March 6, 2014 by Jen Cudmore
My Irish Blessing, by Joy Ross Davis
In 2007, I was blessed with a summer internship as a travel writer and photographer with a travel agency in Ireland. It was a gift from God, a miracle that changed my life.
As a travel writer and photographer, my job was to travel across five counties of Ireland, find remote, lesser known places that American first-time visitors would enjoy, photograph them in the best light, and then compose an enticing article that would actually make visitors want to see them. My basic assignment was to turn in ten articles and twenty photos each week.
Given the weather in Ireland—usually cool and rainy—I discovered that nothing in my suitcase would work as traveling clothes, as many of the remote destinations required long walks through fields of stinging nettle. Gone were the nice pants and blouses I’d brought, replaced now by heavy sweat pants, long sweaters, and most importantly, a pair of Wellies (boots).
The first two weeks were chaotic as I tried to figure out how to visit the sites, take great photographs of them, and then write interesting articles. Steeped in history and myth, I was more concerned with the legend than the place itself, so I spent hours interviewing people, talking to local about the particular site, and generating ideas. In short, I spent hours wasting my time!
Finally, in desperation, I settled into a routine. When I’d visit a site, I would take along a small notebook that fit inside my camera bag. I’d spend some time reflecting on the beauty of the place, taking many more shots than were required, and in general, coming to know each place. I wrote in hotel lobbies or dining rooms at B and B’s, Internet cafes, libraries, and soon, I established a fixed routine.
And this was my Irish blessing.
Through God’s grace, my entire writing life changed during my stay in Ireland. I learned that I could write anywhere and under any circumstances. I became a better photographer and found that images inspired my best writing.
Photographs continue to inspire me as nothing else does, and at times, I feel an instant spiritual connection. The story comes, then, and no matter where I am, the ideas flow. My Irish blessing—God’s gift to me—generated a new source of inspiration, one that still guides my writing today. And for this small miracle, I am grateful.
Bio: Joy Ross Davis lives in Bessemer, Alabama. She has a Ph.D in Creative Writing and for many years, she taught English at a local community college. She retired to become a caregiver for her mother who suffered from dementia. She documented her experiences with her mother in a series of articles for a local newspaper. The articles have also been featured in Muscadine Lines, a Southern literary magazine. For several months in 2007, she lived in Ireland and worked as a travel writer and photographer for Tourism Ireland. Currently, she is working on the sequel to her first published novel, Countenance, is celebrating the release of her second book, and teaching English online for the University of Phoenix. She lives with her son and three rescue dogs.
Latest release: In Countenance, debut novelist Joy Ross Davis creates a suspenseful yet heartfelt story full of intrigue and unexpected revelations, where magic is made in the kitchen and angels can fall in love. Her memorable characters inhabit a home that is more than it seems, unwittingly preparing for a final showdown where forces battle for the souls of both those who reside there and the dead who cannot move on to the next realm. Thirty-eight-year-old Nealey Monaghan’s life is turned upside-down one night when her sister’s estranged ex-husband kills nearly everyone she loves in one fell swoop. Numb to the world, Nealey is taken in by her charmingly eccentric Aunt Sylvie, cookbook author and proprietress of the Playhouse Inn Bed and Breakfast in the hills of Tennessee. Hoping to help her niece find purpose and meaning in her life again, Sylvie makes Nealey a co-owner and begins teaching her the tricks of the trade…and the secrets of the house. Unbeknownst to either of them, nor to the ghost relatives who have lived there since they were murdered in 1889, there is a common thread running through their veins, and a deep secret that is dying to come out…