gotten myself into has a very private and personal voice and to be honest, it is not one I always feel like sharing. I think that it is because I am still not quite there yet. I still question all my ‘P’s’ and ‘Q’s’ (I always will) and I lack the con?dence to brag-all-about it because it is just words. Not brilliantly written, not contrived. Just easy-reading story-telling kind of words. Sometimes whilst stalking other great writers (on Facebook) I pause to admire their skill and envy their commitment to writing profound pieces of literature. They write poetry, they attend all the readings and book launches. They are true artists suffering for their art. I’m just a Mum. And these are my words.

A few months ago I entered a (cooking/blogging) competition sponsored by Bord Bía. The grand prize was an all expenses trip to Weimar, Germany to participate in a ‘Photography/Food styling and Writing’ workshop. Now, I am in college to learn how to write and am doing ok so far in keeping my head above water. However, I really need a lot of help in the photography department and thought this workshop would be right up my alley. I cleared it with the bosses here at home (the Chef and my Mum) as they would be left home-alone to look after the kids for ?ve days. Once I had their blessing I entered the competition and lo-andbehold, I won!

Last weekend, with bags packed and camera and laptop charged, I took off to Germany for a weekend that can only be described as life changing.

Side note: For those of you that might be a bit of a home bird like myself, this was the ?rst time in sixteen years that the Chef & I have been apart for longer than one night. Whilst I was looking forward to the trip (no question) the feeling of walking around with only one shoe on stuck around for a while.


That is until I got to Germany. When I met the other participants (mostly a gaggle of girls from around the globe) and I realised that this was going to be one fun-?lled weekend.

Throwing us in head ?rst, the instructors at ‘Plate2Page’ cracked the whip the minute we arrived and we were thrown into our ?rst assignment tout-suite.



Learning how to style food for a magazine article is hard. And you can’t eat it until you get the shot right!

The instructors put the work in workshop. Write, edit, style, photo, edit. Share, get critiqued and do it all over again!

The icing on the cake. Bord Bía had sent a basket full of goodies to keep us sustained. And it certainly did that!


How thick skinned are you?

College has taught me one thing. If you want to write, you have to learn how to take rejection and criticism on the chin. Turn the other cheek as they say. I have a natural fear of public speaking, and I about died when I realised that we would have to read our assignments (out loud) in class each day. Kill-Me-Now. The ?rst day I managed to carefully avoid eye-contact with the instructors and kept my little scribbles to myself.

By day two the teacher was on to me and although I was left till last, I had found myself experiencing this strange sense of calmness and I was even (dare-I-say) looking forward to reading out my piece. I had been paired up with a lovely gal named Jasmine (from Italy). So between her with her photos and me with my words we got a small buala bos from the class.

Third and ?nal day. This one was special. It was our ?nal assignment and I was paired up with this talented lass named Julia from Canada. ‘All you need is a Canon and a Mac to be a photographer’, says she, and her handiwork behind the camera truly did capture the essence of our day together. Whilst she tinkered with her photos on her laptop, I ?eshed out my notes and began to write an article that should have been written with intent to sell to Saveur or Conde Nast. Half way through the article I realised that this would not be a sellable piece but more of a blog post. I knew I was not ful?lling my end of the deal and should have tried harder to do the assignment as instructed, but sometimes my words carry me away. So I let them. When I read it out in class, I made the teacher cry. Enough said.

So maybe I am not so good behind the lens

What did I learn?
I learned that I am a good writer. There, I’ve said it. I am half way through my (4yr) course at University and so far this month (May 2011) I have been offered three jobs. I am going to be hirable in my ?eld once I graduate. That, I assure you, is a huge relief. I know what you are thinking, of course I am hirable. But, when you take a gamble and change careers after ?fteen years doing one thing and wander in a completely different direction down another career path, then you kind of have to start building up street-cred all over again. It does not matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you are headed.

Cameras shmameras
Eh. Great camerawork requires a lot of number-studying. I suck at maths. I hate having to ?gure out the ISO 1600 or any of that other dif?cult number-mumbo-jumbo on any camera, big or small. I learned that I take ok shots and will improve if I ever decide to read the owners manual and stop winging it. For now, my little Sony-Nex 5 is staying on auto and if I miraculously ?nd some free time during the summer I will try to improve. I am happy knowing that getting words from my the chaos of my mind onto the smoothness of a page is where I am most comfortable. This is the path that I chose.


Wise Words

Upping sticks and relocating a family all so that you can (sel?shly) follow a dream is a huge risk to take. Your marriage will be tested like nothing else. You will depend on your friends and family ?nancially, emotionally and physically. If you have a dream, and feel it is taking over every breath you take and thought you have, then up those sticks and go do it. Life is too short. Get out there and make a difference! To read more WiseWords follow my blog at: