Salema Moods: Three Short Poems

I. Ocean Pulse

Rising, curling, foam unfurling,
waves of cold Atlantic sea,

next one coming, meet it running,
plunge into the safe beneath.

Avoid crashing, hard sand-smashing
that could knock me to my knees.

Out here holding. Look I’m floating!
Blood-beat drumming in my ears.

Waves keep surging, endless burgeon
sent up from the darkest deeps,

surface playing, breath delaying,
I dive into your mystery,

always saying all to me.

II. Here is Where
I've been here
before but
now I’m here
for healing.

Twice times ill
with cancer
and its cure
here is where
I’ve come. Numb
beneath – or
should I say
beyond? – these,
my extremities.

I've been here
before but
now I’m here
for healing.

III. Seeing Eye

I’m rocked in salt arms: the ocean,
waves pillowing under my head.
The sky’s eye seems to wink open
to glint all I seek to reflect.
For one glittering, infinite instant
I can’t tell the fall from the swell.

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After The Rising 2. Falling Awake

The story so far: Jo Devereux has returned to Mucknamore, the Irish seaside village where she grew up, for her mother's funeral after an absence of 20 years. There she reconnects with her sister Maeve, brother-in-law Donal, niece Ria and – to her great surprise – Rory O'Donovan, once the love of her life and the last person she expected to see at a Devereux funeral. Now read on:

Donal explains that we are to stand behind the hearse and lead the cortège down to the old cemetery. Only when he says this do I look across and realize: my father’s grave lies flat and undisturbed.

‘Let me guess: another special request?’

‘Yep. She’s to be buried with her own family.’

Not with Daddy. I’m surprised she braved the scandal of that, dead or alive.

‘And according to the grand plan, we all have to walk there.’

To the old cemetery? That’s down almost as far as Rathmeelin, the next village up the coast. In this heat? I doubt I’ll be able to make it. But now here’s Maeve bustling across, aggravated-big-sister expression in place. ‘Am I supposed to say,

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Change To Friday Fiction

Because I've just been given an exciting new screenwriting opportunity (of which more anon)…  and because, as advised by Joanna last week, I need to have my published novels e-reader-ready for Christmas…  and because I'm also publishing a poetry book this month…, I find I have to put Skin Diving on hold.

This hurts. I've spent days resisting. Firstly, your feedback told me you were enjoying the chapter-by-chapter, Friday fiction slot. So was I.

And I've been carrying this story about the MacIntyre family for years. A part of me, a very big part of me, wants more than anything to write this book. That's why I started serialising it in the first place.

But I've learned enough about the creative process to know

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Tormentor Mentors

IN AUTUMN OF 1916, Iseult Gonne sent a long letter to her friend and mentor, WB Yeats, in which she referred to his recent critique of her writing: “I am most thankful to you for those criticisms you have made on my scribblings,” she wrote. “Yes, they are bad. I knew it all the while and I am glad of what you say about truth and beauty. I will try and put it into practice . . . but just now I am still too tired to work.”

Too tired to work. When I first came upon those words, as part of research I was doing into Gonne’s life, I felt like weeping. Yes, the writing she was doing at the time could sometimes be

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Skin Diving. Chapter 4.

The Story So Far: From the ‘Advanced Psychotherapeutic Facility’ in upstate New York to which her father, Mack, has admitted her, Mel McIntyre mines family history and her own memory for details of a 20-year-old tragedy: the death of baby sister, Tara.   Mel has reason to believe the mysterious circumstances of this killing connect in some way to the recent suicide of her twin, Jamie.

Previous Chapters Can be Read HERE.

Now Read On:

CHAPTER FOUR: BROUGHT TO BOOK

‘You're not Doctor Keane.'

‘Well spotted, my dear.' She's a big woman, in her fifties, buxom. I've seen her and her waddling curves about the place but never spoken to her before. Germanic stock, I'd guess. Something about her reminds me of my grandmother, Tansy.

‘If this is about yesterday, I…'

‘Of course it's about yesterday.'

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Wise Old Bird Lit

Like many a refugee from conventional fiction publishing, one of the things I fled was being crammed into what felt like the wrong genre. In my case, what the publisher liked to call ‘chick-lit'.

Pursuing the huge audience for such books, they changed my title [from ‘After The Rising' to ‘Lovers' Hollow'] and gave the book a jacket I disliked.

In pink.

I went along with this pinkification because

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Skin Diving. Chapter 3.

My New Novel (Serialised fortnightly on Fridays).

Chapter 3. Send Me A Girl.

The Story So Far: From the ‘Advanced Psychotherapeutic Facility' in upstate New York to which her father, Mack, has admitted her, Mel McIntyre mines family history and her own memory for details of a 20-year-old tragedy: the death of  baby sister, Tara.  Mel has reason to believe the mysterious circumstances of this death connect in some way to the recent suicide of her twin, Jamie. Previous Chapters Can be Read Here. Now Read On:

Ah the girl breaking out of the box. That classic image of the flamboyant 1920s: femininity dressed up as liberation.

When planning this scene to tickle Mack’s nostalgia bone, Scottie and Zelda had originally intended to deliver a cake. But they didn’t have the utensils to bake one big enough and they couldn't afford to pay a baker. (And what if it broke en route? And anyway, how did a girl get to breathe in there?)

It was Scottie who had the idea of using the

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Skin Diving. Chapter 2.

My New Novel (Serialised fortnightly on Fridays).

Chapter 2. Gaining Entry.

Previous Chapters Can be Read Here. The Story So Far: Mel McIntyre has been delivered to an ‘Advanced Psychotherapeutic Facility' in upstate New York by her father, Mack. The mystery of her baby sister’s death twenty years ago in questionable circumstances has long haunted the McIntyre family and knowing the truth of what happened has become crucial for Mel. Now Read On:

The good doctor doesn’t know it but he has a tree growing out of his head. No, this isn’t what my mother likes to call ‘one of Mel’s phantasmagorias’. For Zelda, having a mad daughter is just another

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Writing My New Novel Online

Do you like reading fiction? Over the next year or so, as I write my new novel, I'm going to be sharing it episode by episode here in the blog.

I'm really excited about this experiment — seeing how many of you choose to read along and seeing what effect writing it as a serial will have on the story. It's scary to write a long piece so publicly but exhiliarating too.

The big 19th century novelists – Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle and of course, the great Mr Dickens – did it this way. Which is why so many of their novels are

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Henry Miller's Creative Commandments

In his writer's notebook, 1932-1933, Henry Miller, an author with a deep sense of process, laid down his ‘commandments' of writing. Here they are adapted to whatever it is you want to create:

  • Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  • Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  • Work according to The Program (the timetable you've laid out for yourself) and not according to

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Eight Poems

The Writer's Call:
“…I work for you kind reader, dear,/who walks my words across the page,/who seeks clear ground in paths I’ve made…”

Speechless:
“…Kings will do/what kings do. Soldiers too./And if you don't want to know, I won’t keep you…”

A Reply & An Answer:
“…Soon, birds won’t be able to sing./Listen. Hear me. Our time is for turning…

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Breaking Out Of The Box

When you need to be creative or innovative, try this simple break-the-box, mind-body bridging exercise from Dr Stanley H Block.  

Part 1: The Box.

1. Name the specific situation that makes you feel boxed in.

2. Take a piece of paper, write the situation in the middle of the page, and draw an oval around it.

3. Take 1-2 minutes to jot down around the oval whatever pops into your mind about that situation and your attempts to

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