Saturday, February 26, 2011

Existential Crisis Averted

The past couple of weeks have been odd. Well, I've been odd these past couple of weeks, and by proxy the weeks have been odd.

I wrote, earlier this week, about chores and moaning a lot about having to do them, and - really - I understand that chores have to be done. I just didn't like the idea that all my spare time was being filled up with the never-ending list of things that parents seem to have for their children to do when they're not attending some form of educational institution and/or working, and looking ahead into the future I saw three and half months of that same never-ending list and I thought, "Is this really what my life is going to be like? Am I really going to be cleaning up dirty dishes for the rest of my life? I didn't even touch half the food that was made on these." That last one's true - lots of different dinners get made in my house, and from time to time you end up having to clean up someone else's mess, and everyone in the house moans about it.

But I get it - chores have to be done. The whole background to the moaning that most people failed to see (because they read the post, not my response to a comment left on it) was that I was having a sort of existential crisis these past couple of weeks. Some friends of mine can attest to me freaking out over some stuff that happened, and one alone can tell you - but he won't - about one of the biggest problems I was having in my life. Basically, I didn't feel I could write for the rest of my life. I was feeling miserable (and not because of the chores - this was to the do with the case in my post "Let it Slide") and things turned out getting worse and worse in my head. I lost the will to create anything.

That's over now. Long conversations in the middle of the morning have that effect on me, when it was a sort of lack of them in a pretty boring and often horrible week that drained me of everything positive. But I feel like I'm back to what I would commonly refer to as "normal", though the word itself is just a concept of humanity that works along the lines of conformity. I attest against conformity for conformity's sake; I understand that people can be similar, but if they try to be similar, then that's just wrong. That's changing for the sake of changing someone's opinion of you, not changing for the sake of improving yourself in your own eyes (the often groaned-upon phrase "Be the best you you can be" comes to mind).

I digress. I'm back to planning writing stuff. I have ideas whizzing about in my head and I've set myself a deadline for getting some stuff done. A lot of the work will be done in the summer months, when I have a lot of time off from studies and I'll most likely not get extra hours in work (books sell better in the airport alone during the summer months - high-street stores don't see huge boosts in sales except around Christmas). I'll be working on other things aside from a number of book-ideas I have in mind, but mainly I'll be writing fiction (to the max!) I'm determined to not let this summer be either (a) a repeat of last summer (boring and somewhat miserable) or (b) a repeat of this week (boring and somewhat miserable and filled with endless tasks from my parents!).

I won't be disclosing the full nature of what I'm writing about throughout the summer, of course, unless something comes out of it. However, I can tell you that I'll be having lots of fun finishing some books that I've told some friends about (if you are a friend reading this and don't know what I'm talking about and are wondering why I never told you, it's because you did not ask or were not there when the idea for the book came to mind - it's nothing personal!). By the end of the summer, I want to have done some work on quite a few books (which includes editing some stuff I wrote last summer to remove some obvious connections to this thing we call "real life", because I see some potential in the stories, but I don't want to have to deal with people who think that references made to things they did are going to be so obvious to every single person living on this planet - there's this thing called fiction, I write it, and sometimes it's how I interpret facets of stories told to me so that you also get this thing called coincidence! Oh look, I made an obviously snide remark at one particular person on my blog, I wonder who that could be!)

On a side note, I'm noticing a lot of brackets popping up in this post. I don't blame the middle of the night call for this. No, I blame the fact that I was awake for some time before the call, and for a significantly shorter but increasingly more irate time after the call! My mind isn't working the way it should. It's in a strange place where brackets make sense, because there's too much to say coherently. Little points are just getting thrown into the middle of everything!

Back on track, then... yesterday was awesome. Okay, work wasn't. That was boring. We get those days, sometimes (and quite a lot lately). But I got my nerd stuff in the post (t-shirts and CDs and an Esther bracelet from DFTBA Records) and a couple of books which will be reviewed some Wednesday in the future after I've read them. And I went to see Paul in the cinema with some friends - still waiting to get my chance to pick my "birthday movie", since that was how I planned to "celebrate" my birthday with them - and it was awesome! It took me a while to get into it, but that was mainly from being in a mad mood beforehand. Laughed a lot though, as I got into it. And then there was the phone call, several hours later. Yes, there were periods throughout that day when I wanted to punch people and things (specific people, I might add), and when I got frustrated and/or upset, but I got through it all and now I'm hyperactive but tired!

Tomorrow will be a TV day, I think. Unless I decide to go on a writing spree. I would very much like that. I'll see where the day takes me. I may end up just reading a lot. I've been reading Everyman by Philip Roth (because I got a hardback copy of it second hand for relatively cheap and there's basically nothing wrong with it, and I'm sure one of my lecturers recommended him as a good author) and I'm enjoying it too much to want to wait until I'm too busy to read it.

Come Monday, I'll be kidnapping Miley Cyrus. We've had these plans for a while now, so it'll be fun to see what happens. If we end up in the city centre, I may be on the lookout for a new bag. There's nothing wrong with the one I have except I may need something a little bit bigger to bring in the A4 binder that contains Meet Sam. I want to continue my edits of it, and I don't think I want to risk my hands and/or arms carrying it in in my laptop bag (which I also use to carry my bible to God College as it is, so it gets a little heavy... especially when the library books start getting packed in there, too!). So, I may have a new bag. Or not. I don't yet know. It may be that I'll just get a handy folder with a handle to carry it in.

Things are looking up, anyway, after the boring misery that has been my "Reading Week". I suspect I would have wasted the week anyway, even if I hadn't been upset and aggravated on and by Saturday, but I wouldn't have been miserable doing nothing. And who knows, I may have actually be productive, which was what I planned before the World Suck that was my Saturday last week got to me.

I'm moaning again. This time I have a justifiable reason, I believe. I don't think people should be allowed to get away with making someone hate themselves for something that they did that didn't hurt anybody. I don't think those people should be allowed to think that it's okay to be like that with somebody, either, because then they may become what people call "repeat offenders", or what I call bullies. I don't think that people should have to see bad about themselves, period, nor do I believe that the people who feel bad about themselves can justify taking out their misery on those who brought it about through vengeful, hateful means that can ruin someone's life in one way or another (such as reporting a bully who is otherwise a good person to a disciplinary board after one offence). But I do think that it's okay to give out about bullies and haters so long as you don't name them, least of all publicly and with potential to a lot of strangers. Some people already know what happened on Saturday, others may be wondering what I'm talking about, but at the end of the (very long) day, I'm not going to point out someone on my blog as having insulted, offended and upset me intentionally and through spite, because then I'd not feel bad about when I'd calmed down (fairly calm at the moment, mind you), I'd be worse than the offender had been.

I'm moaning, I'm tired, but I hope I am at least coherent. On top of that, I hope my point makes sense logically. And I hope I don't come across as being spiteful. I'll be honest, I'm annoyed, angry even, but I don't plan on letting that anger consume me or hurt anyone. And I use the word hurt rather loosely - I don't mean I'm going to get physically violent (aside from my detestation of physical violence as a form of dealing with problems, I would most certainly lose this fight), rather I mean that I could potentially hurt someone (a) emotionally or (b) hurt his reputation directly (I understand and appreciate he was not happy with me when he acted the way he did, and that it was out of character - I don't forgive him, but I know he's not always like that) or (c) hurt his future by taking action that may result in his removal from the college.

Anyway, back to where I began - I was having an existential crisis, stemming from the person who I shall not name and shame and his actions on Saturday, and I have conquered it somewhat. I say somewhat, because I had the problem of identity before all this anyway. I have to thank some people, though I won't name them either, but to the people who listened when I had to talk about what was wrong, and to the friend who called me at three in the morning, thank you for being wonderful friends. You don't know how much you all mean to me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Review - Coraline

Coraline: The Movie Collector's EditionNeil Gaiman - what a writer! Coraline is the third of his books that I've read (if you include the delightful picture book Crazy Hair), and I was not at all disappointed. I haven't seen the movie, though from the sounds of it it'd be just as maddening!

I'd bought it from a bargain basket at work after telling myself repeatedly that I ought to read more of his stuff, since I'd like Stardust so much when I read it. It was just sitting there, waiting to be read, and cheaper than I expected. So I went with it, read it at high-speed and loved every moment of it.

Um, what'd you mean "just as maddening"?
The premise of Coraline is that she gets stuck on the other side of a door, in a world where her parents have buttons for eyes and everything is too perfect. The world ends at the woods, when it comes a blank canvas. It's a fairly chilling read for a children's book, but not so frightening that I'd advise against it. As dark as it is, it maintains a message of hope and courage and doing things for other people, and reinforces an idea centred around loving your parents as they are.

How... lovely?
Okay, so that's the meaning I got from the book. I suppose it works better for kids to read the book than for people to just read that it's about that. The message comes across through Gaiman's narrative, his ability to put us inside the mind of Coraline - without going into first-person narrative - and the necessary conflict between good and evil that children's books of this type require.

So, how did it compare to similar books?
On a horror level, it's less scary than the likes of Mr Mumbles (much less scary.) In terms of ingenuity, they're on par with one another. What Coraline has that's different to everything else is the innocence of the character encased in her boldness; she's more ordinary than any other character I've encountered in a fantasy-type story. She doesn't act out for the sake of it, and she's not too loveable. She's written as a child who likes to explore, and she's written that way perfectly and innocently so that we love her as a result. I've never read a character like that. It helps, of course, that Gaiman's other characters are all adults who under-appreciate her, so we're straight away drawn towards the quirkiness of Coraline as she explores a new, backwards world. It's one of the most original and fascinating books I've ever read, even more bizarrely then that it's aimed at children of about eight to ten! This is a must read for them, if they like good stories, because it'll set a standard for stories that children of that age ought to acquire (so they don't then consider Twilight to be top-notch writing.)

Definitely read this one, whatever your age. You won't regret it. (I hope).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Three and a Half Months of THIS?

I'm on my midterm (or eh, "Reading Week") from God College at the moment and it occurs to me that summer is going to be boring. Very, very boring. My time off college had consisted of my usual weekend work in the shop, and cleaning my room. Yes, cleaning. I've had to rearrange my bookshelves again, after my parents went out and bought me a three-shelf Billy and two additional shelves to add in to my taller one, and the end result is that I have to get the books out of the bags they were in on my floor, rearrange everything according to size, so they all fit, and pretend I'm happy about having an hour's extra work on my shelves to do.

Have I done any writing? No. The energy and enthusiasm has been drained right out of me. I need something to do or I'm going to go mad. And I don't mean more hours in work - though the money would be good - because the work to do there isn't always great. I mean I have to find something active to do, or find the willpower and the necessary isolation from Mother of Mine so I can write something and maybe actually do something with my week off that doesn't conform to her standards of Regular Behaviour (i.e. cleaning the kitchen after everyone's mess, rearranging my shelves repeatedly, cleaning my desk even though I never use it anyway and waiting around for one of my uncles to collect a pot of stew).

I want to write. I want to write a book and edit another one, and do some reading for college and some reading for myself, and do my tutorial work, and get a chance to talk to my best friend properly. But no, none of that happens.

And this will be my summer, but instead of a week, it'll be three and a half months. I cannot take it anymore. It's only Tuesday and I'm bored out of my mind! I've only had one full day off since my "Reading Week" began and I can't stand it. I appreciate the time off, but it's not filled with anything worth while. It's just meaningless, unproductive task after meaningless, unproductive and soul-crushing task set by my parents. And it's going to be this way in the summer months, too, until they finally realise that I don't give a damn about what they want me to do, and that really I'm not very happy having to do it all, that they're sucking the life out of me and crushing my dreams, because they don't let me have the God-damned free will I ought to have!

I have got to get out of here. I have got to find something worth doing that can get me away from this mundane repetitiveness before I snap. It's already getting to me, and from here it'll just start getting to other people by proxy. And Mother of Mine says I didn't used to be this way? That's because I used to be allowed to make decisions for myself. Instead my parents say I'm not living in a hotel and I have to pull my weight. I didn't realise this was living. It's more autonomy than anything else, and the treatment isn't to hotel standards. They book their holidays and they go out and we get a list of chores that make up for what they don't do themselves. Sure, we eat the food that was made in the pots, but we didn't ask for it. And we're dragged away from whatever we're doing to clean up. We're not asked, we're told.

Three and a half months of this? I don't think so. I wouldn't last it, not a second time around. My brain would turn to mush. As a friend of mine says, "Lord please release me from this terrible burden..."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Let It Slide

I was happy since Wednesday night. Then I hit a bump in the road. I won't go into the specifics of this, for one reason and one reason only - I'm letting it slide. A person was an ass to me, and I'm sure anyone who knows us both will have seen it already, so there's no need for me to name and shame him. It was offended by him, on so many levels, and while I wanted to do something about it, there was the slight (or, you know, massive!) issue that I had.

See, I have a firm belief that just because someone is an ass does not mean I am then justified in destroying them. Not literally. I mean more along the lines of reporting them for harassment to the college which may have resulted in subsequent disciplinary action against him. No more college, no more foreseeable future. A dead end.

I do not dead-end people. That would make me worse than them.

So I'm letting it all slide. If he wants to be an ass, let him. I honestly don't care what he does anymore, and any trouble he gets in to will be as a result of him or someone else, but not me. I won't be the person to make someone feel like shit about themselves for doing something they can't change.

That's my two-cents this late Saturday night - don't aim to hurt people just because they've hurt you. By all means, if they break the law against you, if they hurt you irreparably, if you can't deal with it, take action against them. But don't hurt people out of spite. It's something I've always known and something I got taught again by my best friend a couple of weeks ago. It's something I can be proud to live by, if nothing else.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Soul Friend

During one of my education lectures (I think...) there was a bunch of discussion about relationships and different types of people, and the term 'Anam Cara' came up. This is, pretty literally, the Irish for Soul Friend. The concept is relatively simple, or I'm making it too simple: you have a friend you can tell anything.

I suppose it goes deeper than that. It's a relationship. Not a romantic one, by necessity, but a relationship nonetheless, like every other friendship or business partnership you'll ever have, and as such the implication that you can tell this one person anything also suggests that they, too, can tell you anything. The mutual level of trust is there, even if it becomes shaky at times - my own personal experience of the matter, and not something I wish to try again.

It's not just about trust, though. I mean, we all place a degree of trust in the people we talk to. We trust teachers. We (used to almost always) trust priests. We trust our parents. We just the chaplain at our school/college. But that doesn't mean we tell them everything, and it doesn't mean we feel the same way about them as we do about our Soul Friend.

The term itself suggests a connection that runs deeper than just the talk and the other aspects of a friendship, like drunkenly laying an arm over someone's shoulder. It's something you can't explain, really, no matter how hard you try and no matter how many words you have in your vocabulary. It's a form of love that can't be broken, but not the same as a parent's love for his/her child, or the same as the sort of love you have for someone in a romantic (and sexual) relationship. It's a run-deep kind of love that doesn't get celebrated on Hallmark day.

I believe in the idea of the Soul Friend. I believe in it because sometimes, even for an attendee of God College, believing in God and having faith in God is difficult. I believe in God's existence alright, but more often my faith is placed in my Soul Friend. It's a comfort thing, on one level, having someone there to talk to, but it's also something more basic than that - I have faith that he can do right. It's what we lack in God, sometimes; there's a great expectation that nothing should go wrong, then a tsunami strikes and thousands die, along with the faith of thousands more. Without getting to religious on the matter, I'd say it's because the love for God and the faith in God lacks two-way communication, lacks the certain security that comes with the sound of another human voice telling you everything's going to be okay, even when there's nothing wrong, telling you how to deal with something when you didn't ask, and letting you talk when you need someone to listen. God listens alright, but the problem I reckon lots of people have is that it's like it's all forgotten a second later and nothing ever gets done.

You can't just look for your Soul Friend. It sounds unfair, I know, that some people have them and others don't, but it's not the richest or the happiest, or the poorest or the saddest that find a Soul Friend. It just happens. It happens and you can't escape it, and you don't want to lose it when you find it. I know if I thought I'd like this friendship, nothing would stop me trying to make things right. I suppose that's dangerous, too, because it means I can put myself in some sort of physical danger, firstly, as well as emotional danger if it just can't be fixed, if the pieces don't quite fit back anymore.

That was my worry once, until I found new pieces that held the old ones together, too.

I write this, on a Friday night because really I don't do anything beyond going to the cinema, but specifically on a Friday because that's the day my interviews will be posted when they're done. Friday is my sort of Friendship Appreciation Day, and Hallmark won't ruin that. But for me, friendship isn't just confined to one day on my blog. Every day in my friendships is important. I just make sure not to test things with my Soul Friend on a Tuesday. Long story. I won't be telling it.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

That Was...Different

In contrast to my birthday "celebrations" on Tuesday (steak, basically), I went out last night. I don't go out very much. This experience was not entirely alien to me. Not entirely.

But I drank. I mean, I've had alcohol before, but never very much. Last night... enough to get drunk. Being drunk for the first time because your friend insists of getting you drinks (I didn't exactly put up much of an argument... as if I would have been heard over the thumping music, anyway!) and then proceeding to drink said drinks and liking them... too much... well, it was all different.

I don't know what it's like for everyone else who's ever gotten drunk, but for me there was a sudden realisation that I was drunk, when I heard myself laugh in a way I don't normally laugh. And I didn't care.

I won't disclose the details of my alcohol related banter, except that it was, as they say, mighty. It was probably the best night of my life. I suppose I do owe that to the friend who bought me all the drinks (we were doing rounds... and he skipped me sometimes). I mean, it was great in the house beforehand, having pizza and a bit of craic with the Wii (I barely ever use the consoles in my house!), but things just got so much better when we got to the pub. It wasn't just the drinks, like. He came all the way from Meath for the night out (after I pestered him repeatedly...) and that really meant a lot to me. Plus the rest of my friends were still great craic.

It made up for the entirely boring Tuesday. Mainly I was in a mood, and I took it out on people in general rather than specific people, but I was just moaning for the sake of moaning, not for the sake of actually meaning anything by it. I've explained that to a few people already now, but it does deserve its place in the public spotlight from whence the trouble came.

Now... the hangover. I've seen lots of people with hangovers. There are grumpy hangovers, sleepy hangovers, moaning hangovers, giddy hangovers - many of which are also a combination of alcohol still being in the system - and then there was my hangover - the hungry hangover. I keep wanting to eat... everything. I've never felt so hungry for no reason at all, the feeling unabated by a Twirl bar and two cups of tea (and that after my breakfast this morning!). I didn't have a headache, which was weird. I didn't struggle out of bed (I got up before my alarm!). I didn't really feel the alcohol... I mean, I was tired from lack of sleep, but not crippled by it. I just want to eat... a lot.

I could say that this is all research into my books. I could very easily pass it all off as that. But honestly, it was just a lot of banter, and I don't regret any of it.

And finally, a massive public thanks to everyone who came last night and made the night so worthwhile!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review - Will Grayson Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will GraysonWhat happens when you take two New York Times bestselling authors, throw in some homosexuality, some musical references, two characters with the same name and a big ball of irony? The answer is simple: Will Grayson Will Grayson, the fantastic novel from John Green and David Levithan. Set in Illinois, in two parts of it, the book follows the adventures of two teenage boys by the name of Will Grayson. One has a gigantic gay best friend, the other is a closet homosexual, and the book isn't technically about either of them.

What do you mean it's not about them? They're the title characters!
While this facet of information is true, the book revolves around the character of Tiny Cooper - our big ball of irony, and Will 1's gay bezzie. (I can't believe I just wrote that, honestly.) To quote Will 1, 
 "Tiny Cooper is not the world's gayest person, and he is not the world's largest person, but I believe he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large." 
Tiny's social gravity captures everyone into an orbit they cannot seem to escape. From the Wills to the girls they're friends with, and spreading outwards into Illinois in general - mainly the school - Tiny Cooper brings the whole ensemble of characters together.

So why didn't they call the book Tiny Cooper?
Because then we can't see the wonderful device they use to illustrate that names aren't always appropriate. Two Will Graysons almost expect to be the same. They have an imaginary club - One Will Grayson to another. If the book was called Tiny Cooper, we'd never get to see what Tiny has to offer, because we'd be looking too hard. Really, when you read this book you need to just read it and let it take you by surprise. It's handy, of course, that the authors are brilliant and witty, and so we get distracted from the universe in their comedies and tragedies and before we know it we're halfway through the book and finally used to how Levithan writes his chapters - he writes Will 2's parts; you'll understand what's so difficult about the reading of his chapters when you read them.

You keep saying "when"...
This is true - you will read this book. Rude not to. It's perhaps one of the greatest books I've ever read, because in its imperfections we are exposed to the humanity of the situation. This is a character based book. Characters have imperfections. They are, aside from the physical, human. Everything that's wrong with this book - things I can't even think of, because the good shines out over the good - is completely right as being part of the whole. So yes, I say "when" because you really ought to read this book to see the importance of names and how we can see people in different ways. And the ending is just fantastic!

So what now?
Now..? Now I have to hunt down some of David Levithan's books. I've read all of John Green's published novels. I have to wait for the next one. This has not happened to me before. I have not been in a situation of having read all of John Green's books and having to wait for the next one. So I have to read David Levithan's books and hope they're a wonderful substitute! From the impression I get of him from John Green, I will be suitably pleased.

Now, buy the book, read it, love it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I'm twenty. That's finally happened. All the semblances of youth - hanging on to the teenage years - are gone. Now I'm at that point where I have none of that and I'm still too young to drink in America. Not that I plan on going to America within the next year, but the point still stands. I am in a limbo year.

I have noticed that my birthday is just another day. Except some people give me presents. And my mum asked us specifically what we want for dinner (us being myself and That Guy I Am, who coincidentally also turned twenty today). My birthday has been dull, waiting for the ritual of Facebook messages from people who won't send them and for maybe something to happen that would make the day worthwhile.

Basically... no.

Up until this morning, I didn't even care about my birthday. I literally let That Guy I Am make all the plans for us. I can't say I was even especially ecstatic today. I was in a much better mood yesterday. Today just has too much expectation for anything, while V-Day is just a big ball of suck I can pleasantly be a cynic about.

And I still wait for that anything.

The day matters so little to me, relative to the hype of birthdays, that I've started writing an essay for college on the call of St Paul and his transformation from Pharisee and persecutor of the early Christians to apostle to the Gentiles. That is how little this day matters.

But I still wait.

I wait for the anything and I wait for the messages that won't come because part of me wants the hype of birthdays to be true, to live up to something, to matter. I wanted to let the day matter. I wanted to not be such a moan on my own birthday. That's just not me. But I sat more or less alone at lunch (admittedly it was because my friends all decided to sit on the opposite side of the table to me, but almost entirely out of earshot). I changed my routine of going to the library and doing work or writing or anything else, just because these were my friends and for a while it seemed like they wanted me there.

I wait, and I become a cynic about my own friends and about my own birthday, and I know that a lot of what I say is just the cynicism, and that I did want to be with my friends on my birthday. But I would have preferred if they had actually spoken to me.

And I wait.

Monday, February 14, 2011


It's that most wonderful time of the Hallmark calender - Valentine's Day. Good Lord, someone set fire to the card displays (or just throw them out, like a co-worker accidentally did!). It's not that I don't like the idea of showing affection for people... it's just that I'm entirely opposed to the idea of Valentine's Day. Looking at the relatively new 'Pinkies Blog', I can see I'm not the only person living in Dublin that has this problem of once-annually limited-love.

It gets worse.

So. Much. Worse.

I go to a religious college. Things are supposed to be... well, religious. Not secular. Not at all secular. Not hanging red shiny banners and love-hearts and balloons and bowls of sweets on the tables.

Oh. My. God.

Really? Giving sugar to students? Pretending Valentine's Day means anything beyond Hallmark? It was disgusting (though the same cannot be said for the sweets...). I mean, it's not even like people were displaying any more affection than normal. They were just messing with the balloons and eating the sweets and generally not giving a damn about the whole thing. It was just a secular celebration bastardising a religious tradition of celebrating the martyr saint who believed in marriage. Marriage. See that word? I know you know what that means. It's not about cards with mushy messages on them on one specified day of the year (that's what anniversaries are for!). It's not about chocolates and romantic evenings. It's not about getting that special someone something shiny.

For people who care about presents and who want an excuse to show they love someone, Valentine's Day can be good. Of course, it's also selfish and an excuse for romance, as if it could save a marriage.

Complete and utter rubbish. More couples break up around now than any other time of the year! And the rest suffer through the process of having to get the other person something new and shiny for them to forget about two weeks later. It's like secularised Christmas, only without the mass that people feel obliged to attend.

As one of the candy hearts said today (yes, candy hearts... hence, 'Sweetness'), 'Bye bye'. (What an utterly romantic and fulfilling sentiment...)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Where Things Are Going

Since I've been back online, I've been working at getting my interviews with people - as I announced yesterday. I have five lined up. As well as that, I'll be doing something which will feature on Mondays, though that'll be delayed for a bit as I get my feet on the ground. The same as something which will take up Tuesdays and Saturdays. Wednesdays will be for reviews.

But that's just the blog point of view of things. I have so much more to do, aside from college work. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I have a few places to submit to. I also have plans to continue to work on Meet Sam, and work on a new book. I'll be working on them in rotation - one chapter of the new book, one fifth of Meet Sam. At that rate, I'll get that finished pretty early on while the other book will actually get somewhere in its writing. While that does also seem to block my progress later, I do have to then read over and edit Meet Sam again to make sure it's alright. Lots of work ahead of me...

When the new book is finished, or when I need a break from both books, I'll be working on a play. Or three. Or something. And in the midst of all that, and all my college work, I'll be writing stuff to submit to various magazines and reading books and all the usual stuff I normally do. I just plan on being busier than normal.

Aside from the blog and the books and the plays, I also want to work on screenplays. These will be for either television or films, I don't know yet, but they'll be the screen, anyway. There's a different feel to scripts in plays and films, so it all depends on what I want to write at the time - different ideas will need a different medium. I already have an idea for a mini-series, though I'm not sure how that'd work. I've to read up on that, still.

To get myself motivated for work, I've made up a list of things that I can write about when it comes to submissions - or just general ideas for work! One or two of them require invading the privacy of people, so I've to tread carefully about them and get permission where possible. Basically, it'd be impossible to hide the stories from people if I planned on doing anything with them, so there's no point pretending I didn't write them at all. The other stuff is just common sense, when it comes to the sort of person that I am - books, films, the Internet, religion, etc. Whatever can define me or my activities is what I'll be writing about. Hopefully a lot.

One thing I have to cut out of my life is games, though. Which is a problem, because I'm addicted to them. And when it comes to summer, I need to take something up, to occupy the time in which I need to unwind and a book or a film won't do. I'll probably take a friend's suggestion and go swimming a couple of times a week. I need to see what my working hours are like... or if I even have working hours. Obviously, if I can't afford to pay into the pool I can't go swimming! Sure I could walk, but it's not as good for you as swimming... and I could do with improving the fitness, a bit. Or a lot. I just can't go with That Guy I Am, because he's overly competitive and it just puts me off the whole thing.

So, I've one more week in college - with birthday "celebrations" in the middle of all that - and then I'm off for a week. That'll be the decider week. I have to do college work, obviously, but I also have a chance to get into a routine of doing writing! I'll have a few more weeks of college, then, and three weeks off before exams in May. But after them, after I've burned myself out academically, I'll be free for three and a half months... again. This summer, someone has to force me to write!

Once again, a thousand plans ahead of me. But I like where my head is at right now, so this will be good. I won't just give it all up again. Especially since I'm already suspecting the worst that could happen already. There's not very much that could happen that would catch me entirely off guard, anymore. (Like my shop closing...) I just have to let stuff go, and then I can get somewhere.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Opportunity Knocks

As some of you may know, I have a habit of buying writing magazines. Mostly I don't read them. Today, I bought two. I know, bold of me. Still, I went through them and marked all the things that are immediately of interest to me. I might read the rest, but for now I'm focusing on these parts. I don't buy them unless I can find at least one thing of interest in them to me. Normally if I find that one thing, I find another thing, too.

Today... a grand total of 16 pages marked for reading. Okay, pages means the double-page, not a single page. And it doesn't necessarily mean I'll read the whole thing. These are just places where there could be just one tiny section of interest to me, highlighted again. But other times there are a couple of articles on these pages that are of interest. It was kind of worth the money, this time!

What I hope to do, as a result of finding a few of these things, is take advantage of the opportunities available in them. There are competitions and submission opportunities highlighted that I want to actually do something about. I just felt the need to tell people about this. And really, bothering my friends with texts that are only of interest to me feels a bit weird. (Especially since about three people would get the same text, and one of them might reply...)

In other news (that was news?), I've begun to bother the people of Twitter for my new feature - I'm looking to "interview" people every Friday. This will entail a discussion of 1. them, personally (who they are, where they live, what they do for a living, etc.) and 2. the creative thing they do that has me getting in touch with them in the first place. I'm more drawn to writers, but as I'm also a fan of music I won't turn that down. This is to replace my Friday Friend feature from last year. Well, it's to change it. The old archive is about people I know, with nicknames I gave them for this blog. This new feature will have people's real names - if they use them online - but I won't specify if I know them or not. It occurs to me I'll be able to bother some people I do know, but that's a different matter.

So, why am I doing it? Well, firstly I want to network. I figure the best way to do that is to get a chat going. Through the personal discussion, I'll get to know the person better (and may continue to talk to them privately after the post) and through the other discussion I'll be showcasing new and interesting people to my readers (it feels weird to say I have readers, when it's mainly friends from college who aren't sick of my blog posts). The hope is that the people I interview will also link to the interview they're in, and maybe come back to see who else is being interviewed.

Secondly, I want a feature on my blog that actually interests me and won't dive into people's privacy without their permission. Bold Paul was bold last year. This new idea has me excited already, and I'll be bothering people who I think are suitable for this pretty soon!

Thirdly, I want the practice. As I plan on writing for a living, doing interviews and stuff like this early on will show that I'm fully capable of doing it later in life. I'll be working around college, too, so things will be a little bit busy for me throughout the year. And I'll have basically nothing to do in the summer...

So, if you're interested in being interviewed, please get in touch - if you comment, make sure that I can follow a link (either by including it in the comment or submitting it with your name when you post) so that I can see how suitable you are, and please have some way of being contacted through that - even a Twitter page will do! What I ask in return is that you answer the questions, keep in touch, link to the post (it's showcasing YOU anyway!) and maybe suggest other people afterwards (so I can keep the feature going).

Now, time for me to start answer the door to opportunity. It's raining tonight... must be soaked!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dealing With Bad News

It's inevitable that we're all going to receive some bad news at some stage in our lives: we didn't get that promotion we were looking for; that girl we're interested in has a boyfriend; a relative isn't going to get better; that manuscript we submitted has been rejected. The list goes on and on and obviously some cases are worse than others. But we have to deal with it, or let it tear us apart from the inside out.

Dealing with rejection, I know, is obviously a hard thing. No one's going to say that it's easy to be turned out by a person or a company. The key is to not let it get to you.

There are some very simple things that can be done to help you deal with bad news, before actually doing whatever possible to sort it out - this isn't a quick fix blog.

  1. Take a deep breath. Yes, breathing helps. We need it to live, and it can help calm us down. So inhale, hold it, then exhale slowly. Do it a few times if you're particularly panicky.
  2. Get some personal space or find a friend. The reason there's an "or" in there is, basically, because people are different. Some people need to be alone with their thoughts or some music or the sounds that flutter about all around them. Sometimes I'm that sort of person. Other times, I'm the "find a friend" sort of person. Whether you want to talk about what's going on or not, finding someone to talk to can be of some benefit. I don't always tell people what's wrong, if they sense something's wrong. That's my personal choice. I'm lucky that I have some friends who are good for just talking to, or who will do all the talking. I tend to make phone calls rather than trek to the bus stop... or to Meath... It makes the whole situation like being alone but with someone there.
  3. Stop thinking about it and try move on. This can take some time. I mean, no one's going to expect you to be on your feet and ready to go within the space of a couple of hours, or right away after following steps one and two. But eventually you have to let go of that friend who wasn't who you thought they were, or that job you thought was perfect for you, and find something new to aim for. Find a new friend, work hard to get that next promotion, and let all that horrible stuff holding you back -  while you let your tears go - go. But you have to stop thinking about it, too, until you're emotionally ready to think about it and not get upset all over again.
Most importantly, if you're in a sort of never-ending cycle of darkness, talk to someone who you know can help. I don't mean a professional, if that's not what you're in to (though it would help, if your situation was that bad), but at least a friend. We all have one friend we can trust, and if you don't feel like you can trust someone, you need to change something about yourself. People aren't the problem then, you are. Trust... it's important, you know? Maybe you don't tell someone the whole truth, but you at least let them in on something about you so you don't feel so alone.

I'll finish there before this turns into a lecture. But whoever you are reading this, wherever you are, remember that bad news or bad moods can be overcome. As desperate as things seem now, they can always get better. I promise you that, so long as you make the effort.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Books About Writing

I have a habit of buying books about writing. I can't help it. It's an affliction. But I enjoy it, and I enjoy reading those books from time to time and getting a different perspective on the craft. My books range from how to write books, in the areas of novels, creative writing, children's books and poetry, to useful things about the business of writing. I'm constantly getting more books, so this list is by no means complete.

Teach Yourself 

Teach Yourself Writing A Novel (Teach Yourself: Writing)The Teach Yourself series of books, I find can be quite helpful in getting the info you need in a concise manner. While I wouldn't necessarily say they are the only place to go to while looking for a book on writing, they certainly do contribute. Definitely trustworthy! Here is a list of the books I have in the series related to writing:

 Alison Baverstock

Is There a Book in You?This author has three books I find to be of great importance for people who wish to write or work with books - three that I've read, at least. I can't stress enough how much I would swear by what Alison Baverstock says: she's worked in the industry, she's gotten books published, she's in the know. In order of what I deem to be the most important books for writers to read, her titles include:
She also has quite a few books on parenting, if you're into that sort of thing.

Miscellaneous Others

Beyond that, I don't have multiples of anything by the same author/publisher. What's left is a mishmash of titles I've found that looked interesting and/or helpful, some of which are of great importance for a writer, and others are just helpful in different ways.
As well as those, I find it helpful for writers to have copies of The Writers and Artists Yearbook, a dictionary, maybe a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves and perhaps something along the lines of Bill Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors.

While none of these books can guarantee success, having a look at one of two of them doesn't hurt. It can certainly help in figuring out the craft a bit, and getting someone else's perspective on how to write in a particular genre. My list isn't complete, by far, of course. I still plan on getting more books in the Teach Yourself series, and who knows what else will wander into my collection. All the time I'll justify the purchase of these books with the knowledge that they can be very helpful in getting an insight into the world of books and writing.

Review - Dead Until Dark

Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood)During the Christmas holiday from college, I got to watching True Blood - I mentioned this in my last post, and how it got me to reading the books the show is based on. And I mean based. The books have some distinct differences from the show (or vice versa, it depends on which you came to first, I suppose). I won't go into these differences, because I can't think of them all right now.

So... was the book good?
It was. It was good, and it was great, and then it was fantastic, and then it was great again. That's sort of how every book goes. Some skip the "good" and just get into great. While Charlaine Harris's Dead Until Dark doesn't fit, for me, into the instantly great category, it still escapes the drastically bad category. There wasn't a single bad moment in it.

Seriously? Not a single bad moment?
Oh, okay there was. When it ended. It was the sort of book you wanted to keep reading (read as: It was  the sort of book I didn't want to stop reading!). Between the book and the show, I began thinking about loud in a Louisiana accent. Damn infectious literature!

Okay, so how were the myths of the book?
Rather fantastically. That's the simple answer. If you really require more info... well, the vampires, as anyone who watches the show or has read the books can tell you, are not immune to sunlight. The vampires are also not affected by religious icons - considering the fact that there have been vampires in the book's universe for longer than there have been Christians, this isn't surprising. But vampires aren't all we've got. I won't spoil too much, but Sookie is a telepath (it's in the blurb, I don't feel bad for telling you). Sookie, if you don't know, is the protagonist and narrator. She's also a waitress. (Ah her classic response to the question, "What are you?") While I feel Harris could have done a better job with the telepathy, it was still written quite well into the story, and it doesn't feel out of place.

How does the book compare to similar titles?
My experience with the genre is limited. Being part of the whole 'Paranormal Romance' section of bookshops, I avoided the books for quite some time. Eventually I was talked into it by a couple of people who assured me they weren't too girlie. They were right. I've read much more girlie books along the same lines - Twilight, being the prime example. So, how does Dead Until Dark compare to that? Well, the myth of the vampires is much better, the writing is much better, the story is much better, and the protagonist isn't in any way annoying. There's also less disturbance to be experienced, since Sookie is older than Bella Swan of Twilight. While the age difference between Bill and Sookie is still massive, at least she's legally of age to... you know... do it. And the romance of the book is a whole lot less desperate.

Ending the rant, do you recommend this book?
Wholeheartedly! Especially if you like HBO's adaptation of the books in the form of True Blood and you're prepared to accept the differences between the original books and the television series. Or you're into Paranormal Romance but you don't want something terrible like Twilight. Or you just like the Paranormal side of things (which was where I was, before seeing the show, but turned off by the romance) and you can stand to read the romance too.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Since I've Been Gone

It's been about two months since I posted. There's a very good reason for this - I'm lazy. I sort of gave up on the Internet as a form of communication for a long while, and while I hope to blog a lot now that I'm "back", I don't think I'll be doing much else in such proportions. I like talking to people face to face, not through "chat" on Facebook; I like actually doing things rather than just talking about them; but I also like writing, hence the blogging.

In short, I haven't done much since I last posted. I had a quiet Christmas with my family (couldn't get away from them, actually...), and Christmas week I went to Newgrange. By accident we (my friend and I) went the day before the solstice. We were really just looking for something to do, since we hadn't seen each other in about six weeks.

I'm not going to list everything I received for Christmas from my family, though I'll give special mention to the True Blood DVDs I got. The only reason I'm mentioning them is because I've watched the first two seasons and I'm currently watching season three on FX. Also, I've started reading the books they're based on. Loads of fun, them! I've only read one so far, but I have the second one.

A review of that will come soon. I've also got a few other books to review... I read them in a binge session. It was a delightful time. Loved the books I read and can't wait to tell you what they are. But not yet.

See, I'm plotting out a new format for my blog. I want to do reviews on Wednesdays. It's to encourage me to read more. I have four books to review so far, and many more to read in the meantime, so the next month's worth of reviews will just be what I read within a short space of time. But I'll be reading more, like the books for my English course, and some stuff on my Education and Theology courses. More on those later. The blog will have other stuff, too, like original pieces of fiction or poetry, but with a very particular reason behind them...

See, I went to a workshop hosted by Gavin Kostick and arranged by the Irish Student Drama Association. It was a good ol' day, that, and I learned quite a bit. I intend to put it to good practice. One of things he suggested will be part of this blog, when I get around to initiating it. That won't be until at least this Monday. I'll have other things popping up as weekly or monthly features in the future, but not just yet.

Oh, I also wrote a movie! It's not very long, but it's been entered into a competition in college. It's a sort of zombie apocalypse movie. I really enjoyed writing it!

And... well, aside from buying more books, rearranging my bookshelf, working, writing a bit, reading and college, I've only done one other significant thing that I can convince myself to talk about - teaching practice. Now, nothing against the students or the school, because they were actually quite nice, but I don't think I could ever teach at primary level. There's a particular type of energy with kids of that age, and it was sort of damaging to my existence. I think the stress of TP, overall, caused me to have at least three emotional breakdowns. I feel so bad for the friend who had to put up with all of that.

So, I'm back...ish. We'll see if it lasts. But for now, I've got to do stuff. Blogging, as fun as it is, isn't entirely productive. Or entirely in-keeping with my 'Reactivate everything today' plan... This is why people shouldn't leave! Too much catching up to do - and there's always catching up to do!