Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Personal journey

Would I rather talk about writing/reading/arts than about myself?
But a blog isn't a blog if you don't talk about yourself.
So here is my personal journey as a writer.
Something to chew on.

I've started to write five years ago.
October 2006 exactly.
That is the time for me.  Something clicked and since then it hasn't turned off.
But I wrote sporadically. Depending on my moods/how tired I was ect...

Sounds like an eternity.
It is.

The first story I wrote was a picture book called "the story of the werewolf...i mean of the warehouse."
Yes that was the title.
Terrible title.I know.
Terribly story.
It was a story of a drawer who lived in a dark warehouse and wanted to be a washing machine.
Not the best of content for children.
I did the drawings myself too.
They were very amateur.
But I liked them nonetheless.
I still kind of do.
They make me laugh.
Let's see if I can rumage through my stuff and get it for you.
Ah there it is!

I completely fail to understand why a kid wouldn't sympathise with a drawer! ;-/
Anyway, I sent queries at the time. To 7 or 8 publishing agencies/literary agents.
I knew nothing of the industry.
Well would you believe?
I got rejections from all of them.
So I stopped for 3 months.
And wrote another story. A story about Peas and Carrots.
Sent it again.
Got rejected again.
Gave up.
Started writing another story for older kids. 8 and 9 years old about a girl who happens to be too curious.
It was messy. I gave up.
Then I wrote a story for young adults.
Worked on it for 2 years on and off.
And returned to the two previous stories I wrote.
I decided that I still liked it. Decided to revise it and queried it again.
And now I am waiting.
For answers.
On the three of them.

The 4 P rules -
Reference to a post I wrote on the 31st of March:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Would you rather?

Based on a question I read on Rachelle Gardner's blog "would you rather give up writing or reading?"
and on reading the biography of Jane Austen and other authors like Philip K Dick and Truman Capote, I thought I would throw a few more tough twisted evil existential questions out in the open.

1)Would you rather keep writing knowing you'll be famous after you die or be famous for a short brief while and then die? LOL.
2) Would you rather let your life fall apart or let your writing fall apart?
3) Would you rather be famous for a piece of writing you hate or infamous (criticized massively by media and audience) for a piece of writing you love?
4) Would you rather write knowing you'd only be read by a few and keep at it or read by a lot knowing the outcome/success/pressure would made you stop writing?
Twisted I know.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Becoming Us - Part Two

Following the previous post which was a personal journey, in this post, John O'Donnell explores the metaphysical journey of "becoming" us as human beings. 
This article is nothing short of a fascinating discovery on how our thought-process work and I hope you will enjoy it.

“The State of Becoming”
What are you thinking of at this precise moment? The answer, according to some who study the mind, is nothing, because thought is a process, a becoming, not a thing that exists instantaneously. To think of an apple, for example, a number of simultaneous streams of information must come together and interact in our brains, information about its shape, its texture, its colour, information about the word "apple" itself and all the things we associate with it - trees, orchards and so on. All these pieces of information are stored in different parts of the brain and take time to communicate and interact with each other. There is no precise moment when the thought "apple" appears. Instead the thought is smeared out over time with no precise beginning or end.
And so it is with all out thoughts and our lives. We are always in a state of "becoming", moving from one state to the next, constantly changing and evolving. The change is sometimes so gradual that we do not notice it but eventually we realise that we have stopped being one thing and have become something else. Is there anything solid and unchanging in all this flux? Maybe so, if we change our perspective.
Another idea, popular among scientists, is that the flow of time is an illusion. That this "now" is no different to all the other past and future "nows"  and in fact all past and future events are "just there" in space-time, existing statically, on an equal footing, outside of time.
I imagine space-time as like a rich persian carpet where each of our lives is an individual  motif, somewhere on it. One particular definition of motif from Wikipedia seems to fit the bill: "a recurring element or fragment that, when joined together, creates a larger work".  But, unlike a real carpet, no two motifs are the same, we weave our own threads to create something individual that will never be repeated.
Some motifs are complicated, others are simple but each has its own beauty and contributes to the overall pattern. Each motif is finite as otherwise it would destroy the overall beauty , so our lives must be finite with a beginning and an end. Perhaps the pattern only becomes clear when seen as a whole. Because we are part of it, we are too close to see its beauty, like trying to understand a painting by methodically examining each square inch with a microscope. So we often struggle to find meaning in our lives.
The motifs do not stand alone but are connected by multiple threads to each other, these are our connections with family and friends. Each motif is echoed by simpler versions of itself in other parts of the carpet, these are the memories that people have of us that live on after we die. And the moment of death is just another point in the pattern. The motif that is our life can never be erased. It remains frozen, our contribution to the pattern of life.

Thank you John for sharing this article with us.

Do you  feel yourself evolving and changing as a whole? Or do you feel that you are changing one motif at a time?

Becoming You - Part One

I've seen recently the film "Becoming Jane" and after the movie, I thought about what it means for us as individuals to "become" whether it's to become a writer, an adult, a parent, or just becoming "You".
I shared my thoughts with a fellow writer/arts lover and one subject leading to another, I asked him if he would be interesting in sharing his experience of "becoming".
And to my delight, he agreed to write a piece on "becoming a father".
So here it is. Hosting the thoughts of a diversified mind which is you, John O'Donnell.

Becoming a parent

I never really understood what it meant to be a parent until I became one myself. I had, of course, the example of my own mother and father who, like many parents, put their children before themselves, working hard to ensure that we all got a good education and a good start in life. I appreciated what they had done but I did not really get, on an emotional level, what drove them to act so selflessly.

I like the word “becoming” because it conveys something gradual, incremental, not a sudden change. We sometimes speak as if changes in our life happen overnight – you change from a child to an adult on your 18th birthday, you change from being childless to being a parent on the day that your child is born or is adopted. But all change is a process of adjustment. It takes time to become anything new – a spouse, a parent, an artist, a writer.

And so, at first, being a parent was not like I imagined it. The first shock was the disruption of the comfortable routine that had been our former life. Suddenly our priorities were: changing nappies, feeding, naptimes. Our son was like a friendly invader into our home, disrupting and changing our lives, turning everything upside-down whether we liked it or not. We were also daunted at being wholly responsible for the welfare of a tiny, vulnerable human being. It was a responsibility that was there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, something I had never experienced before. There wasn’t really time to sit down and think about what feelings we had for our son. We were two busy with our daily routine.

But after a few months we settled into our new life. Slowly but surely this tiny person wormed his way into our hearts and souls until eventually I could look at my son’s smiling face and know that I would do anything to protect him, that I would willingly give my life for his if such a horrifying situation was ever to arise. I learned that there is a deep joy in this feeling of caring for another more than for yourself. I could no longer imagine life without my son, even though I had lived reasonably happily for so many years before his arrival. I realized then that I had changed and now understood what it meant to be parent. I had finally become one.

Have other people’s experiences of parenthood been similar? Different? 

A little Bio about John O'Donnell

John O'Donnell grew up in County Limerick and has been living in Dublin for over 20 years. He is married to a proud native of Armagh and they have a 2 ½ year old son. He works as lecturer in civil/structural engineering and has a particular interest  in science, mathematics, history, the arts and anything to do with the mind. Despite his training as an engineer he's been struggling to release a creative side, mainly through writing sci-fi and crime short stories with an occasional venture into poetry.

John, thank you for sharing this piece with us.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Writers are the Background Boys of the Movie Industry."

Just yesterday, I've caught the end of a new program by the BBC called "Meet the Author". The author was Jonathan Lynn who is an actor, comedy writer, and director. 
He is best known for being the co-writer of Yes Minister.
He's releasing a book called "Comedy rules", a combination of a memoir and anecdotes and a sort-of guide for would-be comedy writers.
During his interview with Nick Higham, he said something interesting about Comic writers, he said that they are often angry.
I think he may be right there. 
He doesn't go on justifying it because he adds, "it's rather a difficult thing to explain" but the thought did play in my head for a while as I do know a comic writer and she is rather angry.
But more to the point, Nick sensed in Jonathan's book a " suppressed rage" about the Yes Minister awards as there wasn't any award towards writers (only in the end, did they create an award for them) not to mention the fact that Jonathan wasn't even invited to the ceremony awards.
Jonathan gives an interesting reply.
He says : "We're writers! Our faces weren't going to sell anything."
He goes on adding that every time a movie is out, they never interview the writer of the film, the director sometimes, but mostly they interview the actors.
When you think of it, it's pre-posterous. What would the actors know that a writer doesn't?  On that subject, he concludes that "Writers are sort of background boys". 
Sadly enough, it's true.
It'd be so much more interesting to hear how the writer came up with the idea of the film or where he struggled but what we hear instead is how the actors struggled on the set.

I wonder why this is. Who decided that writers were just going to be "gadgets" to the Movie Industry? Who said nobody is interesting in hearing what a writer has to say about his own movie and how did it move towards having actors to speak for writers?
Anyone any thought on that? And what do you think of this phenomenon in the Movie Industry?

Ref to the video interview:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday Night in Temple Bar

Good night.
Bad night.
Depends from where you're sitting
and what you're doing
Who you are with
Or who you are not with.

And the awards go to...

I'm in a bit of dilemma here. I got an award.
So where's the dilemma?
Getting an award is great. And yes, I agree, it is. Guilie made my day when she gave it to me.
But, there's a but.
There's a mission attached to this blog award.

Number 1: You must Thank your awarder (that's easy)
Guilie, thank you so much for your efforts and time in organising this. You seem a very Generous and a Positive Enthusiastic person so thank you a thousand times. I wish you the best in your blog and will keep on following it.

Number 2: Link back to their blog. (again easy)

Number 3: Share seven things about yourself. (This goes in tens and twos: I can shamelessly admit about myself that I've ten toes,ten fingers, two eyes,two legs, two ears, two arms but only one nose- spot the difference;-)

And Number 4: pass the award on to 15 blogs you've discovered recently. (groan) 15? How about just 6?

First of all, I wouldn't give an award necessarily to the last 15 blogs I've discovered. I'd probably try to be more select. 
Versatile. Racking my mind and trying to do a rewind of the last blogs I've discovered.
Versatile! Versatile???
Quietly typing on google the true meaning of Versatile.
Definition: Capable of doing many things competently.
I got it.
When I think of all the blogs I've visited,  five blogs about writing comes to my mind and have stayed with me.
So here it is:

The Versatile Blogger Award

This award go to the 6 women below for their outstanding dedication to inspire and/or promote other bloggers/writers/events. And for being honest about themself in their blog. 
Miss Good on Paper
She manages two not-for-profit organisations promoting Poets and poetry events in Dublin and the time and efforts she gives for the Poetry Cause is truly remarkable and I thought it should be acknowledged.

Some of them like Clarissa or Jayne have already more than 500 followers so I did debate whether I should try to award someone who might need more support but I reckon their continuous effort to update their blogs over time is truly inspiring so I'm staying true to my first impressions of them and I'm offering them this award.

So the curse for them is that in turn, they should follow the same 4 instructions but this shouldn't be a core nor a curse so if they don't want to do it or don't have the time, I daresay it's fine. Besides most of you already promote others. 
Regardless of whether they accept his award or not, please do take a stroll around their marvelous places and enjoy.

p.s: I looked at the other 14 lucky fellow bloggers that Guilie awarded and unless I'm mistaken I didn't see anyone who had followed up with the instructions so far so I guess I'll be okay with only passing 6 blogs awards.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jessica Rabbit in a non sexy way

Every time I go to an underground Poetry event, I see something or someone that inspires me to write.
I guess the people I meet there are either so good or so bad that it stays with me.
This time around, it wasn't necessarily a lovely impression. But it was an impression. Anyway, who cares about loveliness as long as your muse is working for you?

She was a sight.
She reminded of Jessica Rabbit in a non sexy way. Yet for all she was, I'm pretty sure I must have made a face similar to Roger Rabbit when I saw her. Eyes Bulging and all.
She came to me almost within minutes of entering the venue and asked me if she could sit at my table. 
I said i didn't mind and kept on reading. I thought I was late. Been advised to arrive at 8:30 p.m as it would be packed. Well it wasn't. Far from it. And it took another hour before the room started to fill. 
So I had plenty of time to assess my surroundings while I sat at a table. A I started reading.
But of course minutes, no seconds into it, I got distracted by everything around me and especially that lady who had sat next to me.
She was putting on a red lip stick over her non-pretty lips. Her blond and long hair was neither exactly brushed nor very smooth. Her glasses fell a bit on her nose but what shocked me the most was the outstanding amount of breast showing off her very loose black cardigan. 
Big round white breasts. Not even sure she had a bra. But then again, she must have, for Mr Gravity is so merciless and the size of them could definitely not defy that law.
I smiled to myself. Because she didn't care. And I felt awfully impressed by that.
She was comfortable enough in her skin to state that she didn't care what people thought of her.
Anyway, I went to get something to drink at the counter. And as I waited for my drink, I turned towards her again and saw that the tiny button on her cardigan had popped or should I say succombed to the large weight of her breasts and there was even more breast on show now.
She didn't see me looking at her and simply hooked back the button without any fuss or show of emotion on her face.
I was even more impressed then.
Should I go on?
I walked back with my drink and resumed to discreetly look at her.  Her sausage-like legs bulged through her jean and as I pretended to look at my book again, she leaned towards me and asked in a sweet and polite voice if I wouldn't mind terribly if she sat next to me.  That way, she could see the stage better.
And she added, she would sit as far as she could from me, which made me smile. It made me like her even more because it was next to impossible for her to do so. There was hardly any space left on that bench as another person sat twenty inches from me.Yet I liked that she tried that politeness despite the not-so-classy surroundings.
As more people turned up, we ended up being shoulder to shoulder. But I didn't mind then and I didn't mind during the night either because she was rather nice and friendly towards me.
She seemed to know a lot of poets and the poets seemed to know her well in turn. Upon her reply, I discovered that she wasn't a poet herself. But a writer. Of sexy stuff. 
Well i thought to myself. She definitely has material.
Any way, I'll finish up saying that she had an unusual way of humming over the background noise which was also strangely endearing.
Last thought about the evening is while people listened intently at the poets, their faces turned towards the stage, I caught the eye of the bartender across the crowded place, longingly looking in our direction or should I say at her heavenly cleavage. I caught his eye, as I said and he caught mine. I laughed then and I had to look away. I don't know if he realised I was laughing at him rather than at myself because I caught him red-handed. 
I'll never know.
All in all a very entertaining evening.
I wonder how often do we writers, get caught catching glimpses of people's lives/thoughts and how much does it stay with you when it does happen?
Any thoughts on that?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Gone Camping

I apologize for the long absence. I went camping.
Been waiting for ever for this time off.
Yet I thought I'd be able to write an odd post here and there while on hols.
Well, I was unable to access an internet point for the whole duration of my trip!
6 days without Internet.
6 days without technology.

6 days without T.V either.
While I enjoyed being "disconnected" from the rest of the world, I didn't think I would miss it but I did.
Turn out campsites based in the middle of the countryside don't have all internet access. Not that I could use it if I wanted to. Because moving from campsites to campsites on a daily basis make it quite hard.

What's very hard too is the ground.
A bit of a redundancy but when there's hardly anything between you and the ground, you do tend to feel a lot more of it.

All in all, a very good holidays but it's nice to return to technology and a comfortable bed.