Monday, March 26, 2012

Milestones

So, this is post number four hundred. Yep, 400! I canny believe it either. I can barely remember when I set out blogging. I know I wasn't very good at it. I wrote short posts with little structure, terrible English and no audience. I won't direct you to the very first post I wrote for this blog. It's terrible, and I wouldn't hurt you like that.

I was hesitant about writing this post. It makes me feel old. And that got me thinking: something in society has made us mark milestones in our lives. Birthdays, anniversaries, heck I even purposely remember the anniversaries of days when I met my best friends. Things that mean a lot to us have a lot of special meaning that we put down on a calender. Of course, when people hit milestone birthdays, they try to avoid them. Thirty seems to be the big one, especially for those without children.

I can't explain that one. But I guess I felt the same sort of apprehension in this post. I wanted it to matter, you know? I wanted to do something that wouldn't just be a moan or a joke or just a statement that this blog is four hundred published posts old.

Four hundred... still feels weird.

I guess, if I were to try make this blog feel better about how many posts came through it, I would tell it what has been accomplished since the first post. But that's boring. I do those reflective posts a lot. So here's something new: The Rest is Silence was on stage this month and it raised over seven hundred euro for charity. Like, what? How did that happen?

Okay, I suppose it's because my college is awesome. If it weren't for the Drama Society putting on the play, and then the kind donations of the staff and students, we wouldn't have raised a cent. But we sold out. For the first time ever. I still can't believe that. I couldn't walk for half an hour.

And that's something I'll be trying to remember every year. On March 14th 2012, The Rest is Silence went on-stage for the first time ever, and it sold out.

I suppose more news is also in order: I'm writing a new play. I've actually begun writing it, so I can officially say that. I'm hoping to put it on in college next year. It's a supernatural mind-blower. I can't wait to get to work on it properly. And I hope people like it. That's always important for me. I don't just write for me. When I release something into the world, it's not for self-gratification (unless I'm just moaning on my blog, then it's just for emotional venting...). I like to entertain, and when I get nervous I can take solace in the fact that I can entertain from behind a page.

I won't make a full announcement about the play until it's finished and I have an idea about whether or not there will be a director for it. I may direct this one myself. It's not so difficult a topic to deal with as The Rest is Silence.

Back to the original point, though: should the milestones matter? Turning thirty isn't such a big deal, if you can look at your life the way other people do (most people can't... I'll probably be freaking out.) Anniversaries of friendships are probably just weird. And marking the first time my play went on stage every year will lose significance from the moment the lights go up on a second script.

And so, at post four hundred at Mightier Than the Sword (I can't believe I gave my blog such a clich├ęd name...), the milestone can be passed. For the next ninety nine posts, I don't have to worry the fear of my blog getting old again. (I got 99 problems but a milestone ain't one?) I can pretend that five hundred doesn't matter that much, and then it'll take three months to get the last four posts out into the world.

I suppose it's human nature to mark a milestone and do everything we can to avoid the ones that make us feel old. Damn you nihilism.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Out of My Hands?

For me, The Rest is Silence is coming to an end. In terms of how much I can personally do with it, I mean. I hope to get it into the hands of people who can use it to continue the work we began with the first show.

We've raised a few hundred euro for charity, but that's not the important thing. The money isn't substantial enough to be important, yet. What matters with this play is that it's gotten people's attention. That's what I wanted from the offset: people need to pay attention to the issues it deals with. Mental health, depression, suicide: they affect so many people in the world today we can't afford to turn a blind eye on them anymore. It's not everyone who ignores the issue, of course, but when so many people had to be told who 1Life were, there was certainly a problem.

If you don't know, I'll fill you in briefly: 1Life are Ireland's only 24-7 suicide helpline. Its phones are staffed by trained counsellors and therapists. It's unique, but not everyone knows about them.

We chose to fundraise for them in the college, alongside the play, to help raise awareness of the issues at hand, and to help them keep the phones working. Yes, they receive plenty of support already, but when lives are at risk, is "plenty" enough? Not for me.

So, we put on a play, sold some bracelets and keyrings, wore bright yellow t-shirts and generally did a good job of telling the people of the college who 1Life were. Incidentally, for the first time since I started in the college we sold out the play. There was a great response to it, and a second college has agreed to host a show of it next week. This is before it goes to the competition on Thursday.

But I wonder if I have to let the script out into the wider world. It's something I'll need to talk to the people behind the phones about: do they want to attempt to distribute the script to theatre groups, schools and colleges themselves, or do they want me to try get it put on somewhere else? The cast aren't free this summer, not all of them, anyway.

I want to keep it going, yes, but I don't know if it would be a case of me driving the project. I mean, I would love to, but it's up to them. What do you think, Reader? Is this something I should push myself, or something I need their help with?

Either way, I had loads of fun with the play (you know, aside from the really sad parts of it), and it received a lot of positive feedback from the first audience to see it. Someone's even coming to see it again!

Let me know what you think. And if you want to know when the next shows are, visit this page: http://paulcarrollwriter.com/the-rest-is-silence/

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Name's Frye!

Some consistent readers might be familiar with the concept I apply to keeping friends' names secret: I used pseudonyms. One of my friends went, for a long time, by the name Ferris Bueller. You know, because he was very much like him in my eyes.

What I didn't expect was that I would start considering myself Cameron Frye.

For those of you who haven't seen the film, Cameron is Ferris's best friend (I'll get to that in my life, later.) On the one fateful day - the day-off - Cameron undergoes a change in his life and expresses his frustration with his parents, specifically his father. While his life isn't exactly a bad one, it's not suitable for Cameron.

In much the same way, I disagree with my parents' views on life. To paraphrase Mister Frye, they're always pushing me around. I'm expected to do all the boring things in life when it suits them. It's the second part of that sentence that really gets me, because I totally understand that there are certain boring things in life that must be done. I get that chores need to be done. I just don't agree that my parents should decided, at this point in my life, when I do said chores.

I say "chores". It feels like an American word, to me. I've only ever heard it in American shows and my own head. Anyway, I digress. It's things like hoovering the house, or emptying the dishwasher, or sorting out the boxes of things that had been dumped on my bedroom floor while I was at college. These are things that don't have to be done immediately. Yes, the dishwasher needs to be emptied before the remaining plates and glasses pile up. Yes, the hoovering has to be done to stop the house looking filthy.

But the boxes on my floor? I didn't put them there. I had been getting ready to bring everything up to my room to sort out at my own pace, organising them as I went along. Now they're not only on my bedroom floor, they're in an incomprehensible order. I need to literally unpack these boxes of odds and sorts to put them away again. It would take a whole day, as opposed to the few hours it would have taken before.

These are small things. It's the rest of my life that's the problem. My parents have ideas about my life that don't concern my own free will or interests. I think every parent does it.

I don't think it's a secret that I want to write for a living. I know it would be hard to get to a point where that's possible. I accept that. But it's what I want to do.

The problem, of course, is that to my parents the writing comes second. To everything. Remember those chores? Yeah, they're more important than the chapter I happen to be writing, or the poem I'm trying to reconstruct. If it's not college writing, it doesn't count.

The director of The Rest is Silence had to ambush my parents to force them to promise to go to the show. They speak out it begrudgingly, like it's such a difficult thing for them to get in the car, drive to the college and watch an hour long play their youngest son wrote. An hour. That's it. It's purposely short because of the content. The lead cried during rehearsals. Heck, we all cried. Can't have two hours of that.

So, it would take two hours out of their night, including travel time. That's assuming they show up right on time and leave immediately.

And how does this relate to Cameron Frye? Well, that's where Ferris Bueller comes in. When we speak of my parents - heck, when we speak of either of our respective parents - we come to the conclusion that they're kind of insufferable and detrimental to my health. I think they drive me insane. A lot of the time he then takes it upon himself to talk me to the point of doing my own thing.

Now, this isn't a case of rebellion. I'm not about to kick my dad's car to crap. I'm not about to run off for the day for no reason other than the fact that my friend is bored. Heck, he works too much for that to even be possible. But it's a case of standing up for myself. It's about doing what I need to do with my life, and not letting them decide for me.

And as for the "best friend" thing. Well, I wouldn't claim to be his best friend. I know who is best friends are, for a start. I've spoken to one and I know where another lives (because he's my friend's next door neighbour...). I'm neither of those people. I don't expect to ever be called his "best friend". But we have a particular type of friendship that allows for a lot of honesty, a lot of philosophy, and phone calls at two in the morning. They're my "day-off".

I just gotta take a stand, right? Just face up to the people who think they're in charge of me. As my
pseudonymous name-sake says, "I am not gonna sit on my ass as the events that affect me unfold to determine the course of my life. I'm gonna take a stand. I'm gonna defend it. Right or wrong, I'm gonna defend it."

Just call me Frye. Cameron Frye.