Tag Archives: writing


Oscar Wilde believed  imitation to be ‘the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness’. Let’s hope Neil Gaiman agrees.


Welcome, player!
You have one life.
Touch the red rose to enter the labyrinth.

Light every candle you find along the way. These may save you.

Do not throw stones at the goblins in the shed, the words they speak are powerful. Remember what they tell you. Thank them.

Step quietly where possible – noise draws unwanted attention. Practice fading.

Fight every battle with dignity. Always be honest; you will lose more than your life for trickery and lies. Stay between the lines.

Pay attention to the rules. Read the instructions. Take all the help offered to you. Lend help where you can.

When you get to the temple, pause. Take off your hat. Leave an offering.

Walk around corners, don’t run. You don’t know what you may meet, and it may kill you.

Don’t stand on the red beetles, just don’t.

Avoid the monkey in the yellow hat – his heart is cold as ice. He will deceive you.

Carry the old lady’s bags for her. She will give you a lamp – Guard it well.

The path is broken up ahead. There are holes. Do not fall – it’s a trap, and the creatures will get you. You won’t hear them coming.

Sometimes things fall on you from above. Look up!

Watch out for the rat-people.

You will be ambushed at the Stone Cross – everybody is, but you will recover . Let it go, move on, you don’t have much time.

The farmer’s wife will give you a warm coat and some food. You will need both. You must write her a sonnet on the back of an acorn before you leave.

You will meet many who seek to disrupt your quest, creatures who would see you fail. Be kind to these, as far as you can, for they are to be pitied. Do them no harm, and leave them a blessing.

fireWhen you reach the centre, leave your mark in the flames of the everlasting pyre. Do not gloat – there are many less fortunate than you, many who have been ensnared by the ice-spiders who lie in wait for the unsuspecting.

Congratulations, player! You have successfully beaten the labyrinth.

Dance on the lawn in front of the cottage to exit.

Leave a Comment

Filed under My writing

Final Art Project for DH 6005 (History and Theory of Digital Arts)

The final requirement of the module entitled History and Theory of Digital Arts is that of creating some art inspired by that already submitted by the other members of our class. Disclaimer: I’d like to note here that I am not now, nor ever will I be, an artist. As a matter of fact, I know more about Nuclear Science than I do about Art. I just wanted to clear that up before I begin.

nude standing by the sea

Nude Standing by the Sea

Andy Warhol proclaims “Art is what you can get away with”.This is certainly true when I look at some of Picasso’s work for example. (I don’t mean to single out poor old Picasso, I have nothing against the man, I’m simply using his work as an example.) Take the painting Nude Standing by the Sea. Does it appear completely alien to me because I know nothing about it, or is it alien to everybody else too? Must we have an understanding of the mindset of the artist before we can attempt to understand the painting and appreciate it? Was Charles Baudelaire right in saying “The beautiful is always bizarre”? Is my failure to ‘see’ anything in Picasso’s painting proof that artists see the world differently to the rest of us? (That’s an awful lot of questions, even for me).

Art is subjective – Whoopi Goldberg says it very well -“Art and Life are subjective. Not everybody’s gonna dig what I dig, but I reserve the right to dig it”

Instead of showing myself up as a complete fool in trying to draw or paint something for this project, which would no doubt turn out to be appalling, I relied on words to come to my rescue. I’ve taken four items which have inspired me, and written a short piece to accompany each one. I need to express my thanks to Perry O’Donovan, Claudia Sartori, Bree D’Oh, and Aodhan Rilke, without whom my own ‘project’ would not have happened.

I had intended to display these works as an exhibit using Exhibit-Builder on Omeka, but I’m having a few problems with getting it to behave as I want it to. This is nothing new, and so I’ve gotten used to it.


Bookstore poster

Promotional poster by Perry O’ Donovan

The first piece of art I thought about is one created by Perry O’Donovan as a promotional poster for his bookshop in Skibbereen.

Here’s what I wrote:

Perry’s Bookshop

He was a giant of a man, and he let the cold in when he opened the door. The little bell didn’t have time to jingle before he shut it behind him again, so quietly for someone so large. He leaned against it, and let out a long ragged breath, as if he had run from the hounds of hell, and escaped.

I hadn’t had many customers that day and was considering shutting up early. The day felt grey, had done since morning; as if the sky was covered by a scratchy old army-blanket, heavy, dull, and colourless. Outside, the air smelled like soot, like a million coal fires.

The man’s face was ashen. He stumbled to one of the leather seats near the window and sank into it, his great bulk filling it completely, and I thought of the tiny chairs in a doll’s house.

I suppose I must have looked surprised, and maybe I was, I don’t recall. Sometimes on quiet days I almost resented customers, saw them as an intrusion into my solitude, my beautiful world of whispering pages and long-forgotten secrets. It was very easy for me to dissolve into another reality and forget about the things that happen in a life: the family I’d left behind, the bills I couldn’t pay, the loneliness.

For a long time he sat, motionless, silent, weighing every breath, watching the rain begin to fall and splash against the windows. For a long time I watched him, and the silence stretched out between us in long slow minutes.

Then he turned, as if he’d just remembered where he was, and looked straight at me. His eyes were wide and haunted, and a scar beneath the good one was bleeding. When he spoke it seemed the sound came from somewhere dark and far away.

We should get going”, he said, “They’re here”.



The second is a piece written in response to a photograph taken by Claudia Sartori:


The Gates


The Gates of Hell

‘Open the Gates at Dawn’ the memo said. So we did. There’s a lot more to opening a portal than you might think, there are rules to be adhered to, rituals to perform, things to be chanted. It took a while.

The thing is, we hadn’t told anyone, and so the volume of bodies wasn’t as large as He had expected. Well, the sun was out that day, and shone warm and bright on the earth, and melted some human hearts so that they were less inclined to do anything to offend the other guy. The Boss wasn’t best pleased.

Of course, those were the days before Twitter and Facebook, days of good old fire and brimstone, and raining down curses on humanity just because you could. Now a body has to wait for the broadband to kick in, or stand in the chimney until the signal finds them.

I think we all secretly miss the old burning memos, the comforting smell of sulphur, the singed fingertips, though of course nobody here would freely admit it. It’s true we may not reach as many souls by doing things in the traditional manner, but at least we didn’t need to pay attention to something called ‘Netiquette”!


This is number 3: A painting by Aodhan Rilke of Horatio Nelson’s head (from the statue).

Nelson's Head

Nelson’s Head

Kiss me, Hardy!

Die well lads!
Glory tastes of brandy and camphor
in a small wooden cask
on smooth seas
for the last trip home.

Good name lives on in stone
on dry land
and a deathmask of charcoal.
Die well, England demands.



Finally, there’s this – a photo taken by Bree D’Oh of a sculpture in the Lee Fields

Dinosaurs in the Mist

Dinosaurs in the mists

Dinosaur in the Mist

“It’s what happens to metal things when it rains”, he said, “and don’t be a baby now, it’s not alive, it won’t harm you”. Jane was six. She knew things. She peered through the raindrops on her glasses at the metal monster, studying the red rash that the rain had caused. Today was Saturday, and she spent Saturdays with Dad. Sometimes she didn’t really want to, because they always went to places like this park, and they were always climbing things. Today she wanted to be at home out of the rain instead. It was cold. Dad got angry if she said she wanted to go home, angry in a way that he said nothing, just turned the car radio up. She had learned to smile instead.

They had come to this park before, and Jane still didn’t like it. She didn’t trust the red climbing thing. She knew it was really alive and just asleep in daylight, and it would wake up at night and start to move around. Dad wouldn’t believe her, he’d say she was silly. He’d give her that look, and sigh, and say “So you want to go home then? Ok, fine”, but he wouldn’t talk to her on the way home, so she always knew when he was angry.

In a secret place in the back of her memory, where nobody else could go, Jane had a picture of a dead dinosaur she’d seen in one of her schoolbooks. She remembered it now as she climbed.

Here it is as an Omeka exhibit: onewordaftertheother.net/cms/

So there you go!  Is it art or is it simply waffle? Does it actually matter, once we can use all the buzzwords to justify our creation? If we have the confidence to believe in our own work, will this justify what we do?

As I said, I know nothing about art, and I don’t think I’ll ever understand some of it. Sometimes it’s good just to throw around some questions and let them sit for a bit.

I’ll leave your with a quote by one of my favourite authors. See what you make of this:

“I make art. Sometimes I make true art, and sometimes it fills the empty places in my life. Some of them. Not all”

Neil Gaiman The Ocean at the End of the Lane


Leave a Comment

Filed under collaboration, My writing, technology

How we write

The-Shallows-How-the-Interne    In his enormously entertaining book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr tells us about Friedrich Nietzsche’s travels around Europe in 1881 in search of a cure for his failing health, or at least a period of remission. His eyesight was deteriorating, and he was finding it increasingly difficult to focus on a page of writing for any length of time as it caused monstrous headaches and bouts of vomiting. Nietzsche was at his wit’s end and feared he would have to give up writing altogether. In 1882 he ordered a typewriter, a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball. Carr goes on to tell how the Writing Ball was Nietzsche’s saviour for a time, and once he learned to touch-type, he was back to himself again.
A close friend of Nietzsche’s, Heinrich Koselitz, began to notice a change in Nietzsche’s writing. He remarked on the new ‘forcefulness’ of the prose, and the ‘tight’ structure of his compositions. Nietzsche’s response to his friend’s comment was “Our writing equipment takes part in the forming of our thoughts”.
(Nicholas Carr, The Shallows. pgs 18-19)

Reading this made me think about the tools I use to write. It sounds foolish and immature to admit that I’ve always preferred a 2B pencil – somehow it just feels right! I know some who can sit down at a computer, close their eyes, and off they go, but the words won’t flow that way for me. There’s something about holding the pencil and physically forming the words that feels far more ‘real’. I can think while writing the words, sound them out in my head. I’ve often wondered if many others feel this way.
My writing is different when I type. I feel as if it’s more restricted somehow, not as free to be whatever it wants. I feel as if I should write to suit the appearance of the blank screen, whereas, a physical page can look just the way I want it to – I can doodle in the corners, I can cross out whole sections, I can draw maps and directions – I can hear the words better when I write them.

How different then, are the thoughts of the individual who is ‘born digital’ from those of the older, less tech-savvy person?

Speaking of writing, read this amazing account of the journey:


Leave a Comment

Filed under technology