Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lovely Leitrim.........

Here I am in the wilds of Leitrim with my laptop, my bum glue and the second series of ‘House’ plus the dvd ‘Life is Beautiful’. These things and the radio will be my only companions for the next week. So I’ll only be blogging, facebooking, emailing and net-surfing for ONE HOUR every evening. Apart from that I’m hiding the broadband modem stick or whatever it’s called, staying in my pyjamas and forcing myself to write at least forty thousand words of novel#2 this week.

The whole bloody novel is plotted, I have family trees for all my characters, I know what’s in their handbags/pockets for God's sake and I still procrastinate. The ironing must be done. I better weed that flower bed. The weigelia needs pruning or I’ll just go for a walk or maybe I’ll just finish this chapter and I really must watch the omnibus edition of whatever soap I happen to come across or I suppose I better feed my family etcetera etcetera. It is endless. Is it fear? Laziness? A combination maybe?

Because every time I open up a notebook or a blank screen sits looking at me - cursor winking in the left-hand corner I am seized with the most awful, wonderful feeling. This could be shite or this could be really, really good. It could sing. It could embrace the reader. It could turn the reader off books for life. The power! The power! Gobshite…me, not you!

I’m involved in the local panto this year with Magic Caarpet Theatre Company and the script by the talented Mr Alan Cash is brilliant. It zips along, busy, busy, busy. Extremely funny and snappy. We sat chatting after rehearsals last week and all agreed how important that first show a child sees is. If that show is good, production values high and it is as professional as limited means allow then you have that kid hooked on theatre for life. Even if they only go once a year, it’s different, it’s live, it’s not X Factor or Big Brother.

I think the same applies to books, give a child stories by the likes of Martin Waddell when they are toddling and you will hook them in to the joys of quality reading. That never ever goes away, they may drift away from it at some stage but they’ll always come back. Reading is such a solitary occupation. Just you and your book. Special time.

That’s why I have to make my book the best I can make it. No pressure then. Me free hour is up . Goodbye!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Darkest Hour Before the Dawn....

I recently heard a diary piece by Olivia O’Leary on RTE’s Drivetime and, as always, Ms O’Leary gave me food for thought. For that is what she talked of – thought. In the increasing electronic clamour of today’s world it is often hard to find a spot to sit and ponder or write or dream. And yet out of such quiet moments have come all of humankind’s best ideas. All those Eureka moments as thinkers leapt from their chosen place of safety and comfort to tell the world a blindingly obvious truth.

Then the rest of us could cry – ‘Yes! Of course! Sure, why didn’t we think of that!’. Often because we were to busy simply living – ensuring our families and friends have enough to eat, are clothed and warm and not in pain. But in the Western World where increasingly these essential physical commodities are not as hard won as they once were, and where technology has made the daily grind of earning a living – one that simply that prevents hunger and discomfort - much easier and faster, one would think man had increased time for thought. Quiet reflection, moments to contemplate the beautiful, the sublime – to puzzle out the conundrums of the world.

Instead there is this constant background electronic hum. I occasionally suffer from insomnia and have long given up twisting and turning in bed vainly waiting for sleep. Instead I get up and toddle about downstairs. I used to listen to the radio and clean my house. In recent years I discovered writing and use these quiet hours as some of my more productive ones in getting ideas, plot lines, character descriptions from my fevered brain onto the page. I often use the time to read – to absorb another’s thoughts in the wee small hours.

One night recently I noticed I was being distracted by firstly an electronic hum and secondly a winking light in the direction of the ‘off’ PC. After disconnecting 8 , EIGHT, plugs I eventually had both visual and aural peace. As the sun rose I heard the dawn chorus, heard starlings shifting and scratching in the eaves – saw the rabbit nose his way out of his hutch , lift up on his hind legs and sniff the air before shaking himself and lope off to feed on the last of my dahlias. I drank it all in and thought. Really thought, about the wonder of life and the extraordinary in the ordinary.

So here’s my suggestion - not that you all develop insomnia – ye would make my quiet time too noisy if ye were all up - but every day for the next ten days find ten minutes. Shut off all (ALL-including your phones!) electronic devices. Sit and stare, sniff the air, look through your window, pray or dream if you want or think or not. Just enjoy being. You might get to like it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

'Twas a big night

I love that phrase and it is the correct one to use about the launch of Rebecca De Havalland’s book ‘His Name Is Rebecca’. It was my privilege to work with Rebecca on her book and we have become firm friends, friends for life.

The book launch was in the lovely Bellini Bar in the Burlington and Rebecca’s family and friends, my family, neighbours and friends and the odd aul’ celeb stuck their heads in over the night. The extraordinary Maria Tecce sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and brought the house down. What a voice! Then Rebecca took to the stage and although she didn’t ‘do the norm’-she never does- and read from the book, she gave a beautiful speech and touched the hearts and quite probably souls of every person in that room. I felt incredibly proud of her, she has come so far and in such an intense cathartic way over the last year and I was honoured to be part of that process. It was like witnessing a birth – a moment of magic after all the hard grind.

Later in the night some of the gang were heading to Lillie’s Bordello to continue the celebrations. It’s not my scene and was way past my leaba time but Jemser decided he would like to have a look at it. He arrived home at two a.m. and I was drinking tay and writing to beat the band.
‘Well’ sez I. ‘D’ye enjoy your night?’
‘I did’ sez he , falling onto the bed, ‘Jesus, Bolly in Guinness is lovely’
‘What’s Bolly?’
‘Bollinger, woman!! Champagne .’

Champagne in Guinness! Well Holy God - what is the country coming to, he used to kill me for putting a drop of blackcurrant in a glass of Guinness many moons ago.
‘Tis no wonder the country’s in the state it’s in – aul’ fellas in nightclubs drinking quare drinks and ogling young wans. It’ll draw the rain on us so ‘twill.

Now, onto my next project…..