The joy and frustration of writing! I started a short story to put out some new material while I work on the next novel. But it turned into a long and now I’m tempted to make it even longer. It’s the story of how I wrote my first play: Trial of the Living Dead. I hope to have it finished this week, but deadlines and me are on very bad terms.
I’ve put this sampler together while I work on the new one. As I don’t write by the yard I have no idea when it will be ready. That’s the trouble and the joy of not knowing where a story is taking you until you get there.
I called this Some Kind of Bohemia because I like the sound of it. It contains samples from Drinking in the Park, The Company of Thieves, and Online Cupid, as well as links to the freebies, Teach Yourself to Live and Examine Your Zip.
Please feel free to share this with whomever you choose.
The photograph was taken by Jelena Demchenkova and is used with permission. You can find more of her work here.
Some day I might even write a real book with this title, but for now here is Some Kind of Bohemia.
This is the cover I’ve designed for the paperback edition of my novel The Company of Thieves, just in case anyone is looking at it and wondering ‘What in the name of God is the name of yer’man’s booek?’
I know all the book blogs say to hire someone, but mine is a no budget operation.
The painting is one I made years ago and the icon is based on something I whittled in the late 90’s. I did put it on a t-shirt over at Zazzle, but as I’ve dropped my mark-up to 10%, and as that won’t go into effect for another week or so, it feels like a cheat to post it here.
Anyway, there are a few more things to do before releasing this book into the wild. Maybe the paperback will do better than the ebook and I’ll be able to buy an apartment.
Ps. Oh my Me! I’ve just been tagging this post and I realized this story is also a family saga. Maybe I should have put that in the search terms on Amazon.
Coming home on the bus yesterday a poem filled my mind. That might be a dramatic way of putting it, but still…
The poem is called Hollowman and I wrote it in 1992. I was twenty-two and my writing was full of teenaged angst. In my teens I wrote about sex I wasn’t having and politics I didn’t understand. I started writing poetry when I was twenty-one and holding myself to a higher standard I thought if I used straightforward language it couldn’t be any good. I was part of a writers group, as a rule, when I read my work, the response was silence or a considered nodding of the head. The only, let’s call it verbal feedback, came when I joined a new group; I read out a new poem, a piece I was really proud of, and someone said, ‘That’s shit.’
A few years later living in London, I was going through all my poems, I had a couple of hundred, and decided it was time to find a publisher. I didn’t submit to magazines, I suppose I thought they would never accept my work. Instead I compiled 40 poems into a book which I called Buddy, Can You Spare Me and sent it off to Henry Rollins. I never heard anything back and a few months later I left London.
As I write I remembered before London, I submitted a manuscript to Gallery Books because they were the best poetry publisher in Ireland. I knew so little at the time that I had double spaced everything!
Screaming dream machines
Collide in ecstacy,
Dreams are there to dream
Dreams are there to realise.
The dance of the Hollowman
With a beauty trip
And an empty can.
In the sudden silent stillness
We see and feel the shake,
This attracts us
And repel us
And propels us
The Hollowman can dance
And his lips can move,
But his hands are empty.
My writing has changed now, and maybe within the next year I’ll have enough poems to start submitting to magazines.
As I said before, I can’t help thinking that if I ever become a famous writer the book will turn up and be widely overpraised or over criticised, depending on the critic.
Meanwhile, here’s the freebie, what I now think of as my student work.
Here’s another snippet from the book I’m currently working on. I’m still putting it on the computer, which makes this part of the second draft.
He took another hit from the bottle and jumped, startled by the sound of his father’s voice. Frank watched the old man sit at the table of his Hollywood home.
‘That’s a grand girl you have there,’ his father said. ‘That was a grand ceremony.’ He opened a lite beer. ‘Your mother would have been proud.’ He lifted the beer bottle in toast and bowed his head. ‘Hail Mary, full of Grace, fell on the floor and broke her face.’ He put the beer bottle to his lips and tilted his head back, and then spat it out almost a quickly. ‘Jesus,’ he said, ‘that’s awful watery beer.’ He turned to Frank’s wife, Carrie, sat beside him, ‘Is this what they’re drinking in Hollywood these days?’
Carrie answered without taking her eyes off Frank. He would pay for putting her in this situation. ‘We don’t keep alcohol in the house,’ she said.
‘Apparently I have a drinking problem,’ Frank said.
‘We’re not getting into this now,’ Carrie said, ‘My daughter is asleep in the next room.
The old man laughed, ‘Shure isn’t she Francie’s daughter as well.’
Frank turned smiling in triumph to his wife, but she wasn’t there. He was back in his childhood kitchen; empty beer bottles on the table around him and a locket in his hands. He opened the locket and found the teenage Francie and Mary inside. His eyes moved from picture to picture, surfing a wave of nostalgia. Again he felt the regret that he now realized had been with him most of his life. He pushed the chair back as he struggled to his feet. He took a few steps and tripped, falling to the couch. He lay there looking at the room. Maybe he wouldn’t bother getting up. No. He had to get up. His future depended on it. Mary needed him. As he stood he dropped the locket. He tried to steady himself in order to pick up the locket. He felt, more than heard, the sound of glass breaking, and looking down as he moved his foot, he saw their faces, each in its oval and covered in a network of cracks. In his drunken melancholy he imposed a deeper meaning on this and began to cry. He looked around, not recognizing the room, but with a feeling that he was playing a role. He saw the telephone and his brows knitted together because he didn’t remember it, and for a moment he wasn’t sure what it was for.
Wind Farm. (2018) This painting is now in a private collection in Moscow, and given that I also have work in collections in New York and London, I can honestly say I’m an artist with an international career, yet such a claim could also be fairly described as nonsense. This is the first painting of mine that wasn’t sold for charity or given away. Looking at it this picture now, I’m almost sorry I sold it. As haphazard as that sky looks it took ages to get right.
Anyway, I was thinking of wind farms, these massive structures and how they are dwarfed by the landscape, and I came up with this painting.
I’ve decided it’s high time I started submitting to magazines, if only to find out how good or otherwise my work is. I call it poetry, but I’m not at all sure.
Anyway, I thought one last poetry post until I get published. So here it is, an untitled story of a bus journey.
Now to find a magazine…