Monday, February 28, 2011

Doing an 'Enda Kenny'

Whatever your opinion on him, Enda Kenny's journey to the point of being crowned Ireland's prime minister is a shining example of the fruits of dogged determination and steadfastness.

Thirty six long years in the Dail: the bulk of these spent in the back benches, criticism from all angles for lack of charisma and grasp of matters economic, efforts by his own party to dethrone him - a few years ago, Enda Kenny's chances of sitting in the Prime Minister's chair appeared slim.

As we all wait with baited breath for a resurgence of hope and try to put aside the doubts that ruminate in the mind - such as "Will a new government really make any difference?"- the hottest new expression has to be "Doing an Enda Kenny."

No matter how long or short his tenure as Prime Minister, Mr Kenny's victory in the face of abundant obstacles gives this writer her own blast of motivation and glimmer of hope.

Maybe, just maybe, if I too keep battling on, stay doggedly foccussed, I will one day, reach my longed for goal and finish that goddamn novel.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A writer's notebook

School midterm often finds me in the coffee area of places like this.

There is much pleasure to be gained from relaxing over a coffee while your energy saturated offspring wear themselves ragged on gynormous slides, white water rafts and wave machines. You sip your coffee, dip your hand into your handbag and
horror didn't pack a book!

A glance around assures you that the other mothers on the same mission have arrived much better equipped. (That's not me bookless in the photo, by the way, but you get my drift.)

So without reading material I'm forced to take out my notebook and write. In these keyboard days, the common or garden pen and notebook have slipped well down the pecking order in the writing stakes.

Ah yes, there's nothing like the real thing -watching those sentences slide onto the sheet as you put your own indelible stamp of personality on each carefully stroked word.

The flow of inspiration that comes with writing by hand is not my imagination (excuse the pun).
This article:
indicates that it's not just Mum who is benefitting from the whole writing by hand thing.
Writing by hand helps children hone fine motor skills and learn to express and generate ideas.

Tracy Chevalier, author of bestselling 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' favours the old-fashioned longhand because she finds her "mind thinks at roughly the same speed" as her hand writes."

So, for today anyway, while stranded bookless in a cafe, the pen is mightier than the technological sword.

Friday, February 18, 2011

True Grit

Mumbling, incoherent heroes with bad teeth who are just a whisker away from being criminals, exhausted horses plodding at a painfully slow pace, food that looks like it should be at the bottom of a compost bin, cowboys riding blithely along with bullets lodged in their arms or legs, 'True Grit' is (as described by the 'Guardian')a 'straight' western.

For those of us who prefer our movies (mostly) sanitary and violence free, the Coen brothers depiction of fourteen years old Mattie Ross'(Hailee Steinfeld)chase across Arkansas as she tries to bring her father's murderer to justice,was, at times, unsparing.

When an up and coming young Irish actor has his fingers suddenly hacked off at the knuckles, I ended up curled downwards in the seat, staring through my own (thankfully still intact) fingers and remained in that position for at least half an hour, while Mattie's travelling companions, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges)and Le Beouf (Matt Damon) shoot their way across the wilderness.

For all that, the satisfying and typically unsentimental Coen brothers' ending has 'True Grit' lingering in my mind, even though at times during my two hours in the cinema, it seemed like true grit was needed to actually keep my eyes on the screen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Hill method

British novelist Susan Hill was interviewed in the recent edition of quarterly women's writing magazine,
I confess to not having read any of Ms Hill's writings, despite the extensiveness of her work - her first novel was published in 1961 when she was sixteen and in the last five years alone she has published five crime novels, four novellas, a volume of short stories, a children's novel and a reflection on books and reading.

Since coming across the interview, I've placed an order for, to start anyway, "A Woman in Black."

In her interview, Ms Hill gives practical, writerly advice. Commenting on the well worn saying "Write about what you know," Ms Hill describes her life as "Not very interesting," and asks why anyone would want to read what she knows about. An ability to create, from your imagination, a world that will be of interest to others, is vital.

The Hill Method:

"There are no rules. Ever. Not even about punctuation and grammar - look at 'Ulysses.' Who says you have to start writing first thing in the morning or that you have to get a certain number of words written? Who makes these rules? This sort of thing makes people anxious about their writing before they've even started."

"I always ask -why do you want to be a writer? Answers such as 'I want to be as rich as J K Rowling or I want to be famous' are not reasons for being a writer. They are fantasies. The only reason for wanting to be a writer is because you love doing it. All the rest is confetti."

And my favourite:

"If you want to be a writer you must read. You must read widely and you must read the best writers to see how they do it."

Well, that's alright then!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Irish Pen Award Dinner February 11 2011

Writerly social nights are like a bus. There's not a sign of one for ages and then two arrive at the same time. For the second time this week, I had the pleasure of spending some time in the company of writers, many of whom I know through their blogs (or from lurking on Twitter) but met last night for the first time in real life.
The Royal St George Yacht Club, Dunlaoghaire, (Co Dublin, Ireland) was the venue for the Irish Pen Award Dinner 2011 and author Colm Toibin (winner of Dublin International Impac Literary Award and The Costa Prize, amongst others) was the worthy recipient of this year's Irish Pen Award. Previous award winners have been John B Keane, Seamus Heaney and Maeve Binchy, to name but a few.

A very enjoyable night and great thanks to Vanessa O Loughlin and Kristi Thompson of Inkwell writers and Irish Pen for organising the fun, Inkwell tables.

I couldn't resist the opportunity to seize Colm Toibin and drag him forcefully into a photo. My sudden, determined swoop may be the reason Colm looks (understandeably) dazed.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

St Brigid's festival - Saturday Miscellany 5th February

As part of the annual St Brigid's Festival, a special night of readings and music was held in the Derby House Hotel in Kildare Town, (Co Kildare, Ireland) on Saturday 5th February. The event was organised and hosted by Kildare based writer and "Living Word" broadcaster, Maria Murphy.
The theme for the night was 'Food and Famine', a subject that inspired all manner of varied readings from jumped up celebrity chefs to the conflict of cookbooks versus diet books, mayhem in a school cookery class, cave men gnawing on hunks of meaty bone, stolen grocery shopping trollies and of course, the famine and the still sore scars it has left on the Irish pscyhe. In between readings we were serenaded by wonderful traditional Irish music, played for us by talented musicians who also happen to be parents of children from the local Gaelscoil.

During the interval a visiting group called "Whispering Song" from Toronto, Canada, performed their energetic, powerful tunes for us, giving us a taste of something vibrant and very different.

I was honoured to take part in this ambient event and read a piece of (food filled) flash fiction (is that an alliteration or what?) called "Heaven in a Cloud" which was published in a Leaf Anthology last year.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A New Therapy

I'm a comfortable attendee of the Joan Rivers school of homemaking.

"I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again."

And while this is not my fridge - well at least not the last time I looked at it...

I am inclined to be partial to this:

So, you can imagine my alarm, when a recent flurry of cleaning gave me, wait for it, a buzz! Witnessing the metamorphosis from muck stained, food smudged floor, to pristine shiny, brought on a most unexpected glow of satisfaction. Scrubbing of walls, windows, mirrors and standing back to see the result, felt, oh the shame of it, just GREAT!
I carried around my guilty secret for weeks until I spotted, hidden in the far corner of the daily newspaper, a wonderful piece of news.

Bonham Carter Finds Housework Therapeutic

HELENA BONHAM CARTER delights in cleaning her home - she feels she has undergone therapy after scrubbing her kitchen until it gleams.

The Alice In Wonderland star, who has two kids with director Tim Burton, uses her housework to relieve tension and admits she finds doing chores and acting in films more helpful than seeing a psychologist.

She says, "I've discovered the therapy of cleaning. I used to be retarded domestically but now I understand that if you put your house in order, it gets your head in order as well. I know all about (cleaning product) Cillit Bang, which I use on the cooker.

"I've done therapy and it was helpful, but with acting I dream every day, scream and get the tensions out. And you're paid for that rather than paying for a therapist."


You go, Helena!