Hey Writers: You Need a New Patron Saint, Your Old One Sucks

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day, and I may as well tell you now that this post was written well before those festivities. I’m usually a very last minute blogger, but when Paddy’s Day* falls on a Saturday, no self-respecting Irish person would allow something as routine as routine to interfere with the general madness.

There’s always a big build-up to a long weekend with a Paddy’s Day in it, so I’ve been spending much of the past week thinking about patron saints. There’s one for everyone in the audience, it seems, unless perhaps you’re looking for a patron saint of bowel movements, or perhaps a patron saint of poor internet connections.

Because there isn’t a patron saint of poor internet connections that I know of. I suppose you could combine the patron saint of lost things, and the patron saint of spontaneous outbursts of rage, but it wouldn’t really be the same.

Hey Writers: You Need A New Patron Saint, Your Old One Sucks

Who knew an image of a kitten photoshopped into a bowl of shamrock could have so many uses?

Writers, on the other hand, do have a patron saint. His name is Francis de Sales, and he was a bishop of Geneva back in the early 1600s.

Unfortunately for writers, he’s a crappy patron saint. A didactic buzz-killer who, according to Dan Piepenbring in the Paris Review, was mainly famous for writing what might have been the first self-help book, and telling people that dancing would open their pores to sin. (He did some cool stuff in relation to deaf people, but that would ruin my argument here, so I’m obviously not even going to mention that.)

I’m flabbergasted that writers – historical guardians of the world’s imagination – could have allowed themselves to be saddled with the world’s most boring patron saint. Not a stigma in sight, nor even a violent untimely death.

Ireland was absolutely bursting with saints who had the sort of violent untimely death which fuels a thousand stories. If only the writer’s guild had approached us all those centuries ago, we could have packaged one up and handed him or her over without even a mention of the long-term tax implications.

Hey Writers: You Need A New Patron Saint, Your Old One Sucks

Having said that, Francis de Sales is also the patron saint of journalists, which seems like a fairly lazy move on the part of the Pope who proclaimed him. It’s like picking teams at school and being down to the last two lousy kids, and sending both in one go onto the team which looks least likely to win.

With this in mind, I’d like to petition the current Pope for a new patron saint of writers. The journos can keep Francis de Sales; they have enough on their hands these days anyway, so I doubt they’ll mind too much.

And now to practical matters. Who would be the most suitable candidate?

For starters, all the best saints died young and in horrible circumstances. So I think the new patron saint of writers should have died a bloody death before they hit the ripe old age of 30, and definitely before they got published.

They should also have endured some vague torture along the way – perhaps a submission round or something of that ilk – having written the book to end all books, only for it to languish on the slush piles unloved by all, until an intern called Barry picked it up, thinking it was another tense domestic thriller with a girl in it, and thus finding himself pleasantly surprised to discover it was actually an original satirical masterpiece about a half-dog, quarter-lizard. However, the path to sainthood never did run smooth, and therefore Barry should also have been fired for photocopying infringements before he could tell anyone about it.

Or something like that.

And don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the miracle end of things. Every saint must have performed a miracle, so I would suggest that our patron saint be one who convinced a one-star reviewer who hadn’t even read their book to recant. That ought to do fine.

Anyway, this is all grand, but there is a bigger stumbling block for finding our own patron saint: someone has to petition the Pope about it. I feel I must leave that up to one of you who has a direct line to the Vatican, or who at least might feel like this is something they can get done by next January 24th, when Francis de Sales has his next lame day. After all, a writer’s got to have a deadline.

In the meantime, I’m off. I have some Shamrockery to attend to. Paddy’s Day is nothing without a completely fake vision of Irishness – just ask any Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) found traipsing around Washington at this time of year – or St. Patrick himself (seeing as the poor unfortunate was actually Welsh).

* You know what I’m going to say. Paddy’s, people. NOT PATTY’S. To utter the blasphemous travesty that is ‘Patty’s Day’ is an insult to all Irish people and any and all of our beloved American cousins caught using it will be de-greened, pelted with potatoes, and barred from using any words again ever. 

Hey Writers: You Need A New Patron Saint, Your Old One Sucks

As a wise man once said: “Ireland… a lovely little country if you could only roof it”

  49 comments for “Hey Writers: You Need a New Patron Saint, Your Old One Sucks

  1. March 18, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Can’t be a demon?

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 18, 2018 at 11:35 am

      Now that’s a whole different can of literary worms, Robert 😉


  2. March 18, 2018 at 10:16 am

    allow something as routine as routine to interfere with the general madness…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. March 18, 2018 at 10:17 am

    There’s much here that I, as only a 16th Irish by genetics, feel I could never understand. But stepping into danger for the right reasons is certainly in the spirit of saint-selection, so let me simply stitch up one hole in your brilliant exhortation for you to ponder when sobriety and internet connections return to your life.

    Why did we select such an awful boring saint as patron of writers? Simple, silly. :: whispers :: Competition.

    Right, since publishing success is a zero-sum game, the LAST thing we need is someone whose book was a bestseller sucking up the oxygen after which we are lusting. Even from heaven, saints can do this, come down and ruin our current lives with their holier-than-thou attitude and bestow it on someone else, nearly as undeserving as they themselves were. We call it “intercession” and it’s like an agent’s rejection except you can’t legally complain.

    That’s what writers today need, BTW- a patron saint of whining. I’m up for the job, and the miracle will be if I get it.

    Liked by 4 people

    • March 18, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Good grief, Will, you’re right. Even a patron saint needs to be pitiable. I’m well up for a patron saint of whining. Please revert with further candidates at your earliest convenience. (By which I really mean mine.) We need to look for external candidates to create the illusion that the competition is fair, you understand. You really have this one in the bag.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. March 18, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    What say YOU, Authors – Please let Tara know in the comments under her original post (and read the comments already there, for further inspiration and enlightenment) 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. March 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

    Reblogged this on Viv Drewa – The Owl Lady.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Audrey
    March 18, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    Again fabulous daaarling 🍀🍀

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 18, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      Why thank you Audrey. You know I’m always glad to find a new target for ridicule 😀


  7. March 18, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    Loved it! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  8. March 18, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    May I suggest Mary Magdalene? Now I’m not sure if she is a proper saint, but the word prostitution comes to mind, selling her life and soul and probably her books as well for a few miserable pennies? She should be reserved for indie authors only and we could call on her to avenge us against the unfair practices perpetrated by the big traditional publishers in bed (a place familiar to our new saint of course) with the major book sellers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 18, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      She might be a saint. Not sure about that. (I’ll look it up on Wikipedia later). A patron saint of indie authors sounds pretty cool. After all, some traditionally published authors are a bit snooty about us.

      Liked by 2 people

    • March 18, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      Well, there’s always the theory that she was never a prostitute at all, but in fact a 13th disciple who was smeared by the self-interest of a powerful corporation who successfully made her out to be the villain instead of themselves. Which is even more fitting when you think about it. Anyhoo, I’ll leave it in both of your capable hands, Lucinda and V.M., and eagerly await the news from the Vatican. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. March 18, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    Why don’t we get somebody to change their name to Patty. Then we can get them to turn their car into a garage (miracle) and then we can kill them. WE can write a book about the whole incident. Then we can petition for their beatification. Then we can have a real St. Patty, patron saint of authors. That will put some clear air between St. Patrick and that fecker Patty.

    Liked by 3 people

    • March 18, 2018 at 5:26 pm

      This is the soundest logic I’ve ever heard from you outside of carnivorous cookery tips, Conor, and I’m very impressed. I’m totally on board – do you want me to do the killing, or would you prefer to keep that privilege for yourself?

      Liked by 3 people

      • March 18, 2018 at 5:38 pm

        You bring the bin bags. I’ll bring the gun and the saw. Can we use Mark’s car for the trip up the mountains?

        Liked by 1 person

        • March 18, 2018 at 5:42 pm

          Of course. You’ll have to keep him in check, though – he does get terribly excited about this sort of road trip. Heart-warming to see, but bad for confidentiality.

          Liked by 1 person

          • March 18, 2018 at 5:44 pm

            In fairness to him, he hasn’t cracked under interrogation yet. Knowing is not proving, as they say in Harcourt Square.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. March 18, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Not sure this is the right job for me. This took me back to my three years in a Belgian Catholic Convent Boarding school. Being a protestant and a ‘petite’ (very young), I was allowed to read saints’ stories while attending the daily Latin mass. The subsequent nightmares of their endless grisly deaths haunted my childhood. Once when I was so bad I wasn’t allowed to attend the monthly film showing (The Robe and similar), a nun came to fetch me after all because she thought this one would be good for me. I was allowed, aged eight?, to watch a young girl being chased round a table by a murderous rapist with a knife, then defiled and killed – very salutary!

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 18, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Hmmm. It obviously left a big impression on you, Hilary, which is obviously exactly what they wanted. Did it by any chance do anything to enhance your life, such as give you a life-long fear of nuns, or a penchant for knives?

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 18, 2018 at 6:04 pm

        Some of the nuns were quite kind, others grim – like any other group really. Knives are useful in the right hands. However, it did give me a lifelong immunity to religion.

        Liked by 1 person

        • March 18, 2018 at 6:45 pm

          Well, some might say that’s the most useful attribute of all. I’d call it a win.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. March 18, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    I never really understood the point of patron saints until I saw this post a while back: https://beoshewulf.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/who-were-the-medieval-avengers/
    Yeah, that’s right. Because the options for super-heroic derring do in Christian culture was essentially that Jesus dude (and he wasn’t known for much whup-ass), they turned to saints as entertaining moral superheroes, because the church frowned on tales related to Thor or Hercules and other such rampantly polytheistic characters.
    I’m not sure it really worked that well, because they feel a bit like Ned Flander’s version of a superhero. This is probably because St Frankie Sales is also a bit dull.
    Thankfully, Marvel has tended to use the Norse & Greek gods rather than some of the noble yet insipid (and yes, pitiful) saints of the Christian church. There’s too many of them as well; like a failing franchise that just keeps churning them out. A bit like Transformers but without the explosions.
    (Heh, I wonder how many Americans with Irish ancestry know that Patrick was British. By which I mean pre-English. He was a relatively well-to-do Romano-Brit, hence the name Patrick, from patrician. I guess ‘Welsh’, which is an English term rather than a Brythonic word, helps diffuse the awkwardness).

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 19, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      I reckon there’s plenty in the lives of the saints to be going on with, Nick – they just need a reboot. Centuries of insipid Thou Shalt Not stories would suck the life out of any superhero, and let’s face it, their miracles are about as believable as Thor’s hammer. We just need to go back through them and weed out the religiosity.

      As for St. Patrick, legend has it here that he was nicked for slavery off the coast of modern-day Wales, so that’s about as geographically accurate as we’re ever going to get about it. We don’t find it awkward at all, but that’s probably because we generally leave the vehement nationalism to the folks who don’t live here no more.

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 19, 2018 at 3:45 pm

        Not sure if “nicked for slavery” is quite the right term cos it makes him sound like an offender rather than a victim! (“Alright sunshine, put down the whip, you’re nicked.”)
        As for his original location, I think the best we’re going to be able to manage is “somewhere on the west coast of Britain” with Wales & Cumbria as the front-runners. And at the time, these places were more or less populated by the same Celtic Brits (hence Cumbria, Cymru & Kernow – aka The Lake District, Wales & Cornwall).
        I agree, there are some solid tales of overcoming the odds in amongst the morass of rather lame ‘heroic’ deeds (e.g. St Edward the Confessor who was famous for praying, not having sex and failing to establish a clear successor which lead to the rather brutal Norman invasion), but good luck with weeding out the religiosity

        Liked by 1 person

        • March 19, 2018 at 8:10 pm

          I meant ‘nicked’ in the Irish sense of the word as in stolen, so you’ll have to leave that one with us! But hey, if the English really want to claim St. Patrick, who am I (or we, historically) to stand in the way?!

          Liked by 1 person

          • March 19, 2018 at 10:57 pm

            It is weird that ‘nicked’ normally means ‘stolen’, but if a person is ‘nicked’ then they are arrested (possibly for theft). The English language, eh?
            Talking of English, they have nowt to do with St P. Around the time he was kidnapped the Romans had just departed and the island of Britain was still majority Celt with a few Germanic Anglo-Saxons starting to appear on the East coast as raiders & settlers. Interestingly, the Irish & Scoti (a tribe from Ireland that gave Scotland its name) were doing the same on the West coast. And the native Britons ended up being called ‘Welsh’ – ‘Wales’ being derived from the Anglo-Saxon word wealas, meaning ‘foreigners’. Now that’s a painful bit of irony.

            Liked by 1 person

  12. Carl Rackman
    March 19, 2018 at 7:57 am

    I believe Lord Byron appealed to the goddess Cloaca for the smooth passage of his defecations. She must therefore be the de facto patron saint of bowel movements.

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 19, 2018 at 3:11 pm

      It’s downright scandalous how all the most important women got written out of history, Carl. You’d think the goddess of bowel movements would at least come into the toilet-training of our children, but no. ANOTHER WOMAN SILENCED. We should really do something about this. 😛


  13. March 19, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    What kind of an abomination is this “Patty’s Day”. Sounds more like a day to celebrate those squidgy things made from unmentionable bits of meat or fish and then fried. Nothing a self-respecting Irish citizen would ever dream of eating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 20, 2018 at 10:10 am

      Oh, I dunno. I’d eat any such mush, but I’m in agreement on the travesty of disrespect that is the utter mangling of the Paddy’s Day moniker. See? I can’t even bring myself to type that other abomination again.

      Still, given that most of the world is at loggerheads these days, at least it’s clear how to truly irritate an actual Irish person, eh?!


      • March 30, 2018 at 8:57 am

        There are plenty of other ways to annoy an Irish person …. beating them at rugby would be one so fortunately they won the Six Nations championship this year.

        Liked by 1 person

        • March 30, 2018 at 1:44 pm

          Indeed we did. And I would be lying if I said it could have been any sweeter being in Twickenham for the Grand Slam, so I won’t say it, if that’s okay with you. 😀


  14. March 21, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    I didn’t know there was a St. Francis de Sales. I thought you made the name up in the name of Satire! I actually looked it up so I wouldn’t look out of touch with patron saints. Ours is definitely lame. And by the way, Ancestry.com has officially told me I’m 13% Irish. I guess I have to focus and can’t call the holiday St. Patty’s Day anymore. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 22, 2018 at 10:55 pm

      I’m afraid you have to focus, Diana – and I’m just going to pretend you didn’t say that. The very thought of someone as cultured and learned as yourself saying St. Patty’s Day! Such a slip would make you deserving of a sucky patron saint 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  15. March 24, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Believe it or not I petitioned the Pope to get a patron saint of bad internet connections, but I got a reply saying this message could not be delivered. So we’ll have to wait.

    A patron saint of writers called Francis de Sales seems to be a cruel joke in an age of no sales and pirated ebooks. But then it does sound a bit middle class so maybe Francis was a literary agent too. (Which would also explain why no one has heard of the bugger.) Perhaps a patron saint who can ‘get down wiv da yoof audience’ might stir things up a bit. Someone from a backwater town, albeit living in the wealthiest suburb, no parents but has no qualms about driving the family SUV, tempted by some dodgy bloke from Tennessee via Heidelberg (can you see where I’m going with this?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 25, 2018 at 2:16 am

      BOOM! On both counts. I really should have made something out of the de Sales part of his name, I admit. I see where you’re going, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t last long enough for sainthood. Anything that goes viral will have faded into obscurity by the time the first miracle is declared. It’s a nice idea, though.

      Liked by 1 person

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