Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's all go..........

Will someone please, please, please tell me why I decided to self-publish this wretched novel? Oh I forgot – I’m the publicist as well as everything else so it’s not wretched, it’s wonderful, luminous, tear-jerking, heart-warming. Basically it’s written!

And like us all I thought that was all I had to do. But I ended up being writer, editor, computer nerd, publicist, events organiser. No wonder I haven’t been well lately – up to high doh and of course sleep pattern gone to the dogs so utterly exhausted and was about to cause a major row in work by exploding over something utterly trivial. So I went to doc who gave me a note for the paid job and a talk on over –stretching myself, plus a handful of sleeping tablets which I hate taking because they make me so zombie like the following day. And unfortunately I can’t switch off the whole book thing now. It has its own momentum at this stage and it doesn’t help that I need to do it all myself. And the more I do and the more hours I put in the better the book sales may be. Although I could have a team of people working on my behalf and it still might sell no more than a handful of copies. I might break even by the end of next year and then I won’t feel guilty and self-indulgent about spending so much time and cash on making my dream a reality.

F**king guilt. The story of my life – I’ll never learn to stop fretting over things over which I have no control, or feeling guilty about putting myself first. And worrying never made anything happen faster or better. And not putting yourself first means no-one else does either. You devalue yourself. And in the heel of the hunt if I don’t cover my costs what do I lose. Money. And as I am constantly saying ‘it’s only feckin’ money.’ Thank God for the credit union. So if the book costs me a few thousand I can cover the losses with a CU loan and pay it off gradually – with my paycheck from my reasonably paid full-time job, boring it is but we’ll never starve and I don’t think anyone ever died of boredom. If anyone ever does it will be someone in administration in a large organisation!

So what news on the novel. Well it’s up on smashwords as an e book and as a paperback and e book on I’m launching the book on November 9th in Fingal County Hall thanks to the lovely staff of the Building Facilities Unit and the Libraries Department. Heroes and heroines one and all. I’m nervous about it. Funny, isn’t it? I have no problem talking in any situation or in performing on stage in a play but I’m really nervous about reading from my novel on the night. I’m afraid I’ll be so emotional that I’ll end up crying and make a fool of myself.

Won’t be the first time. And I’m damn sure it won’t be the last!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Me babbies in their cute oneseys

My house gets more eccentric by the day. Son#2 needed new shoes so down with us to Penneys after school. He hasn't quite hit puberty - although he's getting there-so the purchase was relatively painless. We're heading to Donegal to look after Granny tomorrow as Jemser and son #1 will be at the Mick Hanly  songwriting showcase in Gibney's in Malahide. (it's complicated)

Anyway I wanted to pick up a little gift for one of Jemser's nieces and my eyes lit up when I saw these one piece fleecey jumpsuits in fun designs. I picked one for Eilis and son#2 declared he HAD to have the tiger one. I caved. I 'm a sucker when it comes to me babbies in cute PJ's. All my favourite photos of them are of them all clean and scrubbed and shiny-faced in new jammies waiting for Santa to come and bring them EXACTLY what they asked for.

We landed home and son#2 was raging I hadn't got one for him - I roared laughing. At seventeen I thought he would take himself far too seriously to go around in a one piece fleecey outfit. But no, thank the Lord he is still in touch with his inner child. Now, he'll pump half a can of hairspray into his hair and adjust his jeans until exactly the right amount of jock is showing and obsess in front of the mirror for an hour before he goes out, but when he's home he's home - and like us all he loves closing that front door and collapsing into his own space. And even if he is dressed as a cow (I kid you not, a fleecey cow complete with hood and ears) we'll accept him.Actually I decided I'd prefer to see him dressed as a cow rather than see most of his underpants!

So I went back down to Penneys (yes I know I'm a gobshite) and bought him his cow fleecey oneseys. And when I got home the two boys dressed down in their new outfits and I took their picture. Santa's not coming in the morning - but I have another lovely picture of me babbies happy in each other's company. As I age and they grow I'm aware that the opportunities for such photos will become fewer and fewer. So I'm going to cherish every moment that I can take these snaps - these little moments of pure unadulterated joy and laughter in a busy and sometimes bleak world.

And then I went off to a poetry open-mic session in Malahide where I met the lovely Sarah Marie Griff ( the girl I should have been) and her lovely young man Kerrie. Sarah is a wonderful poet/playwright/author and we will hear a lot more of her in years to come. She too is full of fun and laughter and I betcha she has a fleecey onesey somewhere in her home! I finally read some of my poems in public and yes my voice shook but no I didn't cry! And I'm delighted with myself for finally breaking my duck when it comes to my poetry. It's gas I can get up on stage and read someone elses work without a trace of nerves - but reading my own stuff just gives me the collywobbles.I feel such a fraud.

 Then I look at my sons and at kids like Sarah and I say 'thank god', that uncertainty we Irish (certainly we Irish females) had, that inferiority complex that so many of us felt seems to be retreating. About bloody time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Good Deed Doer.............

I decided to light the first fire of the winter this evening - the Nutella was hard in the jar and that's always a sign that it's time to get the coal scuttle out. SoIi drove over to the local petrol station to buy coal and briquettes. When I was paying the young girl serving started laughing - '
Will ye look at those eejits,'she said 'The kids locked the doors from the inside and the keys are in the ignition'.
 While I waited for my fuel to be loaded into my car I watched the unfolding drama. It was two young men , friends I think, and they were shouting to the kids in the car - twins aged three - trying to get them to pull the button up. One of the young men started shouting a little aggressively. I walked over.
'Will I try the Mammy touch?'sez I..
 'Jesus Missus - any touch would do, the little feckers hit the button down but either don't understand or just haven't the strength to lift it again.'
'What about the boot?'
 'That's out too - central locking'

The twins were in matching childseats and although they were thin and supple no amount of manouevring could get them out of the seats. They were able to tip themselves forward enough to reach the button on the door but not the keys in the ignition. They were starting to get a bit upset.While the lads and two men who had stopped to help were discussing options I amused the kids, making faces, laughing,telling little stories showing them the packet of sweets they were going to get when we got to them.. Someone behind me said 'You could get on of those mobile locksmiths?'
 'Ive' no money and its me girlfriends 21st and she's going to kill me!' was the answer. I laughed.
'Don't let money ever stop you over something like that - call them I'll pay them and you can pay me back whenever you have it'.
 The relief on his face was worth the offer.
 'I can;t let...I can't...thanks.'
Someone had produced a screwdriver and a hangar and one of the men managed to manouevre the wire down to the button but the child couldn't hold it against the button with enough force to allow the man to pull it up. 'One more thing, then we'll go for the locksmith said the man. He used the screw driver to force the top of the door open and one of the lads stretched his hand down but his arms weren't long enough So my arms (not too fat -thank God!) were called up and yep my big long arms proved just the thing. Pop! And the door opened. The kids roared laughing and then said 'where's the sweets?' Before I left I got them to repeat five times for me 'I must never ever ever push the button!'
. They were lovely lively little fellas and there father was far too relieved to have them out to give out to them. The poor divil - it was his first car and he had only just taken possession of it. There was no real damage to the door and they weren't too late for twenty-first. I'd say he'll remember that party for the rest of his life.And I'd say he will never ever get out of his car again without putting the keys in his pocket. He was a lovely young fella , gave me a big awkward hug and thanked me. I'm happy for him and happy for his boys that they have such a nice Daddy. There is hope for the future. At least I think so.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The World's Worst Salesperson..........

I don't know how I ended up in my family. No smart comments siblings please! My maternal uncle and my paternal grandfather were salesmen, my mother too - and canny with it. Two of my brothers are in retail- I'm lovin' the consternation of James Adams Auctioneers at the prospect of the brother's EuroGiant moving in beside them in Stephen's Green! One of my sisters makes a large part of her living from selling at outdoor markets, another sister works in a high-end fashion shop and is brilliant at it. Me?I couldn't plamas a donkey into eating hay.

I set out for a walk this morning, I've been a little fraught of late and find physical exercise helps relax tense muscles. I ran into neighbours, the lovely Jack and Teresa and reminded them of my book launch on November 9th. I explained self-publishing to them and they were surprised a the amount of work involved in actually getting a book out there. I told them not to buy the book - I didn't think Jack (or any man) would like it and sure let them wait til the library gets it if they really want to read it. I don't know how I'm going to sell any books if I keep telling people not to buy it!
'Sure, it's probably crap anyway,' sez I 'and I'm supposed to talk it up - it just seems shameful, self praise etcetera'. I mentioned Facebook, Twitter and blogging as ways of publicizing the novel.
'What's blogging?' sez Teresa. I explained.
'I'll be blethering about you two this evening' I said.
 'So you just blether away about anything and everything - it doesn't have to be on a topic to do with writing?' asked Jack (I'm paraphrasing - forgive me Jack!).
'It doesn't - it's just a way of making contact with people. People love chats. Chats are lovely. Like a Christmas Card,' pointing a the two boxes in Teresa's hands. 'Mother of God' sez I, 'you're not at that crack already?'
'Ah they were cheap' sez she, 'and I send a lot of cards. I keep swearing I'll cut back every year. But you know Evelyn - I love getting a card.'

I knew exactly what she meant. a handwritten letter or card is still a joy, somebody thought about you and took the time to write your name, a little good wish and your address. Someone out there in the real world - not this internet world - really cares about you. Well - enough to send you a little hug via the Post Office anyway.

A woman I worked with for many years retired last year. I didn't make it to her 'do' so the following week I sat down and wrote her a three page letter reminiscing about some of the funny moments we had as colleagues and on nights out. I got a phone call from her the following week. Mary had been so touched by the letter that she had rung her sister in England to read it to her. She told me she cried when she read it because in recent years she had felt herself very cut off in work. Years ago if there was a work difficulty you'd drop into another person's office or pick up the phone and query it, while shooting the breeze. E-mail (for Mary's generation anyway) hadn't replaced that human touch properly. I felt sad for her, I hadn't realised how unhappy she had been. And all for the want of a chat.

So this week, make An Post and someone you haven't seen in a while happy. Send them a little 'thinking of you' note. I bet it'll be paid back in waves of thoughtfulness.Oh yeah, and go out and buy that wonderful debut novel of Evelyn Walsh's 'The Heron's Flood.' Buy one for your Aunty for Chrimbo.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Viko Nikci is wreckin' me head............

I thought I talked a lot. Actually I know I talk a lot. But I met my match today. I'm attending a screenwriting workshop at the Irish Writers Centre and the tutor is Viko Nikci, a charming American man who blew me away with lesson 1. D'ye know the way I'm always saying Carlo Gebler is God? Well I reckon Viko Nikci might well be the Holy Ghost. The guy has such incredible passion for what he does. You can only sit back and admire as he harnesses all the intellect and nervous energy he possesses and channels it into whatever he happens to be talking about.

Passion truly is the difference between the great and the mediocre. Mr Nikci has passion in buckets. I hope I manage to catch some of the drips from the buckets as he barrels past. I thought doing Marina Carr's playwrighting workshop in Listowel was wonderful, like trying to catch bubbles. Viko Nikci's approach is something similar except in his case I think it is like trying to catch mercury - there is a shrewd business sense in there too. He explained the difference between script and film to us, made us push our boundaries out a little, challenging us to come up with reasons why one version of a story should be told over another. The only thing is the so 'n so got me so fired up I cannot sleep so am resorting to knitting and watching re-runs of old dectivey things on the telly. At least I have the dog for company! And I just remembered - I have to do a blitz in work tomorrow before our lovely storekeeper comes back froom extended sick leave. I'm so-o-o-o tired!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Naturally Speaking..........

This may well be a short post. I'm using a voice recognition programmeme, mainly because I'm suffering from repetitive strain injury and am unable to use my left arm in any repetitive action for their foreseeable future. No crude jokes please! It is so peculiar to sit here and talk at a screen and see my words dancing out without any physical movement from me barring the movement of my lips. Jemser is delighted. For years he has been pleading that my incoherent speech is the reason he fails to carry out those little tasks that lifetime partners tend to ask of each other on a daily basis. Now he thinks that my speech will be controlled by the speed at which the NaturallySpeaking programme can understand me and he will be proved right. Of course, the real reason Jemser doesn't listen (or rather doesn't hear) me is because a)he is an aul fella with waxy ears and b) he’s male!

All coddin’ ‘n jokin’ aside this programmeme is unbelievable. And it cost (including extra RAM) under €100. I'm going to have a lot of fun with this although it does feel like cheating. One of the best things about the programme is its ability to avoid typos and punctuation errors. I do find I'm saying ‘delete it’ a lot but I'm sure as the programme becomes used to my hiberno English and my manic speech patterns we’ll get along fine. Imagine all the shite I can now come out with, my imagination not now limited by the speed at which I can or cannot type! It's a mad, mad, mad world.

I wonder how it will work if I'm writing poetry? I still use a pencil and an unlined notepad when I'm working on a poem, I love the scratching sound and can glide off into another world as the words form themselves. There is something very visceral about poetry, it seems to unearth something within me at a much deeper level than anything else I write, say, or do. Most of my poems are poor and there are very few I show to others. I am often afraid of the emotions they lead me to and so tend to camouflage those feelings with clever quips or flippant phrases. In speaking these last few sentences to my ‘DragonBar’ and seeing them appear as words on a page I feel uneasy; as if something outside of myself has accessed the darker reaches of my mind. I'm sure I’ll get used to it. I have to if I want to continue to write, sparing my body the discomfort of  RSI – but I think I won’t abandon pencil and paper just yet.

There is a man I know the claims eventually we-the human race-will merely have to attend our paid employments for a couple of remote minutes daily, permitting employers access to various areas of our brains, and the rest of the day and night will be ours. Imagine! All those hours to spend with those you love, or alone-whichever one chooses-learning, loving, laughing, being. Telling machines to do the tasks we hate, only spending time doing tasks we enjoy. Utopia. And feck it! I’ll be dead and miss the whole shebang!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Self Publishing – the path to stressful living

Right. I’ve gone through the conventional publishing route and barring swallowing my  pride and accepting that an editor MIGHT be right and the fact that as a writer I was at the bottom of the food pyramid I emerged relatively unscathed.

I’m now almost at the end of self publishing my novel ‘The Heron’s Flood’. I have the book launch organised (thanks to Fingal County Council for a space for the launch), friends, family and colleagues are all lined up to cheer me on, hopefully buy a book and have a drink with me on the night. I have distribution outlets arranged, publicity ( all done by moi) ready to roll, the novel has been edited re edited and read by five different people for grammar and the interior formatting was done beautifully by Catherine Ryan Howard. I even have the money in place to order a few hundred books – in the hope that I’ll eventually break even on them and cover my outlay.  So what’s wrong sez you.

Everything. I’m boll**ed working full time and dealing with the stresses and strain of being an office manager in a badly staffed area. I spend most of my 9 to 5 working day cajoling people into doing things they really shouldn’t have to do. And because they like me they do it – but I know it’s not right as do they. Then I have the moody teenager in son#1 at home who can’t wait to get out of school but still hasn’t copped that unless he puts in SOME work in the next couple of months he will have to put his plans for world domination on hold for another year. I have an eleven year old in son#2 whose hormones are starting to roar and, bless him, he needs me to moan at. I have the wonderful Jemser who is a tower of forbearance but even I am sick of the sound of my whiney voice moaning about things over which I have no control. So I try to bite my tongue around him – because I quite like him and I’m used to him at this stage so I’d rather not lose him. But biting my tongue means bottling up how I feel . And I’m not supposed to be typing  - I don’t count blogging – that’s just scribbling. So I bought a voice recognition programme – I’ll let you know how I get on. If it works there will be blessed silence from this blog because I will be able to ramble on interminably in the voice of one of my characters on whom I will dump all my problems and he/she can work them out.

I’ve digressed. As per. What’s now holding up the book is the jacket design. I used a company recommended by someone and they have it a month so I was expecting great things. Not only did I not like what I got back they got the bloody title wrong. That’s bad. But they seem like nice people so I’m giving them a second chance. We all deserve that. Jemser says I think everyone is like myself  - throwing myself one hundred and ten percent into everything I do. He reckons most people will do the bare minimum required by them from others. Is that true? I don’t think so. I hope it’s not. I have to keep hoping that too otherwise I’d be another one to shrug and say ‘what’s the point’ There is always a point and as human beings we have to think we can make a difference – through being passionate and committed at what we do – no matter what we do. If you’re going to be a gardeners be the best gardener you can be, ditto a parent, ditto a writer, ditto a graphic designer. Of course in all things creative what is one man’s gold is another mans brass. So I’m sure my designer just picked up the wrong vibe from what I wanted. How the hell can I be a writer if I can’t articulate what I want my work to say?

Rant over. RSI acting up so I’ll have to stop. I feel better for the rant though; all is sweetness and light in my brain and I didn’t have to annoy Jemser by wittering on about it.

Watch this space for launch date.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Menary's Mania........

I always thought Menary's was a kind of a hick shop. I don't know why but I always associated it with beige twinsets and tartan pleated skirts. I was pleasantly surprised when I stuck my head into the Menary's in the Omni Shopping Centre in Santry. It was, co-incidentally, the weekend they were showing the world (well, North City Dublin) their new range of wares.

I always liked Menary's household stuff , I think they source a lot of their homewares from the same suppliers Arnotts tend to use. But I thought their female fashion was always a little dated, and if I noticed it then it must have been really bad! Well, it's not any more. They had really gorgeous stuff in store today - I particularly liked the Klass collection they have. Really nice garments at affordable prices for middle aged bats like myself. I'm a low maintenance woman and cheap and cheerful Dunnes and Penneys does me fine but I'm delighted to have a new shop I'll enjoy wandering around when I feel in need of a little retail therapy. I don 't think online shopping will ever completely replace the shopping mall experience. I love to touch garments, see how tactile they are. Is it a peculiarly female trait? I've never noticed men wandering about feeling the corners of garments with a slightly dazed look on their faces!

I bought myself a few little things plus bedcovers for son#2, a new frying pan for Jemser and a spatter pan which he won't use and I'll end up giving out about as I clean me hob. When I went to pay because I was spending over a hundred euro they threw in a butchers block of stainless steel knives worth fifty euro! I was delighted, I got the set we already have free in 1995 from the milkman in Celbridge, and it has served us well. I wonder why people give me free knives? Are the trying to tell me something? H'mmmmmmmmm!.