Jampa Ling, my heart's home and Buddhist Centre retreat, has worked its magic as always. Here for the month of May,I have already completed the script I started a good while ago and couldn't finish. I'm very excited about this. It feels magical. Will be sending it off to agent (Marianne Gunn O'Connor), manager in Hollywood (Barry Krost) and a few producers I know. Then I am heading off for the Camino to go on pilgrimage - ticking off a major bucket list item - and leaving my work in the hands of destiny (and various professionals).
Despite the fact I have been on the move for some time, wandering here and there, I've managed to read a slew of books. Last weekend I read Agnes Grey (Anne Bronte was definitely not as great a writer as her sisters Emily and Charlotte) and The Children Act (interesting read but neither compelling nor memorable, in fact the ending is predictable melodrama). A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is definitely the most astonishing work I've read in years. Eimear McBride, in this first novel, has out-Joyced Joyce, using stream of consciousness effortlessly and without artifice to best reflect her character's voice. It is agonising to read. Inserted firmly inside the protagonist's mind, the reader cannot escape the nightmare of this young woman's life. I was grief-stricken and traumatised by the end but do not regret reading the book. Since I'm planning to go on the Camino Santiago I tried to read Shirley MacLaine's Camino but it was just too barmy for me (and that's saying a lot as I do like barmy). Can't remember now what else I've read. Stay tuned.
I thought that my voyage had come to its end,
at the last limit of my power,
that the path before me was closed,
that provisions were exhausted,
and the time come to take shelter
in silent obscurity. But I find
that Thy will knows no end in me,
and when old words die out on the tongue,
new melodies break forth from the heart;
and where the old tracks are lost,
new country is revealed with its wonders.
I haven't blogged for a while. Indeed I haven't written anything for a while. Yes, I've been on one of those long voyages through the dark. (Is it getting harder the older I get or does it just feel that way?) I'd be lying if I said I wasn't set back by People of the Great Journey's lack of success in the world. A blow to my self-belief, confidence and love of writing. But this wonderful book by Steven Pressfield, which a younger writer sent to me recently, admonishes me for that reaction. At the very least, Pressfield points out, failure in art still puts you in the arena as opposed to the sidelines, stands or parking lot! Giving up is quite simply unprofessional and a surrender to that insidious evil Resistance. So it's time to get back on the horse. Get back to work. Here's a relevant quote from Goethe found in the book: Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.
I've just finished my annual reading of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Yes, as always, I wept for Tiny Tim. I love this story. It is beautifully written, the characters are wonderful - indeed mythic! - and the tale always puts me in the Christmas spirit. The illustration on the left is from the first edition, by artist John Leech. I'd love to see a copy of that work. Meanwhile, I am slowly but surely getting sorted for the day. The ham has been ordered as my sister does the turkey; the tree is up, being the real thing and quite lovely; and Finn has made delicious egg nog while I've made mulled apple punch. There are still cards to be written and presents to be bought - upcoming trips to Dublin and Powerscourt House will clinch the latter - and then I can put my feet up, ready to enjoy the big day. May I wish you all a very happy Christmas and Yuletide season.
Went to see this amazing play the other night at the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire. It is based on the terrible story of the young woman who was fatally raped and beaten on a bus in Delhi some years back. A story that shocked the world. At first I didn't want to go. Strange, perhaps, given that I've dealt with similarly painful issues in People of the Great Journey. But books are not as immediate as theatre and you can always close them when they get too hard to handle. You're stuck in your seat in a theatre. No exit. I'm glad I got up the courage to go. It's a stunning piece of human rights activism and art. Compelling. Distressing. Beautiful at times.
Not long back from a week-long residency in an artist's retreat in County Kerry called Cill Rialaig. The brain-child of the amazing Noelle Campbell Sharpe, it is a restored famine village - all stone houses! - overlooking beautiful Ballinskelligs Bay. All around us, mountain and field with sheep, before us a stretch of blue water dotted with islands. Ahhhhhh. I got to work on my latest novel The Magdalene, a book I started 25 years ago and have finally returned to! It is incredibly complicated and I needed to lay down plot time-lines and character chronologies while wrestling the structure into shape. Done and dusted! As the summer solstice occurred while I was there, I got a decent bonfire going and called out the other residents to enjoy it. Made several wonderful new friends, a Finnish visual artist Sirpa Pyykko, an American poet Jodie Hollander and an American visual artist Kathy Kissik. We've all agreed to meet up again, possibly in a retreat somewhere in Finland. If you pop over to my regular blog you'll see a few pics of nearby Skellig Michael, a place that was on my bucket list and I finally got to see. All in all, a brilliant week that also included jumping into the pristine, freezing-cold, glorious sea.
I was born in Ireland and grew up in Toronto, Canada with my seven sisters and two brothers. Left home at seventeen to live in a commune, then headed off across Canada with my pal, Carole, and we hitch-hiked around California for months, then back up to Vancouver(Van as we called it then) and across Canada with two more pals, Linda and Peggy. A year later, headed off to Malaysia and Borneo with Jeunesse Canada Monde/Canada World Youth for a year. Baik-lah! Back home, went to Trinity College at the University of Toronto (posh blokes) while also joining the Canadian Naval Reserve as an Officer Cadet. Trained on the east and west coasts of Canada every summer. Great fun. Then what? Hmm. Started to write books, dodgy personal life (that's personal but let's just say it's been a long time between drinks) started to wander around the world, had a darling daughter, settled down in Ireland, wrote more books.