Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Daydream Believer

I have an addiction: It's taking over my life, it's preventing me from fulfilling my dreams and I can't escape from it.

My name is Sinead and I'm a daydreamer.

Don't get me wrong; daydreaming can be the most wonderful pastime in the world and I genuinely mean that. Getting lost inside your head with you as the boss, dreaming up the most vivid scenarios and settings is such an amazing experience and one that i regularly set time aside for. Yes seriously! Daydreaming can spice up the daily toil of commuting and it gives me a bit of relief from the dreary reality of the 9 to 5. Of course as we all know, for every action there is an equal an opposite reaction, and I have been known to miss my turn off on the motorway as a result of my "head in clouds syndrome". Woopsie.

The problem is that hours, days, even weeks of my life have been dedicated to my most favourite of all hobbies: the evil temptress that is daydreaming.

Let me put it this way - I first thought up the idea of my novel in December 2008. I'll never forget that feeling - it was literally like a bolt out of the blue, a shiver of excitement down my spine. I had just handed in an assignment on Mental Health in my final year of college and suddenly an idea popped into my head about life after death, the idea of "heaven" and what it means to die (I'm not going into all that now, I can't give away everything yet, we barely know each other!) and i literally scribbled ideas down until a few hours later I had a perfectly formed idea for a novel in my head. Beginning, middle, end, character profiles, setting, themes etc...

Fast forward, present day: May 2012. Have I finished my novel? Nope. Have i written a partial draft? Nah. Have i even written enough of the basic few chapters to send to potential agents? Pffft - hell no!

So in three and a half years, what have i done? Well, I've daydreamed, that's what I've done. I've imagined the feeling of putting that last full stop after the end word in the final paragraph. I've dreamed about a literary agent frantically ringing me telling me that she can't possibly refuse me, that my novel is THAT good. I've spent quite a lot of time deciding who will play my characters in the motion picture production and I've carefully considered who could produce and direct the film (I'm hoping that I can tempt Clint Eastwood out of retirement to direct it. Once Clint is in, I reckon Steven Spielberg is a shoe in for executive producer). And yes, I've practiced gracefully and tearfully accepting my Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, while wearing a floor length designer gown, the cameras watching my boyfriend proudly embracing me before i embark for the stage.

I told you I can dream!

You see, this is the crux of my problem: thinking about all that is so much more fun than actually parking my ass at the desk, powering up the laptop and writing, writing, writing. Writing through the blanks and persevering at it. But no matter how productive (or unproductive) my writing session is, I get an itch to daydream.

Daydream is the double edged sword - it provides me with passion and that bolt out of the blue inspiration that i earlier mentioned, but at the same time it draws me away from the actual craft and practice of writing. My relationship with daydreaming can be summed up by the U2 song "With or Without You." Cheers Bono. Actually, maybe Bono could provide the soundtrack to the movie version of my book.... No Sinead, stop it!!

So anyway, this blog is my antidote, for want of a better word! I'm hoping that by publicising my attempts at writing a novel (or lack thereof!) I'll actually have to write and forget about daydreaming, as hard as that may be. So I need you guys to spur me on, pressure me into completing it and nag me for procrastinating!

But I'm still allowed to daydream on my commutes... That's when daydreaming is my saviour. I just need to start remembering when to exit the motorway. If i can conquer that I know I'm a step closer to beating this terrible affliction.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

What if?

I've always wanted to be a writer - not just any old writer - a full blown novelist. No newspaper articles, no weekly coulmns - no I aimed high. I wanted the glossy paperback at the number 1 section in Easons. The esteemed, respected and awed novelist. Jet setting, premiere attending, award winning, designer gown wearing...  Get the picture?

I recently came across my Confirmation scrapbook which I had filled in when I was a sweet and naive 12 year old (actually not much has changed in terms of the naivety and sweetness - just a touch more healthy cynicism now). I glanced through the hopes and dreams section of the scrapbook where I had etched out the deepest desires of  my 12 year old heart: "I want to be an author, like Marita Conlon McKenna" (who was my absolute idol and writing muse at the time but i've had many more loves since then - I don't believe in monogamy when it comes to authors - soz Marita!).

I was one of the those children that always entered the "Write a book" competitions in school - it was an early introduction to rejection and heartbreak as I never won. Not once. In fact, my 5th class teacher used to hand out awards for "Best Writer" and "Best Spelling" every Friday and I never won those either. I remember coming home to my mam with tear streaked cheeks wailing that the dyslexic boy had won best writer and I hadn't while my parents tried to reassure me that I didnt need certificates to tell me how good I was. Hmmm, yeah right, not so easy to swallow when you're 11 years old, about a foot taller than the tallest boy in the class with a unibrow to foot. As if life wasnt fair enough already, I was destined to be the next VanGogh or Picasso - not appreciated in my own time. The horror!

The love of writing and the dream of being the next Dickens never waned though and it stayed with me from childhood through puberty and into young adulthood. I had toyed with the idea of studying journalism or English literature in college but my unwavering need for financial stability led me into social work (that decision and my subsequent career is a whole other days writing!)

College filled me with inspiration - social work is a tough profession (it still is, 3 years post qualificaiton) and escapism is vital in order to survive with your sanity intact (well maybe not intact). I witnessed children dying in ICU, carried out home visits in some of the roughest flats in Dublin's inner city seeing horrific child abuse cases and watched as people's lives fell apart with mental illness.

Jesus i paint a bleak picture! I love my job, I really do, but as you can see if you don't escape into your own world from time to time, it's hard to manage and survive.That's why my books are a break from reality, they're not too serious, gritty or hard hitting. They're a break from life and they mainly centre around my favourite tag line, the question that opens so many amazing, imaginative opportunities: "What if....?"

So I decided to write this blog to document my journey as i attempt my greatest feat so far - finishing my first novel. I'll update regularly and sure, it won't always be pretty, it won't always be easy but stick with me and we'll see how far we get.

Oh and don't worry, you can all come to the film premiere when my as yet unpublished manuscript is made into a motion picture! Dare to dream!!