All is Quiet…

… on New Year’s Day.

I don’t know if it’s silent where you are, but where I am right now, there’s not a whisper of sound anywhere. I don’t think it’s just that everyone is still asleep, or that there aren’t many cars on the road, but it’s something else – something unique to New Year’s Day every year. I always notice it (maybe because I’m usually up early-ish on January 1st!) and I always wonder why it happens. It’s like the world is holding its breath, waiting to see what sort of mood the new year is in before attracting its attention.

I hope good New Year’s Eves were had by everyone, and I hope that you all had lovely Christmases (if you celebrate Christmas – if you don’t, I hope you managed to get some time out of the ‘rat race’, anyway!) I feel like it’s been years since I dropped in to Blogland, and I’ve missed making my daily (more or less) updates; over the past few weeks, though, I’ve been simultaneously too busy, and too boring, to write on the blog! You know how it is – you find yourself with very little time on your hands, but you can’t actually account for what you’ve been doing. It’s like time gets stretched into strange shapes over the festive season. I know I lose track of what day it is, and sometimes the hours seem to drape languorously over the afternoons, making every second feel treacly and longer than it should be. Yet, despite all this ‘extra’ time, you still don’t accomplish anything much. I’ve been doing a lot of cooking, and that’s been wonderful (though I did get a little stressed over preparing dinner for six last Sunday – but it went fine, and everyone walked away with their digestive tract intact, so I count that a success), and we’ve had our parents to visit over the last few days, and we’ve had some wonderful news in my family. Overall, it’s been a beautiful time, and I hope you’ve all been happy and well since last we spoke.

On the downside, I’ve only read one of the books I intended to read over the Christmas/New Year season – all my reading time seemed to get stuck into one of those treacly afternoons, where it sank without trace. It was an excellent book, though – John Green’s ‘Paper Towns’.

paper towns

I really enjoyed it, even though I was sort of blown away by the concept of teenage kids with (apparently) unlimited cash reserves and their own cars, and the self-possession to think, talk and act in such confident ways. Perhaps American kids are extremely different from Irish ones; I just know when I was 17/18, my life in no way resembled that of Quentin Jacobsen or Margo Roth Spiegelman. I really enjoyed the story, though, in particular the use of Walt Whitman’s poem  ‘Leaves of Grass’, which is referenced throughout. I thought it was particularly poignant that a section of the poem is taken to mean something dark and sorrowful, perhaps even a reference to suicide, by one of the teenage characters, but a teacher later explains that the reference, when taken in the context of the poem as a whole, is actually an uplifting statement on the interconnectedness of all humanity. I began to wish that more people could take the ‘wide view’ on things – in other words, that they would try to look at the context of how they might be feeling or thinking about something, and perhaps it would strike them that things are not as bad as they might seem. I also really loved the idea in this novel that ‘not all those who wander are lost’ – Margo leaves her life behind, and her friends think that all she wants is to be followed and found, but it turns out not to be so simple. I’m not sure I like the character of Margo, but I do like her spirit of adventure. I would recommend this book, though I’m not sure it will seem plausible to ordinary folk outside the US!

I’ve been doing a little writing, though I’ve left the WiP well alone. I’m planning to go back to it, starting tomorrow, and begin ruthlessly editing once more. I know there are things which need to be fixed, and I’m getting extremely antsy about the shortlist for the competition I entered – it’s due to be announced over the next few weeks. If you don’t hear me mention it again, you can assume I haven’t been shortlisted! I wrote a couple of short stories over the holiday season, though – one an absurd tale of a giant space alien which is overcome by judicious use of snot (I’m hoping to submit this to an online children’s literature journal over the next few days, in the hope they might accept it for publication), and the other is an alternative Christmas story, which you can find here (just scroll down a little when you follow the link – my story is the first comment on the blog post). So, I haven’t neglected my craft entirely, but I have let it take a back seat for a while.

I’m off to rustle up some breakfast. If you do happen to read my Christmas story, I’d be thrilled to know what you think of it. A comment, a comment, my blog-dom for a comment…

Happy New Year, and happy Tuesday. I hope that 2013 will be a happy and peaceful one for you and your families and friends. Hopefully, you’ll stick with me here on the blog as I negotiate the brave and scary new world I’ve dropped myself into!

6 thoughts on “All is Quiet…

  1. aanderand

    If I didn’t find a blog this morning from you, I was going to start to worry. But, I fully understand what December was like, always so much to do and really not much energy to do any of it. The holiday season is always a mixed up time for me and coming on right after NaNoWriMo, left me a little depressed. So, your blog post is a welcome start to the new year.
    I am going to have to read Paper Towns it sounds very interesting. Yes, the characters do seem very plausible to me, the malls are full of them each weekend. Life was not like that for me as a teenager but today’s teenagers live in a completely different world, at least in America. I am not sure that is a good thing. I am not sure the world that has been created for American teenagers is really realistic and should be the model for the world but that seems to be what is happening. A little Walt Whitman does seem to be just what teenagers might need.
    I read your Christmas story. It is beautiful! It captures the angst of something that should be so normal but just doesn’t happen. And, yes, it does bring a tear to the eye.
    I put writing on hold for December but now I am going to work editing my NaNo with the idea that it will be an ebook. I can get five paperbacks made of it, for free, so I probably will do that also. I have joined a community of fellow NaNoWriMos on Google+. The idea is that we band together and help each other polish our work. I have set the date of March 21 as when I post the whole thing for review. I’ve got plans to revamp my blog and start a twitter fiction also. For me 2013 is going to be all about writing as much as I possibly can do.
    Just a note, I came across a young Irish would be writer, Aoife O’Donoghue, and pointed her in the direction of your blog as a starting point in getting to know Irish writers. She is part of another Google+ community, Writer’s Discussion Group.
    Well it’s off to have brunch with the family. A great start to 2013.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Happy New Year, Rand! Great to see you hanging ’round here again. I’d missed your regular contributions to my crazy ramblings. I’m glad to know you’re continuing your work on your NaNoWriMo novel, and I hope you enjoy working towards the finished product. I’m delighted to hear 2013 is going to be your year, too! That’s the spirit. I’ll try to emulate you.

      Thanks so much for your feedback on the short story – I really appreciate it! Thanks, too, for considering me an ‘Irish writer’ (in order to recommend me to your friend!) I’m not sure I really fit the brief. But thank you, nonetheless! I’ll stop by your blog again soon and check out your revamp.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Happy New Year, Sam – and thank you for your feedback on the story. I’m really thrilled that you enjoyed it. Hope 2013 is shaping up to be a good one for you! 🙂

      1. Sam Seudo

        I think it will be. I hope it’s a great year for you, too…AND starts with some good news about the competition soon! By the way, I’m a little ashamed to admit that it’s taken me this long to actually get around to reading your “snippets.” Such a wide and fascinating range of subjects, and all written so well! Any chance we’ll get the full stories in the near future? 😀

      2. SJ O'Hart Post author

        Thanks, and thanks! I hope I get good news too, but either way 2013 is the year in which publication is in my crosshairs. Getting shortlisted would be a useful shortcut, though!

        Thanks for the feedback on the snippets – I’m really glad you liked what you read! It would be a dream to be able to publish the rest of the stories, and hopefully one day I will be able to do that. However, I have to admit that not all of them are completed. All the snippets are Works in Progress, really – some are a lot more ‘finished’ than others, but none are complete enough to be put out into the world. But… one day! Thank you very much for your kindness and encouragement. 🙂

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