Category Archives: Writing

Me and the Writing

So, first week down. I’ve been getting up at 5.30am to get into work by 6.30 am and write. It has been an interesting week, for several different reasons, but I will say that I have found it easier than I would have thought.

And… Up we go again!

Firstly, as to my security. I work on a campus, and so the place is open to the public. I’m also not terribly eager to explain myself to security each and every time. So I go in, and unlock the door, then lock the door behind me, thereby insuring I’m safe while I work, and not freaking out security who come to lock it at 7.30am.

Secondly, playing catch up. So far, I’ve made myself up to date on my list of submissions. It really is a wonderful sensation to do so. Most of these things require bios, synopsis and such, so even if the damn thing is written you have to supply ancillary text to back it up. And that is now done, two novellas submitted. I’ll hear about one in December and one at the end of this month, so I will get to stagger the rejection, if nothing else.

Finally, coffee. My veins must be made of it at this stage…

Also, I managed to plot out the novel. I’ve seen the characters change hugely even in the short time I’ve been writing it, and so I am pleased to finally get that acknowledged and get a new plot done. We will see what the next week brings.

Happy Glenroe day to the lot of ye.

Oh, Thank You!

Oh, thank you, WordPress, for the privilege of being able to log into my blog! The sheer delight of not having my ISP address listed as suspect due to multiple log in attempts from someone else is just delightful. At least now I can get rid of that stupid washing machine gif that was up up without thought weeks ago.  Ye Gods…

So, how are you all? Everyone okay, still here? I’ve had a wonderfully busy two weeks or so, dealing with anonymous correspondence, hubby changing jobs, time off that wasn’t time off at all, a death of a relative, illness of a very close relative, and … life, really.  I have been busy, which is the excuse I’m giving myself. I am sitting at home at the moment due to the bus strike, a development that I only realised at the bus stop yesterday. It made me realise how little attention I pay to the outside world these days. I rarely seem to listen to news broadcasts, I never buy a newspaper, and most of the world seems to get by quite nicely without my concern. I am aware of the big stuff, the referendum on the 22nd, the need to check the register… But the day to day stuff is passing me by.

I remember as a kid riveted to news and current affairs, but since the collapse that interest has waned and gone. It drifted away on foot of my belief that my interest actually did anything, along with the expectation I can change things. Maybe that will change, but for now, and for a while, I’ve let them get on with it.

Anyway, it’s good to be back. And how are you?




I see that there is a remake of Cinderella. Is there really no new ideas out there? No, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that children have to watch the same movies as their parents, but I do think that the ideas of Cinderella don’t really work for me anymore.

Hey, think about it. All her problems are solved not by her brains, but by her beauty being made her best feature by someone with magically deep pockets. She doesn’t make the dresses, she doesn’t solve the inequality at home by forming a union, she doesn’t overturn the unfair inheritance of her stepmother, she gets herself tarted up and dances with a prince.

And that always works out.


Cinderella is about clothes maketh the woman, and it is a bit too feudal to be good enough these days. Hey, she’s pretty, so she will be advanced over other women.  Problem is, is that as a kid I ate that up, and also concluded that my chances were pretty poor considering the state of me.

Maybe new versions could be made? One where she gets herself somewhere due to her hard work? Call me crazy, but a tale that shows children that women can battle and overcome dragons too would be rather wonderful.

Woman Warrior 2 by Zavgo-Spb, from Deviant Art


Whiplash. Here Be Spoilers, People.

I managed, over the course of a week, to watch Whiplash. It’s a strong Oscar contender, and the trailer is amazing for its tightness, and its focus. It tells the story of a student drummer enrolled in a facsimile of Julliard, whose teacher pushes him beyond the limits by sheer abuse. That isn’t me hand wringing, by the way. The trailer itself makes it absolutely clear, from the first lesson, that J.K. Simmonds’ teacher does not follow the Socratic method.

Why so long?

As I said, it took me a week to watch it. The structure of my day means I work, come home and do housework for half an hour, and then pick up Little Man. When he’s home, he is the priority, not films, so other than the Daily Show over dinner, nothing else gets watched. It means I saw Whiplash in about twenty minute segments per day, until we were done.  That may have influenced my reaction to it, because I’ve a few thoughts that aren’t really being reflected elsewhere, as far as I can see.

The movie’s question

The movie sets itself up to ask a certain question; is this teaching method acceptable if results are obtained? If it works, is it forgivable? One of the ways it asks this, is by concerning itself with the Mens Rea of the Teacher. Does he want this student, Andrew, to succeed, seeing in him some worthwhile spark of greatness? Or does he merely enjoy abuse, unable to step away from his tactics no matter what it does to the student?


Here is the spoiler part my title speaks of. At one point, the teacher Fletcher gets a phone call after class, a phone call that leaves him distressed. At the next class that evening, he reveals that a student of his, who had gone on to great things, had died in a car crash. He then goes on to give the lesson, and what a lesson. Driven even more angry, he compulsively makes each drummer pound the drum until they reach the speed he demands. He holds up the lesson until they get there. The lesson started at 9 pm. Fletcher is a man possessed in that class; each student has their worst fears yelled at them while they sweat and bleed on their sticks. Our hero is told that his mother left him as a baby because of the aura of pathetic he conveys, and that he will amount to nothing. Somehow, though, he does it. He reaches the required tempo. The other students are now called back in, at 2 am, and when they do finally get to leave the building and go home, our hero seems to have aged ten years.

Miles Teller (left) and J. K. Simmons in “Whiplash.” Credit Photograph by Daniel McFadden / Sony Pictures Classics / Everett


What happens next

The next day, our hero somehow makes it to the performance, despite suffering a car accident and near hysteria due to his panic at not being on time. Fletcher, unimpressed, pulls him out from the drums (he was dripping blood) and Andrew throws himself on him, fighting and kicking in rage. He is pulled off the stage; he is thrown out of the school. He takes up a job in Starbucks to pay the bills, and puts his musical aims in the closet. He is then contacted by the family of a former student, and things take another twist.

The student who died in a car crash, didn’t die in a car crash. He in fact took his own life. And he took his own life on foot of mental problems that started when Fletcher was his teacher. That was the telephone call Fletcher took. That was the detail that spurred him on that night. And what a reaction! To learn that you have driven a young student to suicide, only to be compelled to cause more pain, more agony. I have caused death, he has thought. I will continue on, but even stronger.

Andrew is asked to tell of his own experience  in an effort to get Fletcher fired, and he does just that. But he agrees when Fletcher asks him to play in his own band months later. The final scene is both nightmare and dream, really, Fletcher, it seems, knew all along it was Andrew who helped get him fired, and orchestrated him being on stage, in Carnegie hall, without proper notes so as to shame him. Horrified, Andrew leaves the stage, but then turns back on his heel and goes back to his drums. He starts a set that leaves everyone gasping and as you can hear here, guides the rest of the band into Caravan. Fletcher is furious, but maintains his role on stage. However, the excellence of Andrew is compelling; he gives a virtuoso performance, and Fletcher is spun back into being his teacher once again. The movie ends with the Mens Rea of Fletcher being confirmed, in the final second, as being that of the teacher; his belief in Andrew is confirmed, he was about the spark of greatness all along.

Why this is more dangerous than 50 Shades

This movie is a fantasy. It is about accepting abuse from someone in the belief that they are somehow about your own best interests, that they will make you better, and you will just have to put up with this if you wish to be considered good enough. Fletcher is a teacher who will drive students to suicide, and consider them weak, rather than back off. He wants greatness but he doesn’t want to learn himself. He seeks to teach, but not to care, and the movie frankly agrees with him. Andrew becomes amazing at his art. And he does that after months of inactivity, a dream coming true right in front of our eyes. Andrew’s pain and agony is not important, what is important is where he ends up. And his emotional state is not part of anyone’s concern.  Again, and I’m boring people now at this stage, women are delicate flowers, men get to suck it up, and round and round it goes. Andrew, in his way, gets the same message as Anastasia Steele, that the abuse they suffer is worth it in the end, but there is very little concern about his life out there.  Andrew is under Fletcher’s thrall completely by the end of the movie, and so everything is … worked out? If the music is good enough, it is worth it.

I’m unconvinced. Whiplash is a fantasy, not reality, and it ignores the consequences of what it proposes, like a good movie.

There is nothing wrong with 50 Shades of Grey.

No, seriously, there isn’t. There is nothing wrong with it. It is fine. Just fine.

But, you my beloved reader might ask, surely it is wrong, and indeed wrong on several different fronts? It is badly written, so badly written as to be a source of mirth? It is also wrong in terms of its morality; the relationship it depicts is abusive, incorrect, lacking in moral fibre and abusive? BDSM communities hate it, as it shows the worst stereotypes of its community, and it is also just filth? It will lead young girls to believe that these relationships are normal, correct, happy? This book is wrong, and indeed should be removed from circulation?

To these points, I make the following retorts;

1. Badly written work; Oh, yes, it is trash, but for the purpose it has it does just fine. Millions have read it and liked it. It is fantasy, not reality. And for most of us, the concern is not that it is badly written, it is that it is badly written for such a popular novel. Right now, there are millions of badly written books out there, but no one cares. We care because it is so lauded by its sales figures, and because it has become a stock of popular culture.

2. It’s morality  – the story told is a fantasy, of a billionaire falling in love with a naive young woman who falls in love back. After much sex, tension and misunderstanding all is well. The book is a fantasy; billionaires do not care much for undergrads, nor do they seek out their thoughts. Certainly he has money, but she is not a heroine focused on that, it is not a big deal beyond a point. The point is that this is porn, not just a novel. It is for the reader’s sexual gratification rather than the reader’s literary one. The morality is besides the point.


One ring to rule them all? Pfft, sure!


3. BDSM; again, this is FANTASY, people. If readers are led to an abusive BDSM relationship because of this book, then they are easily led. Then there is the spoken aloud concern for young women who might read this work and thus believe that they can get happy by entering such a relationship. Women will not be saved by an abusive relationship because they don’t read this novel. Men and women are abused for a host of reasons, but this novel is only a single point of pop culture. This is not the fear we all think it is.

They ain’t gonna find a billionaire, either.


Interestingly, there is rarely a spoken concern or fear about the elements given to male sexuality. There is no worried frown or fear given over to the education, or message, young men receive from pop culture, or for that matter from the sex education they receive from porn. And porn is considered more and more the norm for young men these days. It’s not considered cheating, it’s not considered deviant. Indeed, Cindy Gallop points out in her Ted talk that the vast number of young men she dates have received their sex education from porn. There are free sites for porn on, and the titles alone make 50 Shades look sweet; They speak about hurting, about mastery, about destroying and about humiliation. Of all this, because it is focused on men, no one cares. 


Women are, once again, made to be the standard bearers of morality and otherwise. They must be protected, men must not. The point is, that 50 Shades gratifies without morality, and for some that has to be stopped.

This is good.

The practical way he writes about writing makes me want to pound on the keys of my keyboard.

We’ve all watched a lifetime’s worth of TV and movies that put big and often violent events into the first five minutes as a hook to get our attention. The assumption is that we have the attention span of chimpanzees. But hooks are hard to live up to; you can’t stay at that level. Besides, screen culture does violence better than written culture — leave the big violence to the movies. Better to start with a small mystery and build up to a bigger one. The truth about a situation is always big enough to sustain someone’s attention.


The Meaning Of Christmas – Deed Seven

Those of you who follow my Facebook page know that I wasn’t sick yesterday. No, I wasn’t, and I’m not sick today. I just have a snuffle brought about from the swimming. That’s all.

(Turns away to cough discretely.)

Ok. Where were we? Ah yes, Deed Seven. Now this one takes just a moment as well, and it costs no money or blood. But it does cost you some time and thought. So lets see what it is behind door number Seven, shall we?

Deed Seven; Email a TD about a cause you believe in.

Just not this one.

There are tonnes of issues out there that deserve to be raised with a member of your Dail. And you can find out who your local TD is by clicking here. Once you get your details you get the full contact details of your councillors, TDs and MEPs, so there is no excuse to raise any issue that is bothering you. Puppies? Hungry folk going homeless? The sheer lack of concern about imported gnats? The gnats, lads, what about the gnats, huh?

Or libraries. What about the libraries?

Once you’ve sent off your email or emails, you can rest assured as you listen to your relatives drone on and on over the trifle that you’ve done something concrete to help out the world.

Onwards, to Deed Eight!

The Meaning Of Christmas – Deed Six

Morning all.  Time and tide wait for no one, and so I have to increase the postings on this blog a little. I want to make sure, for those of you who are following, that you get the full list of possible deeds sooner rather than later.

Firstly, to recap, here are the deeds listed so far.

Deed One: A thank-you note.

Deed Two: Go to a book shop and buy a book.

Deed Three: Take a walk.

Deed Four: Give up your seat.

Deed Five: Pick up a piece of Litter.

All good? So far, what we have here are a list of kindnesses based on observing the environment around you. You are being asked to interact with the world in a positive way, even if it is very small.

Deed Six takes all that and throws it out the window. The demands of Deed Six are not like the others, and frankly this one takes courage and effort. Some of you would do it without thinking, others will never do this. So here is Deed Six.

Deed Six; Go and give blood.

Noowwwww, now you just stay right there, and don’t move. Even if you don’t go and give blood, you can grant the idea to the end of this blog before dismissing it, okay? Giving blood takes firstly about half an hour, is a hugely helpful thing to do for someone you don’t even know, and they even give you chocolate afterwards. Yes, they did at one stage give you Guinness but they don’t any longer. Now you get tea, coffee, juice or water.

Not everyone can give blood. In Ireland the restrictions are based on where you are from or have visited, what illnesses you have had and even your orientation. Here is a quiz to see if you are eligible, and that site has further pdfs that can let you know more info.

Now, here is a list of places where you can give blood; And just to put my money where my mouth is, I’m planning to do this myself this week, at the Stillorgan branch. If you want, and if you can, drop me a line and we can go together.

As I said, some of you would never do this. But give it some thought, it really does make a difference.  And you get cake. So give it some thought.

The Meaning of Christmas – Deed Four.

Here is Deed Four in my own list of Christmas Deeds. Remember, the rule is you can tell no one you have a concerted programme of good deeds to get through, but instead just do as much good as you can without fanfare. Like Batman. But without the dodgy ‘standing on the roof’ personality that isn’t really born out of wisdom.

So let’s not mention last year’s list, shall we?

So are you ready? Here is Deed Four.

Deed Four; Let someone ahead of you in traffic or give up your seat on public transport.

Ah, traffic. I’ve never seen anything that can drive sane people so crazy so quickly. And at this time of year, everyone seems to be up earlier to beat traffic and get a head start on the day, and so it means we’re all driving against the clock and each other. The result is insanely pressurised driving that makes everyone more tense, irritable and snappish.

So what you do is, you let the other guy win.

Sure, you could make him or her wait if you wanted to. But instead, your good deed is to drive with politeness, calmness and to let the other guy ahead of you. In this way, you’re making a decision to be positive and to make someone else’s day as pleasant as possible, rather than fighting Fate to do the same to you. Acting in such a positive way means that you’re telling that irritable, snappish mood to take a hike, and usually end up feeling better no matter what.

Same goes for public transport. As much as you can, stand, and let someone else sit. Most of us would give up our seat to the elderly or to a pregnant passenger. Now, decide to give up your seat the moment you can, so that you can help take care of someone else. In this way you can be kind, caring, and smug  thinking of others even when they are strangers, a very good way to improve your own self opinion.

Imagine; lanes and lanes of people trying to do good…

So there is Deed Four. Tomorrow, Deed Five; these are about to get harder….

The Meaning of Christmas – Deed One.

Each year Christmas comes earlier, and as such the meaning becomes more diluted. Sure, it may seem to be about Peace, Kindness and Goodwill to All, but what it actually becomes is a hunt for presents no one remember and a panic filled feeling that conveys only stress.

The best way I have found to counteract that, is to instigate the 12 Good Deeds of Christmas. These twelve deeds convey to even the most weary soul a sense of the meaning of Christmas that can’t be denied. But I must have rules for you, if you decide to take them up.


A big factor is the avoidance of praise for doing all this. Instead, make your good gestures silently, without fanfare.

So, without further ado, here is Good Deed Number 1;

1. Write a thank-you note to someone who normally never gets thanked.

Your bin man, your post person, the lady who makes coffee each day,  the cleaner at work, the train driver, all these people do their jobs without any expectation of thanks. Go and get a small thank you card, or a piece of blank paper, and write out to them a thank you for all their hard work.

You don’t have to sign your name if you don’t want to, the gesture itself is enough. But sending thanks out there, to some of the large numbers of unthanked people we meet and rely on everyday, is a wonderful thing to do. And you’ll be thought of in the most positive fashion for your actions.


Got any other suggestions for good deeds? Let me know!