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Finding the Best Place to Write

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writing-427527_640Years ago, indeed, so many years ago that I would prefer not to reveal the actual date, I went to Spain to write a novel. I had the perfect place in mind – a small village, not too far from the Mediterranean coast. It would be a stone-built village, with narrow medieval streets, surrounded by olive groves stretching to the beach and a glimmering cobalt sea. I would take up rooms above a friendly bar/restaurant where I would have meals of hearty stew served by a beautiful cdarked-haired girl who wanted to improve her English. In the evenings, after a hard day’s writing, I would converse with garrulous old fishermen, full of stirring tales of the sea. Naturally, these would provide me with the raw materials for a novel which would stun the literary world.

Such a village did exist, once.   But I never went there. Instead, I took up residence in a tiny eighth floor flat in Barcelona, squeezed between the tourist haven of the Sagrada Familia church (the one with the spiky towers) and the all night ambulance station of the local hospital. Barcelona was and is the city that never sleeps. And neither did I. The message from the myriad bars and restaurants that I frequented was – life is for living, not for scribbling about. My novel, needless to say, did not get written.

7946581522_f7233274beWould I have written the book if I had stayed in my quiet village? Is there an ideal place to write?

Virginia Woolf’s prescription was simple. “A room of one’s own” was all that was necessary, while Stephen King offers some practical advice on what you should do with that room. “If possible,” he says in his wise manual On Writing, “there should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall.”

On the other hand, JK Rowling said the best place to write is in a café. “You don’t have to make your own coffee, you don’t have to feel like you’re in solitary confinement,” she said. But then she had to write in a café – she was too broke to heat her flat, and could not bear to write Harry Potter in fingerless mittens. Incidentally, the café where she penned the first of her astonishingly successful books is now a place of pilgrimage for Potter fans. Last time I was there, an entire team of Italian footballers were being noisily photographed next to a poster of Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid. No longer a quiet place to write, then.

Truman Capote and Toni Morrison recommended motels as their favoured location to write, while Marcel Proust insisted on a cork-lined room. Other published writers have claimed to do their best work in the car, the bathroom and even the local church.

Looking back on my sojourn in Barcelona, I am pretty sure that my problem was not where I had chosen to write. I simply wasn’t ready. When you are ready, you’ll know. As Ernest Hemingway replied when asked this perennial question, “The best place to write is in your head.”

~ Patrick Kelly is a journalist and writer. He has lived in Barcelona and London. He is now studying for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.

Thoughts One Has While Writing a Novel

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This is going to be great, like Joyce, except better than Joyce – more readable. Clever but enjoyable. Touching. Compelling. I can’t wait for my first interview on Oprah’s Book of the Month Club. My characters taught me so much, you know. They really had a life of their own. Some lines just came from God, you know. I wrote that line and thought: “That was a good line”.

Actually, this writing thing’s harder than it looks. Maybe this won’t be Joyce. I’ll settle for, like, Nicholas Sparks. He made lots of money at least. I’ll be rich and famous from these words. I can’t wait for my book to be made into a film. I can’t wait to win my first Oscar.

How many words have I written today? Phew that’s loads. Time for some coffee.

I think I’ll give myself a week off. Just ‘cos.

Oh Jesus, what did I write last week? That makes no sense at all. What are my characters doing? Just walking around talking to each other? Are my characters even characters? They’re just words on a page. Is that sentence even a sentence? What tense am I in? What tense am I supposed to be in?

I think I’ll remove that comma. There. Much better.

I think I’ll put that comma back in. There. Much better.

Actually, this is kind of Joycean.

Actually, this is nowhere near Joyce, or even Nicholas Sparks. It’s probably more along the lines of the Teletubbies. If I could write something half as coherent as the Teletubbies I’d be doing well.

Somebody publish me!

~ Niamh Donnelly

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Torn Ogham Stone Logo 1The Ogham Stone editors would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

We are very excited about this coming year because our second edition will be released in just a few weeks! Our design team has been working day and night to create a faboulus journal and we can’t wait to share it with all of you!

Our promotion team is finalizing the details regarding the release event in Febuary and those wishing to attend are welcome!

The realse date will be announced in the following weeks so keep an eye out on our website and if you haven’t already followed us on Twitter and Facebook, the links are below!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/theoghamstone

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oghamstoneul?ref=hl

Many thanks from The Ogham Stone editors and have a wonderful new year!

Theatre of the Absurd

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a_TOTA_06For most people, going to the theatre is a pleasant, culturally enlightening and stimulating experience. The majority of modern theatres are salubrious environments with comfortable seats, pleasant ambiances, and places where theatrical devotees can avail of food and beverages. People who attend the theatre are looking to be entertained and with this in mind, they take their seats comfortable in the knowledge that an entertaining night awaits them at their favourite theatre.

However, followers of theatre of the Absurd, encounter a vastly different theatrical experience from other theatre aficionados. Innovative playwrights developed absurdist theatre in the 1950s in show houses across mainland Europe with France being the foremost place of origin for the new theatrical form. Theatre of the Absurd is concerned with depictions of the human condition and in most cases; it depicts it as being meaningless. Characters appear to be lost with their lives have no sense of purpose or direction. Important theatrical devices such as time, place, language and identity break down in Absurdist theatre. In staging absurdist plays, directors use minimal staging and refuse to give their plays a meaningful plot. Babbling and incoherent dialogue characterises absurdist plays. Typically, plays of this type revolve around dreams and in many cases the characters experience nightmares of terrifying nature.

Samuel Beckett is perhaps the most well know originator of theatre of the Absurd. His play Waiting for Godot is a prime example of an absurdist play, which Beckett aired at the Theatre de Babylone, in Paris 1953. The play centres mainly on two characters Vladimir and Estragon and Beckett’s play utilises the aforementioned features of absurdist theatre such as lack of plot, timeline, place and language. Overall, there is minimal moment in the play and the primary characters Vladimir and Estragon appear to be stuck in a physical, emotional and psychological time loop. Most importantly, Beckett’s plays highlights the meaningless of life and the human condition in the wider context of international warfare, corrupt governments, consumers driven societies, dishonest societal institutions and intrusive corporate companies.

1311984754_740215_0000000000_noticia_normalTheatre of the Absurd distorts and unsettles the viewer. In the absence of recognised theatrical devices, strange events on stage unnerve the audience, as they do not know what is coming next or how to react to what the actors are doing. For Beckett, this is the exact reaction, which he wanted Waiting for Godot to create. He did not want to produce a visually pleasing and rounded realist play. Rather, Beckett wanted to jolt theatrical devotees out of their everyday lives and experiences in order to force them to confront the negative aspects of the human condition, the disturbing elements of contemporary society and the dehumanising nature of corporate businesses.

Attending an absurdist play such as Waiting for Godot is certainly a unique experience that will leave a lasting impression on the viewer. Therefore, the next time you are considering a pleasant evening at the local theatre, instead of going to a mainstream play that gives you a recognised theatrical structure, why not go to an absurdist play. Such plays challenges you in so many ways while forcing you to engage in an active manner with the material that you are witnessing.

~Pádraig O’ Loingsigh

Dear Writers

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thank you note

Dear Writers,

Thank you to everyone who submitted to the 2015 edition of The Ogham Stone! The poems, stories and pieces are in and are currently being read by our editorial team.

We hope to be in contact with all those who submitted to our magazine in due time.

Thank you once again and we will be in touch soon!

Sincerely,

The Ogham Stone Team

“How am I going to read this?”

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ulysses[1]The words James Joyce and Ulysses typically fill most readers with a sense of dread and trepidation. Ulysses has gained an almost mythical status with most critics agreeing that it is one of the foremost literary texts in the English language. They base this lofty argument on the innovative way in which Joyce constructs his text. In addition, the standard of language, which Joyce uses throughout the book, sets it apart from most text. Despite a relatively simplistic plot line, Joyce masterfully constructs an interweaving text that highlights his subjects in new and innovative ways. In addition, Joyce inserts a myriad of textual references, which encompass centuries of various texts making it a truly multi-contextual and internationally timeless work. Apparently, James Joyce once said that his multitude of textual reference gave it a riddle like quality that would take critics centuries to unravel thus ensuring his immortality.

In many cases, Ulysses may seem daunting to college students whom their lectures require them to read. Often students will get to chapter three (Proteus) and give up as the effort of deciphering the text becomes too much. On the other hand, students who continue with the text despite its difficulty experience a phenomenal sense of achievement when they finish it. In many cases, students see it as a badge of honour having successfully read one of the most difficult texts in the English language. Equally, students and readers who finish the text often see their achievement as a badge of cultural capital placing them in a small and select cultural group that share a common interest.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that Ulysses is a most difficult read and students often ask the question: “How can I successfully complete this book?” There is no one correct answer to this however, readers can utilise a series of qualities and strategies that can use to help them complete Ulysses. Patience is a virtue but in the case of Ulysses, it is a necessity for any reader who wishes to finish the book. The text is difficult and readers need to be patient in terms of completing it. Furthermore, understanding a text is a core objective for most readers however; in the case of Ulysses, most readers on initial reading will not fully understand the text. It is important for readers to be comfortable with this and instead focus on taking what they can from the text and this will certainly help them to finish the text. It is extremely wise for reader not to confuse the author with the text. The narrator in a text does not necessarily represent the author. However, most creative writers will draw on personal experiences, cultural and historical contexts in forming their narratives. It is reasonable to argue that James Joyce was no different in this regard. Therefore, readers who have an adequate knowledge of Joyce’s biography will have a better chance of understanding the text. Read! Read! Read! Certainly, a well-informed reader will have a much better chance of understanding Ulysses than a less well read individual. Because of Joyce’s myriad of textual allusions, a more sophisticated reader will be able to notice the multitude of references that Joyce makes throughout Ulysses. On a practical level, having a dictionary close to hand is useful when reading Ulysses as the reader can use it to look up the many difficult and unusual words that Joyce uses in his text. Finally, take time reading Ulysses. If the reader is under a time constraint, they will certainly struggle to complete the text. Instead, take plenty of breaks while reading it as the time away from the book will help to clear the readers head giving them a fresh perspective when they return to it.

Lastly, and most importantly, try to enjoy perhaps the greatest book in the English language and share in the tremendous sense of achievement that fellow readers garner from finishing Ulysses

~Pádraig Ó Loingsigh

Last Day to Submit!

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Last day to submit your poems, fiction, non-fiction, and artwork to The Ogham Stone.

Remember, submit your work to oghamstoneul@gmail.com and visit our submission pages for the details.

https://theoghamstoneul.wordpress.com/submit/

Come on–Less than 24 hours left!