Que sais je?

Exactly what it says on the tin – what in the name of the big JC do I know about blogging? What does anyone care about me being a big fat narcissistic blogger?

I’ve found it tricky to sit down and blog of late mainly because I’d lost sight of the purpose. Am I screaming for attention? Is it all just an Facebooky, Twittery thingamejiggy? Look at me, look at me! Am I killing time, or more accurately, what is the important job I’m avoiding by doing this? And on, and on, and on. The inner critic never fails to be the ultimate sadist. And though I’ve been spending my days working on poetry and procrastinating royally on edits for my novel, I have missed this e-diary/blog/MEGAphone/whatever you’re having yourself.

Of course, like with all writing, the purpose and meaning takes on different elements at different times but, the constant, for me anyhow, is to write for the purpose of writing. C’est tout! The meaning will apportion itself. Your purpose is to write, so write. Let the ‘whys’ work themselves out.

Alors, now that the profound business of blog confession is off my chest, I suppose I’d better stick around and lash out a few words.

First things first, Enya is too calming for non-fiction writing, she’s being swapped for Dr. Dre. Boom!

Secondly, eating a bag of skittles and a bag of protein seed mix after a workout and right before you hit the library to get some work done is a bad idea. You will get a stupendous sugar rush followed by a mini-food coma. Just be sensible – either, or. Not both.

While I’m in the groove of imparting advice (sage that I am), my third point is that sometimes, when you’re head is as figuratively up your arse as it can possibly go, it’s ok to feel all over the shop and equally as fine to write the most highfalutin drivel you’re capable of.

I’m in one of those phases where lots of work is getting started (I actually have a list of new poems as long as my arm), nothing’s getting finished, the novel edits are giving me the middle finger and I’m feeling enormous guilt most days for enjoying writing. That sounds like a paradox of sorts, but while the process or lack of rapid progress or efficiency at procrastinating can get you in a flap, I choose to go back to the desk day after day and to some people, some ex colleagues and family members, that seems like a luxuriant choice, if not plain bordering on fanciful. How can you call writing in a library all day work? Layabout! Yada yada yada. And sometimes, I am fool enough or weak enough or just not enough to stand up to their judgements. There are times when I feel massively guilty over being able to sit and write, even if it does mean quite regularly pulling my hair out and cursing myself and questioning my ability as a writer.

It could be a good decent dose of catholic guilt that fuels this crazy disposition, or maybe it’s down to the fact that nobody drills it into us as kids that the journey of every writer is different and unique and full of their own highs, lows, haikus and prose. We are reared on a diet of ‘do x in school, get y in the exams, attend b course = succeed as an accountant’ and on and on. They don’t teach you the importance of believing in your own intuitive navigation systems. Career guidance teachers don’t encourage you to dream and keep believing until you make your dreams come true. It’s one big Myers Briggs fest, in which your metrics chart the course of your future, or so they like to tell you. Mr. and Mrs. Galileo of your future life, will push you towards a course in a DIT that carries with it the promise you’ll be another fine Quantity Surveyor like all the other Quantity Surveyors the school has turned out. Mr. Galileo will ever admit to anyone that it was always his lifelong dream to become a Quantity Surveyor, but he smiles proudly when he tells you that 17 boys and 5 girls of the past three graduating class have gone on to study Quantity Surveying in Kevin St DIT (along with their 56 classmates who are checked into ITs around the city studying accounting in some godforsaken guise or other). A chap in my class who confessed he wanted to be a Captain on a pleasure boat was referred for psychiatric help. Galileo and Galileo couldn’t get their head around anyone suggesting that a career choice could be beyond the remit of the CAO system. Thankfully, the shrink  knew a man who knew a man that had a pleasure boat company and my former classmate happily charted his course onto a pleasure boat via the therapy couch. He is now a Captain. I imagine his life of pleasure boats has been a damn sight more pleasurable that the embarrassment of QS’s and Beanies, scrambling all over the shop to count blocks and bonds on gantt charts and balance sheets.

For now, I’m sticking on course, sailing it to where it needs to take me. I may send smoke signals on this from time to time, just to show I’m still afloat.

May is here

It’s been AGES since I’ve written here, but as per my last post, jétais trés busy being sociable and maintaining a steady diet of literary talks and workshops.

I’ve offset my months and months of self-imposed solitude with a month of mayhem, and by doing so, I’ve regained balance – of sorts. I hope to carry some of that sociability through to May with me, and will continue to set aside some time for friends, and also head along to some writery events throughout the month (I’m starting a new course on the short story in the morning and did someone mention Listowel…), though nothing on the scale of April,  which didn’t see too many words written but gave way to tonnes spoken and shared and enjoyed.

From Farmleigh, to Poetry Ireland to the Gus Martin talk in UCD then Maynooth University to the Dublin Writer’s Museum stopping off at Hillsborough Festival of Literature and University of Limerick’s Writing Festival to boot, with a second trip north to Bangor for a lunch, I’ve been getting around. I’ve listened to some fantastic talks and readings and met some wonderful people en-route. I attended some kickass workshops given by the brilliant Rob Doyle and Sarah Maria Griffin in Maynooth a few weeks back, and last weekend was lucky to attend a workshop given by the amazing Doireann Ní Ghríofa up in Hillsborough. I’ve been published in another three journals. I’ve learned a lot.

BUT… it’s taken its toll, and my writing schedule flew out the window. I’ve flexed my Twitter muscle a tad too much for my liking and now feel that I’m verging on the point of grainnedaly.com:oghamstonejouranltweet-promiscuity. Working pro-bono as content creators for Twitter has become de-facto in our culture. I make it a priority to compliment people on a job well done, and if an event or a book has been good, I’ll tweet about it. I’ll like tweets that are fecking good. I’ll retweet really really good ones. I support good people trying to promote their work or those making positive contributions to the world. But at what point do the lines blur and I revert to being a social media freak? I gave up Facebook for that very reason a few years ago. It’s got a sick, obsessed sub-culture to it and I feel that Twitter is becoming more and more affected with the same undercurrent of trolling, small-minded, discourteous trolls, with nothing better to do than involve themselves with strangers via their platform of choice. I love the camaraderie of the Twitter writing community and I find that I discover a lot about events and launches and general ‘stuff’ from being on Twitter, but it’s a window through which we stare at others, invite them to stare at us. We rush to offer our opinions, are often very quick to rebut the opinion of others. I have come to the chasm at which I now embrace it and loathe it, in equal measure. It’s become a standard tool in a writer’s online presence, but there are writers who are minus Twitter accounts and if I’m very honest, I’m quite jealous of them.

Anyhow, it’s 24 degrees in Dublin, and a beautiful bank holiday Monday it is indeed. From my desk in the library, I can see a confetti of pink petals form a mat at the base of a huge cherry tree. Sometimes, it’s so nice to just slow down and take in the world at your own pace.