March 31, 2013

James Joyce on the Torture of Writing

I’ve written a couple of times before (here and here) that I often find writing intensely difficult. It’s a situation where I’m frozen by doubt, worry and self-criticism. Crippled by the inability to structure syntax correctly, get the phrases and sentences flowing or have the paragraphs follow on from one another in a linear narrative.
Unfortunately there’s no quick fix. Like anything it’s a matter of practice and of course reading often and widely.
Also, taking a long view I’m still in my writing infancy. And that’S the most pragmatic way to look at it; writing and becoming a writer is a journey. There will be challenges, highs and lows – but I’m up for the challenge.
I recently stumbled across a quote by the iconic Irish writer and novelist James Joyce.
Writing in the English language is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives.
And so it appears even he, surely one of the most storied and studied writers in the history of man, also struggled writing in the English language. What a huge comfort this has been!

March 23, 2013

Why Do Politicians Lie?

Slugger O’Toole recently hosted a digital lunch around the ever-topical question of: “why do politicians lie?”
I contributed my 5 cents to the debate which was picked up by Slugger O’Toole editor, Mick Fealty in his prefatory post as the screen grab below shows.

Thoughts on Life Drawing

The famous Northern Ireland artist and political cartoonist Rowel Friers recounted the tale of his first ever life drawing class in his autobiography, ‘Drawn from Life’.
He was only in his teens at the time, too young for naked ladies you’d think but the story went that his nervousness caused his left leg to shake. And in this instance you must of course remember that at life drawing class the artist draws on a board which rests on their knee. So as the knee bounced the board kicked up a rhythm against the chair in front which drew the attention of the rest of the classes.
The resulting collective stare was recounted as the “most embarrassing moment” of Rowel Friers’ life.
Fortunately my first ever experience of life drawing wasn't as traumatic. The class was taken by Mike Bass and the teaching was directed more towards animation students. So for someone like me who draws with loose lines I actually found it a little prescriptive. Anyway you can see an example of the work I produced in the image above.

March 21, 2013

The Story of How I got to Write for the Guardian

I got to right for the Guardian in December 2012, but it didn’t just happen over night. I explain how it all came about.

[You can read the Guardian article here]

After leaving the sanctuary of academia at Queen’s University Belfast, I got a rude awakening. The economy was flat and jobs in the legal sector were scarce. Lawyers were a human resource in abundance, and so there was no allocation of a job for me. Sigh…

March 20, 2013

Live Drawing - Gems Northern Ireland Conference


I had the pleasure of being invited along to the GEMS NI Kestrel Conference on the morning of Wednesday 20 March 2013. The event was presented by the well known voice of Seamus McKee who presents BBC Radio Ulster Evening Extra and who you can see in the image above. It also had a number of famous political faces in attendance including Nelson McCausland and the two Junior Ministers, the DUP's Jonathan Bell and Sinn Fein's Jennifer McCann. There were of course many more lesser known faces in attendance which provided great material for me to work with!

It was a great event and you can read more about it here and here. I have included a selection of photos of the pictures I drew on the day. I drew many more and because of the speed of production I missed the opportunity to record many of the images.Above right is my graphic depiction of Susan Russam, Chief Executive of GEMS NI. Below is a further selection of cartoons.

March 05, 2013

The greatest milestone in the Northern Ireland peace process?

This is the question I put to Malachi O'Doherty.
Malachi O’Doherty has been a long time journalist and commentator on the Troubles and Northern Ireland politics. He’s now the BBC Louis MacNeice Writer in Residence at QUB. He’s also an active Twitter user, tweeter from here.

March 04, 2013

How Has the Economy Affected Community Relations in Northern Ireland?

This is the question I put to Duncan Morrow.

Duncan Morrow is the current Director of Community of Engagement at the University of Ulster. He was previously head of the Community Relations Council and so has a unique perspective into community relations and the problems that exist in the province.

March 01, 2013

Interview with Mike Gilson: has Digital Killed the Print Media Star?

Mike Gilson, editor of the Belfast Telegraph

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