Leaving 2020 between the pages…

This is my diary for 2020.

Projects progressed. Notes on cancelled creative, teaching and facilitative work. Notes on other offers of work I have declined. Work that under normal circumstances I would have enthusiastically leapt in, head first.

The energy of 2020 did not permit that.

This diary is also bundled with many notes, cards and tokens. Blessings from the friends who kept in touch, those connections that proved so vital to our mental health. To our resilience.

And what a year for paper-cuts. Some healed, others still open sores. I’ve dealt with personal ill-health. Watched my elderly father decline, and just recently, experienced the devastation of a family member’s death during brutal Covid restrictions. This diary is a log of heartache. Of anxious days. Of a year for questions and revelations, of feeling battered and bruised.

For all of it, I hope I will emerge a little wiser. Right now, all I really know for sure is that the universe has plans for us. A future that we cannot control.

What we CAN control are the energies we allow to share that future with us. The people who make it bearable. The ones who think outside of themselves to ask how YOUR day is going. The ones always ready to offer support. To listen. To be on standby with a supply of bandaids for those pesky paper-cuts that might never heal. Cherish THOSE people.

For 2021, my friends, I wish you all the happiest of days. We only have to do one at a time. There will be no new year resolutions, though I will try to be resolute in avoiding the following:

1# Rumination: fuck that noise!

2# Dry January in Lockdown: fuck that too!

The Librarian’s Cellar: Boys Don’t Cry by Fíona Scarlett

Set in the soul of inner city Dublin, a family struggles with the lot of their circumstances and the wolf of criminal menace at their door. At the core are two brothers, one fading, the other lusting for an alternative life that they both deserve. Gritty. Devastating. This story will linger.

My thanks to Netgalley and Faber Books for the opportunity to read this ARC, due for publication in April, 2021.

Librarian’s Cellar: Some recommended reads…

WALKING WITH GHOSTS

A joy to read. Byrne’s memoir is beautifully told, his visual writing evoking laughter, but also profound sorrow through powerful and deeply personal reminiscence. Whether describing aspects of his childhood, his life in Ireland or his career adventures abroad, every experience is recounted with honesty, dignity, humility, and a riveting sense of place. My thanks to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for the opportunity to read this book.

 

A GHOST IN THE THROAT

“Perhaps the past is always trembling inside the present…” It’s true what they’re saying. This book is a treasure. A haunting. The extraordinary within the ordinary, a tale within a tale, told beautifully.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

“That the prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective.” Nora Seed has hit rockbottom… until she finds herself in the Midnight Library. Matt Haig explores the complexities of life through magical realism. Superb!

AS YOU WERE

Elaine’s poetic writing carried me along, page over page. If you’ve ever spent time in a hospital ward you’ll identify with these characters, so beautifully and sympathetically drawn. Particularly Sinead, flawed, stubborn, wounded. Heart-wrenching.

 

 

BOOMER TRUDY: A Short Story

Delighted to share a short story of mine, recently published by Epoque Press in the 7th Edition of their é-zine, on the theme of ‘Isolation’.

You can read BOOMER TRUDY alongside some other wonderful work, HERE

Feature Image is copyright of Epoque Press. 2020

The Librarian’s Cellar Recommended Reads 2020: Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly

Ten years ago, Heidi survived a horrendously savage attack, during which her best friend was murdered and her little sister went missing. Amnesia has plagued her, but now, she is beginning to remember…

Monstrous Souls is a tough read in relation to the sexual abuse and trafficking of children, though it is extremely well handled by the author, Rebecca Kelly. A taut thriller, the reader journeys alongside Heidi as she discovers clues from her slowly re-emerging memories… and the truth that shocks her to her core.

 

My thanks to Netgalley and Agora Books for the opportunity to read an ARC copy of Monstrous Souls. In all good book stores now.

On Writing: It’s just you and the words

Unprecedented days. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone – and you know what – unless you are one of our magnificent and brave frontline/essential services workers, not afforded the option of self-isolating – staying safe, healthy and sane are all that most of us need to concentrate on right now.

For the writers among us, productivity may have waned, which may also have us feeling a strange kind of guilt, so I thought I’d share this Facebook post from 2011:

This was a much appreciated ‘break in the clouds’ at the time, and if it helps any emerging writer to go easy on themselves, I’m happy to share that it took me so many years to finish Lady Beth. It was always a marathon. It was never a sprint.

For most of that time, I was riddled with self-doubt. Convinced myself that no-one would want to read it. That no-one would be interested in what I had to say. Then it happened. I got a break – someone saw the potential. And it fired me up again. I kept at it – for another six years until I published it on 2017 – though I continued to struggle. (Still do!) But what I’ve learned is that if it’s in your blood to be a writer, you’ll be one.

It will and should take time. You will and should have difficult days when you question why and what for. You’ll be sticking your neck out, your ego out, your vulnerability. Not everyone will be kind and supportive. Those voices might even deafen you. Paralyse you.

Consider those battle scars as ammunition. Wear those nasty paper cuts with pride as you learn to push aside the negative forces. Shove them out of your way so that you can hear those others. The positive voices. The encouragers. The mentors. The enablers.

Take your time. You’ll be honing your craft ‘til the day you die. Be open to making mistakes, but also be open to learning from them. It’s not a competition. It’s just you and the words. Tell your stories. Take all the time you need to tell them in your unique voice.

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A writer and filmmaker, Caroline is the author of the novel LADY BETH and the writer/director the short film FRAMED (2018). An award-winning screenwriter, she has also written the short films IN RIBBONS (2015) and ADAM (2013). 

The Librarian’s Cellar Books 2020: Actress by Anne Enright

 

“Katherine O’Dell is an Irish theatre legend. As her daughter Norah retraces her mother’s celebrated career and bohemian life, she delves into long-kept secrets, both her mother’s and her own.”

The narrator, Norah is a writer. In order to make meaning of her own experiences (the ghost in my blood) she remembers her mother’s life and career. A tumultuous life that culminated in great sadness…

There is pain and grief for Norah, but there is also catharsis, and for the reader, so much more between the lines of Enright’s beautifully constructed sentences… of a generation of women gone, and the truth of their lives…

I loved this book.

The Librarian’s Cellar Books 2020: Sisters by Daisy Johnson

 

An eerie glimpse into the lives of haunted people, SISTERS is compelling and beautiful.

Born just ten months apart, July and September are as close as twins, never needing anyone but each other. When their single mother moves them to Settle House, a palpable unease slowly emerges, as do a series of unsettling revelations that will keep you reading until the very end.

Multi-faceted in theme and style, SISTERS creeps upon you and is completely absorbing.

 

Published July 2020. My thanks to Netgalley and Penguin for the opportunity to read this ARC.

 

Taking time out… and not writing.

Strange days are these, and everywhere I turn, there is advice for writers. How to make the best of all this spare time during social isolation. How to be more productive. How to finish that WIP. And I fell into all of it — putting pressure on myself to produce, to create, though nothing of worth was emerging.

I was riddled with guilt that I wasn’t writing — until I copped on!

So I stopped trying. Left it alone. Shut the laptop and stacked the notebooks. I read more books, practiced my amateur knitting, stared out the window, did some housework (only the essential stuff!) and used the time to let the mind wander. To let new thoughts percolate. To be inspired.

And this happened: Not Writing. A Poem (Of Sorts) published by Pendemic, a wonderful site, created to publish new writing in response to Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Check it out for some insightful writing and writers.

 

Not Writing

Of disquiet

The pang that lingers as reality bites

Mornings open to inspection

What next?

Of the belly ache. Someone forgotten

The distance. Forced and unnatural

Of the worry

The vulnerable

The children not cherished

Of fragile safety nets undone

And inevitable loss

Of love for kin held close

And the hollow of their absence

Of soul friends

The warmth of their knowing

Of energy sent and received

Of being blessed

Of hitting the reset button

For the chance to begin again.

 

The thing is, we all have the belly aches, the worries that churn. We are all filled with self doubt that our art doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to a world in turmoil. A world closing in to protect itself. To protect us. But, we’re a resilient bunch, us humans. We’ll get through this. We will thrive and we will reset.

And the creativity will flow.

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Caroline E Farrell is a writer and filmmaker. She is the author of the novel, LADY BETH and the Writer/Director of the short film FRAMED. She is also the writer of  the short films IN RIBBONS and ADAM. 

 

The Librarian’s Cellar Books 2020: Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir by Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit has written prolifically on feminism, politics and art, and while not a traditionally written memoir, ‘Recollections of my Non-Existence’ is an interesting and relatable insight into her formative years, charting a journey of enlightenment, experiences and friendships that influenced her writing and activism.

More importantly, the book shines a light on the experience of Rebecca, and indeed, for all women, finding their space in the world – a world, that because of our gender, is filled with danger and threat – and how we have negotiated survival while navigating these perils. Has anything changed, really?

 

Published by Viking. Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for opportunity to read this ARC.