Becoming a better writer with Welshisms



Some time ago, I was weary of the way I sometimes wrote in subtle Welsh dialect, often entirely unintentionally. Someone would point out to me that ‘by there’ or ‘have a go’ was a Welshism, and, unless it was part of dialogue, I would change or remove the term, replacing it with something more universally understood.

In the last few months, however, I have come to embrace my writing style more and more, allowing my heritage to sew itself into the fabric of my work, and rightly so.

At the end of 2015, I received third place prize for a poem I wrote entirely in emphasised dialect, ‘Fy Iaith.’ Welsh writer Rachel Tresize judged the competition, and spoke specifically about the strong presence of voice in each winning piece:

“In order to begin to find good writing I always look for a few basic literary ingredients […] after that it’s pretty much down to voice. Though literary voice is an inexact science and quite often a matter of taste, a strong and original voice is instantly identifiable.”

This doesn’t have to mean dialect, necessarily, but a strong, thundering element of voice which identifies the author instantaneously. For me, this means not changing the way we write to suit others, but embracing our own unique voice and rolling with it, rather than battling against it.

The Welsh language is filled with whimsical sounds, creating a lyrical and musical prose which contributes to any piece of writing, in my opinion. It certainly worked for Dylan Thomas!

The Terry Hetherington Award for Young Writers

dylan-thomas-in-a-recording-studioA week or so ago, I found out that I had won first place prize in The Terry Hetherington Young Writers Award, an accomplishment I am extremely proud of. The winning piece, ‘Cartref,’ was written entirely in my voice, with a Welsh title and a few Welsh phrases thrown in, as well as plenty of cultural dialect – it paid off!

Embrace your heritage, embrace your culture, write as you would speak and most of all, be proud of your own unique voice.

See more on The Terry Hetherington Young Writers Award prize evening, which will be held at The Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea and is open to the public.

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