Monday, June 30, 2008

Review of June 2008

June was a bust. A wash out. A bump, a blip, a zilch, a zero, a stumble, a misstep, a disappointment. I submitted one story to a competition and one to a publication. My word count was the lowest of the year with an average count per day of less than 1000 words. I think I must have forgotten how to read, because I didn't finish any books. My blog was sorely neglected (among other things). About the only good thing I did this month was complete the mini marathon. I hope July won't be a similar waste of opportunities.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

Insanity is doing the same things and expecting different outcomes

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Television - a poem

Television has sapped my mind

It has even made me blind

And there is something more I fear

Soon I will no longer hear

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Lament for Pit the Pony

She walked upon the islands fair
her mistress had golden hair
her golden body gleamed in vain
as she looked out the window pane
The raging sea was her torment
of this she often dreamt
that on her castle wall
one day she would fall
Under the moonlight starry sky
she watched the fireflys fly by
and she knew her end was near
when she heard the tremble with her ear
She heard the tremble with her ear
it came far wide and near
with that she jumped into the sea
and that was the end of my little ponnie
A Lament for Pit the Pony was written in 1986. Pit the pony was a tiny yellow plastic pony who I lost in the garden one day and was very upset. To cheer me up, Hoofpot suggested I write a poem to mourn her passing - hence the lament. It was first published by The Blackrock Bosh and is reproduced in its entirety above from the original source - my diary - with spelling as I found it. The spelling is not mine. The identity of the transcriber is lost to the mists of time.

1985 - 1986

The oldest piece of writing I have is my diary (probably my very first diary) from 1985/1986. I wasn't too good at writing as a 4 year old, so I used to dictate my entries to different members of my family. They are quite funny. I also did a lot of drawing, which I was slightly better at than at writing.
My first attempt at writing in my diary (pictured above). There is no date, but I guess it was around late summer/early autumn 1985. I'm sure it made perfect sense to me at the time. Thankfully my writing has improved (slightly) since then. By Christmas time my writing had improved greatly. This entry almost makes sense. Please note that 'I watched television' was not written by me, but probably dictated by me. It is a diary entry that would be as appropriate today as it was then.

Other things have not changed. The beginnings of my dark mind were evident in even my 4/5 year old self. At first I thought they were fire breathy winged horses. On second view I think they might be dragons. You are free to make up your own mind on what they are.

This looks like a harmless bird, but look again and you will see that its mouth is full of teeth (it is possibly the reason why the bird on the right has no head. It looks rather like the cat who got the cream). It is obviously a pterosaur. I am as obsessed with them today as I was then.

Perhaps the darkest of my diary pictures, this appears to show a pair of squirrels (I think they are squirrels) being bombed by an aeroplane. What the squirrels are doing is a mystery to me. Neither of them look very happy, although whether it is at the prospect of being bombed or because of what they are doing I don't know. My guesses are that they are either 1. Enslaved and set to work making horse shoes or 2. Terrorist squirrels making weapons of mass destruction. If you have any thoughts on the meaning of this picture, please let me know.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Twenty Years of Notes

I've wanted to blog about this for ages. In my writing room I have my writing notes, which probably go back about twenty years (I am amazed that I can say that!). They are a mix of hand scrawled pages of varying origins and sizes and printed work from a variety of different printers and typewriters. They are novels, dreams, started stories and ideas. Some are even poems. I've being meaning to digitise my notes for years and have never got around to it, so they are a disorganised mess. In the past month I have had recourse to turn to my old notes not once, but twice. The first time for back story on a fantasy story set in Reath that I was writing for a competition and the second time for the original notes on a story I had started years ago and had decided to resurrect for an anthology. Both times I failed to find what I was looking for (and therefore failed to finish the stories) but I did find a wealth of ideas that have been lying fallow for years including a romantic ghost story titled 'Relative' that I think is time for a revisit. I went looking for Relative this evening to help me with my 're imagining', so to speak, and couldn't find it! What is up with my stories going missing whenever I go looking for them, even though I can see the pages in my head? Anyway, I did find another story called 'The Good Son' that I wrote about four years ago and COMPLETELY forgot about, which is very strange as I can remember practically every other idea, scribble and note I've written since I first looked into the mysterious valley of imagination and started to bring back tales. The pages are liberally smeared with red pen, but I must never have finished editing it as I have no record of ever sending it anywhere. I must have just let it drop. It does need work, but reading through it I could see the gem of the idea and I enjoyed it, so even though I didn't find what I was looking for I found another piece of work that needs minimal re-writing before it can be submitted, which is a good thing. Of course, I still have to go searching for 'Relative'. I wonder what I'll find next time I go looking for it.
On another note, I got a thrill this evening when I checked my mails and found one from Douglas Preston (one half of The Relic fame) in my inbox. Had he finally decided to respond to my heart felt and well thought out treatise on how Ebola (for reference, you need to read Lincoln and Dougie's most recent Agent Pendergast books) should be killed? My thrill was short lived, however, as I realised it was merely a form email to promote his new book, 'The Monster of Florence'. How disappointing. Into the recycle bin with you, Mr Preston!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

School Performance

I had my speech and drama teacher's hat on today. The school where I teach had their end of term performances for their parents and family members (the school isn't closed for another couple of months, but the drama and music lessons are over). They played to a packed house. It was most of the kids first time on stage and it was the first time for all of them doing a play with me. They were all decked out in their costumes and looked very cool. I was really stressed about today because there was so much to do, the children had devised the plays and I had written up the scripts so that was an added tension and also because it was my first performance where I had sole responsibility as the teacher. It is amazing how important the parents' opinion becomes when they are paying you and they are judging your ability on how well their children do. Things went ok. The class I was worried about were great and the class I thought would be fine got stage fright and went to pieces. That's the way with the school performance though. I think the parents enjoyed it and a lot of them said that they had a good time and that their children loved going to me, which is nice to hear. I also got a big bunch of flowers presented to me at the end, which was a lovely surprise.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Something to entertain

Hi guys, sorry for the long absence. I think I still have bloggers block. Feeling a bit blah. Will up date properly soon, but until then here is an interesting link that I hope will thrill and entertain you. I have heard of most of these stories before but the headless chicken was a first. It is quite gruesome to think about. The poor creature, I don't think it was right to keep him alive. At the same time, I would have bought a ticket to that side show in a second!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

What it feels like to see my story in Apollo's Lyre

Valpot asked me to describe what it feels like to see my story published in Apollo's Lyre, so I thought I would tell you. It feels fantastic. There is a great thrill in seeing my name under a title on a website that has got nothing to do with me, my family or friends. There is also a certain sense of vulnerability in seeing my work in print. I don't know who is reading my work or what secrets they can fathom from my soul laid bare for all to see. Ok, that is going a bit far, but I do feel a chill of awkwardness looking at my story. I also feel mildly dissatisfied. I like the story, but could I have written it better? Are there words I should have changed, maybe if I had altered this sentence or tweaked that one it would be better? Oh well, too late for that now. The last four weeks or so I've had an almost daily habit of checking on Apollo's Lyre to see if they had published the May edition and I felt a great feeling of relief when they did update the site and my story really was on it. I knew it would be, but until it was there in black and white for all to see, the good people at the magazine could always decide to pull it. Seeing it finally in print (so to speak) assured me that I hadn't been dreaming or the victim of a cruel hoax when I got my acceptance letter through the email. That leads me onto my next feeling. There is nothing like being accepted. You write a story, you work hard on it, lovingly slave over it and then send it out to find friends of its own. You weep with them when they come back rejected. You rejoice when they are accepted. I remember seeing a play a few years ago about The Shaughraun author, Dion Boucicault. In the production they depicted Boucicault's first acceptance of one of his plays to the Abbey Theatre. After he had heard the good news, a spot light shone down on him while the Hallelujah Chorus played in the background. That is what acceptance feels like. A total rush of exhilaration, a feeling of happiness and well being, of connection with the whole of creation, an affirmation of your existence, a validation of your hard work. Someone else, for no personal reason or influence on your part has decided to take your work. After that, the actual act of publication is merely the cherry on the cake. It is lovely to have your story out there for all to see, to find its readers and hopefully make friends, but it is not as exciting and exhilarating as being accepted in the first place. Maybe it is because I expect the publication after the acceptance. Maybe it is the fickle nature of human beings that transforms the extraordinary into ordinary. I don't know. I do know, however, that being accepted and published is a high I am craving for repetition.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I don't know what to blog about!

A very unusual thing happened to me today. I couldn't think of anything to blog about. So I waited for inspiration to strike. Perhaps I would get some writing news, or have a funny experience while doing the shopping with my mother, or get an email of congratulations from the friends and family members I sent a link to my story to, but no. I waited in vain. It is rare that I can't think of something to blog about so I decided I would blog about the very thing I couldn't do - blog. I am going to call it blogger's block. I'm sure older and wiser people (or should I say younger?) have already coined the phrase Bloggers Block, but I haven't come across it before so I am going to claim it as my own and if you say you know of someone who has used it already I will put my fingers in my ears and whistle the theme tune to the X Files until you stop talking. Anyway, back to this random ramble which is really about anything that comes into my head at the moment (sounds of tumbleweed rolling around the empty spaces in my head). Yes, yes, well. How is the writing going, I hear you say? Wrestled all day today with a story idea for the Bridport competition. I think it is a good story idea, but perhaps needs more room to expand in than the generous five thousand words of Bridport. Then another idea occurred to me, based on my first idea, but I am reluctant to explore it as I don't know if it will annihilate my first idea (or should I more correctly say decimate?). Read an article that more or less paraphrased Mungo and said Writing is Easy! Yeah, well some people say there is no such thing as writers block and maybe it is true. I think you should write everyday and do all the wonderful things that they suggest, but no matter how hard you try to turn off the internal editor and let your creativity flow and write what you love and know about and all that stuff, some days it just won't come. Or perhaps it is bloggers block I'm talking about.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

May Edition of Apollo's Lyre

Yay! The day has finally come. The May edition of Apollo's Lyre has finally arrived (yes, I know it is June!). Check out my story, The Sky Horse. This is my first fiction publication. Enjoy.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Flora Women's Mini Marathon

I did it! Today I walked 10km around Dublin's city streets with forty eight thousand other women who were all taking part in the Flora Women's Mini Marathon. The day was glorious, really warm and sunny. I got a thrill from walking down the middle of roads that were usually the sole domain of cars. I was nervous at the start because I had been told you get crushed and carried along by all the people, but thankfully that wasn't my experience. It took 26 minutes of shuffling to get over the start line and then I could stretch out and find my stride. There were loads of people supporting us along the way, clapping and cheering as we passed and hanging signs out of their windows to encourage us. One man decided to stand on his front steps blowing a whistle and stripping. There were also bands playing music every couple of kms. There was a great festival feeling. Lots of walkers stopped off along the way for drinks or popped into shops for ice cream and sweets. Some sat down at bus stops for a rest. I was surprised to see a lot of people smoking as they walked along. Near the end of the route firemen were housing down the crowd to keep them cool. There were regular water stations along the way as well. At 6km I hit the wall with a really painful blister on my left heel. I didn't think I would be able to continue but after a minute of agony I was able to pull up my socks and continue. One woman had brought her dog, who had a race number on her collar. The best bit was crossing the finish line and getting my medal.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Review of May 2008

It is hard for me to write up my stats for May because most of them were on my laptop and it has taken its secrets with it to the grave. However, I have been able to salvage the following facts:-
While May was not a bumper month for my word count (I can remember that, but not how many words I wrote) it certainly was for my submissions. I entered 5 competitions (although, to be more correct, I entered 5 stories in 3 competitions) and submitted 7 stories to 7 different publications. I have yet to hear back on any of those fronts.
I did have good news with another acceptance in May. My story, 'All in the Family' will appear in the second Invisible Ink Anthology. Buy it, enjoy the stories and vote for mine (or vote for it anyway) on the Invisible Ink website. The stories are published anonymously, so remember the name of my story - 'All in the Family'.
My first published (although not first accepted) work should have appeared in the May issue of Apollo's Lyre (and it probably still will) except the May issue of Apollo's Lyre isn't published yet. Keep an eye on the website for June.
I finished two books in May, which is better than April but is terrible and I don't know why I am reading so little. It is something I must continue to address.
On a non writing note, May has been a month of many firsts. My first time in London (but hopefully not my last), my first time on the London Eye and cruising on the Thames. My first time in Madeira and in a swimming pool (well, the first time in 23 years). My first time in Venice (also, hopefully not the last), my first time on a Gondola and my first time doing Aqua Aerobics. A lot of travel and a lot of firsts.