Hope and the hoping hope it brings.

So, hope. That thing at the end of the box (yeah, thanks for that, Pandora). The International Literary Festival Dublin is kicking off in May, and way back in March they announced details of their Meet An Agent Day, on the 20th of May. That sounds good, said the voice in mah brain. That event would be an ideal way to get our Ladies up and running.

They needed 1500 words, a synopsis, author bio and ten quid as submission fee. I got all of them ready, and to be honest edited the start to focus on Janet; she’s my strongest character with the clearest arc, I wanted her front and centre. So my first scene became the domestic scene, with all the subtext I had inputted. I sent it off, with an actual kiss on the envelope. Please oh please. Please.

The Universe loves suspense. The organisers were kind enough to push back the entry date due to the postal problems. As a result, the date of announcement was pushed back slightly, from last Friday, to this Tuesday (today). I know this, because I asked them in as breezy a fashion as I could.

See? All good.  They said it would be Monday, nothing to worry about.

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Then, there was a brief email sent out saying that the announcement would be sent out by Tuesday 11th April. Grand.

Hang on, ‘by’? As in, by midnight Monday? On Tuesday, but at some undefined time? Should I give hope the concrete shoes and chuck them in the water by Monday midnight, or should I keep going until Wednesday’s dawn chorus? Should I ask them again online, or would that mean I was on a list?

I hit on the unhealthy plan of checking out the hashtag #ilfdublin agent on Twitter; if someone got a place, they most certainly would be annoucing it on their own social media. Okay. So off I go to the refresh button, checking for any sign. Nothing so far. Then, lunch with a dear friend who I have not seen for a very long time, and had missed a lot. I will admit to having my personal account open on my desk when I got back to my desk. There was nothing in my inbox. But wait, there! In my Promotions folder, (thanks Google) was an email. I didn’t get to breathe before I clicked it open.

No. No invite or novel fair for me. I thought about sending out an email in response; “Dear Literary Festival, many thanks for your rejection. However, we have received many other fine rejections and unfortunately yours was not successful. So I expect to show up and be made a fuss of on the 20th. See you there,” etc. ¬†You will be proud to learn I did not.

Instead, I am adulting like a pro; I will be going along on the day anyway, as should you, it is an amazing day. You know how many were invited? Approximately five people. I am not sure if it is five per agent, or five in total, but that is still a tiny amount to pick out from hundreds. As egotistical as I am, even I can see the odds were against it, and that there is no shame in this, just in over-reacting to this. It is still a good day, and my ladies deserve to be championed. Hugs to you all.

 

 

A View To A Day

I know several people with anxiety, had it myself several times in my life. It is so horrible it is boring; convinced of one’s own awfulness, the past and the future combine to create a huge horrible vista where every past mistake is evidence of my terrible nature, and the future is a huge horrible mistake waiting to happen. Run! Hide! Your disgusting face and your pathetic nature is going to make you create the same mistakes over and over! The future is a nightmare! Run! See illustration;

“I must change everything because I am horrible; I am horrible, see my past; my past is horrible, so my future will be too; I must change everything.”

So what does a person do when they think so lowly about themselves? Some are obliged for various reasons to have to live with themselves. They must go on, and just learn to ignore or manage those terrible feelings that say they are so awful, they must not go on. The road can seem rather dreadful when cursed with these feelings, so much so that a radical shake up in how you think can be necessary.

Firstly, and this may seem perverse, remember that life is finite. If it is to be horrible, remember that no matter what, in a hundred years the burden will be lifted. No plea to your nature, no higher power can remove that fact from reality; one day, it will be all over. Rejoice!

Secondly, you can be fairly certain that you are going to bed tonight alive, and getting up the¬†next morning alive. It is fairly likely that you will not be losing your life today. Sure, there can be big surprises in life that come without warning, but nevertheless, bar comets, car crashes, or medical diagnosis, today you will have. So yes, for the next twenty -four hours you are going to have to have a set of facts that won’t change. This life, and this body and brain are what you are going to have to work with over the next twenty four hours. So this is what we have to deal with. And it leads us to some questions;

This is as smart, as pretty, and as clever as you are going to get today. This is you, as good as you are and as bad as you are. This, today, is your reality. What are you going to do, today? Are you going to add to the sum of the world’s problems? Fill the air with negativity and sorrow? Make others feel bad, sad and upset? Think of yourself, and only of yourself? Or are you going to do something else? Put it another way;

what goodness can I create, even if I myself am not good? What kindness can I do, even if I am not kind to myself? What wisdom can I follow, even if I know I am not wise?* How do I make others feel, even when I cannot control how I feel about myself? What beauty can I seek out, even if I do not find any beauty in myself?

At the very least, I can go to bed making the world better, even if I think I myself am not. And when a person sets themselves the concrete task of making the world better, it is rather remarkable how many possibilities can be seen.

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*Socrates had something to say on this point, but that’s another blog.

 

What A Weak.

So, illness. Doesn’t happen often to me, I have the constitution and the subtle nature¬†of a plank of wood. However, every so often I’m reminded that I am a biological entity like everyone else and I get sick. By ‘so often’, I mean every ten years or so. This is the week in question; my sinuses are all infected and it’s in my lungs, and the reduced lung capacity has made me weak. So I have been off work¬†all this week. The last time I had so much time to myself I was on maternity leave, and that was at such a high pitch of fear there was no chance of rest; merely sitting there squawking my arms like the fat hen I was.

Being ill is strange to me. Most of the time a night’s sleep or a big meal means the energy is back again and off we go. But this time, no immediate efforts made things ¬†better. I’ve been asleep for the better part of a week and I am only getting back to myself. Strange, to¬†have to listen to what my metabolism is saying to me. The eyes in the mirror look weird.

Photo eyes

Tired? Me??

So that’s been my week. No work done at home or at … work, no writing and no editing. But there was no choice, I’m forced to admit. There was nothing I could do, I had to do nothing. C’est la vie.

Their sound of silence

See this image?

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It is level. Quiet. Undisturbed. The ground is even and smooth. Its very marginal nature is intended. It makes me think back to the marriage referendum, when person after person  after person in our society came forward to disclose that they were gay. These people were not deviants, strangers or outside the mainstream; instead they were establishment figures well within the status quo, and who had operated and achieved much within our communities. And yet, they had lived a life somewhere both within and without our world. where they were made to feel different and excluded, because they were. They were people who were not part of how society views itself. Instead, they lived lives that were at least in terms of its dialogue, silent and unfree. The silence was imposed both within and without; Ursula Halligan says she never spoke of her sexuality to her family, in her need to avoid exclusion. Pat Neary was never out either; years and years of not being able to be himself without fear in our country.

We hate. We hate well in this country, with passion, history and layers. Right now, as I type, the Citizens Assembly listens to testimony regarding the need to repeal the 8th Amendment. It invites Churches, but will not hear from TFMR people, an oversight that is outrageous. But lets go back to that field; that quiet, lonely, smooth field. That silence is what is wanted. Shut up.  You need to shut up. It is the same silence one finds on battle fields and in cemeteries. It is the silence of rooms empty of the living and loved. Those horrible people who destroy the doctrines of hate are silenced and are no more.

The last entry of Anne Frank’s diary is the 1st of August, and after that there is a white, silent, page. That silence is the desire here. We can be compounded, capitalised and calcified into nothings, ground like pestle and mortar by the greed of them that will have us for their pleasure or their worth, and then we will be made silent and uncomplaining by the deeds of their ways. They will destroy us, make us silent, and let the sweet calm pastures left after us testify that there is no loss or damage to be noted. We were not here. The loss of us is no loss at all. Let that which was here be not here from now on. Let our words be silent, and not heard. Let the wind alone be heard as our voices.

These people have been free to kill us; there are people not here who should be here today. They will continue to act in this way if allowed. For the sake of overly silent rooms, this must not continue.

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Yeah. So it is Sunday night, and I am ill. Have been ill for most of the week, with the most delightful ailment you can imagine. I have been experiencing a huge toothache in one of my teeth. This, is not good.

Now, for those of you not new to my company, you will be aware that I hate dentists. The last time I went to a dentist, no-one had heard of Monica Lewinsky. Yes, I’m serious. I went to get my wisdom teeth out at eighteen years of age, and, it turns out, proved the stereotype about red-heads. No, not that one. The other one. Seems I bled excessively on the table and they had to close up in a rush. I woke up from general anaesthetic with a bruised and punched face, and had blood¬†everywhere;¬†in my throat, nose, ears, hair… I was supposed to go back to fix a bracket to a poorly drawn down incisor. Funnily enough, I could not be persuaded back into the dentist’s chair again.

For nearly two decades.

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Yes, this is my life now. 

But back I went. The pain in my tooth became the pain in my face became the pain in my ear, as the other half simply insisted I go to the dentist. So, WITH NO NERVES AT ALL, I got myself an appointment. They were great, even helpfully had the sounds of a drill going as I went to the reception, that was nice of them to do that.  I ended up talking to someone very young about the teeth. She was utterly rushed, and was very much about trying to things over and done as possible. Like a kid sent to the teacher, I kept as much details of my long absence from them as possible. And how were the teeth?

They were grand. No, seriously, really. One of them might need a filling, but the rest were grand. Even the one that caused me to come there was fine; turns out I had sinusitis. This is a delightful bacterial infection centred in, you guessed it, the sinuses (don’t look it up). But it had managed to get back enough that I had a great stonking great temperature and goo and discharge and all of it, so lots of pills and rest were required.

Anyway, so here we are. Sunday. I’m still not great. Life has given me, without exaggeration, a pain in the face. The mood is stellar. What you looking at?

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.

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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;

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