Friday, 16 March 2012

The Luck of the Irish?

For most of the last year I have struggled with my next story. No matter how much I hammered and planed it refused to take on any shape that might fit between the covers of a single book. I tried cursing and praying, too. And ignoring it and coddling it, but nothing worked.

Then it hit me; I was trying to condense three books into one.

So, as the first book of the trilogy draws close to being done, I came across another realisation.

My story follows a young man from his childhood in 1970’s Ireland (and no, it’s not me) through his life in Canada where, after becoming estranged from his wife and kids, he falls seriously ill – and the rest you will have to wait for!

To get the details of his life right, I spent hours reading the news stories of the time which were dominated by bombings and shootings and a world gone mad. Most of Ireland in now too young – half the population is under 30 – to remember much of this and they are not alone in that. But whether we acknowledge it or not, the story of the past shapes today and tomorrow, in Ireland and beyond.

At first it was distressing to revisit those times that were so dark but I found something else. It was the wisdom of an old saying: ‘the more things change . . .’ It’s a bit like being in school were you keep doing things until you get them right. The only difference I can see is that now we may have used up our lag time and may now have to start getting it right in a hurry, before we do yourself terminal damage.

That’s why I am writing this story, to lay it all out and to try to make sense of it. Who knows? It might even help some others to make sense of it, too.

I blame my Irish upbringing for making me do this because, during my formative years, the future was ignored while we clung to the glories of the past. Since I left the island I have found we were not alone in that.

But a part of that past that I was born and bred in remembered those who refused to let the gloom of the Dark Ages limit their burning desires to make the world a brighter place.

I don’t claim to be one of that illustrious lot but I do like to remember them as I write.

Writing fiction, after all, is a form of lying to tell truths and, with the luck of the Irish, I might be able to produce a story that resonates with readers, too. Or, at the very least, I get it finished before it drives me to drink!