High Jinks Ensue

Type 3 web

This is a very long post and I feel it says very little. I’m telling you this now so you don’t feel diminished later on. Really, I’ve read two books that left me feeling I’d lost something by reading them. This is only a blog post, but still…

There’s definitely something to be said for taking a long time to finish a book – ok, it depends on the book, taking years to write an Agatha Christie would be a bit much, not least because she’s already written them so there’s really no point.

Anyway, I’ve been writing the book I’m currently working on for what, until today, I felt was far too long. I actually don’t remember when I started! That exclamation mark is for dear Agatha, I think she got a job lot and wanted to get her money’s worth!

I remember when I first wrote the story. It began as a movie. Through a friend I made my first Hollywood connection with an agent. Said agent would be happy to look at my work. That I had never written a screenplay didn’t matter to me. I bought a copy of some movie, I don’t remember, it was twenty years ago. 

Copying the format, I wrote the greatest movie anyone had ever written. It was the story of a has-been movie star who, attempting to revive his career, put himself up as a prize in a competition. High jinks ensue.

It was turned down as not being high concept enough to take to a studio. A few years later I nearly threw up when Win a Date with Tad Hamilton was released. That does not mean my script was ripped off, I got the idea from Tony Curtis’ autobiography in which he wrote about the time he was a prize in a competition, and, if memory serves, had to go and live with a family for two weeks.

Well, that Hollywood dream fell apart when the agent fell out with the person who had put me in touch, and I was released back into the wild.

But what I wanted to tell you about is the value of taking your time when writing. I wrote many different versions of that movie script, and even published one through Createspace. I think it even sold a copy, although many more people downloaded it for free. Sometime ago I started to turn it into a standard novel and I’m currently on the third draft.

Working on it tonight, I found myself analyzing each sentence as if it were poetry, while at the same time searching for the truth of the character. That’s not to say I didn’t do the best job I could with the books I have already out, but there’s something very satisfying about simply sitting there and looking at a sentence  that zings! (Dear Agatha) 

I don’t know how many more drafts before it’s finished, but I’m looking forward to writing them. Who knows, by the time it’s finished, I might even be able to play the violin I currently can’t even get to stay in tune.

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Me & the Movies

The Company of Thieves book cover

Trying to think of who I could send this to in the hope of getting reviews, because despite getting four stars on Barnes & Nobel and Goodreads, under a different title, I still have no reviews on Amazon, which means, of course that sales are extremely slow.

Last night I realised it is most likely to appeal to fans of Tarantino. Like his early work, at least how it appears to me, I’m of the opinion that character is plot, perhaps because I trained as an actor. You put a character in an environment and if that character is true they can only behave in certain ways. This is true whether they’re heroes or villains. And of course heroes can be villainous, villains can be heroic, everyone has private motivations that we might never suspect, and almost no one is exactly who they appear to be.

I might be mistaken when I say this would appeal to Tarantino fans. I’m not a big fan of his work, I still think Reservoir Dogs is his best movie.

Pulp Fiction is funnier but I must have missed half that movie the first time I saw it because I was laughing and looking forward to seeing it again.

Jackie Brown is a much more mature movie (say that really fast!) but I feel it’s let down by him trying to be clever.

I haven’t seen either of the Kill Bill movies and both Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained bored me, so I haven’t bothered with him since.

I’m still acting and with the movie business being what it is I might be shooting my career in the head writing all of the above, but that’s ok; I’m a stage actor! That shouldn’t be taken as snobbery, by the way, movie acting is much more difficult.

Story

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.

Writing School

 

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!

Hollowman

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
Into motion.

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.

TEACH YOURSELF TO LIVE

Street Performance

An acrobat leaps
On Grafton Street
Sculpting the air

Sculpting memory

Kindling dreams.

Online Cupid Play

 

I’ve just finished the second draft of my new play, Online Cupid. That’s right people, it’s based on my book Online Cupid. Anyway, a couple more drafts and I’ll be looking for a theatre company.

Damn!

 

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later; my books The Company of Thieves and Online Cupid were doing well in the Genre Busting category on Amazon until the March of Porn! Online Cupid is still there, The Company of Thieves is gone.

So begins the quest for a new category and visibility.

In the interest of visibility, here’s a free download of Day 1 of Online Cupid,