Please go to my new site!
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that had received much positive publicity. It was about a situation that was close to my heart. The characters sounded wonderful. It was a romance and I do like a well-written romance. The papers all unanimously wowed it. I bought the book.
It starts a little slow, I’m not madly caring about the female character, but I will forgive a couple of pages once the romance gets going. Ah, here we are: our male protag flies in on a plane. Reader, it takes nine pages for the pilot to put that plane down on the ground. I’ve been in actual landings that are way shorter. I must say, he is very aware of the sensation of being on a plane. I can honestly say I have never thought so much about how my feet and bowels felt upon landing as he does. No passing detail or observation is spared.
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Yesterday, I had a moment of uncertainty about my writing. The usual questioning and fear and stuff. To distract myself, I picked up a book that did not belong to me and which I would never normally read; it was called How to Get Rich by a man called Felix Dennis, who is very rich indeed.
Mr Dennis’s style is refreshingly different. His bluntness alarms and disarms in equal measure. By the end of the book, the reader has some idea of what made him rich, but would nearly prefer to be poor. But it was the chapter I started reading that had the quote that really resonated for me as a writer in progress.
He talks about an acquaintance of his whom he calls “Albert”. Albert is, Dennis admits, his intellectual superior, more perceptive, a better writer and probably a better businessman. Yet he seems to be Midas in reverse – everything he touches turns to dog doodoo and he is dogged by endless bad luck. Dennis then wonders why Albert is so unlucky and comes up with the following conclusion.
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I’m still distressed and bothered about this. Background here and in my two posts “The Mathemagician’s Tears” and “Delenda est Carthago”.
Comments on moderation if you haven’t commented before, but I’ll approve as quickly as possible.
I’d just like to know there are others out there who feel the same way, even after the passing of time. So please leave a comment. Or honk your horn loudly, that will do too
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The “physical” being a necessary identifier since I spend more than enough time wanging on about writing and mental health, to the effect that a deficiency in the latter helps enormously with the former, but anyway.
I am just going into another writing cycle after the high of the Novel Fair, and have battened down the hatches for a demanding time. Tonight I had planned to continue from the scene rewrite last night, delete a whole lot of stuff and reframe some of the following scenes in light of what I had just written.
Except today I find that I have to deal with a health issue which was inhibiting enough to force me to leave the office.
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Yesterday, from 10.30 to 4 I went to the Irish Writers Centre with nine other novelists and pitched my novel almost non-stop to 14 publishers and agents in the industry. It was wonderful, exciting, overwhelming. When I got home that evening I went straight to bed and slept for several hours. (The three glasses of Prosecco I had afterwards courtesy of the IWC probably helped in that regard!)
It was an amazing privilege to speak about a dream that in Yeats’s words, “had all my heart and love” to luminaries in the Irish and English publishing industry. Each one of us novelists sat at a table and waited for the next publisher or agent to come around and when they did I would hand them my bio and, if they wanted to hear it, do the elevator pitch. If it happened that my particular elevator travelled five floors rather than one, I don’t think they held it against me – they were all really nice And also it was good to hear from the publishers about their own plans and what they wished to envision, as well as what interested the agents.
The people who spoke to us that day – publishers: Penguin Ireland (Patricia Deevy); New Island (Eoin Purcell); O’Brien Press (Michael O’Brien); Hachette Ireland (Ciara Doorley); Liberties Press (Clara Phelan); Lilliput Press (Sarah Goff); Transworld Ireland (Eoin McHugh/Brian Langan); Picador (Paul Baggaley) – agents: Ger Nichol from the Book Bureau; Faith O’Grady from Lisa Richards; Marianne Gunn O’Connor; Jonathan Williams; Sheila Crowley from Curtis Brown.
The previous Saturday, we had a talk in the IWC about what to expect. This was facilitated by Anthony Glavin, crime novelist Arlene Hunt and Niamh Boyce, who secured a publishing deal as a result of taking part in last year’s Fair. Anthony, one of last year’s judges, told us what worked in a novel and what he would have been looking for. Niamh explained what it entailed, advising full printing of partials for all and she was absolutely spot-on in her advice as partials went flying out. (In my bio – a separate page with picture and writing CV – I also added a public dropbox link in case people preferred the electronic option) Arlene was wonderful – she made us all pitch on the spot and provided invaluable advice on how to structure the pitches. I took everything she said on board.
The Irish Writers Centre, ably staffed by June Caldwell and Clodagh Moynan as well as Gareth, covered the day very ably and efficiently. The all-important bell when the fifteen-minutes for each session was up made it very structured and well-organised. Food was on hand when needed, and at the end of the day, drink too!
By the end of it my head was in ribbons, but I also realised what a unique opportunity this is. I don’t know of anything like this anywhere else. And I realise how incredibly lucky I am to have been able to take part on a day like this and meet people you would normally as a writer never meet face to face. I would recommend 100 per cent that anyone seriously working on a novel enter this competition – and I’m very grateful to the Irish Writers Centre and the publishers and agents for making it possible. No matter what happens, it was so beneficial to be there; the experience itself was an enormous boost to my self-confidence even if I was wracked with nerves beforehand!
But – the fourth draft in full must still be honed. There is work still to be done. As a friend of mine said to me on the phone – yesterday was a victory, today is a day of rest. And tomorrow – back to work on the MS!
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I have just learned today that our Taoiseach (leader) Enda Kenny has failed to issue a full, official apology for State collusion in the incarceration of women in Magdalene laundries from the foundation of the Irish State to the mid-Nineties.
Rather than comment on this decision of his directly, I would like to reproduce some notes I made when I took part in a march for solidarity with victims of institutional abuse in 2009. I haven’t previously made these public and have only slightly tidied them up.
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