My Writing History, Clan Essays (Articles, News)

This will be an ongoing article.  I plan to edit and add to it.

 

Most Recently

Something I have been planning to do for quite a while is an illustrated work.  Finally ironically that is nearing completion – its a good sign for the planned web-comic.  Little Druid is a children’s picturebook.  Zoe has been busy doing the illustration work. Little Druid is a beautiful book made for kids between the ages of 2 to 5.  It will be of particular interest to pagan households and parents to give a book to their kids that represents their view of the world.  Its something I am really proud of and is such a sweet tale.  Also this year I have been busy with some short stories, ready for publication and tying up various projects begun online.

 

Last Year

Lat year I wrote another novel.  Thanks greatly to NaNoWriMo for helping me push through not just an author’s general desire to procrastinate but also the older baggage I have held onto.  Pushing that aside I have finally finished a second revision of A Site Diary almost complete.  My NaNoWriMo account details the book and while there’s not much up on there at the moment there should be as the book finally starts to shape up.

I have been lucky enough to write a number of guest posts – for two blogs this year.  And my good friend Alaksir will be writing a few for this site.  Hopefully when the sites are tidied its something I can ask various people to do if they desire it.

I have already said just what’s been going on in Clan Raven Cub and our other websites but with my most recent episode of In The Brew the documentary style has really intrigued me.  My filmwork, audio and illustration work has moved my ideas from journalism and an interest for my online blogging to focusing more on an article / documentary style.  This is something I plan to keep an eye out on my blogging.

The past year following redundancies and job issues I decided to turn my efforts back to where my first passions and talents lie.  In that light I began a serial story – linked from here – A Redundant Life, which like a lot of my material is behind.  Its something I am really enjoying and had originally been in mind to compile into a story but I will see.  Instead I may just allow it to run and see where it goes.

 

The Blogging Years

The first year of Clan Raven Cub and the other sites was a real push for me and opened me up to more documentary and article style work.  At time of print I have four different blogs running as well as a podcast and a videocast.

Poetry Book

Verse and Variation was published in 2005.  My book of poems can be found online.  This was a self published work.  It was a fantastic effort on my part and such an incredible work and effort.  It really is a pride that I won’t forget.  I made the decision to put it up freely commonly to share and edit for people 2009.  I am a strong believer against copyright and wanted to back it up.

The book was compiled from lots of material from my childhood, youth years and the material I had been writing at the time as well as new material for the book.  Its compiled in four sections with the Biblical flood as the theme.  Ten poems in each section – with my favourite being the little pieces on the rear cover and the back page.

The book was typeset by myself and the sales and marketing was handled by myself.  It was such a wide learning experience.  One of my favourite memories in life is the launch I had organised in the Spiddal library.  Many thanks are deserved to certain people, my parents for helping at the launch and other times; the Spiddal library for stocking my book and for being so great and supportive throughout; Siopa an Phobail for stocking the book; Crumlin hospital who supported me and helped me raise funds for them with the book; Elaine for designing the cover; Paedar and Clódóirí Lurgan for publishing the book in the great quality that it was.

I hope that soon – if I publish another poetry book I will get a second run of Verse and Variation.

 

Early Awards

They may not be a big deal, so I’m not blowing my trumpet but it feels nice to be able to say.  I have won, when younger various competitions.  An essay competition for the Samaritans on bullying, in my school for a competition for the Gaeltacht, the Edmund Rice Memorial award and two Literature Awards within school also.

 

Novels Poems and Plays

From the age of 12 I finished my first novel.  Novella really as the word count is only around fifty five thousand.  Lonestar was first in a series and following this I finished another four with three more mainly written.  I have various stories, poems and plays written and many others begun from that period.  Many of the poems for Verse and Variation are taken from this time.  I do hope and plan to revisit this work but as it is all handwritten, in many different copies and many in storage it will have to wait.  Having said that I do have my hands on Hellblades and that is something that I will work on as soon as I do get the opportunity.

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This is Me (poem)

 

How should I bare thee my soul.
Should I tell it through poetry
or art, dark lines etched into white paper.
Leaving the frozen image behind.
How shall I show you myself,
Shall I take a picture of what I like best
Show you designs adorning my nest.
Or shall I simply present myself and say
I am here. What you see,
This is me.

 

 Zoe

Fantasy Dinner Party (Fun)

There is a game in which you pick out your favourite dinner guests, plan out a dinner party in your head; in which you can choose anyone living or dead.  Two conditions that we choose to set for ourselves are real people rather than fictional characters and that you have to fill up ten seats.  Its an interesting puzzle, as it will depend on what and how you like discussion, how the people interact and what topics you find interesting.  Some important factors in your choice are to pick out interesting personalities, how these people would do at a dinner table talking, how they would interact with one another and to match them together so, unless its what your after, certain topics or points of view, don’t overbalance the table.

Caoimhín’s fantasy dinner party guests:

 

Zoe’s fantasy dinner party guests:

 

Caoimhín

My Father and Epilepsy (Article)

For my Father,

This post is dedicated to my father who has carried the responsibilty for my epilepsy upon his shoulders since the beginning.

While some cases of epilepsy occur as the result of an accident such as a blow to the head in the majority of cases this is not the case. for most people – six out of ten, in fact – there is no known cause. This is called ‘idiopathic’ epilepsy and it is the type of epilepsy that I have. For parents of an epileptic child it can be extremely difficult to accept that there is no real reason for the condition developing. They may feel that there must be some incident, something or someone to blame, something that makes sense. In dealing with my epilepsy my father placed the blame upon himself a burden that he has now born for eighteen years and a burden that it is time to lay down.

I have already described my first fit so I shall merely recap that I was in my backgarden playing football with my father and my brother and like all eight year olds inevitably do I fell down. Watch a bunch of kids any age playing football and it is difficult not to notice they tend to trip up, bump into one another or just fall over their own feet. At one point during that game the eight year old me feel over after bumping into my dad during a tackle. It is this one little bump that has allowed my father years of those ‘what if’ moments.

The answer to that ‘what if’ is easy. If I hadn’t fallen over that particular second I would have managed it a few moments later, or I would have been pushed over at school in the playground or tripped over my own shoe laces. That of course is presuming that I didn’t have my first fit before falling over. Idiopathic epilepsy is there in the brain already, a fall or a blow to the head may encourage a fit but it is not the cause of the condition. When someone is tested for epilepsy they are usually sent for an MRI test. This test can help to find if there is an abnormality in the brain that might be causing epilepsy, for example, scar tissue due to a brain injury. My MRI scans have never shown any sign of trauma or indeed anything unusual at all meaning that there is a slim to none chance that my epilepsy was caused by any trip or bump.

For a long time I felt confused about my fathers guilt. Often I felt guilty myself – after all, if I didn’t have epilepsy he wouldn’t have to feel guilty. For a while during my later teenage years I felt resentful, believing that it was my problem not his or anyone elses. Now thinking back I just feel sad that one of the people I love most in the world has spent so long blaming themselves for something that wasn’t their fault to begin with. So this post is a plea to my father, for Purple Day, let go of all that guilt for good and simply be proud of being the best dad ever.

Zoe

 

 

Purple Day Poster (Art, News)

purple day poster

 

Caoimhin   Zoe

My Epileptic Diary (Article)

This is the first of what will hopefully turn into several posts on the topic of what it means for me to be epileptic and to have a seizure or ‘fit’ in front of people. While I have happily been fit free for several years now, this is still a very emotional topic for me. The purpose of these articles is to deepen understanding for individuals of epilepsy in general and hopefully to encourage epileptics themselves to ‘come out of the closet’ so to speak up and be proud of who they are.

 

For most of my life – from the age of eight I have been epileptic. Throughout the majority of that time I have tried my best to hide from this fact, refusing to read the literature given to me by doctors and in my university years, steadfastly ignoring all advice as though almost daring my body to have a fit. Which of course increasingly it obliged with, starting the cycle all over again. Ironically at the same time my worst fear was the possibility of having a fit in public and what I had convinced myself over the years would be the subsequent reaction.

It is true to say that often even those who are well aware of the physical effects of a fit do not understand the mental trauma of losing all control over ones self and the long term problems that this can cause. These articles describe my own experiences but I would like to think that the upcoming set of reflections on my epilepsy will help to give insight to some people in the emotional issues that having epilepsy can cause and perhaps ensure that more help and appreciation of this aspect of being epileptic is available. For a while I was unsure where this was going to go but finally I decided to make these essays my very own epileptic diary so here goes.

Begin at the beginning the king said gravely and go on till you come to the end (Lewis Carrol still one of my favourite authors). Who better to take advice from than the king of Wonderland? My first fit happened when I was around eight years old and I can remember that day clearer than any other. I was playing football in our back garden with my father and brother and having a really good time. I think for a change I might actually have been doing moderately well – I may have even scored a goal although memories of the time directly before the fit are vague and mixed up.

I don’t know exactly when I started feeling strange, it just sort of happened. All of a sudden the ground seemed floaty, I felt dizzy and light headed and the world didn’t feel quite real. Over the years this is a symptom I have learned to recognise – that sense of deja vu and the sudden feeling that maybe you are dreaming and haven’t actually woken up yet. I can remember very clearly talking normally with my father and brother laughing at some funny remark. I remember sitting down on our slide till the ground stopped moving. Of course none of that happened. What actually happened was that I turned sheet white, stared blankly into the air and dropped to the ground convulsing. Or so I am told, never having any memory of this part of a fit and strangely enough never having seen myself from an outsiders vantage point.

That was the beginning of it all. I have no memory of ambulances, of riding to the hospital or indeed of being in the hospital. I do remember that being in the hospital as a kid, when you are not physically ill, is a bit like being on holiday where everyone is nice to you. I remember being happy when my parents came to visit. I remember playing computer games sitting on the bed of the most wonderful strongest girl I have ever met. It was only later that the consequences of having epilepsy as a child began to sink in. Trips to the hospital for tests- because there was too much electricity in my brain mum said. Continual blood tests to check I was taking my meds. For years I believed that those blood tests had some grand importance, finding out that they were merely checking the levels of medication I felt furiously indignant – as though my parents weren’t bad enough!

After a while I did begin to feel like the freak of the family, a china doll that had to be wrapped in cotton wool trapped in a glass box – in case I smashed. You will have to excuse me if that seems over dramatic but until you face such continual treatment you can not understand. However now that I am an adult I can understand that it was both well-meaning and good for me. Then there were the constant reminders, little phrases automatically slipping out of my parents mouths such as “remember your condition” or “we don’t want you having one of your funny turns.” I am sure that to a parent funny turn sounds much softer than seizure or even fit, but for me it was just more proof that I was different from everyone else.

My parents tried desperately to let me do everything that a normal child would do. I went swimming, rode a bike, went horse riding, but there was always that fear, that ‘what if’ in their eyes. A fear that was eventually catching becoming all mixed up with the fear of losing control or worse being seen in that state. Then there was the fear and the terrible guilt of upsetting my parents, of making their condition worse. As a result, already a naturally introverted child I became more so – a frightened rabbit and ironically a prime target for the bullying I was trying to avoid.

 

This was my childhood as an epileptic and I want to emphasise that ninety percent of the time it was a happy one. Epilepsy does not have to stop a child from living their life like any other and the same goes for the parents of children with epilepsy. In the majority of cases epilepsy can be controlled and if this is the case for your child don’t waste your time living in fear and don’t let them live in fear either, you may make that final ten percent a happy one too. Yes my parents maybe were a bit too clingy in ways, but can I blame them, would I act differently? I think it is important for people to understand however how epileptic children can feel so they can understand why it is they act up at times. And to better understand the journey that epileptic adults have taken to get where they now are.

Zoe

Siren (Art)

Siren

Zoe