Posted by: mercuriahibernica | 27/06/2012

Behind every great writer. . .

Lies a great cartoon explaining what lies behind every great writer 🙂

Posted by: mercuriahibernica | 10/05/2012

Concern Writing Competition

From the website:

Update: the deadline for entering the Concern Writing Competition has been extended until 25 May.

This year we look to the future…the year is 2050 and the population of the world has surpassed 10 billion people.

You have been asked to write a 1,000 word chapter for the 2050 State of the Developing World Report. What will you write about?


I’m not sure if I have the creative resources to tackle a project like this in the short timeframe, but I might give it a go.

Supporting Concern kind of runs in my family – the sister of the two priests who co-founded the charity in 1969 was a community nurse in my area when I was a kid and she was a great friend of my mother’s, so there was always a Concern coinbox at home.

So I was going to post some pretty pictures of my cats being all cat-like and adorable. . .  And then one little bundle of “So help me I will kill you and bury your body at the crossroads!” escaped captivity this morning and spent five minutes wandering around the undergrowth between my garden and those of my neighbours. Even waving a tray of kibble at her wasn’t enough to tempt her away from the fleshpot that is next-door’s manicured lawn.  Eventually I got her back in, gave her a stern talking-to (she followed every word I said very closely) and gave her some kibble to eat – sorry, scoff manically as though it were her last meal.  Before I left the house she was following me around with a full-on “I’m sooooo sorry mummy!” look to her.  Meanwhile her sister was doing the whole “I’m the class geek who works hard and gets straight As” routine, which makes a change from her Noli me tangere act, I suppose.

Anyway, here are photos of my cats (the black-and-white one is Bundle, the other one is Smudge – don’t blame me, my SLOC named her, I wanted to call her Dora – although I’m starting to come around to the notion that Grimalkin and Pyewacket would suit them a bit better) and the containers they like climbing into. . .

Amazing what you can pick up at Ikea these days, no?

Not to mention what’s in stock at Eason’s.  Either that or she’s dodging the bailiffs, or something.

I emptied my re-enactment sewing basket to get rid of moth pupae that had started colonising it.  Seconds later I looked around and there was this really weird infestation in there. . .  I fully expect these two to jump into my grave before the priest is finished saying the final prayers.


When I first got my kittens, they could both fit into this magazine basket.  Now it’s a case of taking turns and “Does my bum look big in this?”

At one point they were playing hide-and-seek!

  Bundle nearly got away with it too. . .

I’d love to buy loads of toys and accoutrements for my cats, and spoil them to bits, only I know they don’t really appreciate that sort of treatment.  Their favourite toys are: some felt mice that my mother bought them months ago, and which are now more dust and cat hair than felt; a fluffy mouse on a string attached to a stick that I love to drive them mad with from time to time and which I’ve had since Xmas 2010; and random bits of plastic and paper bags that make nice noises and that they can chase around the place.  Oh, and fresh air, dust motes, flying things that they’ll never actually catch. . .  I’ve got blankets and cushions for them, and Bundle likes to go off and be all emo in the cat carrier when the mood takes her, but really, the best bed you can get for your cat is an empty box from Lidl 🙂

When I posted this picture on my Lolcats page, I captioned it: “The Kraken awakes. The other Kraken is already awake.”  Cats are scary when they yawn.

Posted by: mercuriahibernica | 03/05/2012

Meh (Part One of Umpteen)

To be honest, I’m not sure I’m really getting this blog thing.  Like, I have a link to it on my Bookmarks Toolbar, so every time I’m online I can see it, right there, in between the links to the CBB and Fairport Convention, so it’s not like it’s hidden away in “Unsorted Bookmarks” or anything.  But I just can’t seem to come up with enough interesting stuff to post on the internet.  FFS, I can barely summon up enough coherent thoughts to post a status update on Facebook these days!

Anyway, I blame the weather (I’m Irish, it’s always the weather’s fault, unless it’s mine, or the mammy’s or the nuns’. . .).  It’s been so bleak and un-Springlike lately that I’m finding it difficult to feel my annual bout of nostalgia for my student days.  I get it every year – twice yearly, actually, in October and February.  It comes of working on a university campus that is rather pretty, and green, with lovely old buildings and (for the most part) tasteful modern ones.  Even when I was a postgrad here I still yearned to be an undergrad again, with all the focus and direction that taking classes and writing essays provided.  It was lonely being almost the only medievalist in my department!

So now, it’s nearly May Bank Holiday and I will be stuck at home as usual, not wanting to drive too far away because of the price of petrol these days, wondering when the filling I got on Monday is going to stop hurting, and trying to get back into the creative writing thing.  I entered the Reader’s Digest 100-word story competition and came nowhere, and a short story I sent off to the Writers’ Forum was very politely ripped apart.  Don’t get me wrong: I got some good feedback and it was encouraging to be told that it was a good start (at least I wasn’t told to find something else to do with my time!); but I haven’t really gone back to writing since then, although I’ve got some good ideas and keep my notebook handy to jot down scenes, bits of conversation and inspiration as they occur.

I’d write something called “Diary of a Nobody”, only I think that might have already been done. . .

Posted by: mercuriahibernica | 24/10/2011

Sometimes the tortoise loses the race

Or, can I make these updates even more slow and spaced out? 🙂

RL keeps getting in the way of writing updates, but today the blog is fighting off RL (in the guise of job applications that are due this week) so that I needn’t feel guilty for using up a rather nice blog name and space on the great big cloud that is WordPress!

Anyway, November is looming, and with it NaNoWriMo, and I have a new idea for a book to write for the month, courtesy of daydreaming about a certain older actor on whom I have a crush and whom I would cast to play the hero in the film of my book – and before you say anything, I know I’m not the only would-be novelist who jumps straight to the casting call before she’s even written a page of her book, ok?!  The book has felt easier to plan than the one I tried my hand with last year – the plot is more straightforward and is probably better suited to my newbieness than the ones I have knocking around in my head most of the time.

One of the books I’ve been trying to put together has been in my head for exactly nine years and three weeks now.  I can remember when its idea first occurred to me –  I was on holiday in Dingle, and out on Coumeenole Strand one day it occurred to me, while clambering around the rocks and being snap-happy with the camera, how easy it might be to push someone off the cliff over our heads into the sea at high tide, and get away with it. . .  And hey presto, my first dubious heroine was born!  She’s still waiting for a bit more flesh to be put on her bones, admittedly, but I’m hoping I will actually have more than two or three pages of her story written by the time its tenth anniversary rolls around!

Today is also a little red-letter day, because after many weeks of talking about it, my SLOC* and I have finally started a creative writing exercise, where he gave the first line, and I had to write a second line, and so on. . .  I’m intrigued to see where it will lead us, and what it will tell us about our own writing interests. . .  Already I think he will prove to be more SF-inclined than I am, but that could be a useful task for me, to follow a thematic path that isn’t an easy one for me!

*SLOC = Solid Lump of Comfort – shorthand for describing my partner that identifies me as a Chalet School fan 🙂  It’s how Jo Bettany describes Jack Maynard (to whom she is about to be engaged) in The Chalet School in Exile, and it’s been co-opted over the years by many other CS fans besides myself.  Makes a change from the usual “OH”, “SO” and so on!



Posted by: mercuriahibernica | 07/10/2011

In which I realise I’m getting older. . .

So, went out with my mates last night, for a meal and a few drinks.  Got home before 11.30pm, which is very reasonable (but also sensible, given it was a work night!), and then it all went downhill. . .

I have this habit when I’m a bit tipsy (ok, also when I’m roaring drunk and wondering what’s wrong with partying ’til dawn) of wanting – nay, needing! – to listen to my ipod in bed.  Last night was no different, especially since we’d been in Crane Lane and they’d been playing rock ‘n’ roll and my toes were tapping all the way home.  Only problem is, I don’t have a working set of headphones at the moment.  So I dug out an old pair that had only one working earpiece, and blasted my eardrums with that – the eardrums took it in turns to be yelled at by a variety of singers.   This went on for around 45 minutes, at which point it suddenly occurred to me that I had work later that morning.

Now, there was a time in my past when three or four hours sleep was ample before I had to get up and do a full day’s work on a shop floor selling over-priced woollen garments to bewildered American tourists.   (I worked for the summer in a tourist gift shop just outside Cork back in the ’80s.)  And every now and again I get the strange notion that I’m still that twenty-year-old.  Until it gets to 4.30am and I’m lying there, awake but wrecked, thinking to myself, “if I get back to sleep now I’ll have three more hours. . . if I get back to sleep now I’ll have two-and-a-half more hours. . .” and you can add the rest yourself.  Even when I got up I was dreaming of the moment I could go back to bed again tonight.  That faint high-pitched sound you hear on the breeze is my inner undergrad screaming to be let out of the middle-aged prison she’s suddenly found herself in 🙂

My only consolation came when I emailed the friends I was out with, all of whom are younger than I am, by five to thirteen years, and heard that they were feeling the pain as well.  At least I didn’t start feeling middle-aged until I actually reached middle age!  But I think I’m finally starting to realise that it’s more fun to wake up in the mornings with something approaching a spring in my step, and that a cup of tea in front of the tv is a fine enough way to spend an evening – besides which, it’s cheaper!  (And that’s taking into account the cost of the tv licence, the cable subscription and the electricity :-D)  The days are fast approaching when I will be foregoing a night out on the town with my mates for an early night with a good book, and to be honest, the way I’m feeling right now, those days can’t come soon enough!

Posted by: mercuriahibernica | 06/10/2011

Oops, I Got an English Degree!

Oops, I Got an English Degree!.

Love this!  Proof that there is life after an English degree (even if it’s only the half-life of a postgrad degree in Medieval English. . . 😉 )

Posted by: mercuriahibernica | 06/10/2011


In which I debate with myself whether to pen a quick book review for a newsletter before the 24th, or not.

Had an email from my old re-enactment unit this morning – I’m still a member of the general discussion group on Yahoo! – seeking articles for the next issue of the newsletter.  I haven’t written anything for either this one or my regimental newsletter in around four years, and given that I’m no longer an active member (the Irish Sea kind of gets in the way of going to events), I’m not sure whether my contribution would be appropriate.  But I might give it a go.  Have to finish reading the book first, of course!  Now, where did I put my notes from the speed reading course. . .?

Posted by: mercuriahibernica | 05/10/2011

Tip of big toe heading slowly waterwards. . .

Or, another short posting just to practise this newfangled blogging thing.

Sometimes I reckon I’m a reincarnated Luddite. . .  Anyway, the purpose of this blog (well, today’s purpose at any rate – I might change my mind tomorrow!) is to get myself into writing gear ahead of November and NaNoWriMo – I got around 500 words written last year.  My excuse for that pathetic result is that I only found out about the existence of the project on around the 20th of November!  And I still didn’t get the book written. . .

This year at least I have some more ideas about how I want the story to go.  My problem usually is that I write down my ideas for scenes, incidents, plot development, etc., but these then just get so muddled and wandering that it’s virtually impossible to pull them all together into a coherent story.  Hopefully the daily routine of writing, even if it’s only a paragraph or two, will help me to sort out my ideas and bring coherence to them.

In the meantime, I’ve started writing shorter pieces of fiction, mainly for competitions advertised in Writing Magazine.  Nothing entered as yet (I’m a late bloomer), but having to stick to themes I wouldn’t have thought of myself is a great exercise.  The articles and interviews also have some great tips on how to approach the task/process of creative writing.  The October issue, for instance, had a great interview with Willy Russell (complete with photograph wherein he bears a disturbing resemblance to Noel Edmonds. . .) – I got some useful pointers on writing a strong story from that.  Of course, that’s all very well but now I need to go and put all the advice and information into practice!

Posted by: mercuriahibernica | 21/07/2011

Hello world!

Well, wouldn’t it just be like me to start a blog on the very day that I end up chasing my tail around the office, trying to get rid of spent ink cartridges, ancient documents (all of eleven years old!) and all manner of detritus. . .  So this will just have to be a marker page until I can really get things up and running.

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