About Me

My photo
I still feel like a teenager on the inside, unfortunately my children do remind me how old I am!! I have lived for 20+ years as an Irish expat in The Netherlands. My favourite city here has to be Amsterdam.

Writing, reading, authentic living. It's all here at The Writing Process

Welcome to my blog. Let me start by telling you that I love writing. I love the sense of vitality it gives me. I love that it helps me to make sense of the world and to the people in it. I love that it helps me become wiser, more intuitive, empathic, and most of all autonomous.

All aspects - reading, writing and observing - are what make the process complete. The essence is storytelling, and learning about
life and yourself.

Friday, April 8, 2011

More cross medial or intermedial creations

Cross media seems to be the theme of the day. Where I was privileged to experience the ultimate in cross media with the 3D film of Carmen, today I was lucky enough to enjoy the mixed/cross media work of printer and fine artist, Ronald Chapeau at The Art Shop, in my home town.

The Art Shop opened Ronald Chapeau’s exhibition last Sunday. Apparently, the opening attracted a lot of attention. I missed it, as I was at the opera! But this morning, having the space to myself to stand back and soak in the work was perfect for me.

Ronald Chapeau uses photographs of some of my favourite actors, in particular Al Pacino as the young Don Corleone (naturally against the backdrop of Marlon Brando, the Godfather himself) and Heath Ledger as The Joker from the batman film, The Dark Knight. He repeatedly uses the same photograph on several canvasses as the basis for his creations. Then by using screen printing techniques and exciting, daring, bright almost fluorescent colour, turns each one into a unique work of art. It is then apparent how an identical image can be made to evoke a different reaction, emotion, when used in combination with other colours or other subliminal items (such as newspaper cuttings or quotes) on the canvas. It is the combination that does something to the senses.

It is no accident that on one of the Don Corleone canvasses a Sudoku puzzle from the newspaper is visible. No accident that bright yellow and garish purple figure strongly in the Joker canvasses and are apparently thrown on carelessly as though the paints have exploded, while the words “I am a simple man, I enjoy either dynamite or gunpowder”, cross the canvas.

Ronald Chapeau has mastered the art of subliminally manipulating the observer’s reaction. Several media: film, newspaper and photography are churned together on a canvas and used alongside strong, decisive painting techniques to create something new.

And it is precisely because of the subtext contained in the narrative of each of the media, that the end result is so powerful and evocative.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Carmen 3D – the ultimate crossmedial experience

Door de voorstelling van de Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Londen, als 3D film te draaien, laat Theatercastellum, Alphen aan den Rijn, zien dat het een toonaangevend theater is. Gedurende bijna drie uur vanochtend werden wij in de wereld van Bizet’s Carmen meegenomen.

Kan iets tippen aan een live voorstelling? In één woord: Ja! Ik durf eigenlijk te stellen dat dit misschien een live voorstelling overstijgt. Waar bij een live uitvoering de kans bestaat dat je net te ver weg zit om alles echt te kunnen volgen, zit je met zo’n 3D film echt vooraan. Sterker nog, het is af en toe net alsof je zelf op het podium staat en een deelnemer bent. Carmen reikt haar hand uit en je wilt het vastpakken. Bloemblaadjes worden gestrooid en je wil ze van je gezicht afvegen. Koppel dat aan een fantastische surround sound en je zou bijna vergeten dat het alleen een film is! Ik ben erbij geweest en ik zeg met 100% overtuiging dat ik van deze voorstelling net zoveel genoot als van een live uitvoering, misschien zelfs meer.

Wat ik ook belangrijk vind is dat deze technologie de opera toegankelijker maakt voor een breder publiek. Waar je hier voorheen waarschijnlijk minstens een half jaar van tevoren kaarten voor moest reserveren en een aanzienlijk hoge prijs (zeker bij zo’n prestigieuze cast) zou betalen, kan je nu net zoveel genieten van de voorstelling voor een lagere prijs. En bij voldoende belangstelling kan een bioscoop ervoor kiezen om de film meerdere keren te draaien waardoor er meer mensen van kunnen genieten.

Ik geloof ook dat als dit aanslaat, opera eindelijk een groter publiek zal bereiken. Het wordt ook veel makkelijker om eens ‘iets aparts’ uit te proberen. Je hoeft immers niet naar een grote stad want de plaatselijke bioscoop kan deze 3D film ook draaien. Zeer laagdrempelig. En hoe zou dat kunnen zijn voor leerlingen van alle leeftijden om met een groep van school af en toe zo’n voorstelling bij te kunnen wonen. Fantastisch voor de algemene ontwikkeling.

Wat mij betreft is vanochtend een denderend succes geweest. Ik hoop dat dit maar een voorproefje is, slechts een begin. Ik verheug mij nu al op de volgende. Wie weet, Puccini en Madame Butterfly. Ik zal ervoor duimen! Ik heb ooit ‘Performance on the Edge’ gestudeerd aan de UvA. Wij deden onderzoek naar de meerwaarde van crossmedia en adaptation over alle soorten media. We leerden hoe je het beste een boek naar film kunt vertalen, hoe je van een toneelstuk een film maakt of de juiste manier om een film opnieuw te maken, om het scherper, moderner of gewoon anders te maken. Vanochtend was ik getuige van ‘the ultimate crossmedial ervaring’, dan wel van Live opera naar 3D film.

Theatercastellum, wat super dat je openstaat voor het nieuwste op het gebied van ‘crossover culture’. Ik ben er blij mee!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Voice, truth and courage

Since writing my previous blog on the film The King´s Speech, thoughts on speech and communication and a child´s need to have a voice have been occupied my mind. The film was most definitely food for a wide range of thoughts. And it had me mulling over various questions.

How many of us, in this life, struggle to have our voices heard?

How many more never let their true voice be heard but rather, bury their inquisitiveness in some deep, dark place inside and spend their lives keeping up a front?

How many act and speak in a way that is not truly authentic or a reflection of their best selves?

I suspect that the number is larger than we like to admit.

These are the people who live the lives of quiet desperation, yet seem on the surface quite normal and in fact average. But average they will remain. For them life is little more than survival and survival is achieved by spending enormous amounts of emotional energy either denying or suppressing any notion that there could be more.

These are the people who learned early on not to want too much, not to shine too much, but not too little either.

The ones who stammer should be glad. Their soul has chosen to give a sign that something is out of kilter. Where they have chosen to toe the line, their voice, or rather their struggle to have a voice cannot be hidden or buried away.

Overcoming the stammer forces them to face their stress and the discomfort that caused it in the first place.

It is true too for dysfunctional families. Some go unnoticed apart from the fact that they may appear a little odd as a unit, a little out of sync. Something intangible feels a little off centre, and you can’t quite put your finger on what it is.

Blessed then the families whose dysfunction is evidenced by a difficult child, one who refuses to toe that line and support the system. This is the brave child who has the courage to bring the dysfunction to the surface and who is willing to bear the burden for the entire family. This is the child who is prepared to smash the doll’s house and expose the lie, often at great psychological cost to himself. He does it because he wants to have a voice, and he wants to shout it out. He is the stammer that shakes up the entire family.

And the child who truly stammers, has maybe come from such a family (maybe not). His staccato speech may be the result of too much intimidation by the authority figures in his world, of too much criticism, of too much punishment for making a noise. They too are courageous and should be praised, much like Lionel praises Bertie in The King’s Speech and says

“You are the most courageous man I know.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Because I have a voice

The words spoken by Bertie (George VI) to Lionel Logue, his speech therapist. This one phrase draws together a multitude of insecurities, pain, fear of ridicule and frustration that have cast a shadow over Bertie’s life.

His stammer has been at the root of much of his misery. It caused him to be teased and bullied by his brother and father. He has been the butt of many family jokes, even as a grown man. It is hard to know what is the chicken and what is the egg. History tells us that Bertie’s father, King George, was a harsh disciplinarian and a nightmare for a sensitive child like Bertie. Perhaps, then, what started out as simply a reaction to his father’s discipline, later became a serious speak impediment.

And that is the crux of the film The King’s Speech, and the basis for the rather unorthodox methods applied by Lionel Logue to ‘cure’ Bertie’s problem and facilitate his role of wartime king.

We can sum up The King’s Speech as - one man’s struggle to let the world know and hear that he has a voice and another’s struggle to win his trust and confidence, so that together they can rise above the fear and intimidation that cause and exacerbate Bertie’s impediment.

Exquisitly filmed, accompanied by an amazing sound track and with a script that is brought to life by a cast of superlative actors, that is the winning formula for The King’s Speech.

But there is even more to it than that. The chemistry between Colin Firth (Bertie) and Geoffrey Rush (Lionel Logue) is sincere and passionate. Geoffrey Rush is the perfect facilitator and lets Colin Firth shine in this magnificent role. In turn, Colin Firth at no point over plays his role or upstages his co star. Both jointly and separately play the role of their lives. A well deserved prize winning film, that at no time succumbs to sentimentality or pity.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Start again

Don't be like Gaudi! You finished your novel, now move on.

You are still deeply involved with your completed novel, and if you add the disappointment of rejection to your already sombre mood at having to put the characters you’ve spent so long getting to know and love, to rest, then you may be feeling ungrounded, and unfocussed.

How do you counter this? The best way to reconnect with the world and your creativity is to get started on your next project.

But allow for that period of grieving. Take the time to say goodbye to your previous work. Distance yourself from it. Continue to send it out to publishers and agents by all means, but accept that emotionally, it is done. Recognise what you are feeling and integrate it. Denying it, or trivialising it will not help. Just as writing the novel brought you to new levels of awareness, so too will saying goodbye. Every emotion is a valid emotion. And each one has its place in your consciousness.

Completing a novel is a huge achievement. In order to get to this point you learned to take yourself seriously. You faced your demons, listened to the subconscious voices, and embraced them. Well, the completion of the novel, and the farewell to the characters you’ve nurtured for some months, demands the same level of consciousness and the same commitment to your emotional world. Using exactly the same tools as were employed in reaching your authenticity, the journal (posted in the blog archive), the time management, the solitude where appropriate, you can say goodbye.

Say goodbye, accept it, and take the rejection by agents and publishers and remember that these days that does not reflect on the value of your work. These days, self publishing, POD publishing and other avenues for showcasing your work, are acceptable and respectable. If, for you, the novel is only complete when it is out there, then pursue that, but, at the same time, make use of the emotional and psychological space you have created through this mourning phase, to start soaking up new ideas, new inspirations.

If writing a novel took solitude and a retreating into self, then this period should have you reconnecting with the outside world; it should have you observing and participating all at the same time. Your notebook should be close at hand, and all and any observations should be written down. Remember nothing is too silly, too insignificant, or too trivial. As I illustrated way back in my first article (posted in the blog archive), the mundane is only mundane when not used properly. Washing dishes, doing housework, talking to your local grocer, browsing the DIY store, observing fellow drivers while stuck in a traffic jam, can all be incorporated into your novel. Or, think about how you might process the difficulties that you have faced in life. Sometimes writing about them, or using the emotion you felt to drive another story, can take you to the next level in your strive for autonomy and peace of mind, as well as helping you make your writing more significant. Be aware, be fully conscious, because the next novel might be just around the corner.

And the most important thing to remember is, that you can be working this new project, while winding down the old one. My own experience has taught me that moving on and allowing the seed of a new story to take root in your head and heart is probably the healthiest thing you can do while you wait for your previous work to be published. If you ‘get stuck’ on only finding a publisher then being a writer will be a cause for frustration and disappointment. Even self-publishing, though taking time and determination, will not give the same satisfaction and peace of mind that writing itself does. So, combine the two, by all means. Or at least, give yourself permission to do both, even if the new project is no more than jotting down notes, and journaling. This is your mental well-being.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Discovering your Strengths - Living your Best Life

How many of us, well into our careers, still live with the mistaken idea that the purpose of most of our activities is to work on those weaknesses and somehow turn them into strengths? I would venture to say, the majority of us, certainly those of us who grew up with post war parents who themselves believed that success in working life and achievement can be measured by the extent to which his has been accomplished.

In the meantime, strengths, natural aptitudes, and in most cases the activities that enhance our well being are almost ignored, simply because so much energy goes into working on those weaknesses.

When put this simply, none of us should be surprised at the level of unhappiness sustained by a lot of people in their jobs.

So, in the face of this general discontent, Marcus Buckingham comes along to shake us up and wake us up. With the help of his, dare I say it, easy to understand theory, we can turn our professional and personal lives around.

What you need to do, is rediscover the strengths that are an integral part of your own personality, and by strengths he means, not only the things you excel at but that also give a sense of satisfaction and contentment. Then to increase well being it is essential to take these discoveries seriously and ensure they can be put to use to either help you choose a new career path or to improve your situation in your current job.

Bosses, he says, must be aware of the natural strengths of employees and work on finding ways of utilising these instead of regularly planning training programmes to help them identify weaknesses that subsequently should be worked on to transform them into strengths because that just isn’t about to happen. It takes much more energy and investment to work on weaknesses than it does to enhance strengths.

Simple, yet it took Marcus Buckingham to point it out. A definite eye opener.