Category Archives: Writing

This category is where i will enter my thoughts and comments on writing and the writing process from my point of view.

Something’s Gotta Give (FFS)

Chancelor of the Federal Republic of Germany D...

Chancelor of the Federal Republic of Germany Dr. Angela Merkel on the open door day at the Bundeskanzleramt in Berlin, Germany Français : Dr Angela Merkel, chancelière de la République Fédérale d’Allemagne, lors de la journée portes ouvertes de la Bundeskanzleramt à Berlin, en Allemagne. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When does a recession become a depression? Well, one answer to that is “when it is YOU that loses the job”.
So I am officially in a depression then.
But I am not one to give up without a fight.Oh no.
Not me.
Not now.
No way.

Settle down. make yourself a cup of coffee. This is a longish one.

I tried looking for a job and all but gave up after a couple of months due to the lack of replies. Of course I also took into account that not only am I at the wrong side of forty but I am also at the wrong side of fifty. And with so many of our graduates also unemployed, what hope is there for me? I can understand that.

So I decided to set up my own business. After all, there are bills to be paid. But hold on fella, this is a recession. Remember? So it is. But. ‘If you can make it in a recession, you will be truly successful when the inevitable upturn comes’. Isn’t that the sage advice?

So off I went. Playing to my strength’s, I set up an IT support and Web development company. Offering a good quality value-for-money service, I identified a sector that was in need of my talents. But then I discovered that they are broke in that sector. Almost all of them. A disastrous season has left them licking their wounds. And if they don’t absolutely positively HAVE to have it, they won’t pay for it. In fact many are closing down for the winter months. They might or might not reopen in March/April 2013. So back to the drawing board. Or should that be torture rack?  Now I am expanding the service offering again and spreading the net wider. Even internationally. (You would be forgiven for thinking that the state must be showering me with information on how to grow my business. But no. I did receive an offer of some mentoring and I took that up. But that’s it. The silence has been and remains deafening. Do I expect them to come to me? No but surely more could be done to foster business? Or maybe that’s just me grumbling. The fact is that the government/country is broke.)

Not only am I offering the above services to a wider, albeit destitute,  market place but I am now also promoting my photography skills. Having been a keen amateur photographer for the past thirty years, I learned the trade taking and developing slide film. Some of you may not even have ever heard of slide film before. However, if you can get it right with 35mm slides, you are more than half way there. I embraced digital photography when it was in its’ infancy and now I am the proud owner of some decent digital Canon kit, remote triggers, remote flash triggers, lighting stands, tripod, filters, lenses and my gadget bag is way too small to hold it all. I love it though. Through and through. You can see some of my work on http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkearns/ if you are really interested.

This morning, the immediate future for me looks like this:

a) Spend three days a week trying to generate business on the phone.(Must stop writing and get to it!)
b) Spend two days a week looking for jobs (it’s a time-consuming and desperately frustrating process).
c) Spend Two days a week writing. Who knows? Lee Child did it after being rendered redundant.My novel is taking a bit longer than anticipated as I struggle with trying to make a living. Sorry for the delay!

But I am not out of ideas yet either. I have reached out to people I know abroad. Specifically the USA and Canada. With some 80,000+ people leaving Ireland annually, perhaps now is just “our turn” to go. More on this anon as something could be stirring.

Whilst our politicians play softly softly with the EU (although it seems that the Angela Merkel IS the EU these days, however that happened) the reality of how hard life is here in Ireland now is constantly being downplayed/hidden.If you have a job, you are OK. But so many people turn up for work on any given day only to be told that that’s it. The game is up and the jobs are gone. It’s terribly sad but true. How far is anyone from poverty when their wages/salary is taken away? Work out your own position.Would you spend in this environment?

Some say that we need a war. Imagine that anyone could even contemplate that! War is NEVER the answer. Perhaps we should blow up all the bridges though. Now that would create employment. But seriously, something has to give. It is inevitable. What options does Ireland have if this burden of debt is not lifted? Normal trade is not taking place, retail is almost annihilated. You can’t be an entrepreneur if there is no market. No trade equals no tax equals no way out! As I see it, these are some options:

1) Leave the Euro and regain some control over our currency again. This will allow exports to boom as our prices become as cheap as china’s, creating jobs in the process.

2) Default on the country’s debts. Iceland is still there isn’t it? And that’s what they did.

3) Or we could lobby to become part of another bloc. Perhaps another state attached to the USA. Or Britain (voluntarily this time). Or Russia, China or anywhere that could stand to gain from a strategic relationship.

One thing is clear though. We desperately need a plan B, because the guy’s and gal’s in EU-land couldn’t organise a p**s up in a brewery. At least not while the party is still on.

But the people of Ireland are not revolting, I hear you say. Yes indeed. That is a charge that has been levied. I suppose that we are a nation that is seething at the moment. And make no mistake. We are seething. And the time will come when it will spill out. I believe that that time is almost upon us. Our government politicians keep telling us that the EU will look after us. A deal is tantalizingly close, they add. We all know that we can’t continue like this. Our society is being held together by the thinnest of threads. Every time Frau Merkel pronounces that any aid will not be applied retrospectively to troubled countries, our rulers hastily contrive a follow up clarification statement with her which is usually of the ethereal kind,;lacking in substance, buying time, staving off the revolution.

But for how much longer.

Some say (OK, it was Merkel) that Ireland’s problems were created by ourselves. So much for not generalising. Our banks loaned lots of money to lots of people. But where did the Irish banks get the money? From the German/French/USA banks, amongst others. Where was the “due diligence” there? Applying the same logic then, those countries also created the problem. Yet the entire population of Ireland has been left alone to carry the burden. And what did the Irish people do with the money? They had the temerity to believe that they could enjoy a good lifestyle. Perhaps buy a place in the sun. (Someone should make a TV programme…oh wait.) In short, we thought that we were as good as anyone else in the developed world. And we were. We were.Until the crushing debt of the state being told that they MUST take on the debts of the failed banks, transforming private debt (for banks) into sovereign debt and thereby crushing both the state and the people. All to protect the Euro and the states who had loaned to Irish banks. To protect the pension funds of Europe.
This is not austerity. Call it what it is. This is madness! The Irish government has already raided the pension funds of the Irish people. Are they buying time or postponing the inevitable? So long as it affects someone else, it appears to be OK in certain parts of Europe.

And don’t mention the war. The Germans have paid for that already, haven’t they?  It’s a thing of the past and we must move on. Yet Germany was rebuilt and would not be the so-called “powerhouse” of Europe today but for that. And the whole concept of a European Economic Community was an attempt to avoid a recurrence of the wars that ravaged us all during the early 20th century by bringing us all together. I see a distinct lack of any sense of “community” at present. A lack of “we’re in this together”.Where is the vision of the future now? Utopia has become Dystopia.
And while factions in Greece and Spain have already turned to violent demonstration, I believe that when timid Ireland does likewise, the game is up.

A lot is at stake and not just for Ireland. I sincerely hope that we make it. Hope. The maddening thing is that this whole mess is man-made. The world is still spinning. The seasons come and go. It’s our perspective that has changed.

I am not done yet. Not by a long shot. I am not (listed as) unemployed as I am self-employed.
But I thought that I would play my part in letting the world know what life in Ireland is really like now. Please excuse the rant and my wordiness. I have forms to fill out.

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Filed under Bailout, Irelands Bailout, That's Life, Writing

Seasoning

April came and went and the promise of summer was eagerly anticipated by all. Farmers studied the skies, pointedly looking west around sundown for any sign of the elusive ” shepherds delight”.
The monthly hope gradually morphed into a weekly fascination with the long-range forecast. TV presenters regularly carried the bad news. No change yet. By the middle of July, the frustration of the populace was palpable. It couldn’t be another year without a summer, could it? ‘What about the dolphins?,’ said one. ‘Didn’t your man say that the dolphins had arrived early into Dingle, signifying a good summer?’ Clearly no one had told the dolphin’s about their role.
Another said ‘Wasn’t there that New Zealand expert who said that the weather would pick up in mid-June? Whatever happened to his super-accurate sure fire guaranteed, scientifically-backed statistical prediction thing?’
Indeed.
Each year brings a new omen. Steeped in mythology, bad science or a mixture of both.
But year after year after year, one thing remains consistent.
No matter what happens during the so-called summer months.
Come September, autumn gets a grip. Not just some hint at what is to come. Oh no. Without fail, The cold seasons arrive bang on time.

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Autointerview (Part 1)

For the purposes of this interview, the interviewer will be represented by bold text whilst my reponses will be in italics (Spoken by Jack Bauer – You get the drift)

Good morning. It’s nice to finally meet you and may I start by thanking you for taking time out of  your busy schedule to talk to us about your writing career to date. Let me cut straight to the questions that are on everyone’s mind; please share with us what your typical day is like?

Yes, well, good morning to you too. My typical days consists of rising at 7:30am and preparing to go to my day job. This is Monday to Friday of course.

At this time of year, it is dark then isn’t it?

Oh yes. Quite. And cold too. It can be difficult to get out of a nice warm bed and go foraging for breakfast. After a light breakfast of cereal and tea, it is time to either hit the shower or wash the hair. It wakes me up for the day ahead.

What are your day-job working hours?

9am to 5:30pm. This means that I am missing from home between 8:30am and 6pm generally.

And what do you work at?

I am an IT professional. This means working on Servers, networks, hardware, software etc.etc.

At this stage of your career, would I be right in suggesting that you are expert? There is nothing more to learn?

Not at all. The very nature of IT means that it is constantly changing. In the last few months I have had to get up to speed on Linux (CentOS and Debian), become proficient on Asterisk, an open-source telephone system, SAMBA – a file sharing technology for exchanging files between Windows and Linux/Unix, Programming in a new language and installing and configuring Linux based Servers. To mention a few.

That sounds terribly technical.

It is. It has been challenging but I am happy with my progress. Nothing has beaten me yet.

That effort must come at a price. I mean, how ever do you find the time to write?

Indeed it does. My passion is writing but I find that by the time I get home in the evening, I am generally exhausted. Mentally more so than physically.

And your writing?

Well, it suffers. It has to. Ideally I would like to write between 9am and 5pm. Turn my working day around. But there is the mortgage to think of. And other bills. Without a job, my lifestyle would collapse.

How does that make you feel?

Slightly peeved, I must admit. Actually, it is very frustrating. When I sit down to write, I am either so tired that the effort required seems to be beyond my reach or I am trying to grab a slice of time to do it. Time that is required elsewhere.

What do you mean by ‘elsewhere?’

I am involved as a director of two small companies, neither of which is doing particularly well. But I don’t want to dwell on them. Suffice to say that I am now in the process of simplifying my life. I realise that writing is what I most want to do and I know that I need to make some changes, get some breathing space, in order to fulfil my dream.

So you are doing all that AND holding down a full time job?

Yes

You have mentioned in your blog that you are working on your first novel ‘Schism’. Can you tell us something about that? How is it progressing? What is it about?

‘Schism’ is a pet collection of ideas of mine that I have had for some years now. It is a story that encompasses many of the enduring subjects that I am interested in. However, I would rather not get into the specifics of the story. I think it was Stephen King who gave the advice that a writer should not tell anyone about a story that they are writing until it is finished as otherwise, the need to tell the story dissipates through that telling.

This was in his book ‘On Writing’ I think. So when do you think that you will finish it?

I used to think that I would have it finished by December 2011. That hasn’t happened. In fact, I am very, no extremely, disappointed that I did not get to write as much as I would have wanted to last year. Not by a long shot. I don’t really want to put an end date on it as it is so inextricably linked with the time to write, and time is the main ingredient that I am short of at the moment.

So do you see yourself getting more time soon?

Indeed I do. I will be able to devote my full time effort to writing in 2014.

Do you feel bitter about this lack of time?

Not bitter. No. I would love to win the lottery or have an alternative income stream that would allow me the luxury to do nothing but write right now. But I am not complaining of my lot. I am happy that my story is strong. And it is a story that I would gladly read but there is nothing else out there quite like it that I am aware of.

It has been said that a writer must make the time to write. Are you making enough of an effort?

Perhaps not. I do wrestle with that one. I am aware of this and I believe that routine is the writers best friend. I think though that for me, it goes back to simplifying my life. I am trying to do too many things at once. That has to change. I also did try and write early in the morning. I used to get up at 5:30am and write until 7:30am. It worked but it was so very hard. I was writing in a shed and it got too cold during the winter months. I now have an indoor office to write in but it is not my own space exclusively and every time I go into it, it is a bit of a mess. I need to have somewhere permanent, I think.

Your home is a reasonable size. Could you not make a space there for yourself?

My wife has allocated the space I currently have. She does not see that there is room elsewhere in the house. It’s not an ideal situation, I know. I am sure that when I free up some of my time and the book progresses significantly, things will change. I am sure they will.

That’s kind of a chicken and egg situation though, is it not?

–          No answer –

Moving on, we have discussed where and when you write. Next I would like to explore where you get ideas from and what you do with them when they come.

(TBC)

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Autointerview

Well, you have heard of autobiography.

I am putting the finishing touches (who am I kidding…I am just starting) to my autointerview. The one where i interview myself.
Posing the answers to the questions I would like to have answered by other writers, I think that it will be an interesting snapshot of where I am as a writer right now.

Expect the finished article shortly.

 

If you have any suggestions for questions that you would like to have answered by ANY writer, please do let me know.

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Writing again – Schism novel

January 2nd 2012. I am writing again. Continuing on from where I left off.
WIth lots of new ideas that have had time to be worked into the story.

Gotta go!

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Holiday Reading

I have just recently returned from holidaying in beautiful Mojacar in Spain.

Fab weather, fab food and three weeks of reading at the beach.
In all, I managed to complete six books and start a seventh.

Nobody True by James Herbert. – I didn’t like it. The author blurb claims that he is one of the best. I wanted to read the genre and see what I thought. Now I know. But lots of others like it.

The Reversal – Michael Connelly – Enjoyed it, but I am a fan.  Nonetheless, I was left feeling that justice had not entirely been done. Not a spoiler.

The Fifth Witness – Michael Connelly – The premise seemed dull enough, to be honest, but this is a Michael Connelly so I got stuck in. Liked it. Another funny ending. But that’s what makes life interesting.

Every Dead Thing – John Connolly – This is JC’s first outing. It was a bit hard to get into, with the style flitting backwards and forwards in time, managed by the use of italics. But I liked it. I will read the series.

Persuader – Lee Child – Another in the Jack Reacher stable. The series is very readable. You get exactly what it says on the cover. I am working my way through the series.

Pompeii – Robert Harris – Enjoyable, especially having formerly visited Pompeii. A good telling of life as it was through the eyes of an aquaduct engineer, a wealthy freed slave, a roman military commander and scientist and a young roman woman. Enjoyable.

And now I am back to writing, of which I did a considerable amount in long hand on the beach.

 

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I Purchased A Kindle

The summer holidays are fast approaching and this brought into sharp focus the limitations of Ryanair’s baggage allowances. How many tomes would be needed to get through the absolutely necessary down time on the beach? And how many bags would be needed to transport them there? (Note, not back. They are on a one way trip.)

The need for a Kindle was at last realised.

I am not necessarily a fan of reading on electronic devices but the benefits, on this occasion, appear to way surpass any pitfalls.

So I will try the device and see if I change my mind.

One of the immediate oddities, for that is what I shall call it NOW, is the wealth of authors whom I have never heard of, being bestsellers on the Kindle.

As potentially I could be one of these in the future, I will definitely give them a try.

 

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Marching on

Sitting in the welcome wan warmth of a mid-morning march sun.
I took a turn in the road of life last Wednesday. And I am happy.
Breathe.
Inhale.
Pause.
.
.
Exhale.
Still happy.
More anon.

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Scrivener – Word Processor For Writing Now On PC

As a veteran PC user, I have never possessed a Mac. For the most part, this has caused me not even the slightest distress.
However, when I started taking my writing seriously I increasingly came across references to the Mac-only word processing software called Scrivener (pronounced scriv-en-er).  Not having access to a Mac, I did not get to see what was so special about it . Deep down, I always suspected that I might be missing out on something. However, in the absense of Scrivener, I have used PageFour as a recommended alternative to Scrivener on the PC. This software has stood me well but still it seems to lack a certain something.

Recently, I became aware that a PC version of Scrivener is nearing completion. In fact it is in Beta test now. You can download and try it free of charge by clicking here . What you get is a time limited trial and in return the creators of Scrivener welcome feedback on the software. It is well worth the download if you are a PC user who would like to try this software.

Having downloaded the Beta, I am currently testing / using it to see what it has to offer. My initial impression, following the short introductory video, is that this is a very exciting piece of software for writer’s using Personal Computer’s. There are some really exciting ways to organise writing material, whether it be a Novel, a Screenplay or a long research piece.  It includes some excellent templates that show, for example, the proper layout for a novel to be submitted to a publisher. I intend to give further impressions as I familiarise myself with the product.

I am looking forward to using Scrivener and I could well be a convert when the full commercial version is released early in 2011.

Why not try it yourself and let me know how you get on? I’d love to hear.

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The End Of The Paper Book?

The end of the paper based book has been mooted  by many over the past few weeks and months. This has largely been based on the perceived rise of devices like the iPad and the Kindle, to name but two and the availability of eBooks on Amazon etc. Sales figures have been released to show the growth in the eBook versus paper based “hard” books. As a technologically savvy human, I have to admit that I love my gadgets. But I also love books. I want to share with you some of the reasons why I believe the death or demise of the “hard” book has been grossly overstated.

  • The advantage of having a book in your hand are difficult for any power consuming, electronic device to improve upon.
  • You can give a gift of a book to anyone. You do not have to consider whether they possess a device to interpret it. Once they can read, the “platform” is built in.
  • You can pass a book on to a friend / partner. Share the love. Increase the appreciation. Drive the next sale!
  • Books speak to you and to others. They integrate with your personality. A cherished book is something that I am proud to display on my shelf. It speaks to me and to those who only read the title on the spine. They make a statement about you and show you are a person of taste.
  • Books are just so damned convenient. Read them in bed, in the loo, on the train / boat / plane (and you don’t have to turn it off during take-off and landing. That really gets me. Just when I need distracting too!)
  • Books have mass market appeal that is unlimited to
  • There is no technology to go wrong – nothing to get in the way of reading where and when you want. No dead batteries. No fragile displays. They are robust and simple. They work and have been proven to work for generations. If we went to an all electronic system, imagine the problem that a future generation might have if we were to catastrophically, dinosaur-like, disappear from the earth. What is a CD then only a piece of plastic? What is a kindle / iPad without power? Same thing. Can I rest my case yet? No? OK then…
  • Books have a certain “je ne sais quoi”. No, truthfully, je sais quoi! They have a touch and feel to them that enhance the reading experience.
  • Don’t simulate to stimulate. I like the sound of that. I hope you get the meaning. Technology is a simulation of the real thing. No need to simulate. The real thing works fine, thanks.
  • Books are like old friends and companions – they bring reassurance and a feeling of familiarity. Is it OK if I just say I like them!
  • They can act as furniture or an accessory to a home. Look at any bookshelf or bookcase to see that this is so.
  • They can be used to prop up a table with a gammy leg or to hold a door open. Who would risk doing that with an iPad or Kindle?
  • They are tactile. Dog ears, like them or loathe them, they are easily done. Turning a page feels good. Slow but inexorable progress towards the end. You can sense the end of a good book and slow down to make it last 🙂
  • They are reasonably cheap and can be very cheerful. Get lost in the world of words and escape to a comfortable familiar place, anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
  • Care free escapism – you might not like to lose a book but it’s way better than losing an iPad!
  • Books are accessible to the masses. Either by virtue of the price or through libraries.

So there. That is why I don’t believe that the paper based book will disappear anytime soon. I may be wrong but something tells me that I won’t be.

 

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