Monday, August 30, 2010

Storm In A Teacup

I am here at the page. A place I have not frequented on a regular basis all summer. At present I am trying to overcome jet lag and some lethargy. Of course jet lag cannot be the excuse for my lack of concentration and motivation throughout the whole summer. A summer where reading and writing required such mammoth effort.

But here I am now with my favorite pen in hand. Actually I have two identical favorite pens. Twins you could say.  One I always carry with me and the other is kept with my notebook. I brought both these pens to Ireland with me. Better to be sure than to be sorry, Right?! I was delighted I had the foresight to bring them both when pen one ran out of ink. I clutched pen two in my hand with a self satisfied grin and continued to write. About a week later pen two ran out of ink. I did not have the foresight to bring ink refills with me. I tried to find a replacement pen, one that words just couldn’t wait to leap from pen’s tip to the page but my efforts proved fruitless.

Could my lack of writing enthusiasm really boil down to the feel of a particular pen in my hand? An idea would flash into my head. I sat to the table, holding the replacement pen unhappily in my hand and wrote the first sentence of new flash. Replacement pen unlike favorite pen did not keep going. I stalled, I struggled, I stopped. The answer it seems is yes, it did boil down to the pen. 

Okay so maybe the pen was the reason I did not get much writing done. But reading….what happened there. In fairness, I can’t blame the pen for that. That comes down to a total lack of concentration. It took me forever to get through a book. My reading slowed to a snails pace.  Last summer I read no less than fifteen books. I wrote every day, I was productive. This summer I read only six books and wrote very little. In an attempt to console myself I took to editing writings from last summer. Telling the unconvinced voice nattering in my head that this was good! This was productive! This was writing too!

Adding to my angst, I lost patience with the slowness of my broadband computer service and just had to give up blog commenting to maintain some semblance of sanity. It was taking a year and a day to post a comment, never mind the loading a blog to read it. Then there were the blogs I had to just give up altogether. Beautiful, wonderful blogs, but my computer totally refused to load them. Dispatches from the Deise, Writing in the Crosshairs, Agnes Pages, Diary of a Virgin Novelist, and Walk2Write in Florida. I am looking forward to catching up with your wonderful blogs. I have missed you.

The thoughts swirling around in my head, keeping me awake at night and paralyzing my hand these past weeks are, "Am I just a storm in a teacup? Is my lack of concentration and inability to produce a sign I’m all used up. A has been before I have been and a ten month blog wonder?" I dread the thought, because this year of writing and blogging has been a year of great contentment for me.  I have experienced an inner soul type of contentment.  Something I have been grasping at and chasing all my life.

So what is the moral of this little tale? Well first off, not only bring both favorite pens everywhere, also bring multiple ink refills.

Hopefully the storm in my teacup was only momentary and my muse….my writing mojo will grace me with it's presence once again!  Fingers crossed.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Winners Are....

Let me introduce my niece Ellen's two adorable children, Juliette and Harvey

Eyes closed and twirling the names around before
And  now Harvey pulls the winner out of the bowl.
Though my camera blurred the name, I think you can see it is KarenG

 Olive O'Brien of Write Olive clocked in as follower 100 and KarenG of Coming Down the Mountain: From Reclusive Writer to Published Author won the copy for commenting and advertising this contest. So there you have it. Signed copies of Barbara Kingsolver books will be put into the post. Congratulations and happy reading.

On another note I want to thank Stephanie Butland from Bah! to Cancer, and the BBBB Brilliant Book Bonanza.  Stephanie picked my name from a hat or bowl and sent me a signed copy of 'Going Dutch' by Katie Fforde, which I read and thoroughly enjoyed while on holiday in Portugal. Thank you Stephanie.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


If is an obstacle,
that stands in your way,
and If it wasn’t for If,
you’d be happy today.
often recited by J. B. Nagle

I have searched the internet in an effort to discover the origin of the verse above but have been unsuccessful. So, I credit it to my Grandfather J.B. Nagle. Jackie as he was known to family and friends. If you are familiar with this verse and its origin, please let me know.

Proverbs spilled from my Grandpa's lips to suit all occasions and occurrences. "If" is a particular favourite of mine. It has stayed with me throughout my life. To this day I hear Grandpa’s voice whispering it in my ear whenever the "If" word dares to raise its head in my thought system.

What brought this to mind? I attended a Creative Writers Workshop given by Irene Graham in Glendalough, Co. Wicklow a few weeks ago. In one of the lessons she told us, every story line boils down to a proverb. For example: All is fair in love and war; To thine own self be true; All for one and one for all; Beware of Greek gods bearing gifts; Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, etc.

This concept was a revelation to me. Why had I never thought of it before? I spent yesterday searching the internet for proverb sites. There were lists and lists of proverbs to read. I smiled at some of the obscure ones. Proverbs I had not heard since my teenage years and almost forgotten. With these obscure proverbs came Grandpa, sitting in his big winged back chair beside a blazing coal fire, puffing his pipe and nodding his approval. What a sweet moment!

I now read books trying to determine the proverb. Will I use my Grandpa's verse for a story? Yes, I am sure I will. But only "If"

Monday, August 2, 2010

Stalked By A Story

Last week, I had friends in for dinner. As the wine flowed so did the conversation. Friends since school days there were reminiscences of first loves and mad capers. Remembering those, we haven’t seen in way too long and those who died way too young.

Being of a certain age, the conversation eventually turned to the triumphs and disappointments in our lives. Our worlds no longer viewed with rose coloured glasses. Each of us accepting in varying degrees life’s disappointments. Coming to terms with the glare and harshness of our individual realities. Some of us spoke too much, some too little.

As the night wore on, it suddenly dawned on me, I had written a story about my contribution to the disappointments in life, remembering I stored it on an old USB. The next day I searched for and found the USB and discovered the story. On reading it, I surmised it was a perfect example of free writing. In other words beyond terrible!!!

So, I did a bit of tweaking here and another bit there and before I knew it, I had spent the best part of the day working on it. I woke the following morning with revamped sentences rolling around in my head. I worked on replacing my passive “to be” verb sentences all day yesterday. Turning them into rip roaring active sentences. Going back to it again last night. This is how I have spent the last four days.

I woke up this morning at 5AM unable to get back to sleep due to new pesky active sentences swirling around in my head. Are they good sentences? I won’t know until tomorrow morning. I would like to leave this story, but it refuses to leave me. So I guess I just have to stick with it until those refused to be ignored pesky active sentences stop waking me up at ungodly hours in the morning.

Yes!!! Readability Statistics informs me I have 0% passive sentences in the above.
I must be learning something!