Claire Lynch, Highly Commended for the Life Writing Prize 2017


Claire Lynch was highly commended in the Life Writing Prize 2017 by the judges for her breathtaking life writing extract ‘The Year Dot’. Judge Blake Morrison described it as: “beautifully written, moving, immaculately constructed.” Spread the Word’s Laura Kenwright asked Claire about her writing, how she found the form and method to write such a personal story and her future plans for ‘The Year Dot’.

Laura Kenwright: Congratulations! How does it feel to have been highly commended in the Life Writing Prize? 

Claire Lynch: I’m delighted and a little shocked! Recognition from the judges has been a great confidence boost and really encouraged me to develop the piece further. 

Laura: Can you tell us a little about your highly commended piece, ‘The Year Dot’, how you came to write it, what the challenges were in writing it and why you chose to enter it into the Prize?

Claire: My piece is about the far from straightforward journey to the birth of my twin daughters. It’s called ‘The Year Dot’ because their arrival seems like the beginning of time for me, but also because it already seems so long ago, even though they’re still tiny.

The main challenge for me was deciding how to tell such a personal story. I was really aware that the topics I needed to deal with were still almost taboo, infertility, miscarriage, premature babies. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I wrote it, I wanted to share the story with others who might be experiencing something similar.

Laura: Tell us about your writing; how long have you been writing for and why do you write? 

Claire: This is the first time I’ve written anything like this so it’s been a real adventure. I began writing it in real time as it were, scribbling in notebooks at the side of a baby’s incubator, just as a way of making sense of it all. The competition gave me a reason to put some order on my thoughts.

Laura: Do you have any tips for budding life writers out there? 

Claire: I think finding the right form is probably essential. My piece is written in fragments because it seemed to best capture the experience for me. 

Laura: Are you working on anything at the minute?

Claire: At the moment I’m working on developing ‘The Year Dot’ into a longer piece, there’s lots more of the story still to tell.

Laura: Who are your writing inspirations? 

Claire: Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts has really changed my sense of what life writing is capable of. I’m also really inspired by graphic memoirs, most recently Paula Knight’s amazing book The Facts of Life.

Claire Lynch is a lecturer in English at Brunel University London. Claire lives near Windsor with her wife Bethan and their twin daughters. She enjoys running, which is lucky, as life with two toddlers provides plenty of practice. You can contact Claire @DrClaireLynch on Twitter.

You can read ‘The Year Dot’ in the Life Writing Prize showcase.

Published 19 May 2017