Tag Archive: Letters


Proof-Reading

Dear Saul,

I’m proud to say, when it comes to writing, I know my way around it. I’ve still got a hell of a lot to learn, but I’m optimistic that I can string together a coherent sentence. Maybe I’m not the fastest at typing, but I get it done, and maybe it’s not top notch quality, but it’s entertaining (I hope). But even me with my mastery of… mediocrity… cannot help but sin every once in a while. And I’m afraid it’s a big ‘un. I dun goof every once in a while, and I’m not proud of it.

I never proof-read my work properly. And I mean never.

Before you start lighting your torches and grabbing your pitchforks, let me say that I do not recommend doing what I do. Proof-reading your work is one of the most important skills when it comes to writing and editing your own work. If you don’t proof-read for grammatical errors, typos, and simple mistakes, you make you work come off as just a little bit shit.

Just a little bit.

“But why would *someone* (and I’m not saying who) choose not to proof-read their own work? Surely they practice what they preach.” Well, to answer this, you need to know how much of a lazy git I am. I procrastinate a lot, and I’m afraid of missing deadlines, so everything is usually done in a last minute panic (which is such a good mindset for a writer, I might add…). As such, proof-reading isn’t as high up on the list as “getting the work done, and getting it done well” is. Of course, getting it done well requires me to proof-read my work., but I’m too busy “getting the work done, and getting it done well” to proof-read…

See the paradox I’ve created? I’m trying desperately to climb out of the rut I’ve made for myself, but no luck so far. The simple answer is, I’m lazy, and if I want to fix the issue of me correcting my own work, I first have to fix the issue of me not wanting to do anything except sleep in and play video games. And for a teenager, that is a steep hill to climb, my friend. Why not stay at the base of the hill and eat chocolate, you ask? Well, believe me, as soon as you bring yourself to check your own work, you’ll soon notice the quality of your writing is improving as well, and not just the little things. You may notice huge plot holes you managed to overlook originally. You’ll see scenes and characters that don’t work, and you’ll get a feel for your own style of writing, one that will continue to improve as time goes on.

So surprise surprise, being lazy hasn’t really helped me accomplish anything, or make me better in my craft, and chances are, it won’t work for you either. So get off your backside, put down that controller, and go read your own work. But what can you do to stop yourself from caving in and just being lazy all day?

Well, give yourself an incentive to work, and reward yourself for getting to a certain goal you’ve set. Just try not to overdo things too much:

Also, get a schedule, and stick to it. If you get into a routine, it’s easier to break that habit of  going off to procrastinate. Give yourself a set amount of time to do something, and give yourself some short breaks throughout the day. If you’re finding it difficult to stick to your schedule, start later or just have a shorter amount of time for work, then slowly build it up over time. Don’t just rush into things expecting to break out of your old habits straight away.

Finally, hang a nice “Hang in there, baby” poster on your wall. It’s the single most important thing for breaking out of laziness. Seriously.

Well that’s all I’ve got. Any thoughts on being lazy? Do you have problems proof-reading?

I have to go proof-read this post now. Maybe.

Best wishes,

-Fiachra

Sleep

Dear Saul,

I’m gonna take a nap for a bit after writing this, because I’ll be honest, it’s difficult writing a post after only falling asleep at 7:30 in the morning.

Yeah, I’m gonna need a coffee or something.

I won’t lie, I’m a big sleeper. If I could get away with it, I probably wouldn’t leave my bed. But, despite my protests, society demands that I get up and make something of myself (So I put my time into entertaining you good folks 😉 ). Only problem is, after someone wakes up, they may find it difficult to go back to sleep. For the most part, I’ve gotten lucky and avoided insomnia without the use of pills or a good clang on the head  with a frying pan. But every so often, everyone has one of those nights. Either something’s bothering you, or there’s just too many things going on in your head, one way or another, you’re not going to sleep tonight. For me, when it happens, it happens badly, and it can mess up my already strange sleep schedule for days. It can happen to anyone, given the right circumstances, and can literally give people sleepless nights worrying about it.

So, what do you do?

As it happens, searching for crappy stock photos doesn’t help.

There are so many books, so many websites, and so many people telling you to do this that and the other, take this pill, drink this warm thing, watch this crummy hypnosis video on YouTube, write this blog post, etc. etc. But it’s not always that simple. So what do I do personally?

Well, if you want to follow in my footsteps, first thing is to get up. If you’re not able to sleep on the pile of springs and pillows designed for you to sleep on, there’s no point staying in it. If you can’t sleep, get up.

Next thing is to get a drink, be it coffee or warm milk, it doesn’t matter. You’re gonna be feeling rough being up at this ungodly hour, so any fluids will be a bit of help in making sure you don’t collapse on the good marble floor of your kitchen.

What you do next is entirely up to you. Do something that leaves you saying ‘I’m glad I stayed up for this’, give yourself a reason for being up so late, something that makes sleep needless by comparison. Paint that rubbish picture of the street at night you’ve always wanted to make. Write that love song you always hated yourself for not making. Write a million different letters you keep throwing out, telling your crush how you really feel.  Pull a Fight Club, visit a support group for something you don’t really have (maybe don’t do this one).

Still lost as to what to do? Listen to that one song you heard on the night of your first kiss that you’ve heard a million time. Listen to it a million times more until you can’t stomach it. Read that one page of that one book in that one series that left you crying every time you read it, and will probably make you cry again. Start a blog, even if know one wants to hear what you say, and be proud to call it your own. Or you could just think, reflect on your life, mold yourself into the human you want to be. Do all of this at 3 in the morning, not because you can’t sleep, but because you want an excuse just to stay up. A reason to keep going, to ignore everything that’s been keeping you up, everything that’s been giving you sleepless nights. Whatever it is, it doesn’t own you. It doesn’t own your time, and getting up to do something reminds you that it doesn’t control your life.

If we can’t sleep, what’s the point of lying down?

Best Wishes,

-Fiachra

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Weather

Dear Saul,

When you live in a country like Ireland, you usually take what you can get when it come to weather. It’s usually rainy, windy, or some other negative adjective ending in ‘y’. Whatever sunshine or heat we can get, we’ll take it. We pray for the days where it get’s warmer.

One thing though:

We prayed too much. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much.

At the moment things are a sweltering 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people wouldn’t complain. For a guy who’s used to things around the 55 degree mark, I would complain. S’too hot. Most people would complain about fiscal policies, or the sectarianism rampant in our religious diversity, or the something to do with the state of the economy that’s now back in a recession…

Me? I’m wondering why no one’s getting free bags of ice…

 

It’s funny how the weather seems to rule your train of thought at it’s worst. I could have written about any topic today, anything, something about morals, another short story, but it’s so hot I have nothing else on my mind, something rare for a type of person who get’s distracted so easily.  It doesn’t even have to be something serious, like a hurricane. Even a heatwave will distract the news. They’ll focus entire stories on it.  The weather impacts our daily lives, impacts our work, and distracts us from even the simplest of tasks.

How do we cope? well, given that Ireland barely has these heatwaves for a short amount of time, most people will enjoy, complain that it’s too hot, complain that people were complaining it was too cold earlier and are now complaining it’s too hot, etc. and then move on. But for the next few days, it’ll be all anyone talks, about, it’ll be the first thing we’ll mention in a conversation, and it’ll be the first topic that comes to mind when writing a blog post 😉

Yours, sweltering-ly,

Fiachra

Faults

Dear Saul,
As you yourself sometimes write, you’ll understand how important it is to poke holes in your character. As well as being the most entertaining part of character design, it helps to flesh them out into real people, rather than 2D mindless puppets you control. I make characters, I put flaws in them, break them, pick them up and dust them off, but it’s the faults of their characters that pushes the story in the direction it’s going in.

The same, I think, holds true in our real lives as it does in our own little fictional ones. Our flaws push us in a certain direction, and by knowing what those are can gives us a better understanding of how to reign them in and direct things a little easier.

Take me for example (yes, I realise I am yelling to the world what sucks about me, and is about as personal as my blood type, but I like you all, and you’re not likely to steal my kidneys, so…).

I procrastinate to the extreme, though going over deadlines scares me. This leads to an awful last minute panic, which leads to the work being done, but leaving me exhausted.

I do sleep a lot, but I’m not awake to hear if anyone’s complaining, so it’s all good from that angle.

I put far to much forethought into things. Before I even begin to start, I have a plan of what I want, and when, where and why all sorted out. Good trait for a writer, bad trait for a procrastinator.

And I’m terrible at maths. It’s quite funny, actually, to wind me up and watch me go at the quadratic formula.

Those are some of mine. I don’t try to hide or escape the fact that they exist. If I were to go around acting like they didn’t, I’d end up as one of the 2d puppets. All I do is accept these faults, accept that they are a part of me, something that makes up Fiachra, and keep them with me, loud and proud.

And don’t let your flaws become the big failure elephant in the room. Pretending to hide your failings is like a mystery novel keeping something from the reader. You will feel cheated and stomped in if you don’t embrace who you are and why you’re a brilliant and loveable moron.

I’m joking, of course. You’re not a moron. I’m pretty sure.

So once you accept your flaws, you become a better character, and like a good character, you can appeal more to those who want to be in your life.

Keep on musing!
Regards,
-Fiachra

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