Tag Archives: creative writing

The view from here…

None of the old words are left now.

I speak an alien tongue, a coarse, soulless language that tastes bad and hurts my ears. It means nothing. The music has died.

I write from the emptiness of this dark space, where the air is dry and full of dust, and rasps at the heart. It used to be much easier, in the world of before, way back when we lived – the words had colour then, and meaning, and magic. Dreams were brighter in the past, and when you closed your eyes you could watch them unfold in delicate shades and tones. We don’t dream anymore, not here. We’re left instead with scraps of broken memories of a distant life, and cries that won’t be heard.

The old man I met at the station told me that I shouldn’t leave. He said the light wasn’t good. He told me nothing was real and that I should turn back. He wore a thin, ragged coat and there was no life left behind his eyes. He had crazy hair and smelled of pipe-smoke and whiskey, and his words held the sadness of one who knew that time was running out.

I got on the train. I was young and foolish, and thought I knew everything. I thought I could fight it, and worse, I believed I could win.

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Presentation time – Digitizing the Voice

  • This presentation is called Digitizing the voice, because it seems that we have digitized almost everything else in this age of technological wonders. Also, the presentation concerns the spoken word, and the power that words have in today’s world.
  • I’ll begin with a nod to Melissa Terras who blogged about tweeting an open-access paper: http://melissaterras.blogspot.ie/2011/11/what-happens-when-you-tweet-open-access.html. I didn’t realise that this was an unusual act, and that academics didn’t do this all the time. I believed this was the norm, and because they had written the paper, it was up to them what they did with it. How wrong can you be?
  • So, following on this lead, I’m going to talk about the journey of a piece of writing of my own that’s very non-academic. It’s called Storm and it’s a slice of consciousness, only a ‘slice’, because I believe a ‘stream’ would be much longer. This piece is not new, but Mike Cosgrave says that’s ok, as he uses some of his own older poems as demonstrations in class from time to time.
  • Slides 4-11 is where I’m reading my work – I’ve chosen some images to accompany the reading, and these are they.
  • In an effort to be digital, I tried to create a nice visualisation of the text using Many Eyes. I found though, that it wasn’t such a user-friendly piece of software. The user needs to create an account in order to use the programme, and it won’t allow you to leave with a file of your creation, only a thumbnail sized image, and this isn’t very useful as it can’t be resized without it becoming terribly pixelated. I used WorditOut instead, and the result was a lot more visually pleasing, I thought.
  • I took the first few words of the piece ‘Sometimes there are too many words’ and ran them through 8 different search engines (some I had never heard of) to see what they would each return in terms of results. As I expected, Google came back with the greatest number of results – weighing in with 91’200’000. I did think that Yahoo would be the next in line, but it was in fact Aol with 87’800’000
  • I published my piece on Medium.com on Saturday 15th November at 12 midnight, and I tweeted it immediately afterwards to see what would happen. To my surprise, 30 minutes later my work had been favourited! Like Melissa Terras and her tweeted paper, I have no way of knowing whether this person actually read my work, or was just congratulating me on publishing it – writers do that, they support each other.
  • I also ran my text through Google translate and converted it to Latin. I did think that this would result in a different wordcloud from WorditOut, but it turned out to be the same shape as the English one.
  • Being unusually brave, I went to O Bheal on the night prior to delivering the presentation. There, on each Monday, an ‘open mic’ night is held for anyone who wishes to read their work. I had the idea that I would get a friend to record me while I was reading. Sadly, the technology let me down on the night so I have no recording to include here – maybe it’s just as well 🙂

 

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My Writing

Storm

Sometimes there are too many words, and they’re all competing for space in my head, and I can’t write them all but have to choose instead, and it’s all happening here on this page, this one chance, before they disappear in the darkness of forgetting, and I’m sad because it sounded so shockingly brilliant last night in the mists of almost-sleep, but memory steals words, you know, and doesn’t give them back in the same beautiful order, and it’s appalling, and you have to write them while you see them because sometimes it’s so hard, and you need to peer between the cracks to find them in the middle of the night when they’re alive.
They hide in the daylight when your head is full of unimportant things, and the phone’s ringing, and your dinner cools and gels while you’re away in the shadows chasing words with cobweb nets, and the mesh is wrong and they all fall through and you’ve got to start again, and dinner is ruined and the bloody phone again, and reality is pushy, and you’d much prefer the quiet purpleness of dreams and captured words and building stories in your head when you can catch them, and you wonder how they’ll all be rearranged and jumbled when you get to return, and if you’ll ever find the right ones again or a flake of something else instead that fits badly, and God, there’s not enough time to find them and to use them all correctly as you should because that’s the whole point and why we’re here, and it’s 4am and another cup of tea will do but don’t wake the whole house or they’ll all be up for munchies, and you can’t have them in the world of words when they don’t believe in the wondrous madness, or what goes on in your head, or the fabulous, mythical happiness of knowing the comfort of the storm.

 


 

Guess what I’ve been reading lately…

“There are very few of us left now”, said the man with the gun, “the others have gone”. His tone was matter-of-fact. The life had gone out of his voice.

“Yes, I know”, replied the boy, “we met no-one”.

He almost had to run alongside to keep up, even though the man had no shoes, just some plastic wrapped around his feet and fastened with dirty bits of twine. Nobody had any shoes – those who lived now did so in a world where shoes were a part of somebody else’s past, they didn’t belong here.

The camp was larger than he expected, and housed a mass of dislocated people. It was nestled a safe distance from the road, hidden from view by burnt scrubby bush and dead black trees. His father would have approved. The people who lived here had made shelters from what they could find; scraps of tarp and dozed useless rubber, rotted planks torn from the floors of long-abandoned houses, everything covered in the evil grey of ever-falling ash. The smell of despair hung damp and soupy in the air, a thick murky confusion of it, and the sky held no promise of tomorrow.

The man led him to a muddy-brown shelter at the centre of the camp where an old woman sat huddled beneath a stained and ragged blanket that might once have had a colour. Her eyes were sunken and afraid, and all the lights of hell danced there. When she took his hand, he saw the open sores on her skin and the blue-black of infection. He felt raw fear explode in his belly, and he wished he still had his father’s gun. The woman didn’t speak, and the boy wondered if maybe the horror of it all had frightened off her voice. Maybe talking belonged in the long-ago, in the normal world his father told him about, and was just another something that felt wrong here, something that didn’t fit.

They made a space for him that night in the old woman’s shelter, among the ashes and the twisted tree-roots, and he wrapped himself in the filthy rags they found for him. He lay long awake, shivering in the cold and the alien light of a faraway moon. On the edges of a troubled sleep he heard the muffled whispers of those who stood watch. It was good to know that he wasn’t yet the last.

 


 

Sanctuary

To cope, the mind needs darkness
sometimes.
Feathered shadows still
the evil storm.
Whispers soft as pillows,
curved echos, snug around
to mute the day.

Hushed hues of melted silence
snuggle us to gentle sleep.
Screened in curls of black silk night,
concealed, repaired,
we breathe:
the harsh metal taste of daylight
far away,
defeated.

 


 

I also wrote two MA theses. The first was in 2008 when I studied Applied Linguistics. You can find it if you follow this link:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/pxkcsw7saukgvew/%20MA%20Thesis%20Sept%202008.pdf?dl=0

 

The next was in 2015, for Digital Arts and Humanities. Here you go:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ls3nc5pr7eou8wi/The%20Meaning%20Behind%20the%20Smiles.pdf?dl=0

 

 

 

 

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