October Blog: The God of Humormystics

I’m writing this blog on Oíche Shamhna from an old château in the South of France. Sometimes it really is a case of being in the right place at the right time. I’m well into the second week of my residency at La Napoule Art Foundation, on the coast in the Bay of Cannes, and I’m having a ball. It’s a truly spectacular place and I feel very privileged to be here.

Even before I arrived, on the flight from Dublin, I had a minor epiphany about a story issue in Attrition that I’d been mulling over. I’d been purposely toning down a particular event in the story, to the degree that it was almost unspoken, but I just felt it wasn’t working. Somewhere on the flight path to Nice I thought ‘why not tone it up instead?‘, so that’s what I did. As the plane took me south, I took the story in a new direction too. So far I feel like this change really works; in fact it makes a lot of sense and heightens the drama without veering into melodrama (as can easily happen with me). It connects threads that I had otherwise not explored fully and feels as though this is how the story should’ve always been.

Editing on the terrace, overlooking the Bay of Cannes. Photo: Chen Li

Since arriving at the Château de la Napoule and settling in I’ve been fairly productive and I’m happy with the work done so far. I’ve mostly been making pen edits and annotations on a hardcopy of the manuscript that I brought with me. I finished that part of the process yesterday and now I can commence a new draft of Attrition, making all of the changes from the notes. I’ve picked up on a few minor inconsistencies in the story, such as time and character’s names, as well as other issues including repetition of words and phrases. There’s a lot of head shaking and tea making! The story itself remains more or less the same, although I feel it still needs an overhaul and I’ve yet to restructure the time line. As I progress with the next draft I will consider these changes too.

The château itself, its history, and its occupants both past and present are all incredibly inspiring. There’s a fantastic bunch of interdisciplinary artists here with me and it’s wonderful to chat to them, to explore their work, and to try to understand their process. I’m particularly taken by a plinth carved by Henry Clews as the base for one for his statues. It’s very ornate, more so than the statue itself, and details a wide range of human life and experiences through mystical creatures and phantasmagorias, all carved in grey bardiglio marble. It is absorbing, grotesque, and beautiful. The images and icons tie in perfectly with some other pieces I want to work on in the new year and have provided with me some excellent visuals to keep in mind as I write my words.

For the rest of my time at La Napoule I’ll be working on Attrition but I’m also taking notes for future use and I am working on a small collaboration with one of the visual artists, which I’m very excited about. All artists out there of any discipline should seriously consider applying for a residency at LNAF.

Now I’m off to celebrate Samhain with my new friends in a building right out of a gothic horror story. Oíche Shamhna Shona Duit!

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