About Claire O'Connor Writes

Nomadic, Irish, dog lover, ♀️, Ⓥ, writing a novel, studying with open university, avid reader of fiction and books about writing, trying to hone my skills!

It’s nice to be back! I’m still writing.

Image

Hello, It’s nice to be back to WordPress. It has been a while!

Since then I’ve finished my second Creative Writing module with The Open University and now I’m on to my final module of the Open Hons Degree – ‘Why is Religion Controversial’. It’s engrossing and fascinating but very heavy and sucking my small tank of spare time dry! The first section of the course is about controversial figures in religion. I’ve been reading about Regina Jonas, the first female rabbi to be ordained, in Berlin 1936. It’s an extraordinary tale of a woman who defied tradition and was ordained. What’s even more interesting about her story is that it was buried without trace until the 1980s, when female historians and rabbis began to investigate and speak about her again.
If you fancy reading more, check this link out
https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/jonas-regina

Writing-wise, I am close to finishing the first draft of my novella…and when I say close I mean about 30,000 words away. I haven’t written a word on that project since August though. I am working away to make a space for it in December.

Last weekend I attended a writer’s retreat, part of the Literature Festival of Bristol and enjoyed talks from industry professionals, and writers Gareth Powell, Alice jolly & Amy Morse from Learn to Love Your Words. It was a very inspiring and informative day.

I’ve also submitted stories for two anthologies and await further instruction!

And that’s it! Just a little hello and how are ya. Looking forward to catching up on all the reading here!

Advertisements

Loss

Featured

‘Ah, times are changing, that’s for sure. A farmer can’t make a living anymore. If it wasn’t for the grants, we’d be down in the town below, living like animals in a block of flats. She went down there, y’know. She set herself up down in the town. She said couldn’t stick the mountain n’more. Didn’t want another hard Winter, she said. By God, she didn’t have to worry. It wasn’t even three months after when she got sick. Me? I’ll die up here, and I’ll die happy’
He was picking dandelion leaves that were growing in tufts along the cement path. One hand was picking, the other holding his stick and the bag. Three ragged farm dogs were around his knees, annoying him. He waved his stick and yelled at them. They backed away a little, enough so they could still watch his every move. He was their God.
‘I’m picking these, now, for the hens. They don’t have a bad life at all. But they’re not free range, are they? Not politically correct’
He chuckled to himself as he continued. I coughed awkwardly.
‘Are they not? Well, I suppose they’re up there in that dark loft, so technically, they’re not free’
He stood upright and looked at me. He had a hard face with small eyes and deep dry lines. He had the type of face that had felt the cold and wind all it’s life.
‘But sher, it’s a big loft and they’re not shut in. They can sit there, in the fresh air looking down on the yard, with their handpicked dandelions, can’t they? It’s not a bad life at all’
He shook his head.
‘It’s the likes of these big foreign supermarkets coming over here and breeding their deformed chickens in big warehouses with no light; they’re the ones that are causing all the problems’
We both turned outwards towards the mountain gorge, looking at the majesty in front of us in silence. I’m sure we were both contemplating how the world was changing, and how we never wanted to leave this place.
A loud howl came from behind. We both turned to see. A bony cow was making her way down the narrow village lane. She investigated every doorway and window along the way, bellowing and grunting as she went. When she reached the opening where we were, she stopped. She roared again; she was upset. Moving her head up and down, bucking at the air, I watched her massive udders shake from side to side.
‘Aaaah, haha, there she is!’
‘Yah yah’, he roared, as he waved his stick in the air.
She responded with a long agonising cry.
‘What’s wrong with her?’
I asked with the hardest tone I could find in me. After seeing him skin a wild boar with his son the night before, surely I could handle a sad cow.
‘She’s looking for her calf. It’s up there, in the top barn – hand-fed twice a day by my very self. It has a gammy leg, that one, but it’s not a bad life for it. The old cow there is protesting, but she’ll be fine after a day or two of milking. Back to normal’
I continued looking out onto the panorama in front of me.
‘She’s wandering around the village looking for it. You can’t get more free range than that now, can you?’
He was chuckling again, his shoulders bobbing up and down. He steadied himself with the stick and put it against the fence.
‘Right, a few more of these for the hens before I drive cows down to the bottom field’
As I walked away, I watched the distraught cow walk slowly, still crying, still bucking in anguish, up towards her field. As she entered, I watched some other cows come to greet her. They understood her loss.

LOSS

Opus 22 – A Rhapsody of Short Fiction

Image

OPUS 22: A RHAPSODY OF SHORT FICTION - STORIES BY TWENTY-TWO NEW AUTHORSOPUS 22: A RHAPSODY OF SHORT FICTION – STORIES BY TWENTY-TWO NEW AUTHORS by Melius Scripto Press
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“A short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.” Stephen King
Opus22 is an original anthology from the newly formed Melius Scripto Press, a small publisher born out of an International community of both experienced and emerging authors and editors. It’s an eclectic collection of stories, across genres and styles, with a common theme. The collection comprises of 22 stories. Each one is about or mentions the theme Piano.
From reminisiscence and regret to genuine horror this collection has been thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. I won’t review each story but my personal favorites and worthy of mentioning are

The poetic prose of Akira Fuyuno’s Chocolate Soup.

The Dystopian fantasy of Wayne Meyer’s Sonnet of the New Dawn.

The dry satire of Michelle Freson’s domestic noir, The Final Supper

The engrossing depths of Lazarus Gray’s The End of Love

The vivid and shocking imagery of Deacon Gray’s Requiem for a Liar

Despite choosing the above stories, I can honestly say I enjoyed every single one, despite length and genre. Some are steeped in nostalgia and romance, others are traditionally crafted in their genre. If you’re a reader that enjoys anthologies, you’re going to love Opus22.

View all my reviews

Blooming Lovely

daisy

We are such late bloomers

Standing firm through all the seasons

through sabotage and reckoning

of self worth. We have learned

when the wind blows hard we sway

with it, letting the ready leaves fly;

Allowing ourselves to finally dance,

we are enjoyng. we have earned.

We are such late bloomers

but when the blossoms open wide

we all nod knowlingly, because

it was worth the living, for

the lessons we have gained

Tea & Apathy

Featured

a nice cup of tea

A figure emerged from under the streetlight. It was Mary Murphy, and she jumped over the wall at the side of the church. She knew exactly where the wheelbarrow was in the dark. The wheels squeaked and whistled as she pushed it into motion.

Sidling around the back of the church she made her way to the big wooden door. With her hands on her hips, she smacked her lips and shook her head as she looked down at the black mass at her feet.

‘Lord save us all’

She fastened the untied shoelace and banged his foot back onto the ground with force.

‘You’re nothin’ but a drunken fecker’

Bending down to grab his armpits she pulled with all her might. Once she had him half-way up she realised she’d forgotten to put the wheelbarrow in place.

‘Jesus Christ, almighty tonight’

She let him drop with a thud. A mixture of rage and pleasure ran through her. She hoped he’d bruise!

At the second attempt, he fell into the wheelbarrow when she let go. He lay on his back with his knees bent upright, and his head hanging off the other side. He groaned. Coming to life for a moment he looked up and smiled broadly at her!

‘Ah Mary, my guardian angel, leave me here for another hour. It’ll be grand’

She bit her tongue for fear of what might come out of her mouth. Pulling both handles up to assess the weight, she took a deep breath and sidled back around the church. She’d throw him onto the sofa she’d moved in there so he could sleep it off.

The wheelbarrow back in its place, she watched the village blink; lights in the houses came on. As the Winter’s morning rose, she strode through the church slowly, basking in its glory, and checking everything was in order for the ceremony. Looking up at one of the stations of the cross, she thought she caught the eye of Jesus. She stopped and turned to the painting. What was he telling her? He was suffering. But he was suffering in the name of God. She raised her head defiantly, glaring at the door behind the altar.

The Show Must Go On!

********

‘Up and at them Father! Your congregation will be here in thirty minutes to hear the word of the lord’

She walked over to where the long green and white robes hung and rubbed her hands slowly down the course fabric.

‘Would you like a cup of tea, Father?’

He rolled over and groaned.

‘It’s all in the name of our Lord, Father. I’ll make you a nice cup of tea and we’ll get you up and into your robes’

‘Why do I do this, Mary?’

‘I ask myself that all the time Father! Why do you insist on getting yourself into such states on a Saturday night when you have a mass on Sunday. These Saturday weddings are no good for you at all, strutting your stuff down at the Sands Hotel. Free Whisky for the priest, no doubt’

He looked up sheepishly. His face was a grizzly shadow, shattered with fatigue and swollen with the alcohol.

‘No, Mary, I mean this-this-the mass, the ceremony. Why do I do it?’

She turned around instantly and glared at him. Walking towards him quickly, she bent over where he sat on the sofa, clenching her fists but hiding them behind her. Mary’s cheeks flushed and spit escaped in little darts onto her chin as she tried to compose herself.

‘You selfish b-b – Ah Father!!!’

‘Mary, listen now, Mary.’

She stood upright with her hands on her hips, her eyes facing the door with her jaw to one side.

‘Never mind me. It’s the drink talking. What about that nice cup of tea you promised?’

The change in her face was quick, a little too quick for his liking. She walked over to kettle and began her own ceremony.

‘Are you still off the sugar, Father? Or would you take a bit of brown?’

Short Book Review: The Miniaturist by Jesse Burton

Featured

The MiniaturistThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Dutch Golden Age of shipbuilding, import and export, and exotic explorations, was a dark time for some. A young bride arrives into the bustling City of Amsterdam, to live with her new wealthy Merchant husband, but doesn’t get what she expected! Bored and alone she is gifted something that leads to one mystery after another. Is her future being told by a witch or is someone provoking her?
It’s not a warm, romantic type of book despite similarities in plot with classics from The Brontes and Austen. It was slow to start but it didn’t take long to be enthralled, not only by each complicated character but by all the subplots and entangled mysteries. It is a wonderfully dark story and has an air of magic realism that drew me in. At times I felt it was a little ‘purple’ but somehow this lended itself to the story.
I can’t say the characters were credible in terms of real-life everyday people, but they were complicated, layered and mysterious. They all had a contradictory side and a rich history. For me, it worked. Maybe that’s because the story itself dealt with real-life situations we might come across in our modern World. All of the characters were isolated from their society for one reason or another: each had a dark history at some level and the story brings them all together in one house. My favourite character was Marin. First seen as a purist who eats cold herrings for breakfast and doesn’t indulge herself with unGodly things like sugar, we later see the real Marin, and the reader cannot help but both have sympathy and admiration for her and her lost potential.

For a first novel, I think it’s right up there. I look forward to reading more from Jesse Burton.

View all my reviews

The angry ditch

Featured

hedge

Thickety, prickly thorny ditch
You’ve been pruned for Spring.
You’re angry now,
Leafless branches pointing upright,
violated by a metal monster
with no regard for
your joints nor early buds.

The moss on your strong base tries to
passify you. Soft like velvet
sotto voce ‘You will have your day’
The ivy, dark and dry, winds
around you like a snake
‘I’ll give you life’

But no! ‘I’m a hedgerow! I will grow!’
There’s lots of rain and sun, you know.
You will grow and bud and thicken green
Hawthorn, Bramble and ramblers seen
in full life, gushing and lushing.
You will reign supreme in your beauty.