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Ideas, winning the Booker and creative writing for children

20 March 2017

'I used to worry that I'd run out of ideas. But as I get older I know it's not ideas; it's energy. As long as the job involves words and story - and it's what I really want to do - I'll give it a go. I enjoy the contrasts between the different forms. Writing a film script is so different to writing a novel, I find it quite easy to give proper attention to both in the same working day...

My work was already well known in Ireland, where I live. The Commitments had become the most commercially successful film ever released in Ireland at that time. My novels The Snapper and The Van had been very popular. So, after about a month of turning down interview requests and invitations to open supermarkets or to have lunch in aid of the destitute - keeping myself to myself - life reverted to normal. But I was suddenly an established writer, as opposed to a bit of a maverick. I had to keep my eyes on the page, to make sure I continued to write exactly what I wanted to write, not what might be expected of me. Winning the Prize had a huge impact on sales. I was a wealthy man for a while - just months after I'd given up my job as a teacher. The timing was, for once, perfect...

I was an English teacher for 14 years, between 1979 and 1993. In that time I wrote my first four novels - but I couldn't really teach creative writing because it wasn't on the curriculum. The thinking was, and perhaps still is: if it can't be graded, it has little value. So, I co-founded Fighting Words in 2009, to combat that stupidity - to make creative writing as inviting as possible for children and teenagers, and to let their teachers witness the impact it has on their students. And it seems to be working; we now have six centres in Ireland and have worked with 80,000 children and young people. We now have training courses for teachers - they seem to love it. I recently watched a class of 10-year-old boys writing a story together, in the new Fighting Words centre in Cork. The boys wrote the best sentence I've read in years: "God ran away."'

Roddy Doyle, author of The Commitments and The Guts in Bookbrunch