Right, so I was sitting on my couch there about a week ago and I got a tweet from the talented David Baillie about something called the Writer's Blog Tour.
This is the way one writer put it to explain the Writer's Blog Tour, 'The idea of the Writers’ Blog Tour is for bloggers to answer the same four seemingly simple questions and then pass the challenge on.' which is a direct quote from Edinburgh based writer Laura Anne Anderson. So to her a big thank you. You can read her very interesting answers on her blog too.
I was trying to come up with a way of explaining it and 'the Irishman giving directions' came out in me. I typed several weird and wonderful but not quite clear ways of saying it. She said it best.
Should you wish to read David's very interesting and insightful answers do go here.
Um, so I guess I better answer the four questions...
What am I working on?
Very good question... I am stalling here, um, well I am working on a few different things.
I have just gone freelance full-time in the last couple of months which has been a little bit of an eye opener. I spent the first few weeks getting kids around the island of Ireland to think about writing short stories. Then they draw them as three to four panel comic strips in schools and libraries about the place. These are done bilingually, in Irish (Irish Gaelic) and English depending on the school or group in question. I've had great fun with these especially seeing people who would have never written anything before write and draw some amazing stuff.
Also a group of us in Ennis are working on a festival for October 24th and 25th to highlight storytelling as well as writing in all it's many forms. More about that again.
Currently working on editing the next issue of Rírá, our Irish language anthology comic for 8 - 14 year old kids which has been taking flight as well as our website where we will have a weekly web comic going shortly.
I am writing and drawing a comic for younger kids that I started when I was off for a year with the auld 'sarcastic doses' as my cousin calls it (sarcoidosis). It was the only thing keeping me sane just drawing it out as a thing to keep me from going bonkers and now I am finishing it off.
I have a third of a novel that I have been working on the past couple of years written which means I now should have time to finish that. It's a fantasy project. I have been writing short stories the past while again. I missed that when I was working in the bookshop for the past number of years having the time to write again.
Mike Lynch (of Abandoned Comics, Freddy Mercury comic on Sky News and writer of many different projects fame) and I have been working on a script for the past year or two on and off which we have threatened to finish for ages. Soon.
Sometimes I write articles (last year wrote an article in An Consantóir, Irish Defence Forces magazine, about the relationship between comics and the military) and give a wee talk from time to time. So in June I am giving a talk on comics and Celtic Languages at a conference in Waterford Institute of Technology where the NAACLT (North American Association for Celtic Language Teachers) will be hanging out. I have to write a paper for that which means tons of research which I am looking forward to.
I used to do a weekly book review thing for Clare FM but now I do the odd Friday talking heads panel on their Afternoon Show which is fun. Not really writing I suppose but I do google what we are going to be talking about and write notes, that kind of counts, maybe? I have no idea really. But I like radio and there is a wee project or two I have in my notebooks I would like to do.
Well, there you go, I thought I had nothing to say. Now I am petrified. I have to finish all these things. Anyway a coffee before the next question.
How does my work differ from others in my genre?
That's a tough one. Really I don't know. I've never really had a genre.
I have in the past written several different things. From short newspaper/magazine comic strips, which are really just short scenes converted to visuals to other things, like the odd article for a magazine to a humorous book review in a small regional newspaper. I once worked for a wedding magazine, as a writer, in Toronto while backpacking in Canada for a bit. I have no idea how that came about either. When I was about nineteen or twenty I wrote a radio play about a car crash and then entered it into the PJ O'Connor Awards. It got long listed. It was exciting to me. After that I had a short story about a guy turning invisible on BBC Radio 4. It was supposed to be a stand up comedy piece I wrote in art college. I remember writing it on a sketch pad page. I didn't have the guts to do stand up but converted it to a short story, it got rejected by a few magazines but the BBC said it was grand. I remember buying the Radio Times to see it to believe it was happening. Radio 4 doesn't broadcast in the West of Ireland but I got to hear it on the internet. I near wet myself with disbelief and glee. I do love listening to radio plays and audio books. So I don't really have a genre as such.
I would like to think my work differs because I think I like writing to entertain. I hope it shows that I am having fun and it entertains when it is meant to be and informs when it needs to too. To be honest that is a tough question. I love reading and writing. I always have.
Why do I write what I do?
I like to get a story down and it helps get it out of my head. Many times I have been lying in bed about to fall asleep and a thought slaps me awake. I need to grab a notebook and write down the thought no matter how bizarre down on paper. I say notebook. It could be a receipt or whatever.
To be honest it's a wee bit of an addiction. I do it because it is fun. I like it and I have always been writing since I have been a kid. I have notebooks and copybooks from when I was very young. They are either filled with drawings, where maths problems should have been worked out in a crisp clean manner, that escalated into comics or rough comic strips. Or they were stories written in the, terrible but frantic, hand writing of someone who doesn't want to forget the words locked in their noggin.
For non-fiction, and I really don't do enough of it, I try to write a fun non-fiction piece. I wrote two articles for An Cosantóir last year on the relationship between the military and comics. As someone who loves comics and I was originally applying to them as an illustrator I pitched the germ of an idea to the editor for an article which grew into two. I really enjoyed it and I tried to make the article fun, informative as well as a little nostalgic in parts for the reader. I imagine (and I could be wrong) that most members of the Irish Defence Forces would not normally read comics but I hope it entertained and made them think about reading a few again.
I do like to write things that I would like to read. I suppose that is true of anyone who writes. If I write non-fiction I would like to think it's interesting and fun. If it's fiction I would like to think someone has either smiled at the very least at a terrible gag I wrote (prefer a mucus coffee snort through the nose laughter though). Or feel a chill if I wrote a horror. I like the idea someone has read something I wrote and they enjoyed it. It's a very strange thing to enjoy doing I suppose.
I have tried to stop but it's just not doable. I keep destroying blank sheets of paper by writing or drawing on them. The question might be more 'Why can't you stop?'
How does my writing process work?
I am finding my feet as a full-time freelancer type person. Before it used to work where I would come home from work. Wind down for a few hours then start work at ten and go on till about twelve or one in the morning. Now, I am doing it full-time, it depends on the job.
If I am doing a short comic strip it means lots of words. Fiddling with them and trying to string them into a coherent pacing in about four panels if I can. I do odd jobs for newspapers or even recently someone wanted a comic for a family friend with them in it for a birthday. I had to take everything they liked and make a scene. I know that doesn't sound like much but it is still a narrative that needs to be played out. I then draw the comic strip and tweak the script or writing because when you are drawing sometimes you can see the pacing changing. If I am writing a longer comic, I find I write in a notebook on one page and thumbnail on the other just to see how the script will look beside a very rough drawing.
If I am writing a short story or radio play I write the bulk of it out by hand in a notebook at a hazardous pace and type it later. Get it all down. Read it back and wonder where that particular sentence was going for half an hour, then give up and continue to get the rest of it down. The ideas come from odd things I have read and just wandering about the place eating an ice cream or whatever. Then the panic hits as I try to get to a writing thingy (pen and piece of paper). I have discovered though I can just put the notion on my phone. Then sometimes I look at it a month later and feel furrows form in my forehead as I haven't a clue what I was on about.
The novel thing that I have to finish I have a plan to write 1500 words a day and just finish it.
Non-fiction bits and bobs is much the same. I research, collect interesting data and then write a kind of plot or a map of where I want the article to go. Then I just try to link all the things together with words (I am reading this and wondering if any of this makes sense at all). I write in a light manner I guess. I like to try to use humour where I can.
No matter what I am doing, I always go back about three times to edit. I sometimes call on someone I know to give a read of whatever I have written. When someone else looks at something you have written they can see things you might have missed.
I sometimes go back and look at my sketch pads, pieces of paper in boxes or copybooks to read back old ideas or stories. Sometimes I play with these for a few hours too.
Anyway I think that is my Writer's Blog Tour. I have no idea if any of that made any sense at all, at all.
First person on my list of people is Mike Lynch. He started out writing comics with Rírá and went onto other things like Zarjaz, Freddy Mercury published by Bluewater Productions, Button Press Publications and other places. He is co-founder of Abandoned Comics where he wrote Blackstar and co-wrote Nestor. Mike writes all sorts of genres but he is a joy to read. If you wish to read his blog you can here www.abandonedcomics.com/blog/
Next on my list is another Irish based talent, Mr. Alan Nolan. He writes graphic novels for younger readers published with O'Brien Press, publishes the wonderful Sancho comic for adults and also works for several publications around the country, like the Irish Times. He writing is fun and always entertains. His blog is found here www.alannolan.ie
The final guy on my list is Seán Michael Wilson a comic writer who writes a ton of stuff and works in Japan for Kodansha. In the United Kingdom he has worked in the past for Classical Comics and more recently been the co-writer of Fight the Power published by Seven Stories Press. You can read his blog here www.sean-michael-wilson.blogspot.ie
Anyway thank you so much for reading this. And a big thank you to David Baillie for getting me to write this. Hope it makes some kind of sense.