Friday, September 27, 2019

Author Highlights

John Millington Synge

Ok I am going off Mick Williams post from jargon to an author I particularly liked and used an accent in his works.  Joh Millington Synge was an Irish playwright who also wrote poems and prose.  It has been awhile since I read his works, I am not sure where it started in my works to give a character an accentual tone to his dialect.  However, I wanted it to be distinct in a way that the reader would know it's him.  He's a villain by the way.  He's rather ruthless and does a lot of stuff in books one and two, still in working progress as I edit.

This one writer caught my attention because I think a playwright has lots to offer in variety of ways of dialogue as well. He was also an avid follower of the Irish Folklore which I adore today.   Wow he had a short life and not much in the way of medicine was available during the 19th century.

A little more on his life, as I enjoy reading about how an author or artist's life went.

Synge was born in Newtown Villas, Rathfarnham, County Dublin, on 16 April 1871.[1] He was the youngest son in a family of eight children. His parents were members of the Protestant upper middle class.[1] his father, John Hatch Synge, who was a barrister, came from a family of landed gentry in Glanmore Castle, County Wicklow. He was the uncle of brothers, mathematician John Lighton Synge and optical microscopy pioneer Edward Hutchinson Synge.[2] Synge's paternal grandfather, also named John Synge, was an evangelical Christian involved in the movement that became the Plymouth Brethren and his maternal grandfather, Robert Traill, had been a Church of Ireland rector in Schull, County Cork, who died in 1847 during the Great Irish Famine.[3]
Synge's father contracted smallpox and died in 1872 at the age of 49. He was buried on his son's first birthday. Synge's mother moved the family to the house next door to her mother's house in Rathgar, County Dublin. Synge, although often ill, had a happy childhood there. He developed an interest in bird-watching along the banks of the River Dodder[4] and during family holidays at the seaside resort of Greystones, County Wicklow, and the family estate at Glanmore.[5]
Synge was educated privately at schools in Dublin and Bray, and later studied piano, flute, violin, music theory and counterpoint at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. He travelled to the continent to study music, but changed his mind and decided to focus on literature.[1] He was a talented student and won a scholarship in counterpoint in 1891. The family moved to the suburb of Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire) in 1888, and Synge entered Trinity College, Dublin, the following year. He graduated with a BA in 1892, having studied Irish and Hebrew, as well as continuing his music studies and playing with the Academy Orchestra in the Antient Concert Rooms.[6] Between November 1889 and 1894 he took private music lessons with Robert Prescott Stewart.[7]
Synge joined the Dublin Naturalists' Field Club and read the works of Charles Darwin.[1] He wrote: "When I was about fourteen I obtained a book of Darwin's .... My studies showed me the force of what I read, [and] the more I put it from me the more it rushed back with new instances and power ... Soon afterwards I turned my attention to works of Christian evidence, reading them at first with pleasure, soon with doubt, and at last in some cases with derision."[8] He then continued, "Soon after I had relinquished the kingdom of God I began to take up a real interest in the kingdom of Ireland. My politics went round ... to a temperate Nationalism."[9]
Synge later developed an interest in Irish antiquities and the Aran Islands, and became a member of the Irish League for a year.[10] He left the League because, as he told Maud Gonne, "my theory of regeneration for Ireland differs from yours ... I wish to work on my own for the cause of Ireland, and I shall never be able to do so if I get mixed up with a revolutionary and semi-military movement."[11] In 1893 he published his first known work, a poem influenced by Wordsworth, Kottabos: A College Miscellany.

Emerging writer[edit]

After graduating, Synge decided that he wanted to be a professional musician and went to Germany to study music. He stayed in Coblenz during 1893 and moved to Würzburg in January 1894.[12] Partly because he was shy about performing in public, and partly because of doubt about his ability, he decided to abandon music and pursue his literary interests. He returned to Ireland in June 1894, and moved to Paris in January 1895 to study literature and languages at the Sorbonne.[13]
During summer holidays with his family in Dublin he met and fell in love with Cherrie Matheson, a friend of one of his cousins and a member of the Plymouth Brethren. He proposed to her in 1895 and again the next year, but she turned him down on both occasions because of their differing views on religion. This rejection affected Synge greatly and reinforced his determination to spend as much time as possible outside Ireland.[14]
In 1896 Synge visited Italy to study the language for a time before returning to Paris. Later that year he met W. B. Yeats, who encouraged him to live for a while in the Aran Islands, and then return to Dublin and devote himself to creative work. That year he joined with Yeats, Augusta, Lady Gregory, and George William Russell to form the Irish National Theatre Society, which later established the Abbey Theatre.[10] He also wrote some pieces of literary criticism for Gonne's Irlande Libre and other journals, as well as unpublished poems and prose in a decadent fin de siècle style.[15] (These writings were eventually gathered in the 1960s for his Collected Works.)[16] He also attended lectures at the Sorbonne by the noted Celtic scholar Henri d'Arbois de Jubainville.[17]

Aran Islands and first plays[edit]

The cottage where Synge lodged on Inis Meáin, now turned into the Teach Synge museum

John Millington Synge
A resident of the island of Inishmaan
In 1897 Synge had his first attack of Hodgkin's disease and also had an enlarged gland removed from his neck.[18] The following year he spent the summer in the Aran Islands.[19] He spent the next five summers in the Aran Islands, collecting stories and folklore, and perfecting his Irish, while continuing to live in Paris for most of the rest of each year.[20] He also visited Brittany regularly.[21] During this period he wrote his first play, When the Moon Has Set and sent it to Lady Gregory for the Irish Literary Theatre in 1900, but she rejected it. (The play was not published until it appeared in the Collected Works.)[22]
Synge's first account of life in the Aran Islands was published in the New Ireland Review in 1898 and his book, The Aran Islands, based largely on journals, was completed in 1901 and published in 1907 with illustrations by Jack Butler Yeats.[1] Synge considered the book "my first serious piece of work".[1] When Lady Gregory read the manuscript she advised Synge to remove any direct naming of places and to add more folk stories, but he refused to do either because he wanted to create something more realistic.[23] The book expresses Synge's belief that beneath the Catholicism of the islanders it was possible to detect a substratum of the pagan beliefs of their ancestors. His experiences in the Aran Islands were to form the basis for the plays about Irish rural life that Synge went on to write

Playboy riots and after[edit]

John Millington Synge
The play widely regarded as Synge's masterpiece, The Playboy of the Western World, was first performed at the Abbey Theatre on 26 January 1907. A comedy about apparent patricide, it attracted a hostile reaction from sections of the Irish public. The Freeman's Journal described it as "an unmitigated, protracted libel upon Irish peasant men, and worse still upon Irish girlhood".[33] Arthur Griffith, who believed that the Abbey Theatre was insufficiently politically committed, described the play as "a vile and inhuman story told in the foulest language we have ever listened to from a public platform", and perceived a slight on the virtue of Irish womanhood in the line "... a drift of chosen females, standing in their shifts ..."
At the time a shift was known as a symbol representing Kitty O'Shea and adultery.[34] A significant portion of the audience at the first performance rioted, causing the third act of the play to be acted out in dumbshow.[35] Riots continued at each of the scheduled performances that week. Yeats referred to this incident in a speech to the Abbey audience in 1926 on the fourth night of Seán O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars, when he declared: "You have disgraced yourselves again. Is this to be an ever-recurring celebration of the arrival of Irish genius? Synge first and then O'Casey?"[36]
Although the writing of The Tinker's Wedding began at the same time as Riders to the Sea and In the Shadow of the Glen, it took Synge five years to complete, and was finished in 1907.[29] Riders was performed in the Racquet Court theatre in Galway 4–8 January 1907 and not performed again until 1909, and only then in London. The first critic to respond to the play was Daniel Corkery, who said, "One is sorry Synge ever wrote so poor a thing, and one fails to understand why it ever should have been staged anywhere."[37]


John Masefield, who knew Synge, wrote that he "gave one from the first the impression of a strange personality".[38] Masefield said that Synge's view of life originated in his poor health. In particular, Masefield said, "His relish of the savagery made me feel that he was a dying man clutching at life, and clutching most wildly at violent life, as the sick man does".[39]
Yeats summarised his view of Synge in one of the stanzas of his poem "In Memory of Major Robert Gregory":
And that enquiring man John Synge comes next,
That dying chose the living world for text
And never could have rested in the tomb
But that, long travelling, he had come
Towards nightfall upon certain set apart
In a most desolate stony place,
Towards nightfall upon a race
Passionate and simple like his heart.
Synge was a political radical, immersed in the socialist literature of William Morris, and in his own words "wanted to change things root and branch."[40] Much to the consternation of his mother, he went to Paris in 1896 to become more involved in radical politics, and his interest in the topic lasted until his dying days when he sought to engage his nurses on the topic of feminism.[40]


Synge's plays helped to set the dominant style of plays at the Abbey Theatre until the 1940s. The stylised realism of his writing was reflected in the training given at the theatre's school of acting, and plays of peasant life were the main staple of the repertoire until the end of the 1950s. Sean O'Casey, the next major dramatist to write for the Abbey, knew Synge's work well and attempted to do for the Dublin working classes what Synge had done for the rural poor. Brendan Behan, Brinsley MacNamara, and Lennox Robinson were all indebted to Synge.[41]
Critic Vivian Mercier was among the first to recognise Samuel Beckett's debt to Synge.[42] Beckett was a regular member of the audience at the Abbey in his youth and particularly admired the plays of Yeats, Synge and O'Casey. Mercier points out parallels between Synge's casts of tramps, beggars and peasants and many of the figures in Beckett's novels and dramatic works.[43]
In recent years Synge's cottage in the Aran Islands has been restored as a tourist attraction. An annual Synge Summer School has been held every summer since 1991 in the village of Rathdrum, County Wicklow.[44] Synge is the subject of Mac Dara Ó Curraidhín's 1999 documentary film, Synge agus an Domhan Thiar (Synge and the Western World). Joseph O'Connor wrote a novel, Ghost Light (2010), loosely based on Synge's relationship with Molly Allgood.[45][46]

Anyways, as a writer myself I prefer to read as much as possible to get a bit more rounded how to develop my characters.  Alas, he seems like favoring his array of women etc.  and his style and others helped in creating characters who are male, but as a female writer, I want to break that glass ceiling in the sensitivity of the literary field.  It is a must for a writer to stay out of the story.    So many authors influenced my works a bit but I still have my own style.  If you get a chance I would certainly look into his works.  It seemed he had a lymphoma type illness back then, if the death was related to Hodgkin's type.    

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Term Paper Syndrome

Does a character sound like he's reading a term paper to the class?--perfect diction and grammar? Unless he's a college professor, you're probably taping word balloons next to his head. He'll sound more natural with his own style and vocabulary. Even educated types will 'phase-switch', or tailor their speech to the audience at hand. That means not being a stickler for the subjunctive mode at a family cookout. You're more likely to say 'If I was you' than 'If I were you'. Your delivery to a kindergarten group in a library would be fun and simple (kids love to laugh). Story folks can do the same. There may be a minority character who sounds straightlaced except in his own community, where he uses jargon (I play tennis with a guy who does that).

The Case For Punctuation
For the last word on the subject, see a tiny book called A Dash Of Style by noted editor Noah Lukeman. Each punctuation mark has its own chapter. Increasingly, though, you'll see things unheard of years ago. To whit: you can start a sentence with an ellipse to show hesitation. ". . . .That's insane!" You can drop the apostrophe for a narrator who chronically loses a final G: "Somethin is happenin there." The rule for hyphenated words is clarity. Some writers insert one between vowels in words like re-entry or re-invent. It's especially wise for odd constructs like 'uni-mindedness.' That one's a head scratcher without the hyphen, because 'un' can be misinterpreted as a negative. Hyphens can turn any word pair into an adjective: 'Hard-brawling miners'. The double hyphen creates a hard stop to emphasize a clause: "Whitmore stayed home--anywhere but work--until the crisis passed.' These are a few of the tools useful for helping characters stand out from the pack.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Creativity Is

I wrote something a few weeks ago about cognitive meals that help with the cognitive flow for long periods of time.  Going full steam ahead now and thank you to our great contributor MicK Williams who has stuck it out since disqus closed our beloved channels.  Change is good they say.  Who in the world are "they?"  I recall during a sermon my pastor mentioned about they. He saw someone with a T-shirt with the words, "I am they."  It was quite a good laugh, still a good laugh.

Anyways, things happen beyond our control unexpectedly.  This past weekend blindsided me as our venture was for the kids, of which I was grateful they had a great time.  The place is geared towards kids and overpriced.   I wasn't prepared for the high stimuli environment Wolf Lodge had.  It was the poor food choices, and high level of noise. chlorine, screaming kids, and crowds that just was not the creative, productivity environment.  I try to keep on working on my book at least one hour a day during busy periods that demanded all my faculties.   As it happened, the food choices were typically the all American fried chicken, pizza, bbq pork nachoes and soda kiosks that I selected Dasani flavored waters.  It was all good, don't get me wrong, but with a three year old that still has naps and on a system I was pretty rattled after the weekend was over.  We did pass by Senoia, GA where "Walking Dead" was filmed and I thought of one day stopping at the gift shop dedicated to the show.  But it was Sunday and perhaps it was not appropriate with small kids in the car, and it was closed.

There are systems that work for our creativity and systems that don't work.  Unknowingly the dasani flavored waters had aspertame in them, of which I was super sensitive to the chemical that might had added to blocking the cognitive flow on creativity.   It is what it is.  It's a good senario for a new story, placing someone in a place unfamiliar and feel like a foreigner in their own state.   Rest, and exercise seem the key during this little hiccup during the creativity flow.  So I found this little thing on Pinterest, which has a slew of encouraging tips and prompts.  Which ones do you use, or rely on most for your writing?

Monday, September 23, 2019


"Nocturne" was coined by the American Impressionist James Whistler to describe a scene at night. One of his best known is "Nocturne in Black and Gold--the Falling Rocket", which depicts fireworks at night. The form had been in use for centuries by that time. It didn't require a black sky by any means; Whistler himself painted a series ranging from late afternoon to late evening. The main requirement was gloom or mist--no direct sun.

My entry is a hybrid nocturne-abstract. It's 10x14 acrylic, showing the last orange rays of the sun, while buildings at the top catch the first rays of the moon. Is such a thing possible? Maybe no more than the crazy tilt of the structures, as if each is drawn toward its light source.

The scene was inspired by a magazine photo of a city on fire. The upper corner had a row of buildings catching firelight, which here becomes the last rays of the setting sun. I call it "The Sun And The Moon In Opposition."