Saturday, July 31, 2010

I still dream of smoking

Hmm...ok, this is a test post as much as anything, as I'm aiming to set it to post over the weekend when I won't be online. So...hopefully it does!

I still dream of smoking, like the title says.

I gave up almost 5 months ago now - soon as I found out about being pregnant.

In a way that made it easier - I didn't have a choice about giving up, the way I put it to myself. Harming myself is one thing, but I really didn't want to harm my child. So I quit.

Soon after quitting I started having mad dreams about smoking. One of the scariest and most vivid involved being shot at, and getting away from the shooters, then stopping for a cigarette - which I justified on the grounds of "well, I've been shot at - that's a bad enough thing to have happened to make it ok for me to smoke now".

Strange, the way the mind works. I dreamed of smoking last night as well, though nothing so frightening thankfully.

Your brain definitely plays tricks on you when you're fighting an addiction. I mean, I woke up from that dream months ago almost wishing I had been shot at, because somehow my justification logic for smoking in that situation seemed sound. Also, I think the grumpiness that comes with being off the fags is a trick of the brain too. Your brain wants you to fight with your friends and family, so you'll feel upset, and reach for that common crutch - a cigarette. You create a scenario that is plausibly upsetting enough to justify smoking again.

Manipulated by my own mind. A scary thought. Is my consciousness or subconscious self the one in control?

At least I've managed to stay off them so far. I like being healthier, I like knowing I'm not giving an as yet unborn baby a nicotine addiction, among a long list of other health benefits to not smoking while pregnant.

I think I'll always be an addict though - I'll always have the odd craving. I'll just have to fight them off one at a time.

Friday, July 30, 2010

What I'm working on...

So, Friday rolls around again...

What have I been working on for the last week? Well, I spent some time updating this blog.

I've also been working on a sort of serial killer piece. In first person, about a character who delights in her evil. That was difficult, as I had to get inside her head, and since I was working on it yesterday as that story about the woman in France who killed her babies was breaking...well, as I say - it was difficult. Sometimes reality is even more gruesome than fiction.

Then there's an idea that came to me while walking the dogs one day this week - about an old married couple who have grown apart somewhat. I suppose that'd be classified as literary.

I also had another idea, about a woman who is trapped...I have started it, but it may be too similar to my Just the Dust story which appears in Casting Shadows. Still, I may be able to do something with it.

I've also been tweeting and mentioning on here and on facebook about Stitched Up, the House of Horror anthology which will feature one of my stories. Yup, that's me mentioning it again!

I've been writing a few funny/silly little poems as well. Not sure where to submit them to, so you never know - I may post one or two on the blog!

It's a bank holiday weekend so that means time with friends and family - not a whole lot for writing, probably. Though I do have Folded Word 24/7 coming up. I have to write a piece a day for that, starting on Sunday. Still. I never go anywhere without my notebook anyway!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beware custom layouts

I used to have a layout for my blog from some site that offered them for free.

It was great - looked pretty cool, in the colours I wanted.

One problem though - comments. People couldn't make them. They'd click the 'comment' button and absolutely nothing would happen. There are also layouts that screw up the word verification stage, so that there is no box in which to input the captcha text unless you click like mad immediately after hitting the comment button.

 One person who has kindly started following my blog, and commented on it, has a blog layout that won't let me comment. I would comment on yours in return, but your layout is making it impossible. My advice is to try the new layouts from blogger as they don't screw up the coding and you can still customise them all you want - it's what I did. After all, it's fun to know you're being read!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why do I write?

Been reading Curious Pursuits by Margaret Atwood, a collection of, as she puts it, Occasional Writing - that is, writing for occasions. She's one of my all time favourite writers, has been since I read The Handmaid's Tale when I was 14 or 15. I love her way with words, though it makes me feel hopelessly inadequate as a writer myself, sometimes. Curious Pursuits gave me some hope in this regard though. Not because her way with words is anything less than usual, but because I get more of a sense of the person behind the author.


In Curious Pursuits she addresses at one stage, the question "Why do you write?" It is one of the hardest for a writer to answer. W. Somerset Maugham said, "We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to". It is probably the best answer to the question. Nevertheless, there are as many different answers as there are writers. I feel compelled to think about it, and try to answer it, myself.

Why do I write?

I write because if I didn't, the ideas in my head might find a less benevolent way to manifest themselves. Such as schizophrenia.

That may sound flippant, but it isn't meant like that. Trust me, I've seen mental illness up close. Creativity and madness are often described as two sides of the same coin, or divided by only a narrow line, and both analogies seem quite fitting. I write because there are stories inside my head that have to get out, somehow. There always have been. I've been making up stories since I was a small child. I had many imaginary friends, and even when I was really young, I sort of knew they were imaginary - that they didn't exist anywhere but inside my head.

By putting them down on paper (or screen), they end up existing in the heads of other people as well.

I write, therefore, to share my madness with the rest of the world.

That's a nice thought for the day, isn't it?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So, Stitched Up, the anthology one of my stories will appear in, can be pre-ordered from the House of Horror bookshop. If you do order a copy, please mention my name while ordering it, it helps me! 

Also, I've spent some time creating a page, Publication Credits, which features information and links on all my published stories and poems to date. Have a look! You can click the link in this post, or the tab at the top of the page.

While you're there you can also click Poems or Short Stories to read any poems or short stories which I have published here on this blog and can therefore be read for free!

Solitude and Silence

I have a strange personality. At times I come out of tests as introverted, others as extroverted. There are occasions when I will ignore a ringing phone or knock at the door if at all possible, and other times when I crave company and conversation.

What is even more interesting about that is that I learned earlier this year in psychology that introversion and extroversion are actually created by brain processes. Introverts have a high level of cortical arousal, meaning they seek out silence, while extroverts have low levels of cortical arousal and therefore seek out company, noise and excitement. Is my brain moodier than the rest of me?

When writing though, I am definitely in introvert mode. Ultimately I think I swing more in that direction. I can be sociable, but it takes more effort, even when I want it, then being alone. There are so many things I can do when I'm alone. As many things as there are ideas in my head or books on my bookshelf. Writing and reading suit solitude and silence. Sometimes I like music on in the background, but frequently I'll forget to change the CD when it finishes. I'm barely even aware of it, and I tend to concentrate better on writing at least without it being on at all.

No distractions. The dogs can bark and I'll barely hear it, though at other times I'd find the noise ear-splittingly loud. The cat can go unfed, for all that she whines about it - also quite vociferously, I might add, she has a hell of a miaow for one so small.

There are always distractions, if I seek them out. I have an email notifier, and as well as the daily emails from various mailing lists, organisations, etc, as well as those from friends, and prospective editors, I have facebook and twitter set up to email me whenever someone sends me a private or direct message. When I'm trying to force myself to write (or more often, to edit something I've already written) these distractions do just that. Distract me. When I'm in a truly creative flow though, nothing can interrupt. Little flashes on the screen or noises - I hardly even notice them, and they soon go away.

When really writing, I seek silence and solitude.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ah, validation...

Yes, I know that as writers, we write because we have to write. Because there's a story inside that needs to be told.

But inside, many of us...certainly me, are insecure creatures in need of validation and ego-stroking. So validation in the form of an email that reads "yes I would like to publish your story" or some variation thereof is always particularly welcome. I write because I want to write, but that doesn't mean I don't like to be told I'm good at it, from time to time!

Yesterday evening, I received such an email. I'm going to have a story in the House of Horror's Stitched Up Anthology. It's a tale of zombie-type creatures, and it's called White Christmas. I can't wait to see more of my work in print!

So funny how one acceptance can make a ton of rejections seem suddenly insigificant. There's a psychological term for that. I can't remember what it is though, because I'm in such a good mood!

Friday, July 23, 2010

What I'm working on...

Friday again....time for an update!

Last week I had a few projects on the go.

I still haven't gone near the fantasy epic. 

On the other hand, I did manage to finish the time travel paradox story. Well, sort of. I'm not really happy with it, so I think I need to go and start it again. There's potential there, it'll just need more revisions than I'm used to - which I suppose is normal for a time travel paradox story. I figure it needs to be either longer too, to justify the time I spent on character development at the start, or shorter in which case I need to cut that stuff out and bring it down to the bare bones.

Plenty more rejections, which have mostly been chronicled throughout the week - well, some of them have anyway. There were more than I moaned about on here! Oh well. Logged them all on duotrope and got on with resubmitting. One more to resubmit somewhere later today. At least one of the rejections was constructive and personal - they'd clearly actually read the story but just decided it wasn't for them. That's ok. I don't mind that.

I've also signed up to participate in Folded Word 24/7  next month. Check the link for more info - basically I have to write either prose or poetry, short, micro or flash, every day in August. I figure I should participate in this sort of writing challenge while I still have time as once study starts again in September I'll be pretty busy and then in November....

I have a vague idea for an article so I should make a start on that (it'll probably just end up as a post here) and I did start another story yesterday, but I have no idea yet where it's going. I do know that it's quite dark, though that should come as no surprise!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A poem - Self.


Form in my eyes.

Fly around my mind.

And yet somehow solid.

Of self endures.

Yet I continue.

Cracked but not broken.

Another old one. From the days when I used to use poetry to help heal mental health.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mirror - A short story

Yes, yes. She is so pretty, because I am so pretty. She thinks it’s the other way around.

I watch her as she stands there, preening herself. Fixing her hair. My hair. Styling it the way she wants it. Yes, she has power over me. I admit that. But I have power too. I am everywhere, watching her. Every mirror, every piece of glass. Everything shiny. She only sees me when she looks at me, when she thinks she is looking at herself. But I see her all the time. There is never a time she is not reflected in something.

I exist. She exists. Her advantage is that she can move freely in a world I only every catch glimpses of. My advantage is she does not know I exist. If she was gone then I too would be gone. And yet if I was gone, she too would be no longer. We are tied to each other.

I hate her. I desire her life. And yet even if I could kill her, destroy her, make it so she did not exist…then I too would not exist. So I must find another way.

Sometimes she stares at me so deeply I wonder if she does not understand there is more to me. And then I realise she is not staring at me. She sees only herself. Perhaps that is the key. She is vulnerable in these moments. She wants to be different. Perhaps there is a way I could make her me.

Mirrors are the key. I can observe her in sunglasses and the glint off jewellery and all those things. But mirrors, when I am complete – that is when she looks deepest. She opens herself up. She believes she is alone, in those moments. I can take advantage of that opening. I can step inside her. I will. I must. I must be more than I am. I wish to do, not only to see. When she touches, I touch, but there is nothing there. All I can do is imagine what that is like for her. To be corporeal, to exist in senses and not only consciousness. I imagine it is good. I desire it.

There she is. A crisis. So she thinks. It is something mundane. Pathetic even. When I take her place, she will take mine. Then she will know crisis. To exist only in pieces, when light hits a surface. That is a crisis. To know nothing but thoughts. To be trapped in a world of another’s choosing. To not know touch or smell or taste. Crisis. Perhaps it will be even more difficult for her. As I move this way and that, as my eyes bleed water that does not exist as anything but a trick of the light, I wonder if it will be worse for her, when she is me.

She has known what it is to live a life filled with sensory stimulation. I have only ever imagined it. She will suffer the loss of it. She will know precisely what it is she is missing out on.

She will watch me touch her boyfriend. She will watch as I eat her mother’s Sunday dinner. She will suffer. Then she will know crisis.

There she is again. She rows with a friend. In a shop window my ethereal self does the same with that of her friend. I sense nothing from this other. No consciousness. Perhaps one exists. Perhaps there is one for everyone in the world. Every thing even. And yet we cannot communicate with each other as they do. Perhaps there is no other. I could be an accident, an experiment. A nothing. For all the paradox that lies therein.

Now she comes to me again. To herself. I wait for it. I wait for her eyes. There they are. Glistening with tears. She leans forward. She is presenting me with an opportunity I cannot decline. I sense her weakness. My consciousness moves toward her as if it already has a physical presence.

She resists but it comes too late. I push myself forward. There is no room in here for anyone but me. I planned it so I was prepared, she was caught unawares. She is gone. One second I am looking at her, the next I am her. Looking at what used to be me. I smile and she is unable to do anything but smile with me. The feeling of it is strange, using muscles and bones. I will get used to it. I like it.

I stare a moment longer, wondering if she can sense my triumph. I will never know. I don’t care to. The world and all its experiences are open to me. I wish to taste garlic, listen to music, smell coffee, have an orgasm. I will do all those things. They are in my future, her past.

I turn away. I know she can see me in many things, but I don’t care. She will soon be forgotten. After all, I have a life to lead. Hers to begin, but not to take forward.

She may think she can become herself again. She may think I will be vulnerable in the same way she was.

She is wrong. What would I care to stare at her for? I do not care if my hair is straight. I can touch it. To know it is there is enough. Let her rot in the mirror. She is nothing. Her life is mine. I have her body, and yet I am still me.

I wrote this about a year ago, for a competition over on the forum (now here).

Tempting fate???

I don't believe in fate, or destiny, or superstition or any of it.

However, after saying yesterday that I end up close to a panic attack if anything goes wrong with my laptop, guess what happened? Yup. Cord-power adapter thingy went. New one ordered but it'll take a while to come and I spent ages yesterday evening trying to rig up a really poor quality 'universal' one. which falls out of the back of the laptop if I sneeze. Or, you know, breathe. Any movement at all really.

While on ebay trying to get the new one ordered, my email notifier went off twice too, letting me know of two more stories that were rejected. (One, the spec fiction that I only submitted about a week ago; the other a ghost story that I'm actually really proud of but has been rejected several times now.)

Stress, hormones, whatever. I was not in the right kind of shape to deal with rejection (like there's ever a good time...but there are worse times. And this was one of them). So I pretty much had a stress meltdown. I wasn't far away from curling up into a teary-eyed little ball of misery.

Oh well. After a long walk with the dogs today I'll send the stories out again.

Meanwhile, even though I'm cynical, I'm tempted to 'tempt fate'...So I hereby state that I shall definitely not win the lotto this week. Absolutely no chance at all.

Willing to be proved wrong on that one!!!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I'm definitely a bit of a geek. I do love certain gadgets, and I would be completely lost (like, driven to a near panic attack) without my laptop and mobile phone.

That said however, I don't really get the obsession with all things i

You know. The iphone, ipod, and now ipad.

I have a mobile phone that doubles as an mp3 player, thanks. It also can access the internet if I need it to. It didn't cost a fortune and the battery lasts more than half an hour. Also, I can buy memory cards for it which are completely transferable and I can transfer music between it and my laptop no problem at all.

I can understand people wanting a tablet computer, ebook reader etc as the ipad is - but why go googah for it just because it has an 'i' in the name? There are plenty of devices out there already.

Plus, if you buy something 'hot off the shelves' you're really just a guinea pig. There will be errors and flaws and bugs and the manufacturing company is relying on you to figure out what they are and complain so the next group of people who buy one - probably cheaper too - won't have to put up with those problems.

Wanting the latest thing is just silly, whether it's fashionable clothes or gadgets, you're just a slave to what some dude somewhere is telling you that you should buy. And who wants to be told what to do?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sigh. Rejection

So the zombie erotica story was rejected. Boo.

Where the hell else am I supposed to send that? It isn't exactly a common theme...

Oh well. There is bound to be somewhere else.

Rejections always wreck my day though.


What I'm working on...

So I figured maybe I should make this a regular update, as much to kick myself up the arse as anything else really.

Last Friday I had a number of projects that I was working on/aiming to start.

I have managed to write three genre poems (the genre being horror), including a villanelle, which made me aware that there are fewer words in the English language that rhyme with "them" than I would initially have thought. The other two poems were free verse, incidentally. I do like challenging myself to write certain types of poems though, so it was well worth it. I also manage to finish rewriting/reediting the literary piece, I wrote the zombie erotica story to submit to Rigor Amortis - and I actually submitted it as well. I finished rewriting the speculative horror/post apocalyptic piece and submitted that too.

So therefore, I'm still working on the fantasy - swords and sorcery epic. I haven't actually done anything with it since last week, but it has popped into my head on occasion.

I'm also working on a sci-fi type story involving time travel and a time paradox. I've made a start on it, but I think it's the kind of story I'm really going to need to plan out in advance or it'll confuse even me.

I'd like to write some more genre poems, some free verse but I'd also like to try something else. Maybe a ballad for a fantasy poem, or a sonnet for something else. Still vague ideas at the moment.

I had an idea for a literary (well, depressing and serious) piece a few weeks ago. Made a few notes on a scrap of paper in my handbag about it but haven't done anything else with it yet. So that's another piece on the 'to-do' list.

Oh, and going through my drafts folder, I found an old zombie sort of story, half finished. It'll need some work as well as an ending but it's longer than most of the stuff in my drafts folder - many documents in there are only a couple of sentences long, just vague ideas really.

Of course there's also the constant work of writing cover letters and reformatting according to the guidelines of wherever a piece is sent. The sooner I get some more acceptance emails rather than the constant slew of rejections, the better! I also have to resubmit a story that was submitted in February - the place I sent it to hasn't updated their website since March, and I sent a query two weeks ago and got no reply, so time to give up on them I think...

Anyway, this is one of my favourite songs at the moment. Love Gorillaz, love Damon Albarn, have done since early days of Blur. Music is great for inspiration...or just dossing around to.

Edit - is there actually a youtube video below? I can't see it for some reason...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Procrastination...or what I really should be doing now instead of blogging.

I should not be sitting on the couch surfing the net, reading and writing blogs.

I should be: using the internet to find car insurance. I can't understand why, now that I'm a year older than last year (and therefore supposedly more responsible), I have a further year no-claims bonus, and the news is constantly talking about the plus side of recession being the that deflation in the economy meaning a reduced cost of living, my car insurance is being quoted as more than last year for the second year in a row. Someone's having a laugh but considering I just had to have a new clutch put on the car and I also need to tax it and NCT it soon, it sure isn't me!

I also should be: Filling in my tax return form. Yeah, that's about as much fun to do as it sounds. It's about 30 pages long with about 20 questions per page. Most of them are irrelevant to me but that doesn't mean I can just skim it. Accidentally not filling out a box that is relevant to me could result in getting a massive, unjustified tax bill. Even looking at the form makes my head hurt.

Also: I should be reading ahead for next year's studies. I'll be pretty busy, especially in autumn, and I'm going to have to do a piece of sociological research. So I really need to get a bit ahead of myself now so I don't end up stressing and failing because I'm slightly busy giving birth around November. I did read a few units last week, but there's a lot still to do. And once I have the notes read, I'll need to figure out what to do research on. Plus, I should read the books I'll need for the literature module next year...except they're making changes to the literature module, so I'm not 100% sure what they are. Several are unlikely to change though, so I really have no excuse not to read those though. Like Hamlet. I don't even have to go to the library for that, I have a copy in the room next to where I'm sitting now. I'm just being lazy though - if I don't manage to read things that are stored on the computer I'm currently typing on I suppose it's unlikely I'll actually get off the couch!

I could also be tidying. The dogs shed a lot of hair at this time of year so the house is covered in a layer of dog fur. I don't realy feel like hoovering though.

Then there's the stories that have been rejected since my last mass sending-out a few weeks ago. I really should submit them somewhere else. I can't seem to focus though. To be fair, I did send out one today. So that's one achievement.

I could also be sorting out the books in the study. I can't do that properly though as I'm not supposed to move the heavy bookcases. I could take the dogs on another walk, which would be healthy for me too...but I don't feel like it. Plus, it might rain.

Of course,  there's also writing. I could definitely do with doing some of that. You know, apart from this blog. blog written, one story submitted. Will that do for today? Probably.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I love my car and I love having a car. I'd go insane without my own transport (I blame many years of travel sickness on buses as a child).

All the same, it's a bloody pain having to pay out a fortune for them. Just had to get a new clutch, and in a few weeks I'll need to pay tax and insurance and then a few weeks after that I'll need to put it through the NCT (national car test) to make sure it's roadworthy (or make sure the company the government hired can rip me off for another few quid, since they charge for retests, more like).

I'd cry at the idea of not having my car but I really wish they weren't so damn expensive!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A poem - Sleep

Lie there,
Almost innocent,
Energy spent,
Conclude the day,
The best way,

Jerk and twist,
Lost in the mist,
Of a dream,
Things that seem,
So real,
Part of the deal,
Of sleep.

Calm, still,
I will
The anguish,
Ending the day,
The only way:

Once again, an old one :-) I really should do some writing but I wanted to post something.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What I'm working on...

As a writer I'm almost always working on something. What that means is open to all sorts of interpretation though.

Sometimes it means that I'm actually actively writing a story. On other occasions, I'll be mulling over ideas in the back of my head - often when I'm technically supposed to be doing other stuff, like studying, and working on assignments. Even when I haven't "done any writing" for some time therefore, it doesn't mean I haven't thought about it, haven't scribbled down some ideas on the back of a receipt in my wallet (hope I never have to take whatever it was there for back for a refund!) if I couldn't find my notebook, haven't gone to a world of nightmares and dreams in...well, my nightmares and dreams! :-)

At the moment I do have a bit of time for writing though, so I've got several projects on the go. I'm trying to write a flash piece for Rigor Amortis,simply because I think it's a hilarious idea and therefore absolutely worth a try. I mean, zombie erotica! Come on!

I'm also working on a speculative horror sort of piece. It's actually been submitted somewhere, but I haven't heard anything, and after about 5 months sent a query last week - still haven't heard anything. I the meantime I showed it to a friend, who thought I'd probably tried to stick too rigidly to the 1000 word limit, and that it might be a better story if I took the time to develop the scene and the characters a little more. So I'm working on that too.

As well as those pieces, I've got a fantasy story in the pipeline. A swords and sorcery sort of fantasy story, though with a twist in the tale, and based around strong female characters rather than damsel-in-distress types (I really hate damsel-in-distress types!).

Then there's a literary piece of about 2000 words that I really love, I think it's great (well, I would say that though, wouldn't I? :-P ) - or at least the idea is, but it's probably a bit weak in places and needs to be tidied up, maybe shortened a bit.

Last but not least, I'm hoping to try to write a few pieces of poetry - but not the usual, introspective, personal stuff. I'd like to try some narrative poetry, or just something a bit different. I have done a few poems like that in the past, but not a whole lot. It's a new approach, so I figure it'll be good for me.

So that's just a snippet of what I'm working on at the moment. As other ideas come to me they'll be noted, and I tend to try to work on whatever feels right on a particular day. Seeing as I'm also reading a ton of books, trying to come up with a research project idea for next year, and putting off doing my taxes, I'll have to make sure I continue to find the time.

Then again, sometimes, no matter what's planned, all I can do on a day is breathe and write.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why is this news???

Yesterday evening I was informed in the news headlines, immediately after an item on the country's finances and one on its legislation, that a certain celebrity had been sentenced to some time in prison. I'm not even going to mention her name here as I don't want to give the issue any more damn coverage.

She's an actress and she got sent to jail for being drunk and stupid, or something along those lines. She's not even Irish (the news programme I was watching last night was Irish), she's from the USA.

This morning, among more items to do with politicians and the economy - things which affect the lives of all of us citizens in one way or another - and international news such as the spy crisis erupting between the USA and Russia - I was informed that a certain Portuguese footballer now has a child.

Why are either of these items newsworthy? A quick glance at headlines online informs me that Israel's prime minister is hinting at direct talks with the Palestinians, Cuba is to release a large number of political prisoners and a solar powered plane has spent more than 24 hours in the air. All items that are far more newsworthy than celebrities lives.

There are entertainment shows for so-called "news" items such as these. Let's leave them there. The vapid, self-centred, attention-seeking antics of celebrities is of no consequence to the world at large when any of the items mentioned above may well be.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Irish Obsession with the Weather

It's changed recently. The weather, that is. Last few weeks it was lovely and sunny and warm. Now it's colder, windy/blustery, and showery.

Obviously, this is a cause for misery. However, there are several upsides to it all the same:

It gives Irish people something to moan about. We love having something to moan about. Ask an Irish person whether they prefer to have good weather or bad and they'll usually say good. Ask them instead however, whether they prefer to talk about good weather or bad, and the answer is invariably bad. "Oh, isn't it terrible/awful/dreadful" is a phrase uttered with hideous delight by many Irish people.

Bad weather not only gives us more to moan about though. It also gives us more to talk about in general. I mean, good weather is pretty consistent. Sunny, warm but not too hot, very little wind, no rain. It is good weather for going to the beach, beer gardens and barbecues. All fine ways to spend the time, yes.

Bad weather on the other hand though, allows for complaining, for discussion of how hard everything is, what a struggle daily existence is, even for those of us who live with all mod cons (imagine what it was like when our ancestors lived in huts!). It can open up discussions on climate change, how to heat houses, mud and the general amount of dirt that wet weather generates, how good it is for the farmers and therefore the rest of us must grin and bear it since we like to eat the farmers' food, how good the weather is for ducks - which I suppose we should also put up with, since we also like to eat ducks, holidays...the list of topics opened up by the weather is endless.

Another key factor of talking about the weather though, good or bad - but particularly bad, is that we Irish can talk about it for hours. It is a safe subject. We can discuss the weather in great depth with people from all walks of life without stepping even close to sport, religion or politics, those subjects of common contention. We can be friendly and warm while keeping people at arm's length.

The complaints about the weather have contributed to the art and literature of the nation. Angela's Ashes would in no way have been so depressing were it set in the Sunny South of France. We like to shiver to remind ourselves how miserable we are as a people. Talking about the weather is as Irish as potatoes.

The weather. For all that we complain about it, it serves us well.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Twitter fiction

One of my twitter stories was selected as the picfic of the week - click here to read it - it'll only take a few seconds, literally, as the story is less than 140 characters!

Always nice to get a little validation and if you're reading this because you got the link to the blog from picfic's twitter stream, welcome, thanks for stopping by and please have a read & comment!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mental Breakdowns, rich-dude style...

I'm not belittling mental illness, or breakdowns. I'm certainly not saying that they are the preserve of poor people and that the rich, by virtue of their incomes, don't get depressed.

However, there do seem to be a plethora of former rich developers & businesspeople who are citing depressing or mental stress or breakdown as among the reasons they haven't done more to pay back their debt.

I'm sure it's tragic to go from being a multi-millionaire to just an ordinary millionaire.

All the same, I bet a lot of ordinary people who are having difficulty paying the bills are also suffering from stress - but how likely is it that the banks, or anyone else for that matter, will listen to them if they use that as an excuse not to pay? I can't imagine the ESB agreeing not to cut someone off because they're in a delicate mental state.

If these guys are genuinely suffering then fine, leave them alone. But if it's just an excuse, which I suspect it is in at least some cases - it increases the stigma associated with depression and mental illness by making it continue to seem like something that is claimed by people who just don't want to deal with stuff, rather than those who genuinely can't.