New Radio Play “Manic Monday” is on Podcast… the blog is on its knees

So, I’ve been at it again. Not blogging. Writing. And the result is a new one-act drama for radio called “Manic Monday” which can now be listened to on podcast here:

Scariff Bay Radio Podcasts – Play 15 Clare Drama Radio Play Festival -Sliabh Aughty Drama Group | Free Listening on Podbean App

I hope you enjoy the play, because OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE ALL GOING TO GO AND LISTEN TO IT RIGHT NOW. Sorry, was I shouting there? I didn’t realise.

This play is very special to me for several reasons. Firstly, it’s the first straight invention-to-execution one-act drama I’ve written.

Secondly, it was brilliantly executed by the director, actors and sound engineer of the Sliabh Aughty Drama Group (I’m not going to tell you how to pronounce Sliabh Aughty, because it’s too much fun to imagine my non-Irish friends trying), who brought so much magic out of those initially lifeless pages I ended up forgetting I wrote it. They even made it look like all the magic and nuance was intentional on my part, which is a total bonus.

The third reason this play is special is a sad one. And impossible to get your head around. A large part of the magic of this play is due to a standout, shining performance by a young actor by the name of Lasairfhíona Kennedy, who plays the character of Triona. Lasairfhíona passed away last weekend, on the day the play was aired on radio.

I have no doubts whatsoever that anyone who hears her performance will immediately recognise it as something special. When I first heard it I was stunned, because I felt like I’d written it for her without even knowing who she was, or that she’d be cast in the role. It’s a definitive and pivotal performance and the fact that this young actor is now lost to us is a tragedy beyond the proportions of either reality or drama.

Cast and Crew of ‘Manic Monday’

On a more prosaic note – although I’m conscious there isn’t even a poetic way to move from the sorrow of Lasairfhíona’s passing – I think it’s clear at this point that my blogging has suffered for my writing. I’m beginning to suspect that this is the way it was always supposed to be, for a few different reasons.

If Your Blog Is The Only Thing You’re Writing…

I had a light-hearted meta conversation with my blog last year, explaining to it that certain things were going to get in the way of my attention.

One was the day job, which continues to pay a mortgage that my writing does not. But I’d do a disservice to the day job to relegate it to the wastelands of sheer financial necessity. I like my day job. It’s interesting. It’s a good job in a good organisation, and I like to think I’m good at it. Not to mention the fact that if I was depending on writing for both a reason to get up in the morning and financial stability, I’d be a bloody basket case.

The other main reason that my blog hasn’t been getting attention is because I’ve been writing.

I’ve been revisiting first drafts of novels, some unfinished, some needing refinishing. I’ve been writing brand new radio plays, converting comic sketches into others, and developing long-shelved screenplay treatments into what will hopefully eventually resemble actual screenplays. At one point following a series of what must have been a series of fever dreams combined with locked-down insanity and perhaps some mild poisoning I even wrote a song, but don’t worry, nobody will ever hear that. Ever. EVER.

Oops. Shouting again. Sorry.

Proof I Listen To Advice (no, really)

Meta comedy aside, at some point you have to stop writing about writing, and write.

I remember listening to an author at a literary festival some years back who spoke about enjoying very big success in building an author platform online, and gaining a huge following, only to realise that at the end of the day, none of it mattered.

Because only the book matters, and unless you’re a bona fide internet celebrity with a million followers on Instagram, no agent is ever going to care about anything other than the book being submitted to them. If that doesn’t grab their attention, no blog will.

I think there’s an exception for memoirists, where a blog post or one-off article printed in a newspaper has the ability to go viral and attract the attention of an agent or publisher who will then commission more of the same thing. Possibly an entire book of it. But for those of us writing fiction, the story is the thing. And personally, the more I blogged, the less I wrote.

The Bit Where I Come To A Conclusion

Of course, long-term visitors to this parish will know that I flip-flop more than the opposition when it comes to big pronouncements, opinions, and creative life choices.

By next month, I could well tell you that blogging is the only route to productivity let alone creativity. And that I’m writing a memoir that will contain every dodgy thought I’ve had ever about every person I know. And that I’m taking up running.

But this month, I’m thinking about the fact that for some time, all my energies were directed into writing a radio play which one of the most talented young actors I’ve ever come across wanted to do, even though she was ill. And that words I wrote on a page contributed to a voice and talent being put on record forever. And that means more to me than I can say.

  20 comments for “New Radio Play “Manic Monday” is on Podcast… the blog is on its knees

  1. Will Hahn
    March 31, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Such a marvelous, poignant accomplishment, Ms. Sparling. Very sorry to hear of your friend’s passing, and on the very day indeed.

    But as for pronouncing Sliabh Aughty, I wasn’t born yesterday and I’ve read my HP Lovecraft books. You’re just trying to get me to summon an Elder God, and it won’t work missy!

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 31, 2021 at 1:51 pm

      Poignant is the word, Will: exactly that. Gives the whole play new meaning too.

      Well done on spotting the ruse though. Except you got one part of it wrong, which could lead to an even worse calamity. It’s just a pity I’m not going to say which part.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Janet
    March 31, 2021 at 2:07 pm

    I was just thinking about this blog the other day. I didn’t know that it had knees. Very sorry to hear about your friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 31, 2021 at 5:51 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Janet… It’s nice that someone was thinking of my poor blog. It was convinced nobody was, including me. You should know it also has elbows. In fact I’m thinking of having them surgically removed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. March 31, 2021 at 2:57 pm

    So many things, Tara… the sad thing, the exciting thing and the thoughtful thing about writing. I would love to hear your play and that voice that’s lost forever, but it will have to wait till I get to the city and have enough internet to download new apps and listen without interruptions. I’m so glad to hear you’re writing. Just the other day I came by to see why you hadn’t posted for a while. Good for you! I blog because I haven’t the energy and determination to write any more. And my mind is taken up with things other than fiction. But it’s a wonderful thing to be doing. You go, girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 31, 2021 at 5:55 pm

      That’s so kind of you to say. I hope you enjoy the play whenever you get to listen. Honestly I think blogging is a great thing, but if it’s not the end goal – as in, you’re blogging with another purpose in mind, and the blog starts getting in the way of that particular goal, a re-think is required. Having said that, my blog also engendered a lot of other material, so… who knows? Nothing is right nowadays anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. March 31, 2021 at 2:59 pm

    I must say, though, you’re being rather unfair to your non-Irish readers!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. March 31, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    Tara firstly congratulations on your play. I will be checking it out. Secondly I am so very sorry to hear about your friend. This must be a bittersweet moment for you. You continue to inspire. You truly are a powerhouse. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • March 31, 2021 at 5:57 pm

      Thanks so much Mairead… it’s an impossible thing to get a grip on all right. But I’m immensely glad I got this chance to know her, however fleeting. And that chance might just result in the will and the effort to do more and do it better. Fingers crossed.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. April 1, 2021 at 11:44 pm

    I am bookmarking the link to your play so I can sit and listen to it in peace and quiet, not here at my desk where a cat is screaming at me and my husband walks in and out with far too much frequency! But I will listen; it sounds incredibly touching and meaningful, and as someone who’s been involved in the theater/film/playwriting/screenwriting world for many years, I well know the deep satisfaction that comes from hearing your words brought to life by talented actors. It’s a very moving experience, and I’m so glad to hear you’ve turned to that area of creativity…

    Because, as you say, writing about writing has its limits, even with a reading audience that finds your humor and pithiness ever so appealing (as I do!). I will look forward to seeing where you go with this new direction. And, frankly, I share some of the turn in that road: not blogging much these days as I dive into my own new endeavors.

    Thanks for sharing this, Tara; I look forward to listening… xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • April 3, 2021 at 9:34 am

      I really hope you enjoy it Lorraine – and hearing your encouragement and kind words means a lot, coming as you do from such a wealth of experience in drama in all its related forms… I’m very excited to hear you’re branching out now too. I think in a way the pandemic has been the mother of invention for a lot of us. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • April 3, 2021 at 3:42 pm

        I agree, Tara. They say “lockdown” is the mother of creative innovation! 🙂 xo

        Liked by 2 people

        • April 3, 2021 at 4:46 pm

          105%!!

          Like

          • April 20, 2021 at 5:04 am

            “Pop around for a bit of cake and a lecture”…. LOVE that line and intend to use it as frequently as I can in my own life! 🙂

            Thoroughly enjoyed the play, Tara. Loved your using the device of having the phone messages tell the story. Clever and sorta perfect for a radio play.

            Actors are all wonderful; the girlfriend, Trina, particularly. It broke my heart hearing that she had died after doing this…there was something so touching in her performance and I don’t think it was knowing that ahead of time. She was just very moving.

            Also loved the father, so much… fabulous! The way he got cut off after saying that the last time he got cut off…clever!

            His mom… always leaving her number. So “mom.”

            Great ending. Good twist.

            Just all around fabulous. Clearly you have a future outside of blogging, my friend! 🙂 Congrats!

            Like

          • April 20, 2021 at 5:05 am

            “Pop around for a bit of cake and a lecture”…. LOVE that line and intend to use it as frequently as I can in my own life! 🙂

            Thoroughly enjoyed the play, Tara. Loved your using the device of having the phone messages tell the story. Clever and sorta perfect for a radio play.

            Actors are all wonderful; the girlfriend, Trina, particularly. It broke my heart hearing that she had died after doing this…there was something so touching in her performance and I don’t think it was knowing that ahead of time. She was just very moving.

            Also loved the father, so much… fabulous! The way he got cut off after saying that the last time he got cut off…clever!

            His mom… always leaving her number. So “mom.”

            Great ending. Good twist.

            Just all around fabulous. Clearly you have a future outside of blogging, my friend! 🙂 Congrats!

            Liked by 1 person

            • April 21, 2021 at 9:58 am

              I’m so pleased you liked it Lorraine – and delighted it entertained. I was blown away by the performances, to be honest. You never know how it’s going to come out when you’re writing for performance, so I’m very lucky this group were so damn good at it. Thanks for your lovely comments 😀 xx

              Like

  7. April 3, 2021 at 4:01 am

    I’m sorry to hear about the passing of Lasairfhíona Kennedy. Of course, I didn’t know her. But this being her last play is very emotional, like so many great artists.

    With this radio play and the previous one, maybe you have found your second calling (blogging being your first). This one, like the other radio play, was outstanding and enjoyable.

    I liked your comment about writers. What happened to the book you were working on?

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 3, 2021 at 9:39 am

      Stanley your words have really given me a lift this morning, and I’m sure Lasairfhíona’s family would be proud to hear how well their beloved girl’s performance has been received and acknowledged by so many people the world over.

      The turn to drama has felt right in so many ways as it was a big part of my life when I was a kid too. My books are constantly in the background – I’m still editing, submitting and crossing fingers for them. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have good news on that score at some point in the future. Watch this space. And thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

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