The Writing Life: circles, dilemmas and nuts and bolts.

What is it about teaching writing and actually writing?

It pins you down  to the real nuts and bolts of the craft – positioning you as a writer at a certain angle of the theorists and crafters. Rather like voting, you stand alongside a philosophical positioning through an admiration for personality or deed, writerly approach or book.

But like applying literary criticism to your favourite novel, this has the initial effect of temporarily alienating you from the very thing that drives you. I say temporarily because writing, this thing that drives you, is something that will never take on the position of being “other”  or being the alien a writer’s life. Even when you want it to.

It sets you off course, alarmingly so.

…to activities such as baking, eating….

And yet, in talking about writing, approaches to writing, and planning and laughing our way through ideas and short snippets of writing, the act itself is nurtured. I have more half-finished paragraphs and random words in my notebooks these days than when I was full-on writing.

But that is just it, isn’t it? The cycle of a writer’s life. And really, it is no bad thing returning to the starting line, reminding ourselves of simple and complex sentence structure, the importance of grounded, believable characterisation, the excitement of starting a new piece of work.

Indeed, as writers we are always returning to the starting line with each new work. Halloween and Day of the Dead are nearly upon us. It’s time for me to return and become engrossed in the never-ending dilemmas of writing. With notebooks, of course, in hand.

Oh, and congratulations to Michael D Higgins – the new President of Ireland – a master of words and creating worlds himself!

Evidence of Messages

I got a kitten.

And a postcard arrived. The second postcard in two weeks.

The unexpected postcard. Far South. In a place that is Far North.

Not quite in this order but it doesn’t seem to matter. It’s the movement of particles, disappearances and re-appearances of things and beings that are and then are not.

A postcard “Far South” arrives addressed to me, located far north.

Yet it is also about art and what it means to us. How lucky we are when we can freely express opinions through performance, writing and art. How unfortunate when not. And yet there are those who will fight for these rights: writers, actors, theatre companies, musicians. The freedom of expression. Freedom to be.

I can help, it says.

I dreamt of the Real and Present Theatre Company last night. And in the dream I was part of it. And I, too, was missing. I, one who can help, was also missing.

Maybe this is true. Maybe it is not.

But it seems real.

This kitten could have been put in a bag or disposed of. But it arrived, unexpectedly, out of the blue. And now it sits on my knee like it always belonged there.

And here is the proof: the kitten playing with a slipper.

Kitten and slipper



Keep The Old With The New

So, I started a fantastic novel The Far South by David Enrqiue Spellman using my Kindle (with it’s beautiful green leather cover) for the first time.

Wow. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect piece on which to try out the Kindle. The trouble is, because it is so interactive with the website (see, I actually found myself wandering, wandering back to the Internet, following the blog, searching for them on facebook. I’ve been telling friends and family about the disappearance. The book is so real that I believe it. I am, as it tells me, part of the mystery.

So I decided to try something else on the Kindle. So now I’m currently reading a book about writing on something that does not have pages, that tells me the % I am through the book (I definitely find this most annoying)…not bad, it feels nice to hold, I like the button to turn the page, the screen is relaxing on the eyes….and then I receive this:

Surprise Edgar Allan Poe Postcard

Yes, my friends, an old-fashioned-beautiful postcard. From the USA showing pictures of Edgar Allan Poe. I feel I am somehow betraying him with my Kindle. He’s watching me! A magpie lands on a wall outside then, and I’m totally spooked.

And to top it all, my daughter brings home a bird feather because…she tells me with a smile, she likes it. We talk about the bird on the postcard and she tells me the man on the card looks scary. I don’t disagree. I tell her she can read his stories when she’s older. She informs me she needs to think about this.

I remember The Far South and feel I may need to post a message on their website. There is definitely something going on here. I’m going back to The Far South. It’s real. It’s calling me. And I’m keeping my postcard in my green cover as a pretend bookmark.