Category Archives: Writing

A New Day, A New Me…

… must be the most tired sentiment ever.  However, I am old and experienced enough to know that sometimes, inventory must be taken, and when something must be changed you should change it.

So. There are 144 days until the New Year, and this is what is going to happen.*

  • No sugar
  • No carbs
  • Daily exercise; either five minutes or thirty or an hour, but no zero days.
  • Writing every day. This blog, finish that novella, short stories, whatever. Ideally start the sequel to the novel I just finished. But no zero days. And, no, TWITTER DOES NOT COUNT.
  • Keep the son’s learning going.
  • Stay very much away from social media. It’s as pervasive as sugar and just as toxic.
  • Save money like a mad thing. You need it to get away from rental fun and neighbours and terraced houses and all of it.

It is entirely possible I will be bringing you, my dear reader, on this delightful ride with me. I know that you must only wonder what delights we will see together. Rest assured, you will find me very, very, hangry.

Image result for GIF Missy piggy

 

*Yes it WILL don’t you JUDGE me it’s NOT a PHASE!!

Walking counts, right?

Monday – no exercise. No jog, no swim. The weekend had left me less than energetic, and the pouring rain certainly didn’t help. Bold Claire. Try again tomorrow.

 

Tuesday – right, no more procrastination. I made myself get into work as early as I could and get into my swimming gear. I’d been here before last week, when I didn’t really feel any joy at being in the water, and I frankly ‘parented’ myself into it again today. I got into the medium speed lane again, secured my goggles, and pushed off the edge.

And booom, the old push and sway was right back there. I pushed off that edge like a fish being freed again, and all the old skill I’d had was right back there with me; keep to the top of the water, make your movements smooth and clean, get into the rhythm and keep it going.

As I swam, I noticed the pool filling up. UCD is lucky enough to host the Women’s’ Rugby Tournament this year, and the campus is filled with teams from all over the world getting ready to compete. The gym and pool is no different, and a team were there this morning to get some recovery swims in. They’re strong, with all the various body types you might expect of a rugby team. I am by political leanings a feminist, but by culture I’m sexist; I’m still surprised when society puts women first without qualification. To have these women given resources, and priority, and emphasis, is a strange state for me. As I watched one figure happily swim past me, I realised I’d never seen a woman succeed for her own sake.

Men win in movies because they are the Hero. Women win in movies so they can get the guy.

Women are never heroes by themselves. They never succeed unless they succeed just-so-far and no farther. Women are not the default, they’re the reward, and that is an area I should grow a bit in.

Anyways. I got out of the pool and got ready. I’m still too slow on that one, I find.

 

Wednesday – no work, rest day, alalallalalllaa

 

Thursday; Run! Run fast! Home, shoes on, out the door! I pushed myself very hard and managed to… maintain the same speed. I would have hoped I could cut more time off it, but I didn’t. Standing at my front door, trying to breathe, I told myself it didn’t matter. What was I going to do, give up? No, I was not. Maintain, fall back, get better; it doesn’t matter, just keep going.

 

Friday – Rest day

 

Saturday & Sunday – See, I was actually full of good intentions on Thursday? And I did indeed manage to get a lot done, both for work and for exercise? But on Saturday I headed down to the sister’s for the weekend. They have a lovely home down there, and kids that still fake liking the mad aunt, and a dog so my beloved angel adores it too, and all of it. So by 11am off we went in the car to enjoy the weekend. The older I get the more I love getting out of Dublin, and I’m never down enough in Kilkenny for my liking, I miss the place very much. So it was fantastic, frankly, to recognise the hills in the distance as we went on down the country. The weekend was very much waterlogged. We had a long walk on Sunday morning just before there was a break in the rain, out in the woods called The Islands, and that took a good hour, so I am calling that exercise.

 

3 folks walking

The woman in the middle is one of the best people in the world. In case you were wondering. 

We even found a car; a passat had been pushed off the road, all the windows smashed. The more I looked at it the more I was convinced it had just been put there; the weeds were wilted, the upholstery was dry, and the thread marks weren’t pushed down. We rang the guards and told them about it, but something about it troubled me; They would have had to drive in the pitch dark and then walk back the same way. That’s a lot of effort for just a joyride.

 

Broken car

Shockin’.

It started to rain. We got just wet enough so that we were grateful to be back at our cars and get cosy. The rest of the day was a deluge, and I spent it reading and looking out of the window, tututing and going back to my book.  Hard life.

Purple woodlands

Like, really hard.

While I was down there, I had another idea for a novel;  a beginners cooking class focusing on Desserts. You could see each of the people taking part in the class, and learn about them as the cooking class goes on. The book should include the actual recipes as well, so that a person buying the book would have the chance to learn to cook it too. Yes, it is a bit Maeve Binchy, but frankly there’s nothing wrong with that. The title came to me this morning as I was putting on my mascara; “Sweet Things For Beginners.” And a cover in pink. Hmm, I like that.

But no exercise make Claire lose the point of the blog. I want to go for a quick jog today, and will update this blog this weekend. Don’t lose hope! I will be back!

The Fun that is week three.

Saturday:

So. After the fun that was last week, I decided to keep going, and on Saturday morning early headed out to do my run. I wasn’t too worried about the time, I just kept going until I  had a couple of miles down. Then it was back home.

“Mummy!” my little angel greeted me. “You’re all pink!”

No I did not take a picture, go look at a daisy.

Ah bless. Yes, pale skin and red hair and flushed face means Mum look all pretty. I had my shower and cleaned up, ate breakfast, tidied up. Then it was out of the house for a bit. The other half needed to get some parcels from the post office, so I headed down in the car. Walking away from the parked car I noticed something.

I.

Was.

Limping.

Ow. Ow ow ow. 

My left hip felt like someone had wretched it out and hurriedly put it back in again. I limped into the post office, got the parcels, then back to the car. It felt like I needed to put myself in some weird position to get the ache out of my limbs, but I had no idea how.

Then, that afternoon, it was time to take the car to the NCT place in Deansgrange. The kid was happy (at first) to watch them have a look at it, but became convinced that they were stealing it. Coping with that and growing dehydration wasn’t good. Back home, I headed down to the local shop to get dinner, then ate and then bath for kiddo, followed by bed for me, honestly glad there was no scheduled exercise for a few days.

Sunday: get away from me, rest day.

Monday: Was lucky enough to see the in-laws, and to hang out with my very cool sister-in-law and brother-in-law. It was supposed to be a ‘simple tapas thingie’, but my mother-in-law managed to present the most sophisticated buffet out of no-where. We sat in the garden and relaxed, not really caring that the rain was coming down. I drove us all home, glad of the few days off work.

Tuesday: Right! Home from work, time to get twenty minutes in. I managed to cut two minutes off the time, so hurrah for me. It is getting easier, but one thing about getting older is that you notice your improvement speed is slower, as is your recovery time. Still. I feel much better these days, so much so that I’ll be able to pose laughing over a bowl of salad any minute now.

Image result for woman salad

Oh asparagus, you just get me…

 

Wednesday: Rest day, ha ha!

 

Thursday:

Honestly not sure if I can find the time today. Lots of lovely meetings.

 

Friday:

I went swimming.

And it was a lot better than before; the rhythm was much more present, and I got it done with not a bit of bother. Still taking far too long to get ready afterwards, however.

I was supposed to go away this weekend, but had to change them, which means mentally I have no plans to go running today, Sunday. But needs must. Will see how we get on.

 

The plan for next week is:

Monday – Rest day

Tuesday – run after work

Wednesday – Rest day

Thursday – Swim at lunch

Friday – Rest day

Sunday – Run

So now you know too and should feel duty bound, dear reader, to remind me if I fail. Anyways, keep her lit!

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

A brief tribute to Victoria Wood.

Imagine the following given in a deep Northern accent. 

Victoria Wood

 

So me, Kimberly, Sharon and that cow, Tracey, showed up outside Mrs. Wilson’s house, as arranged, only Tracey showed up late because the bus took so long comin’ from Weight Watchers. She goes in each week and they tell her she’s fat and she goes out again, she says it’s really affective. Sharon felt a bit sick because she’d had a penis colada earlier while we were waiting for the tupperwear lady to show up. Most people hate tupperwear sales night  but this was totally bono fido, totally honest like. But she didn’t show, so we all show up at Mrs Wilson’s house to do the yoga night. You know her house, she’s got the pink guttering that me mam says was a bit open minded but it takes all sorts she says. Me mam not Mrs Wilson, she’s been all tense and upset since she’s had that breast enhancements surgery in Scunthorpe a year ago. The magazines say you have to make the most of what you’ve got but me mam says Mrs Wilson made a mountain out of a molehill, if ya know I mean. Now she finds it so hard to see she can hardly drive.

Anyway we go in, and the heating is on because you’re supposed to be sweating out your chakra, and our Kimberly said out of the corner of her mouth that she could feel the biggest pool of chakra in her neither regions, but then she took the coat off and she said she felt better. Mrs Wilson was there, looking like the Double-D underwire  bra was about to burst in her new Manduka loop back cami, bought to match her capri Amara. She said that she hadn’t slept at all and Tracey started laughing saying ‘Neither would I with me pillows on me face.’ Only Mrs Wilson didn’t think she was funny. Turned out she’d lost her two albino guinea pigs under the settee earlier and couldn’t get them out. The smell of pot purri drafting around the place was more powerful than Bernard Matthew’s breath after a Saturday night.

So, anyways, we get started, all stretched out on her deep shag in the sitting room, and  Mrs Wilson was all, ‘Deep breath girls!’, but you could see she was really really hot, and before we could even get down on the ground and give our sun salutation she got really pale and fainted. Me, Kimberly, Sharon and Tracey manage to get her up the stairs, waving the pot pourri under Mrs Wilson nose as she was going up, and we managed to get her towards the Marks and Spencer cotton sateen duvet cover, until Tracey came up with the idea of loosening the Double D underwire push-up bra. Before our eyes, two albino guinea pigs crept out and made their escape out the windows. Down the pink guttering faster than you could say ‘Yellow Beret’. We had to let ourselves out, and Mrs Wilson never even refunded the fiver.

 

 

Final Furlong

[Bored, Received Pronunciation Commentator]

We’re under starters’ orders… and we’re off! Leading the pack is Good Idea, following up is Intriguing Plotline, and close behind is Convincing Theme. Setting a good pace for the pack is Hard Work, always necessary to see in the field and also from the same stable, Long Hours. They’re making good time now and we see the field go around the first corner.

[Bit surprised, becomes alert] But what’s this? Lagging in the Middle and Loose Thread are suddenly leading, followed up by Self Doubt and Inner Confusion, making this a race anyone can still win. It seems Good Idea has lost their rider, and that’s now confirmed by the steward, Good Idea has lost their rider.  

[Utterly excited, yelling at the top of his voice] But as we come around to the final sprint, all horses straining now with the effort, and the sheer weight of the course behind them, we find that it is neck and neck, with Not Giving Up Now and Sheer Bloodymindedness looking likely to lead. And as we come to the photo finish, we see Sheer Bloodymindedness winning the race, with a photo finish, and making us all very proud. Well done. Hopefully that will see them to the winners’ enclosure. 

“Aha ha, yes.”

Any ideas?

I wish I could come up with something wonderful for you all, but it is Sunday. Beloved son is asleep. In fifteen minutes I’m going to get up from this chair, put on a load of laundry, get things ready for the rest of the week and start linner (cross between lunch and dinner). This is the down time, here, right here. The coming week will see me at work, with a very busy day Tuesday, a very busy and long day on Wednesday, and an increasing storm as we approach Professorship interviews here in work.

This going to be a doddle.

And that is in fact the day job. The real work is the little man, making sure he is developing, looked after and okay. This weekend he’s had ear infections in both ears and had to have meds four times a day. That’s not going to stop just  because his mother has plans, as it shouldn’t. So I’m going to draw a line under this blog now, go off and enjoy the rest of this next fifteen minutes and then get stuff done. Talk to you all soon.

Sunday Night feelings.

So, it is Sunday. Sunday night, to be exact. I would love to give you a blog full of wisdom and good cheer, that extols the virtues and raises you up to inspiring heights. Or rather, create a funny, cheeky blog, full of wacky adventures that make you grateful for your own ordinary life, your own ways and mannerisms.

Instead, though, I’m just tired. I’m really tired, the kind of tired that is uninspired, unwise, and a bit whiny. I want to stop, stop writing, stop working, stop trying. I want to have my hard work acknowledged by all around me and my goals to come down and meet me half way. I want to be recognised as a good person without any flaws and to have those who seem blind to this fact beg me, just beg me for forgiveness. I want to be the only car on the road, the only voice in my ear, the only paradigm of success for others. I want to be rich, thin, pretty, smart and content.

All this. I’m ungrateful for my lot in life, my son, my husband, my work, my writing, my home, my happiness. There are people out there who would love my problems.

Doesn’t mean they don’t still feel like problems, though. Is it the time of year, do you think? The darkness just goes on and on, and we all get restless and discontent and hunt for things to make us sad? Don’t know. Don’t really care, either. Just wish I could get five more hours sleep per night and more time at work and everything and everything… Anyways. The writing is continuing. The work is all. We’ll get there. And we’ll use the whines as inspiration.

A Tired Seamstress

A Tired Seamstress Angelo Trezzini

Fiat Justitia Ruat Caelum

Well, how are ye? No, seriously, how are you? Are you okay, all right? Have you checked in with someone recently, rang them, talked to them, let them hear your voice, made eye contact?  Are you okay, are you at home, safe and untroubled? All your folks okay? All your neighbours?

These days, my friends, these terrible, terrible days. We sit, and horrors play out on the images on our eyes. Toddlers’ bodies flop and slack on beach fronts, teenagers flee down dark streets from concerts. And unlike the gentle words used in newspapers when I was growing up, all of it is visible and clear. Last night I watched video by a journalist who lived across from the Bataclan, showing people jumping over dead bodies at doorways, while on an upper storey window a pregnant woman clung to a metal bar, and pleaded with someone to pull her in, she was slipping. The footage ends before she gets in, there’s no way to know right now if she is okay. If anyone is okay. No one is okay.

The picture of the inside of the Bataclan looks exactly like the end of any concert, bar the larger mass of the bodies.

And what can I do, faced with the visual of these enemies of me, what weapons can I bring to bear on these men, these haters of my ways and my times? What armour can I clad myself in when I see the acts they will do? What can I do that is strong enough to stop them, I who know nothing, I who can do nothing? I am no soldier, not accustomed to hardship or battles. I can call no orders, lead no charge… But I do have in my bag of tricks something that is strong enough against these people. I, and everyone I know, can call forth around them a weapon  as strong as any fanatic, a wall of safety bigger than any gun. I can and do know exactly the form of words that will dispel the power of these men’s ways, and it is exactly strong enough to remove their power on this earth.

This power grew to a concentration just where this latest attack took place, In Paris, where the ideals and principles founded by our own culture and society began to take modern form. This power is founded in the creation of humanity as equal, and where each of us share Rights Inalienable, and undeniable, in the eyes of the executive and legislative function of our state. It is in the ideals of proportionality, in the concepts of Fairness and Privacy, in the motto and guide of our fallen brothers, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. It has its own magic phrases such as Habeas Corpus, Presumption of Innocence, and deorum Injuriae Diis Curae, phrases stronger than any spell Harry Potter could cast about. It is a power brought about by years of argument and counter-argument, from men like Hume, Locke, Kant. It has just as much imagination, power, and yes, perhaps even magic, behind it, to make the world safe again.

These men, who would destroy us, know nothing of us, for they don’t know we can control the very turn of the earth with these words. They think we are all alike, and that we will live in fear and hate because they must. They think we will turn into them, and hate back, kill back, because that is all we can do. But they are wrong, for we have laws as strong as a mother’s love for her child’s heart. We will find these men, and all the other men. We will track them down, and we will stop them. We will look them deep in the eye, and do the one thing they do not want us to do.

We will arrest them in the name of the Law, that thing that they act against and that thing we must use now more than ever.

In the name of the Law, may it always be strong.

Something Has To Give.

Hello, sports fans. Hopefully you’re indoors on this rainy, play-called-off Sunday. I’ve the headphones on listening to Chopin, himself is cooking listening to ACDC (hence the headphones), and the child is either asleep or burning something around here somewhere. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to get a few lines down.

In terms of writing, still managed to get into the desk twice this week at 6.30am in the morning. We have now reached the thirty-one thousand word mark, and I’m reaching the inner landmarks of this novel that I’ve carried around with me for so long. One of them was reached this Thursday, in an early morning session that was just wonderful. One of these characters is, after a dreadful period in her life, regaining her sense of humour. As she lies in bed at the end of a long day, her imagination takes on a long fantasy so comically outrageous, she makes herself burst out laughing, the first time she’s laughed in years. I’ve carried that moment around in my head over and over and over again, a glass snowball of her life and her heart in that exact moment that I have had to write out to finally make free. And this Thursday she and I finally got there, we finally got to see it together.

A lot of paddling to get to that shore…

But all this is taking its toll. I’m exhausted, and really I don’t have much in the way of mental … character left in me by doing this. I normally am scrupulous with what I eat, but I just can’t keep that up this week. I came home and made Chicken Casserole with tonnes of potatoes. It tasted amazing, but the carbs should have been a big no-no. I’m finding my hands full, of all these loose fraying threads, and there is only so much energy I can give to everything. Someone took too long at a traffic light on the way home on Friday and the fury I felt was irrational, exhausted, just nonsense.

By the end of this I’m going to be a basket case. Seriously. I’m going to be nuts.

Don’t care. I think.