Bakers Dozen: Proust Questionnaire 13 – SK, and goodbye!

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After ending on a high last night with the celebration of Dennis O’Driscoll’s life and work, Dublin Writers Festival 2013 is closing its doors for another year. Thank you so much for reading. It has been a pleasure contributing, and here is number 13 to make the Proust Questionnaires a “bakers dozen”. Thanks also to all the contributors, and goodbye for now – SK. p.s. Richard Ford did warn me beforehand that he wasn’t good with questionnaires. Just to clarify (!).

What is your idea of happiness?

Being with the people I love most in the world. But also, having time alone, reading, listening to music, watching things I really like, walking by the sea, pottering, tippling prosecco and watching the world go by, writing, swimming, cycling, daydreaming uninterrupted.

Where would you most like to live?

Dublin is home in so many ways, but I would also like to live (and may yet) in New York, Reykjavik, Paris, Copenhagen, anywhere in Italy, and then near Blacksod Bay in Mayo, which is home-home.

What is your favourite virtue?

Honesty.

What are your favourite qualities in a man?

Honesty, communication, kindness, humour, courage, gentleness, loyalty.

What are your favourite qualities in a woman?

The same, really.

What do you most value in your friends?

Their senses of humour, their gentleness, loyalty, and also their kindness and strength, their acceptance and open-heartedness, their differences and good natures, and that I seem to corral them into mad things without too much trouble.

What is your biggest weakness?

Overthinking things. Worrying. Anxiety. Daydreaming and drifting when I should be working.

What do you enjoy doing most?

Doing things for others. Writing. Reading. Listening to music. Watching really good television. Walking by the sea. Cycling. Dinners with friends. Music festivals. Swimming. Going to live music as much as possible. Going to the pictures. Seeing a really good stand up comic. Watching a great football match. Travelling. Being cosy, by the fire. Watching/listening to political programmes. Listening to the radio. Sewing things that need mending.

What is your most marked characteristic?

Curiosity. Passion for things. Being reliable. Loyalty. Nervy. Tired (these days).

What is your idea of misery?

Being misunderstood. Being let down really badly. Someone I care about being very unwell. People struggling and lonely.

If not yourself, who would you like to be?

I suppose you just have to try and be yourself, sadness comes from trying to be someone else.

What is your favourite colour and flower?

Deep scarlet red, and emerald green. Freesia.

What is your favourite bird?

The owl, followed closely by the robin.

Who are your favourite writers?

A very long list, but some that spring to mind instantly are; John McGahern, James Joyce, Edna O’Brien, David Sedaris, Christopher Marlowe, Charles Dickens, Alice Munro, Ben Jonson, William Shakespeare, Juvenal, Tove Jansson, Roald Dahl, Horace, Lester Bangs, Jane Austen, Henry Miller, Stan Lee, George Bernard Shaw, Grant Morrison, William Goldman, George Eliot, the Bronte’s, Elizabeth Gaskell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Trevor, Shalom Auslander, Annie Proulx, Henry Fielding, Alexander Pope, Louisa May Alcott, Halldor Laxness, Lewis Carroll, Richard Ford, Ernest Hemingway, Alan Moore, George Plimpton, Anais Nin, Ronald Dworkin, John Stuart Mill, Flann O’Brien, Raymond Carver, James Baldwin, Edgar Allen Poe, Kurt Vonnegut, Iris Murdoch, Homer, Stendhal, Laurence Sterne, Samuel Beckett, Marcel Proust, the list goes on and on…..

Who are your favourite poets?

Seamus Heaney, Tim Key, Patrick Kavanagh, Wendy Cope, Christina Rossetti, John Keats, W.B. Yeats, W. H. Auden, Philip Larkin, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and so many more….

Who are your favourite artists?

Louise Bourgeois, Edward Gorey, Georgia O’Keeffe, Paula Rego, Sandro Botticelli, Francesca Woodman, Leonarda Da Vinci, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, and so many more. And then if expanding on the term artist, I would include people like Daniel Kitson, Woody Allen, Chris Rock, Louis CK, Amy Sedaris, Neil Hamburger, Phyllis Diller, Jon Stewart, Dylan Moran, George Carlin, Gilda Radner, Bill Cosby, Rodney Dangerfied, Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Kaufman, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Larry David, Richard Pryor, George Burns, Carol Burnett, Amy Poehler, Jackie Mason, Dave Chappelle, Steve Coogan,  and so many others who have made the world a better place just by their very existence, and ability to make me laugh a lot. And Eric Cantona, of course, who is a wonder.

Who are your favourite musicians?

A very long list, but here are a few; Planxty, Kate Bush, Rakim, Tommy Peoples, A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Oscar Peterson, Allen Touissant, Van Dyke Parks, The Walkmen, Harry Nilsson, Count Basie, Randy Newman, Björk, Owen Pallett, Destroyer, Future Islands, Prince, Wu-Tang Clan, Mary J. Blige, Mel Torme, Paul Simon, Mos Def, The Smiths, Talib Kweli, Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, Belle and Sebastian, Elvis Costello, Phil Lynott, Low, Public Enemy, Nat King Cole, Big Star, David Bowie, Beach House, Dan Deacon, Owen Ashworth, Bobby Short, Miracle Fortress, Creedence Clearwater Revival, El-Producto, Junior Boys, The Zombies, Charles Mingus, The Modern Lovers, Miles Davis, Slick Rick, Roy Orbison, Joni Mitchell, Beastie Boys, Max Roach, Dusty Springfield, Juan Atkins, Notorious B.I.G., Suicidal Tendencies, Pavement, Cocteau Twins, Clipse, Thelonious Monk, Daniel Johnston, Arvo Pärt, Prokofiev, Satie, and so many more….

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in fiction?

Elizabeth Bennett, Stephen Dedelus, Jane Eyre, Little My, Jo March, Batman, Catwoman.

Who are the heroes and heroines in your life?

My parents, my brothers, my friends, others that have come in and out of my life and left a legacy.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in history?

Grace O’Malley, Martin Luther King, Tony Benn, Michael Collins, Mary Robinson, Charles Stewart Parnell, Constance Markievicz, so many more if I start really thinking about it.

What is your favourite food and drink?

Food: Roast chicken dinner, hot buttered toast, cheeses, stew. Drinks: prosecco, coffee, red wine, hot chocolate, milk, and when the occasion requires it – a little glass of Guinness, a little glass of turfy whiskey.

What are your favourite names?

Patrick, Marcella, Finbar, Tomás, Woody, Agnes, Bridget.

What do you most dislike?

Thoughtlessness, people being unkind, lack of courtesy, people not being honest and true, bigotry and fascism in all its forms.

Which historical figures do you most dislike?

I suppose anyone associated with fascism, bigotry, and bullies really get me down.

What event in history do you most admire?

The civil rights movement in particular.

What social movement do you most admire?

The civil rights movement, socialism, feminism, anything that looks to level the playing field.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?

To fly like a little bird.

How would you like to die?

In the full knowledge of it, feeling like I gave life my best shot, and that I’d been true.

What is your present state of mind?

Very tired. Very woolly and worn out. Rainy.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Thoughtlessness.

Which fault in others do you most easily tolerate?

Lateness, although maybe I don’t see it as a fault, as I am often late (!)

Which fault in yourself do you most easily tolerate?

I don’t know if I do, but perhaps procrastination, and being scattered.

What is your motto?

Young Hearts Run Free, and on days I don’t feel like that, I just watch Annie Hall or Barefoot in the Park and hope that tomorrow might be better.

Or this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xAAGh-3sw0

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Rebecca Miller: Today!

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Go to Smock Alley at 4pm today to see the award-winning film director Rebecca Miller, with Deirdre Madden, discussing her new novel Jacob’s Folly, and notions of memory, fate and free will.

It follows her debut novel The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, and her brilliant collection of short stories, Personal Velocity, both of which were made into films.

Tomorrow I’ll be contributing one more thing for the Writers Festival, so do come back then, and enjoy the last day of what has been a really memorable DWF 2013.

(SK)

Rebecca Solnit: Today!

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Go and see the brilliant Rebecca Solnit today if you can. There are so many reasons why, but one of them is  A Book of Migrations (1997). It is essentially about her time wandering around Ireland, but is also a memoir of personal and family history, as well as exploring a nation’s complexity and poetry, with deft and great artistry.

In the midst of all our political and economic turmoil, it is too easy to forget what a majestic landscape we live in. When Solnit gets to the Cliffs of Moher she writes, “a deeper blue than my own churning gray Pacific, blue as though different dreams had been dumped into it, blue as ink.  I imagined filling a fountain pen with it and wondered what one would write with that ocean.”

She will be at Smock Alley at 2pm.

(SK)

Publish and Be Famed – The inside track on getting published.

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We gathered indoors to the cool, still interior of the Smock Alley Theatre on Friday afternoon to get the inside track on what it takes to get published. Talking us through for the afternoon were Seán O’Keeffe, Publisher and MD of Liberties Press; Alice Dawson, Publicity and Marketing Manager at Liberties Press and the charming Declan Burke, Irish author of crime fiction novels such as Absolute Zero Cool.

As an aspiring novelist, the prospect of getting published can often seem like light years away from the daily slog of getting your story down on paper. Getting a chapter finished is a big deal and when you finally complete a draft manuscript, you then have to grapple with the realisation that you will have to go through the entire process again for your next draft. Ernest Hemingway said that ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed’ – yet what about after the bleeding is done, what about getting your story out there and into the world of publishing?

Rejection, unfortunately, is part of the process and so to minimise the chances of repeat rejection, it is important to research and be aware of the publishing houses and agents that have an interest in the type of writing that you do. The ‘Writers and Artists Handbook’ should be by your side through this process and the key here is to know your market inside out,  target it with a polished product, stay patient and keep trying. This approach will go a long way to opening the doors into the publishing world, which is like any other professional business – not something wistful and mystical because the currency is books – so having a professional approach is expected.

For fiction writers, a book that is introduced by an agent is likely to get much more attention from a publisher, as a good agent with a tailored approach will know the market and what the publishers are interested in.  When the time comes to look for an agent, the rule seems to be to pitch your work to agents one at a time until you find someone who understands your work. If you are by-passing the agent route, make sure you read and follow the submission guidelines on the publishers website and it is okay to submit to a few publishing houses simultaneously.

Once your work has gained the interest of a publishing house, it’s all about packaging your book and finding readers through the publicity and marketing channels. In addition to the traditional promotional strategies of interviews and reviews, Alice Dawson also wanted us to be aware of the importance of social media. As an unpublished author, if you already have an online presence (actively blogging or using Twitter for example), it shows that you are willing to put yourself out there and create awareness about your writing.  This willingness to self-promote is a great advantage to publishers and it can act as a springboard from which to generate your book’s commercial potential. And it shouldn’t all be about ‘the book’ either – as an author, you should be able to create and engage in conversation about topics that interest you and subject matters that are perhaps reflected in your writing.

Best-selling author Dan Brown commented in the National Concert Hall on Monday night that writers by nature like to be alone, but once you have a hit book, you need to go out into the spotlight and be charming. And it seems that getting published is not about handing your book over to a publisher and letting the magic happen, in fact writing your book is only the start of the getting published process.

 

Written by Nicola Connolly.

Photo by David Mannion.

Celebrating Dennis O’Driscoll: Tomorrow

Here is a moving, short piece by Seamus Heaney on his friend, the much-missed poet Dennis O’Driscoll.

Seamus will be part of the celebration of Dennis’ life and work tomorrow evening at Smock Alley (8pm), which will be the last event of this year’s DWF.

 

Tomorrow

I

Tomorrow I will start to be happy.

The morning will light up like a celebratory cigar.

Sunbeams sprawling on the lawn will set

dew sparkling like a cut-glass tumbler of champagne.

Today will end the worst phase of my life.

I will put my shapeless days behind me,

fencing off the past, as a golden rind

of sand parts slipshod sea from solid land.

It is tomorrow I want to look back on, not today.

Tomorrow I start to be happy; today is almost yesterday.

II

Australia, how wise you are to get the day

over and done with first, out of the way.

You have eaten the fruit of knowledge, while

we are dithering about which main course to choose.

How liberated you must feel, how free from doubt:

the rise and fall of stocks, today’s closing prices

are revealed to you before our bidding has begun.

Australia, you can gather in your accident statistics

like a harvest while our roads still have hours to kill.

When we are in the dark, you have sagely seen the light.

III

Cagily, presumptuously, I dare to write 2018.

A date without character or tone. 2018.

A year without interest rates or mean daily temperature.

Its hit songs have yet to be written, its new-year

babies yet to be induced, its truces to be signed.

Much too far off for prophecy, though one hazards

a tentative guess—a so-so year most likely,

vague in retrospect, fizzling out with the usual

end-of-season sales; everything slashed:

your last chance to salvage something of its style.

`Tomorrow’ is taken from “New and Selected Poems” by Dennis O’Driscoll published by Anvil Press Poetry in 2004.

(SK)

Tonight! Help The Stinging Fly celebrate 15 years.

15Years artwork1 15Years artwork1The Stinging Fly is something of a national treasure, having supported the writing of people like Kevin Barry, Michael J. Farrell, and Mary Costello over the last 15 years. It is a labour of love, nurtured and grown by editor Declan Meade, and deserves to be celebrated; and tonight at the Clarence Suite, from 9.15pm, you can join Kimberly Campanello, Dave Lordan, Danielle McLaughlin, The Winters and Larry Beau to do just that.

(SK)

Proust Questionnaire 12: Tony Clayton-Lea

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Tony Clayton-Lea is a music journalist for The Irish Times, and will be chairing the 33 Revolutions Per Minute discussion this evening at 8.30pm in Liberty Hall.

What is your idea of happiness?

It changes, obviously. Sometimes it’s as simple as reading a newspaper or a book while I’m having breakfast. Other times, it’s just breathing between starting and finishing a piece of work. Watching movies, for sure.

Where would you most like to live?

Anywhere in a mortgage-free house, to be honest. Wish-list locations, however, include New York, Provence, Paris and County Meath.

What is your favourite virtue?

Anything that mixes honesty and humour is fine by me. Honour? Humesty?

What are your favourite qualities in a man?

Politeness, intelligence, humour, a good cologne; the ability to laugh at my jokes is a bonus.

What are your favourite qualities in a woman?

Politeness, intelligence, humour, a good perfume; the ability to laugh at my jokes is a bonus.

What do you most value in your friends?

I love the way they contact me the day before a gig looking for ticket.

What is your biggest weakness?

Apple tarts, Brandy Alexanders, Zoolander.

What do you enjoy doing most?

I really love my work (and I’d like more, if you don’t mind…)

What is your most marked characteristic?

Haven’t the foggiest – although now I come to think of it I am quite organised in an almost worryingly robotic way.

What is your idea of misery?

At the moment, it’s filing copy every hour to The Irish Times via Citrix.

If not yourself, who would you like to be?

I love being me. It’s, like, so… well, me. Oh, alright then: just for an hour or so, the writer Kevin Barry in order to know how the flipping heck he wrote something as brilliant as City Of Bohane.

What is your favourite colour and flower?

Awww, c’mon! What is this – Smash Hits?

What is your favourite bird?

You’re serious, right?

Who are your favourite writers?

Old school: Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene. Current (kind of): Carol Shields, Lorrie Moore, Patrick DeWitt, Kevin Barry. I used to love Ian McEwan, but Jeez, he’s gone off the boil in recent years.

Who are your favourite poets?

Bob Dylan, Aimee Mann, Lily Allen, John Cooper Clarke.

Who are your favourite artists?

Bridget Riley, Salvador Dali; and some of Banksy’s work is amazing.

Who are your favourite musicians?

I have a sneaking admiration for Jack White. And while we’re on the topic – I HATE drum solos.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in fiction?

Charles Ryder (Brideshead Revisited – although he’s not really a hero, is he?); Miss Haversham (Great Expectations – she’s probably the best written loneliest person in literature, don’t you think?)

Who are the heroes and heroines in your life?

My brother; my mother and my wife.

Who are your favourite heroes and heroines in history?

Martin Luther King; Rosa Parks.

What is your favourite food and drink?

Probably a medium-rare steak and a glass of red wine; but you know, sometimes a Big Mac just hits the spot, doesn’t it?

What are your favourite names?

Angela, Sarah, Paul.

What do you most dislike?

Rudeness, discourtesy, people that you know quite well not replying to emails.

Which historical figures do you most dislike?

Hitler, and all those whose names escape me that tried to subjugate individuality and freedom of expression.

What event in history do you most admire?

Has to be the Civil Rights movement.

What social movement do you most admire?

Feminism.

What natural gift would you most like to possess?

The ability to crap gold bars would be nice, if quite likely uncomfortable.

How would you like to die?

Quickly, painlessly, without fuss.

What is your present state of mind?

It varies between beleaguered and becalmed.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I loathe misogyny (and yet I really like the occasional sexist joke – go figure…)

Which fault in others do you most easily tolerate?

Let’s not go there, shall we?

Which fault in yourself do you most easily tolerate?

Ditto.

What is your motto?

Fair Play To All – it’s on the family Coat Of Arms, dontcha know…