This is one of my sister’s dogs, at another sister’s house during Christmas week a few years ago.
All The Things
The lyric goes back about fifteen years. I used the chorus in my book The Company of Thieves. This is my eight attempt at a video, and I still made mistakes. But if I waited till it was perfect it would never get done. You might have to turn the sound up, it plays fine on my phone, but on the computer I have to turn it up full.
Anyway, here’s the lyric,
All The Things All the things left unsaid Swing like Sinatra Singing in a Bunny trap All the things left undone Swing just like children Silent children from a tree I believe we have been born To Live simply and with love In the world That comes to hand I have failed my body, baby, I know that I failed yours Cos this quiet life Is free of charge And costs too much to keep
The first of these quotes occurred to me when I was working on the first draft of what would become The Company of Thieves. The other two are from songs I tried to write many years earlier.
Covid has me playing guitar again, and a lack of book sales has inspired me to work on the songs, so maybe something soon.
I had no idea what this building was when I took the photo. I saw them from upstairs on a bus and liked the look of them, so I got off the bus and went back to take this shot. I put the photo into an exhibition, and it was there one day someone told me they used to be a stable.
A few months later this and some other buildings in the area were torn down to make way for apartments.
I’m calling this post Writing Advice because I said on the About page that there would be no writing advice.
Some of the best writing advice I’ve ever had came in a rejection slip. I don’t know if it was intended as advice, but it worked. The Editor said she could see how much work and creativity had gone into the book. After I got over my initial disappointment, which included a lot of ‘What the hell does that mean?’ moments, I had another look at the manuscript and discovered it was so overwritten it could be fairly described as the work of someone desperate to prove they could write.
As I write this there’s one thing that comes back to me. The protagonist, Jack Higgins, is a burglar, and in one sentence I had written ‘To Jack, burglary was an art form, and those on whom he practiced his art…’ It goes on. When I read it out loud I couldn’t believe how bad it was. The idea was fine, the expression was terrible. It took a few rewrites before I arrived at ‘the victims of his art’, much better.
I went through the entire book like that, making the language as straightforward as possible without compromising the story. In some parts I cut whole sections. When I finished I had cut about twelve thousand words. I had also turned what was a run-of-the-mill thriller into what I’m told is a literary thriller, a term I’d never heard.
Unfortunately the finished book was too short for publishers. I didn’t mind that because indie publishing was by then a serious option, so I went that way. Now if I could just figure out how to market a book that’s written for the characters instead of the reader, I might actually sell a few copies!
That book is The Company of Thieves
The wonders of chance. This is one of a number of headless statues in a quiet Dublin park. I don’t know why they were decapitated, but there must be a good story there, or at least an interesting one.
I just happened to pass at the right time on the right day.
I took this on my way home from a job interview. I didn’t get the job, but I got this. It was the only good thing in that area.
There was a tension in the air, like you could be attacked at any moment. The streets were empty, with litter the only evidence of life.
I’d been in a situation like that only once before. A theatre company I worked for in the mid nineties hosted a workshop for kids in a deprived area of Dublin. Even though I traveled in the back of the van, with no windows to look out, I knew we had entered the area because the atmosphere suddenly changed.
Once again, Day breaks in upon her Like a thief, Like a tender, nervous lover; Sets a shadow Like a veil Across Her eyes -- Her perfect body turning-- Her fragrance fills the sky-- Her lips smiling warmer than the sun Light on her skin. The needle shadow Marks her Passing through the day.