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Showing posts from 2019

Returning, slowly...

I slammed into a brick wall with APoS and had to take a break. I wrote another book, instead...and it helped me see what part of the problem is with what I've done with Brendan, so far. It's too fuckin' nice. Middle class. Gentle in ways it shouldn't be. Brendan works fine for his time in derry, from 1966-1972 -- just a kid trying to make his way while being caught up in history. Then he gets to Houston and, even though he's been through a horrendously traumatic event, one that caused him to have an emotional and mental collapse, he gets right back to being as he was. WRONG! Houston is not a respite. It's another world, completely. He needs to be more human in this instead of angelic. Angry. hurt. Scared. Lashing out. That's why this section was giving me such trouble. He's not acting right...and that needs to be handled. Because this town and its actions to him and others around him is what sets him up for the last section, when he returns to D

Steps and stages...

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I breeched another section of the book that was causing me serious agita. This is in Houston, and it's a fairly substantial link that needed writing. Brendan's rebuilding his life and has put together a new family, not just with his Aunt, Uncle and cousins but co-workers and people he's met. One is a part-time waitress at a bar he works for. She reads a lot of SF by female authors like Andre Norton, Octavia Butler and Ursula LeGuin, and he finds he likes one of the books she gives him. They wind up as lovers, even though she's older than him by a good ten years, but he feels comfortable with her because she's also solitary in her ways. Turns out it's because she's trying to keep hidden from her husband, but the guy shows up, things explode and Brendan's new family all but disintegrates around him. My consistent whine about this is, it's all so superficial. I'm skating over the incidents with near-cliched actions and words in order to keep go

Section One has a complete first draft...

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It's not great; some parts are really more a skimming through the story to link sections more deeply written, but know I know what I need to know, learn and dig into. Next comes Section Two -- Houston, of which I have about half written...maybe 40%. I'm about to find out. Right now I'm fighting with myself over something I did at the end of One that will cause difficulties in Two and Three if I don't change it, but which works really, really well, as is. I may be about to kill a darling of mine... FWIW, the sections are: 1 -- Derry 2 -- Houston 3 -- Return

Brendan and Joanna in Dublin...

This part is before Brendan takes Joanna to Grianan Aileach, before Internment and Bloody Sunday, when things were only beginning to seem dangerously out of control. Brendan's agreed to deliver a letter for Colm and is leery doing it but agrees because of their long friendship... __________________ The bus took us down to O’Connell and the conductor pointed us to Trinity. And we got there with no trouble and looked it over, and the only thing Joanna said about it was, “It’s dingy.” There was truth in that, without question. And it seemed small for its reputation. So we left and went walking down the Liffey to the Ha’penny Bridge. Crossed over and wandered about some more till we were back on O’Connell. Dublin seemed not only busy but brusque and I was taken aback at the quickness of everyone’s pace. It was an embarrassment after what I’d promised Joanna it’d be. But she seemed not to mind. Another driver told us which bus was for Clontarf, and we found the address with little dif

Roadblocked till now...

One of the joys of my little library is finding information I need in a book I bought years ago...and that information helping me bypass a possible roadblock while helping the story. I'm still working on section one of the book, but I've just got two bits to connect and that'll be that much done. Way behind schedule, but... Here's some of what I've written...this takes place after Bloody Sunday, where Brendan sees men and boys being gunned down by Army Paratroopers who've run amok. ---------------- I turned sixteen on Wednesday, but without celebration; the day was taken up with funerals for eleven of those killed. Tens of thousands filled Creggan to the point it was difficult to move or even breathe. I was in the middle of it with Eammon and once even thought to ask him if I could use his inhaler, but he was fighting to keep at my side and I could tell he was having trouble at it. I was glad he hadn’t been on the march. Word spread of marches througho

Rearranging deck chairs on a cruise ship in the middle of a storm...

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I'm at the point in APoS where I'm going to be shifting sections to better suit the flow and telling of the story. I'm up to Brendan's 14th birthday, and the shit is about to hit the fan. Things have been good between the Army and Catholics for months, but the Protestant leadership was behind the scenes making trouble and insinuating things that weren't true in order to bring the Army into their fold. Which they succeeded in doing, setting the stage for a conflict that really hasn't been settled, yet. 50 years and they're still arguing and fighting, albeit on a much smaller, quieter scale and with far fewer deaths. I almost went back to Derry for the 50 year commemoration of the beginning of the Troubles.  It was started by a stupid, arrogant, bullying parade put on by the Orange Order back 0n 12 August, 1969. Protestants were so used to Catholics taking their abuse and condescension, they couldn't believe anything would be any different, that year

I am so fuckin' pissed at myself...

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I got nothing done, today, except some reading on Derry in the late 60s. I fiddled and futzed all over, like your typical writer. Oh, I don't feel it, right now. I'm unsure of myself. What if my writing's shit and people tell me I'm wrong about details? Jesus, the whining...none of it verbal, all in my fucked up head. I'm at a point in the story where Brendan has made official contact with Joanna and now wants to see her. Of course, it's just as the Troubles are starting, and she lives on the opposite side of the Foyle River from him, in Protestant territory. British troops are patrolling the Bogside, and welcome, at this moment, but they and the population are still wary...and the Protestants are feeling very unsure about their future so are on a rampage. It's all very complicated and I'm nervous about even starting it. I know I'm talking into the void here. What's that saying? A byusus abyssum invocat...the void calls forth the void ...or

Book repair...

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I got a copy of Burntollet , a book I ordered from a shop in the UK. In the description it mentioned water damage, but nothing about how the entire book had been dropped in water, at some time, and several pages were stuck together. Fortunately, I'd learned at Heritage Book Shop's bindery that you can wet the pages that are stuck, let them sit for a while then slowly pull them apart. Very slowly and carefully, using something slim but blunt to keep the fibers from tearing too badly. So today, after a couple of doctors' appointments, was spent on repairs. This is the only copy of the book I'd been able to find, and most of it was in readable condition. Plus it had a copy of the image I'd used for my cover in it, showing it was taken on Spencer Road as the remains of the People's March entered Derry and has first-hand testimony of the people whose homes were trashed in the early morning hours of January 5th. I did have some wording still tear away and sta

Stars matter...

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I don't know why, but Brendan keeps finding moments to gaze up at the stars when he's caught in something intense. Something meaningful. It's appearing throughout the story, from the first time he gets stoned while at a circle fort in the Republic to when he's been beaten and abandoned in a rural area of Houston to near the end of the book, when he knows he's going to be killed. And so many points in-between. The stars. The top three images are enhanced photos over Yellowstone. The fourth one, The Cliffs of Moher. The last...I don't know where it's from...but it fits.

Almost back on track...

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I found some inconsistencies and an error in what I'd written...like having the confrontations during a march in Antrim a year earlier than it happened; got to be careful about that. But that's why I keep going over my work...and over it and over it and over it... I also found a section where my timing needed to be changed for it to work better. It's when Brendan goes to Grianan Aileach (a circle fort just across the border in the Republic) for the first time. Granted, these are things I should be doing after I'm finished the first full draft, but it's best if I handle them when I see them because I've got so many notes everywhere, I'll lose track. This is another view of Nailors Row, from behind, probably about 1969. St. Columbs Wells, a road with centuries of history to it, is being cut off and traffic shifted into Fahan Street, out of sight down the bottom of the hill to the left. The backs of the houses atop the hill play into a chapter, where

Starting up...

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A lot of avoidance but still managed to get more written on Brendan's story, mainly expanding his world at the age of 12...and explaining some of it. Too much to think about so I'm playing safe...here's the opening...and this is another shot of Nailors Row, atop the hill... ----- Those who knew Eamonn Kinsella -- and were being at least a little bit honest with themselves -- had to admit that were he born but ten miles to the west or north, his murder would have been seen as the fitting end to a hard and brutal man, and my poorly-disguised pleasure at his passing would have been accepted as understandable, if still inappropriate. His body was found off the Limavady Road, in a ditch of flowing water, on a cold, blustery morning late in February. His coat had been pulled down his arms and his hands bound behind him. Every bone on every finger had been broken, several ribs shattered, an elbow dislocated and his face pummeled into the mere hint of a human visage. B

I was a cliche, today...

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I took my car in for servicing because it was making a weird scraping sound, expecting to write while it was being done...and it was fixed within half an hour. A piece had gotten bent so they bent it back. I spent the rest of the day buying groceries, defrosting my fridge, and cleaning my apartment, instead. Still have the bathroom to do, but I'm diving into that before I take my shower. Wash all the grime away at one time. That's what writers do, you know -- find excuses not to write. Normally I can work around them, but I didn't get to sleep till 4:30 this morning and up at 9:30 to take my car in, so I'm something of a slug, right now. Not the best frame of mind when dealing with a ridiculously difficult project in a spot I'm even more unsure about than usual. Didn't help I had a nasty lunch at McDonald's. I have had ideas about other sections -- like in Houston, when Brendan's gay friend, Everett, confesses his lurid fascination with the mass

First stumble...

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I've spent three days working on an older draft of the book's first section. I kept thinking I'd changed this and adjusted that as I was going along, but it didn't sink in till this morning, when I finally noticed the date another version was saved -- April 2019 -- and realized my error. Now I'm going through and cross-referencing to see if any of the changes made recently work better than what I'd done in April. So far...only a couple have. The opening was a lot smoother in the April version. I'd cut out a lot of hyperbole and chatter by focusing almost exclusively on Brendan's father's murder. So all I wound up doing this time was expanding a little, here and there. I still have more to go through, and it's still too simplistic a telling of the story (I do way too much telling instead of letting the characters live it), but there needs to be some background in order to set everything up. Once this draft is done, the next draft will be to det

Slower movement...

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This is a photo of one of the People's Democracy marchers, who were attacked by Loyalists at Burntollet Bridge during their walk from Belfast to Derry. I use this as the image of Brendan while I'm writing. I'm at a stretch of time in his life where I didn't know what was happening with him, so I've been researching this blank period from the night after the attack to 14 August, when the Apprentice Boys hold their annual march to celebrate the siege of Derry. In 1688, 13 apprentice boys defied the authorities and closed the gates of the city's walls against the forces of James II, initiating the siege...but it didn't really start till months afterwards, then continued over 100 days. A lot of busy stuff occurs through this time -- pushing and shoving from both sides, demonstrations, a snowy winter, and life as usual. Brendan's in the middle of it all. He turns 13 while still living on Nailors Row then gets moved to a new apartment on  ClĂ­odhna

A new beginning...

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I've finally started the process of finalizing a first draft of my novel, A Place of Safety . Anyone who's followed my now-discontinued blog, jamthecat, knows of my struggles with this book -- that it's set in Derry, Northern Ireland between February 1966 and May 1981, with several years in Houston, Texas. I finally reached the tipping point of scattered notes and writings, so they're now being combined. This is my preliminary idea for the cover. The story is simple -- Not long after his tenth birthday, Brendan Kinsella's father is murdered. The story follows him through the rise of The Troubles in NI, to him being exiled in Houston for years, to his eventual return to an area still gripped in what is, basically, a civil war based on hatreds formed 400 years prior. All Brendan wants to do is live his life and have a family, but he's caught in a time when history determines who you are and what you will be...no matter how hard you fight against it. Mor