The Green Tooth Fairy

I went to the dentist a while back.

“So,” she said, “do you floss every day?”

“Of course I bloody don’t. I floss whenever I think of it, which isn’t often, and then frantically twice a day in the weeks before I visit you, in the hopes that you won’t see through me. I know it, you know it, so let’s stop lying and get this over with.”

I didn’t say that, of course. I mumbled “more or less” and opened wider.

But after that visit I decided to get serious about fluoride rinsing. I bought a bottle of the nice minty stuff the dentist recommended, but as I had an old half-empty bottle of Listerine knocking around, I decided I would use that up first.

And fucking hell it hurt. It burned. After thirty seconds of Listerine gargling I was red-eyed and gasping. But I kept at it, looking forward to the day I’d empty the damn bottle and get to use mouthwash that didn’t cause pain. And finally that day came.

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I started on the nice minty stuff. And it was fine, but it felt oddly unsatisfying. And after a while it dawned on me why – I missed the Listerine. More precisely, I missed the pain. So a few days later I bought a new bottle and cracked it open, dribbling with anticipation.

I don’t know if Listerine works any better than the minty stuff. In fact, I doubt it. But now I’ve trained my brain to associate a burning sensation with freshness, and from there there’s no going back.

Next stop – wasabi toilet paper. Who’s with me?

/ paddy

The Leaving Of Twitterpool

So here I am, then. Sneaking back in to do a blog post. With my tail between legs.

After that debacle in the US in November, I pretty much left Facebook and Twitter and stopped reading the news. The world is sinking into bubbling shit and knowing exactly the volume, depth and consistency of that shit makes me feel only depressed and hopeless. Also, the less I see of that fat orange mouthy fucker with the hair, the better.

But I realised a thing — blogging is now old-school. It’s practically vintage. The kids are all up in their Snapchats and their Instantgrams, but blogging is hard-core, with text measured in pounds and feet and not characters. Something requiring effort. Like a thing your old grandad would sit in an armchair and reminisce about.

Being (almost entirely) social media free is also great. You sleep better. You are less worried. You don’t know who just died. And when you meet friends in the pub, you actually have something to tell them that they haven’t already read in minutely commented detail. Just like it was in the past.

passionBut the social media itch remains. So you know what I did instead? I started, to my eternal shame, to use Linkedin as a social media site. I know. Yes, I know. I scroll through that sleazy little feed, nodding at people’s new jobs and titles and what motivational videos they recommend. And I feel so dirty. Plus, people even there are going on about fucking Trump. There is no escape.

Due to my shameful presence on Linkedin, and my having clocked six years at the same company, I’m a tiny bit keen to get myself a new job. So I’ve been looking at lots of job ads. And apart from being over-wordy and packed with awful English, there is a thing I’ve noticed. Passion.

When did having “passion” for a thing become required to get a job with said thing? Why is it no longer seen as okay to just turn up for the money? In the old days, were people looking for carpenters with a passion for chisels? Or plumbers who were team players? Or cooks who burned for, um, not burning things? I don’t think I’ve seen a game developer job ad where passion doesn’t appear in the first two sentences.

meeting

My good lady has the theory that the whole passion thing emerged from the middle class. Once people of all social classes had to go to work, it became nice to pretend that fancier people did it mostly because it excited them. The thing about paying the bills was secondary. Only riff-raff worked just for the money. But we work because it sets out hearts and minds on fire, and not because of the paycheck and free buns.

Maybe that’s the reason. Or maybe it’s just the way you advertise jobs these days (although I’m fairly sure that ads for more mundane or unskilled jobs aren’t all about the passion). I don’t have passion for my work. I enjoy it. I happily do it. But they’re getting my hours, and not my soul. Should I happen to have one.

And that’s it. End of post. Now, you may notice I’ve turned off the comments. That’s because I don’t want any. Comments have done enough damage in the world already and nobody ever came away from a comment exchange feeling any better.

So if you have something to add, send me a mail. Or a telegram. Or a nice big cake. Or just take me to the pub and berate/hug me in person.

/ paddy

Old Blog

So I had that new website and blog, over at Swimming to the Sun. The idea was to showcase my writing and do blog posts there. However, then a thing happened.

The thing was that I grew bored with it. I became more and more uncomfortable with a website whose only purpose was to yell: “Hey, look at me and my stuff!” So I stopped updating it. I tried to forget it existed. Then when the website rental ran out, I didn’t renew it. And now it’s gone. Gone! Like having all your ugly clothes eaten by moths.

Now the world won’t know which articles I have sold and to whom. Big loss, I’m sure you’ll agree. I have a very yappy presence on twitter, and I have this blog, in case I get the urge to go a-ranting. Which I probably will at some point.

So yeah, it’s back to basics. And I’d kind of pleased about that.

/ paddy

New Blog

Perhaps some of my seven remaining readers have noticed I’ve been a little slack lately. But, I have an excuse! I was lazy, and busy with writing. Is that a good excuse? I also got engaged. Any better? Oh well.

2014-08-04 20.46.55But! The good news is, all is not lost. I have just launched my new writing site (“launched” in the meaning of telling people about it on Facebook and opening a beer to celebrate). This is to have a more professional writing-orientated web presence. The blog will focus a bit more on writing things, although not much. There might be less swearing, there might not. Hard to say.

That tree over there, by the way, is to symbolise my trepidation about the unknown, and my hope for the future, and my desire to fill up some column inches with random photos, just for the sake of it. Nice tree, though.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who’ve followed me on this blog, and welcome on over to Swimming To The Sun where it’s more of the same.

/ paddy

A Bouncing Baby Book

Breaking with my tradition of not blogging at all, I decided to mark this day with a blog post.

So. After three years of planning and thinking and a frantic four-month workathon, my new book is finally done. “Done” as in the first draft, which needs editing, polishing, poking and all that stuff. But still, I am sitting atop a pile of 117000 words, more or less in the right order, and they feel very comfy indeed.

I shall not reveal so much about this book, as the title and the idea are pretty unique. Suffice to say it’s an urban fantasy adventure kind of thing with some horror and it’s got a lot to do with dreams.

Some inspiration.
Some inspiration.

The last two weeks I have worked in a blaze and did fully one quarter of the book. That’s 27000 words in two weeks, which for me is a hell of a lot of words. I’ve been getting up early to write before work, going home every evening to write after work, and my son probably thinks I am now part of the kitchen table as whenever he comes home from school, there I am, slouched over, squinting on the screen.

When I put the last word on the page at 7.35 this morning, I stared at the screen, with no idea how to react. And then I started to cry. I’m not sure if it was from relief, or happiness, or exhaustion, but cry I did. Nothing has felt this close to having a baby than actually watching my son’s mother having an actual baby.

Now I’m ploughing right into the next book (not a sequel to this one) which, for once, I will plan meticulously before writing. I suspect this might be the best way for me to work as with a plan I’m free to just write and not look back. And the new-born book will be put in a drawer and allowed to ferment and steam for six to eight weeks like a Christmas pudding. Because that’s what you gotta do.

And finally, here’s some music I listened to a hell of a lot while writing this — a seven-hour long ambient piece called “Somnium”. So put it on, float away and watch this space. (Or, better yet, this twitter space where I tend to post more than once every three months.)

/ paddy

Agents In The Mist

Literary agents are furtive creatures. In my years of sending stories and novels to them, I never got one to show any interest. This used to concern me. Perhaps they were just stupid, and didn’t see my obvious talents. Or perhaps I was just a talentless hack who’d serve society better if turned into glue. But finally, after another round of head-shakes, I decided to bite the bullet (ow) and go meet them. In London, that is, where all the agents live in a sparkly cave lined with the skulls of failed supernatural romance authors.

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I booked passage on White Thrash Airways and bought a ticket for the Getting Published Event. Click the link, and you’ll get the idea — talks, lectures, tips and a chance to meet actual people working in publishing. Now I won’t tell you too much, as you should bloody well go there and find out for yourself, but I did learn many valuable things. Here’s a few of them, minus the best ones which I plan to hold tight and safe in my sweaty grasp.

1. To get an agent just write a good book and don’t be an idiot.

2. If you sent your book to ten agents, and they all say no, it just isn’t good enough. Rewrite, or do another one.

3. You need to know what your book is about, and what sets it apart from others.

4. Stop using bloody adverbs all over the bloody place. Just use a stronger verb instead.

I also met a great group of people who were immediately easygoing and friendly. And I realised how much I miss being always surrounded by my own language. Being an alien does suck.

So what next? Well, I realised the book I brought with me wasn’t good enough, so instead of trying to massage it into shape I’m just going to focus on my new book, which is 60% done, and a whole lot better. Plus it has a central idea that I can explain in a few seconds and make an agent’s eyes glaze over with glee.

There’s nothing more to say, really. I think I’ve finally understood how I am supposed to write, and have a plan for how I will continue. And that information is worth any number of hours in cattle-class on Ryanair, surrounded by ignorant, drunk, farting Swedes from the country, all of them called Lasse.

/ paddy

Spit Or Swallow

I’ve had a problem with swallowing, for a good many years. It usually went like this. I’d begin to eat dinner (it was usually dinner) and after the first few mouthfuls I would feel the food getting stuck, like there was an obstruction deep in the tubes.

I tried various things to clear it. Waking back and forth, jumping up and down, running in a circle, lying on the floor. Nothing helped. I discovered that drinking water just made it worse, as it piled up after the obstruction and almost suffocated me.

throat3In one of those situations I couldn’t swallow saliva either, and had to spit it out. You’d be amazed by how much spit your body actually produces. Fucking buckets of it.

It lasted about twenty minutes and then, quite suddenly, the obstruction would simply vanish, as if nothing had happened. And everything was normal again. Except that I didn’t really feel like finishing my dinner.

It drove me mad. My son got used to seeing me stomping around the flat during dinner, thumping on my chest, wheezing for air and swearing like a sailor. For years I thought it was because I ate too fast, so I tried eating slower, but it still occasionally happened. It began to feel like a curse. Perhaps God was punishing me for being right in all those theological arguments. Or just for being so damn good-looking.

Then, a few years ago I discovered, because of hay fever, that I now had food allergies, mainly to carrots, apples and hazelnuts. I decided the swallowing problem was an allergic reaction in my throat and tried avoiding suspect foods. That didn’t help much either. It still happened, even with foods I knew I had no problem with.

throat1

Finally, after a lot of research, I realised it might be some kind of acid reflux. The first few mouthfuls, upon reaching an empty stomach, might cause acid to rise and make the tubes swell up. I figured water might help. And, what do you know, it did.

Now if I begin to eat and feel the obstruction happening, I run to the sink and drink a lot water really fast, before the swelling has become too bad. There is a moment of sharp pain, and then nothing. Tubes open, problem solved.

So the solution, after all my worry and effort and discomfort, was simply to drink a nice, cold and totally free glass of water.

How nice it would be if all of life’s problem’s were so easy to solve.

 / paddy