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Showing posts from 2018

The Wran's Day on the Dingle Peninsula

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The Wran, or Wren's, Day is celebrated on 26 December, just after the winter solstice. It’s as much a part of the holiday season here on the Dingle Peninsula as Christmas Day itself. If you study folklore or anthropology, you learn that it belongs to a tradition that stretches back to the first people who came here, thousands of years before Christianity. Its name is a corruption of the English word ‘wren’, and in Irish it’s Lá an Dreoilín (which is pronounced something like “Law Un Dro-leen”.) There’s endless research on the Wran’s Day, and suggestions that dreoilín, the word for wren, comes from ‘draoi-éan’ , ‘druid’s bird’. It’s linked to ancient midwinter festivals and shamanism, when a shared web of ideas and information was accessed like a form of internet powered by human energy, and to later folk traditions like Straw Boys and Guisers. Its rituals belong to a dream state beyond stories, or even words, when there were just images and rhythms. 

The Secret of How to Start Writing

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I've begun a series of occasional writing tips over on my Facebook Author Page. Here's the text of the latest, which I hope you'll enjoy.       "The secret of getting ahead is getting started."   This quote, variously attributed to Mark Twain, Agatha Christie and Anon,often appears as Number #1 in lists of Top Writers' Tips. It's true, of course, but for many of us it simply isn't helpful. Because getting started can be difficult, and emphasising what's difficult isn't always the the best way to get ahead. When I was at drama school, I learned a wonderful lesson from a voice teacher. Don't try hard, try soft. Trying ha rd implies tension. You grit your teeth and square up to a challenge. You stick out your jaw and clench your fists and tell yourself that nothing and no one will keep you from reaching your goal. Trying hard may get your adrenaline flowing but, equally, it can impede your creative flow. 

Plotting the Finfarran Novels

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Years ago, when I was writing for tv drama series, I learned to carry a very small notebook indeed. This was before notebooks were digital, when writers still suffered from stationary-envy and every meeting began with covert glances at other people’s desirable A4 Filolfaxes. Actually, back in those days, large-format notebooks had much to do with power games. The subliminal message of a really big leather-bound tome and a flashy Parker pen was that your agent had bumped up your fee for the series, or that your last show had just been sold as a franchise in the US. My titchy little notebooks had nothing to do with poverty, or even reverse psychology. They were a cunning way of controlling an impulse to express my emerging ideas in diagrams rather than words. At development meetings attended by a producer and several other, highly articulate, writers, bits of paper covered with arrows and interlocking circles weren’t approved of. Hence the voluntary strait-ja