Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Irony, Poetry Books and the Weather

Forgive me if I'm wrong about irony, but when I get snow instead of the Robert Frost poetry book I ordered, I wondered what was going on. I'm still waiting. I received half my order of books yesterday - half, being one book. It was an edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, using the original text. What I'm still waiting on is Poems by Robert Frost.

It's not that I have a need for these books of poetry, since they were on my course last semester; I just really liked them. I also have an Elizabeth Bishop poetry book, and when I can afford it from my online survey PayPal vouchers, I'll be getting a book of Tennyson poems. I kind of fell in love with the works of these poets last semester, and I could never find affordable editions of their works in book shops in Dublin (and I have yet to be anywhere with a decent bookshop otherwise... more on that at a later date). So, when I found them online, I jumped at the chance to buy them.

Buy Poetry Against Cancer here
I just wish the Frost book would arrive! I have a feeling the snow and ice here in Dublin is affecting the post... but that doesn't explain why the two halves of my order were sent separately! It doesn't make any sense, dammit!

Also, while I'm here, I'll give Poetry Against Cancer another mention; it's still on sale, and I really, really hope you'll support it. All the money, as I've said several times before, goes to St John's Ward at Our Lady's Children's Hospital here in Dublin. The book is affordable and makes a great present for poetry fans!

Until next time, take care with this adverse weather! I hope it doesn't affect you too badly.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Peculiar Inspiration

I have an odd habit of getting ideas for stories in college. It's not just with the people around me. Most of the time its actually what we're studying that triggers of the gears in my head off. I'm like a factory... only the physical products don't often get shipped off.

Lets take a few recent examples of this; I've mentioned my sin story. This came about during a lecture on Dr Faustus. The slight mention of the seven deadly sins kind of sorted that one out. (note to self: write more of that book!) Another idea came about during a cross-over between two lectures; there was a discussion about the plague to contextualise another of the tragedies we were studying, and then we had a lecture in Philosophy about a particular political philosophy. The mash-up of two lectures made a book. Today, I had the wonderful idea of a comedy story come into my head... We were looking at New Comedy in Rome (to show what Shakespeare did differently), and a single line in the PowerPoint got a fat man dance-walking into a town. Yeah, a fat guy. Deal with it.

This isn't the only stuff that happens. I had a recurring series of ideas all about a world built on Morals. That description does the idea no justice, but I don't want to give it all away. Other times, it's just something in someone's life that triggers an idea. Those ones are the risky ones to write; they get very personal. First drafts of them, even if I like how they turned out, have to be combed to remove references to real life. Usually there are a lot of references to real life.

Situations are strange for ideas. I have a strange memory-recall thing... if I go somewhere I've been before, I get sort of flashbacks of something that happened there (in my life, obviously...). All the significant people of the situation haunt the place in a very polite manner, some more than others, depending on how much I'm thinking about them. These flashbacks lead to stories coming into my head. I cannot help my memory-recall doing this. It's just less useful in exams when I can't remember the details that aren't already jotted down!

I don't quite know why I get ideas so easily in certain circumstances. It's not something I think could be taught to people. The best advice I can give is to just open yourself up to the world, let fiction and life cross over a subtle line that lets one work off the other. Reflecting on experiences that stick out also help, so keep a journal. I did find that one series of events that have inspired a story (that I haven't yet written) were fresh on my memory because I'd been looking over relevant journal entries about them before revisiting the places in which the events took place. This doesn't work for fiction that takes place in entirely fictional worlds, or in places we've never visited before, but it works wonders if you're setting a story somewhere that just looks or feels like the location of your memories.

And for crying out loud, don't be afraid to use your memories. As John Green puts it, "For me at least, fiction is the only way I can twist my lying memories into something true."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Review - Erase This

Erase This [Deluxe Edition]It's been a while since I reviewed anything, and here we are - a DFTBA Records album called Erase This. The album is a projected by founder Alan Lastufka and one of DFTBA's prominent artists Luke Conard, with some cameo appearances from some other singers, including Kristina Horner. I happened to be lucky enough to see Lastufka announcing a give-away of the album on Thanksgivings Day last Thursday, so I swooped in and got a free download.

So what did you think of it?
In short - brilliant. Some of the tracks don't work alone, simply for the fact that there's a radio theme running through the album, but the songs within the tracks are still fantastic. Other tracks hold their own and really blew me away!

Wait, radio theme?
You read that right. The album has a DJ speaking every three or four tracks to introduce a song, making them seem like a radio track-list. It really was a great way of doing things, even if it's been done before (Queens of the Stone Age did it, right?).

Oh right... so, did any tracks stand out then?
A few; I have a weakness for Kristina Horner, so when she and Luke Conard sang  Mirror Song I fell in love with the song. Beforehand, I'd only been able to hear that version on YouTube. There's a solo version of the song, too, which is good but not my favourite of the two. Without making my list of Favourite Songs from the album too long, I'll just give one other song a mention - Forgiven. I'd heard a cover of this song on the EP Taking Leave (Alan Lastukfa and Tom Milsom), and the two versions are so different! I mean, they're barely recognisable as the same song. I'm still not sure which one I prefer!

Is the album recommended?
Well I liked it! If I had the money, I'd have bought it a long while ago, but my online purchases have been restricted to cheap books and birthday presents. The album is really catchy, though, works great a whole piece of music and it's full of great songs! Buy it and love it!

Welcome Back to Hysteria

Back to this wonderful thing we call the Internet, or the World Wide Web. I prefer the latter - it implies we're trapped. Damn Web... Grr!

This have been... interesting. I started a wonderful tale of sin and destruction... I really ought to get that checked out. My attraction to destroying things (which two people will see in the story...) is a bit odd. I think it's part of the world of fiction, having the power to create and destroy whatever you want. Yes, novelists get to play God. Deal with it. We're normally a lot more introvert in person.

I'm enjoying the sin story, though. I don't want to give too much away, because I'd like to keep the idea as original as possible, but it's fun to write. I get to bend reality a bit, fashioning a world in darkness.

Aside from that, I've been on a school visit, written an essay, done some lesson plans and gotten a few things on track. I had great big plans for something that I've been talked out of doing. I let myself get talked out of it, because I wasn't entirely sure what to do about it. Big thanks to Rebecca W for that; I needed to hear what she told me.

Once I have my stuff at least mostly ready for Teaching Practice in January, I'll be doing more work on Meet Sam. I didn't get much done on Love, Sam for NaNoWriMo, so I kind of lost. Not to worry.

Also, I appear to have forgotten how to write a blog post that's engaging. I feel like I'm reporting the news, and doing it poorly. Forgive me, it's been a long weekend (as in, it started on Friday... and I thought yesterday was Sunday...)

Anyway, I'm back. I may be on less than before, but I'll be online nonetheless. I'll leave you with an extract from a poem. 10 points to whoever knows the author without having to Google it.

‎"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Out of Service

For a while, this blog will be on a hiatus, along with my Twitter and Facebook accounts. This has nothing to do with anyone but myself - basically, I'm too busy to concern myself with social networks. Go figure.

Not sure when I'll be back, though. I've a lot of stuff coming up, soon. I might be back during the Christmas break. Or in February. I can't be too sure. Twitter will be revived with this blog, though. Facebook... maybe sooner. I don't know.

Until such time that I come back on the scene, I wish you all good health, etc. etc. and, if you can spare the cash, I encourage you to support Poetry Against Cancer, in aid of St John's Ward at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.

Best wishes,

Buy Poetry Against Cancer here

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Poetry For Christmas

Hi everyone,

I'm writing today to ask you to consider adding something to your Christmas list, for yourself or for other people: it's a poetry book I edited entitled Poetry Against Cancer, in aid of St John's Ward at Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin, Dublin. St John's is the Oncology and Haematology ward at Ireland's leading children's hospital.

We're not asking for much, here. The book costs €7.50 plus P&P. 100% of the revenue earned on the book - that's all the profit we make from it after the printing costs and the publisher's costs - will go to St John's.

If you order soon, the publisher can guarantee delivery before December 24th.

The book is available by clicking the following link: http://tiny.cc/pacbuy

We hope you will support the cause and please spread the word so that the hospital can benefit even during these tough economic times.

Thank you and God bless,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In My Experience

In my experience, the summer was wasted. I know, it's November so talking about summer seems odd, especially when I talk about it in the context of the summer to come, not the summer gone. Basically, I have come to the conclusion that rather than take full advantage of my time off - writing all the time, or reading more, rather than sitting around waiting for segmented conversations with a few individuals - then I might have gotten a whole lot more done. I could have arranged times to talk to people, or I could have done without it for some time.

Of course, during the summer gone I did not think along these lines. I was almost desperate for conversation with a few people who I didn't see very much. Recent experiences of not talking to these people very much - not necessarily talking to many people very much, actually, but not in an attempt to avoid them, just being overly busy most of the time - has brought me to a stage whereby I should be able to survive the coming summer break. Yes, it's a long time away, but due to particular, inconclusive circumstances, I have begun measures to ensure that I do not become that same desperately lonely person again.

That wasn't healthy for me, and it wasn't healthy for them, and when the summer months were over, things weren't exactly great again. Nothing was quite as I had expected it. It was a horrible, biting few weeks, and now that I have taken these measures, purposely not talking to someone - not because we're fighting, but because of changed circumstances, some of them still unsure, I had to be sure I could go for any length of time not talking to him, and other people too, before that same condition of isolation could be forced upon me again - I feel that I might survive the summer.

Between now and then, I have to go to a school to teach (dreading it, because we've never had lessons so long as the ones we have to teach, but looking forward to actually getting to the school), I have to finish my modules this semester, do the entire second semester of college and sit my exams. However, adequately prepared for the isolation that comes when everyone goes home for the summer, I intend to do a lot of writing. Last summer gone, I wrote approximately 60,000 words in the space of a month. I have three and a half months off. I could write a whole lot more if I actually put my head down. Alternatively, if I had more hours in work I could earn more money that would see me through a lot more of the college year. There's also been talk of a holiday somewhere - the jury's still out on that, though.

The point of this, though, isn't to announce my summer plans. Rather, it's to express my potentiality to actually survive the summer. The process of preparing myself has already begun, so that I am not thrown into the deep end at the end of May. Because, in my experience, that's the worst thing that can happen to me in the summer.

Monday, November 8, 2010


A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about masks (which can be read here), and while I was perfectly happy with it, it didn't entirely sum up every thought in my head in the way that I wanted it to. I'm not one for changing blog posts unless they mention something that someone might not want said, so naturally I've kept it as it was first written, following a dinner with one of my very best friends during the summer. (The dinner was fine and had nothing to do with the masks).

And a few years ago, I wrote an imperfect story about a boy who wears masks all the time, until he loses his physical face in a fire and is forced to wear one all the time (sort of V for Vendetta stuff, now that I reflect on it, though I'm not sure I saw the movie before I wrote the story.) This story was meant to show the universality of the need to wear masks. It did not.

However, earlier today in college we received a version of Charles Finn's Please Hear What I Am Not Saying. The piece got to me, so I went to find a link to it... only to find the original version on a website set up by Finn's wife. This poem does full justice to my mask theory, and I wonder if maybe I read one of the many versions of it in circulation, many years ago.

I encourage you to read the poem (by clicking here). It's such a lovely piece and it does what I never could - it presents the theory, the truth, about masks, but it does so very simply. Here's my public thank you to Mr Finn for writing this wonderful poem. Kudos to you, sir!

Sunday, November 7, 2010



I have an outrageous amount of work to do today... and Mother of Mine wants to go to town to have me look for a jacket for Christmas (because I'd be too lazy to look for one myself... And she's already seen one...). So, basically, I'm setting up a DO NOT DISTURB thing... anyone who has a problem, needs to take a number and get in line.

The way things are looking, DND will last until Tuesday's tutorial. I'll be running away from people all day Monday and Tuesday to get work done and submitted on time (all for the wonderful thing we call Prayer and Prophecy in Israel - God College is fun!). And, actually, I'll probably still be running away from people between now and... well, pretty much all semester, unless I get ahead of my workload.

I do hope no one gets offended when I appear to ignore them in college. With all the work I have to do (and being several thousand words behind in NaNoWriMo) I really don't have any chances to talk to people for very long outside of lectures. This does propose a problem, of course, because of a particularly difficult situation in with someone and the belief that I'll actually have time to talk. Not for at least three weeks, I'm afraid. Actually, I'd hope at most three weeks, but with me you can never be sure what sort of trouble I'm going to get in to with my workload. The more I have to do... the less motivated I am. Well, not entirely true. The more work I have from several directions seems a fairer assessment. So with college work and novel work and people work... Paulie is busy.

So I apologise in advance to everyone who thinks I'm being an ass. I'm not doing it on purpose, I just have an awful lot of stuff crashing down on top of me, a big wave of words in their thousands trying to drown me. (Oh I like that... I'm going to use that again).

I best be off... I'm supposed to be motivating myself towards a better future. Or something like that.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Unintentional Hiatus

Okay, the blog died again. Not. My. Fault. I mean, okay - I was out last night until the early hours of the morning. But that has nothing to do with it. My Internet at home was down. Also, I had a test to study for. It was a load of nonsense.

So, in the time since I last posted, I haven't written very much. I'm over four thousand words behind in NaNoWriMo - this has never happened to me before, so I'm a little worried I might not finish. On the other hand, I do also have the matter of college work, which has priority to writing a novel at high speed. I know what I want to write, it's just getting the time to do it (and yet... I'm blogging.)

Anyway, I haven't really got much more time or energy to write on this blog today but readers - those of you who aren't in my college - I am not dead. I have not quit my blog. I am just busy with a copious amount of essays and, you know, that night out. Three and a half hours sleep, laddles and jellyspoons. So going to a lecture on Descartes asking me to suspend my belief in everything is just difficult.

See, I have some things I believe in no matter what. Like sleep. And my bed. I don't care if they're not real, I like them! Why, oh why, is it only one in the afternoon? And why, oh why, do I have to do things in my life and not be entirely sure if they're happening at all..? (Okay, that was mostly unrelated to everything I've spoken about in this blog post... mad egg syndrome, that's all...)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day One of NaNoWriMo 2010

Currently my word count stands at 1552 words, all written today on my iPod Touch, though not all of it on the bus. My protagonist, Sam, has been re-introduced to the reader, his predicament has been made clear, and he's on his way, already, to fixing it. Apparently. I mean, it's apparent to the reader, but I know the longer version of that story.

I wasn't sure I'd get into the swing of things so easily. Okay, so I have to write a bit more - 115 words - to reach my daily target to stay on track for the finish, but I'm enjoying the story. I didn't like my novel last year, The Wedding Singer, so I didn't finish it. I filled in far too much with stuff that wasn't important, I didn't like the main character and I didn't believe the story was worth finishing. This time is different, because I'm filling the story with things that (a) are relevant to the plot, (b) are in-keeping with the style of the novel and (c) are entertaining to write. I like the main character, possibly because he's a mash-up of me and several other people, though I couldn't tell you who they are even if I wanted to. And I think the story is worth finishing, because the plot is sustainable... or at least what I have planned is!

NaNo is a tough ol' challenge this year, because I have so much more work to do. I'm tired already and it's not even half seven on day one. Also, I didn't stay up past midnight to write this year, because I had college today and I knew I'd be Too Tired to Function if I stayed up. I've seen a friend has over 4000 words done. I am insanely jealous. Though she didn't finish the last couple of years... maybe this year?

I should be able to get stuff written, anyway. I'm not entirely hopeless at this writing thing! I have a little bit of practice (three novels and three novellas...) to keep me going. But, eh... this blog post has to end or I'll get nowhere! Wish me luck as I attempt to write a book while making sure I don't fail several modules in college!