A Valentine’s Day Wish

This Valentine’s day just gone, I was lucky enough to go and spend the evening at the Irish Writer’s Centre, where they were holding an evening of the Lifecycle of the Book. There, I was lucky enough to sit in with Faith O’Grady of the Lisa Richards Agency, Deirdre Nolan  of Gill & MacMillan (no relation, worse luck), and Declan Meade of Stinging Fly. The audience was populated with members of the industry, interested writers and interested readers, and the event was also hashtagged at #booklifecycle on Twitter. I would recommend having a look at the twitter feed, it gives an excellent summary of the information and the q&a afterwards.

The evening reinforced the conclusion I’d reached in my own research; that one piece of work will never be enough, and that readers can take a long time to arrive. A person needs to create a career in fiction, with books each year, possibly both fiction and non-fiction, and that it is a life of work, and of graft.

One question I only thought of after the fact was, if one receives a request for a full manuscript after a successful query, how long in fact should you take to get it to the agent/publisher of your dreams? It is, however, easily answered by common sense; if you’re hoping to enter into a professional relationship with a person, then you should answer the request as soon as possible; a week would probably be the longest I’d leave it. I’ll need to ensure that when I do send off my ladies, that they’re ready to go immediately.

It has been a life of near misses, if I’m truthful. The suggested promise of my youth has not materialised, and finding the perfect statue within that endures despite my defects has not happened. Lets see what happens.

Image result for polished marble statue

Not there yet.

So, I was thinking about writing a blog. But the fact is that I have nothing to report. I haven’t gotten the book deal, or lost the weight. I haven’t bought the big house, had the face lift, or managed to have the child confirmed as a genius. So what is there to report? No success is no news, right?

Don’t get me wrong. This blog is not intended to be one of those common Facebook posts of sunset on a beach, where a size zero stares into the distance and we remind ourselves it’s all about the “Inner Beauty”.

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Yes. Yes it is. Also, Unicorns.

 

What it is about, is realising that my brain never shuts the hell up with the complaints. I never enjoy a meal without worrying about the next one. I never have a good weekend without planning the next one. I NEVER say well done, I always say Could be better. Because it could be. If you keep hitting your mark you’re setting your target too low. But losing all sense of joy about life is not good. I lost it recently, and it is nice to return more and more to myself and a sense of happiness about my life.

And happiness as I get older is more about recognising what makes me happy, without shame, and seeking that out. A clean house. A good meal. Sleep. Oh god do I miss sleep. Reading what I want to read, nah bother to anyone else.

So the instinct of not opening up the blog pages because of not having anything to say has a follow-up thought. Do it. It being free of success is nothing. It feels better to write, than to not write. Or, as a better person once said;

Image result for MR ROGERS painting

A Voice From The Past

Evening all. Remember me? Back in the long long ago, I used to write on this blog quite regularly. These ticktap words, as powerful as a bird on a feeder, were once upon a time quite common. But life and life’s obstacles get in the way, and it is with an effort I open up the blog writing side of me again.

Resistance; there’s a lot of it about at the moment. We’re marching, and campaigning, and getting angry in the face of danger that is real. Good. Galvanised populations encourage me and give me hope, whereas cynical resignation most certainly does not. The future is uncertain, and amazingly enough it is not unintentional. The British move towards Brexit is going to be disastrous for several different reasons, but mostly because they don’t know how they are viewed by other countries. The UK is not important by itself, and that is going to be news to a lot of its population. And Trump is a collapse, not an advancement. He is not a strongman or a skilled businessman, he is a failure in 140 characters. However, the people around him are not failures, but are competently malevolent to any progressive agenda. Watching his moral compass become the new normal is awful. Social Media is the new depressant, or at least, it’s influence is more pronounced. I miss the days of kittens, and I don’t even like cats.

My wonderful ladies are written, and are being edited. I made a synopsis of each chapter that is one page long, noting how many pages were in each chapter. First job was to make each chapter the same length, as much as possible. Then look at each new chapter, and figure out what the purpose of it was. Then to clean up each sentence, word by word, to as minimal as possible, and if it can go out it should go out.  I’m up to page 24. One hundred pages plus to go.

 

This has been a difficult week. I’m older, had another birthday. Getting older is a privilege, I am not denying that. But oldness I now know leads towards that ultimate sadness, and so this birthday is just a day, now. Oh look, another year. Onwards. It is also the week that contains the anniversary of the loss of my mother, and the subsequent schism of my family, so the divisions get writ large this week. It is quite something to remember the day that led to the loss of one of the most fundamental people in your life, then get out of the car and try to start the day. I remember the grief being utterly stilling, there was no defence against it. Now, there is merely a terribleness to it, that does not drown me the way it used to. Oh, but how I miss her, though.

 

And now, to bed. I wish you all peaceful slumbers and a kindess of dreams. Night night.

A Modern Proposal

There is today a great deal of discussion on the need to repeal the 8th Amendment, and to grant further access to abortion within Ireland. Folks on both sides raise their voices to make their point, and our leaders frown, silently, on this worrying demand that will not remove itself. These women are sent abroad, are removed from society, are cut off from dialogue, and still they insist on having their demands heard, even fulfilled. How much easier it was when these women were physically and mentally silenced in laundries, their labour used to make the nuns wealthy, their babies sent away to foreign lands to remove even the hint of decision being their right.

Women. Bloody, whiny, demanding, insisting women, with their agenda and their support and their lack of silence. They don’t earn enough money, or garner enough respect, for them to be mainstream, but they won’t make the bed or clean up our messes unless we tend, in some way, to their complaints. Well, I’ve been thinking, and I believe that I may have a proposal for those who despair of my sisters’ demanding ways. I think I may have come up with a simple, god-fearing, religion-preserving method where these annoying women are finally made happy. It creates no sin against a god, any god, but will make those folk who fear annoying their god, or fear even more the granting of agency to women, all happy and relieved. And here it is.

Let those who insist women should not have the right to choose, be the ones to continue the pregnancies themselves. Should they insist on the right to life of the unborn, let their uterus be the allotment they take ultimate control of. This right to life overcomes all other considerations, such as the wishes of the woman, her physical health, her mental health, her intention and her will. Therefore, if this right to life overrules all other considerations, let the pro-life folks’ own bodies be given over to unwanted fecundity. They themselves seek to remove abortion, and state that it causes the greatest harm to the mother. Therefore, in their surrogacy, they will do the greatest good. Let they give their own internal organs, their time, money, mental and physical health and future in their pursuit of this ‘greatest good’.

And as for those men, who insist that women should not have the right to decide what should happen, then let their own wives, sisters, and daughters be utilised in the great cause to preserve life over autonomy. Thankfully, no permission need to be looked for, be it legal or personal, for as we know no woman has the right to decide what her body does or does not do. Instead, her body must not be used for her own good, but for the greater good, a good decided in metaphysical terms rather than in real ones.

And once the child is born, in a hospital system that considers the comfort or dignity of a woman in labour as a secondary consideration, the child can be deposited into the foster care system of our country. As we know, the ‘pro-life’ group have worked tirelessly to ensure that it is the best system of care in the world, where no child is ignored, neglected or suffers.* No doubt that they will have nothing to worry about.

So there you have it. A simple, straightforward solution that confirms that every sperm is sacred, and which will allow full and complete righteousness to rule over rationality and the rights of citizens to preserve their physical dignity. I am sure those who read this blog will agree that it is the best solution; it certainly improves upon the idea that a woman might decide her own fate. May our betters keep us from such a conclusion.

*I make no insult against those who work in our state child care system; they appear to me to be tireless and optimistic, in a system that is anything but.

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Cora Sherlock: potential surrogate? 

Family

We usually come from one, we usually plan to make one, and one way or another, we build one. Some of us come from the type of family we all want to have; a close and loving one. Some of us come from the  type of family that you’d see on PSAs; the type that gets titles like ‘disfunctional’ and who get a lot of callers from social welfare and the like.

I don’t come from the second type of family. Instead, I come from a very long line of people, we go all the way back to the time of Nelson on my Dad’s side. Still, you can never be sure if what is written on paper matches what is the reality. I know myself that ink will tell lies that would make you pale. So for me, I’m going to try out that new service ’23&Me’, which allows you to create a DNA profile for yourself based on your heritage. I don’t know what it will reveal, but it will be a creation based on science rather than on the needs and illusions that have gone on before.

Someone told me recently that you cannot escape your family. Perhaps not. But there is ‘escape’ and then there is eluding. It is possible to elude the conclusion that others can write for you. It is possible, and very necessary at times, to decide for yourself the conclusion you wish to reach. Thus, I’ll go and find out things for myself, based on the reality, rather than on the necessity of others to create, recreate, and un-create their own desired reality.

As for the actual results? I’ll keep you posted. Watch this space, that I create, if you wish. Have a good week.

Yeah, I know.

The child should be having his bath right now. Jo Frost would be all shocked-looks to the camera at my parenting skills right now. But I’m getting plenty of evidence that there are a lot worse than me out there, so excuse me if I forgo the obligations for 15.

I am beginning to believe that Alan Rickman held the complex universe together; look at the world since he died, for Pete’s sake. All goes wrong on the international and national sphere. All is uncertain and nothing is clear. Dante’s last circle awaits us.

I get holidays in a few weeks. Hope the time passes quickly.

These people have feet of thick.

There is a certain element of Irish thought that accords English institutions a large amount of respect! We review the long history of its institutions and its traditions, many of whom were responsible for our own, and decide that it has a greater understanding than we ourselves possess. However, for many people, the events of the last few days have been a huge awakening, wherein we realise that we may have vastly overestimated an nation and its population by some massive degree. In short, people, the English are as thick as two planks! What the hell is up with these people, because it certainly seems they are not connected to the same reality as the rest of us!

Greetings, Sports Fans

Hey, miss me? I’ve not posted much lately, mainly because I was too busy. The main reason for that was a little thing called the UCD Festival, which took place last Saturday. I have been working on it since last November, but things really went up a gear since May. It meant that for the last two weeks, I’ve been at my desk at 6.30 am every morning in an effort to get all the Schools ready, and this last week has seen things reach a frantic, three-seconds-for-every-job pace. Saturday had me awake at 4 am, in the car at 5.05 am, and not really wrapping things up and leaving until 4 pm that afternoon.

I haven’t been this tired since the kid was a newborn. I have pressure behind my eyes and my brain won’t stop. My skin feels weird, my muscles are all twitchy and I’m fairly sure I have high blood pressure, there is a thump-thump-thump feel to my spine I can’t get rid of. It’s not that I’m slow, it’s that I can’t even get started. The kid as well won’t let me leave the room without him, he’s seen so little of me right now. Hmmm.

Still, the day itself had some amazing moments. There was the great fun of showing my sister and her family around campus. The attendees to conferences who were dying to see their old campus again. And seeing the campus decorated was a pleasure. Check out #UCDFestival for photos.

And there was this. The artist in residence, Michael McLoughlin, created an instillation called ‘Fabric’ with me. It was based on an idea I had, to interview the men and women on campus who make life there possible. To that end, we interviewed support staff and administrators who had worked there for years, and who would very much be the students face to face experience of UCD. It took a lot of work, but nevertheless we got it done. I took a quick video on the phone, about two minutes long; 

 

Did it get a lot of praise? Nah, not a bit. I doubt many reading the notes even found it worth attending. Made me think of this (which is by Bill Watterson, not me, and I never said it was);

Bill Watterson makes another not-so-subtle commentary

 

In that I’ve ended up being snobby and elitist in an effort to shine a light on the essential but mundane. Still, there is a victory here, and that is something to be proud of.

In any case. Normal programming can now resume. So swimming, and maybe writing, can start soon.

But enough about me, how are you?