On the movie, Once, and my own Irish story

Last night, my husband and I watched the better part of the Irish movie, Once. I can’t believe I hadn’t watched it before now. It’s so…me. Which is exactly why my lovely husband rented it for me. How well he knows me!

From the opening moment of the first scene, shot on Dublin’s Grafton Street just down from Stephen’s Green, I was thrown back in time to my life in Ireland. I lived there for five years, from 1998 to 2005, mostly in the West, but I spent a lot of time in Dublin in 1999 and 2000, writing my Masters.

Five out of 38 years is a significant enough chunk of time, especially falling as it did in those very formative years of my mid-twenties. Yet I realized last night as I watched the movie that I really don’t think much about the time I spent there. I think of bits and pieces every now and then, flashes of mountains, or of walking down beautiful city streets with my mother, but I don’t really sit and think about my full experience.

I enjoyed the utter Irishness of the movie, the recognizable places and streetscapes, the mix of Dublin accents, the music scene. It was all so familiar, so raw and so real.

We finally admitted, past 11pm, that we were too tired to finish the movie.

As I turned over in the dark to go to sleep, I felt the memories begin to wash over me. I couldn’t turn them off and, with the memories, came line after line of poetic reminiscence.

I lay there thinking that a real writer would get up and grab hold of the inspiration. I knew that if I did start writing what was coming to mind, I could write for at least three hours. I even began to envision myself writing my story for days and days, foregoing blogging completely to pour everything I had into this one piece of writing. The tap, once turned on, would not be able to be turned off until the water ran out.

But did I get up?

No, I did not. I decided I needed to sleep. I’m a awful monster when I don’t get my sleep.

So I lay there, trying to ignore the inspiration that I may have been waiting for for years. I could feel the fire in my heart, the fire of creation, of emotion, the kind of emotion that spurs you on to write wonderful, meaningful things.

The fire that I haven’t been feeling for the book I had been trying to write all summer.

I lay there, basking in these forces greater than me, hoping that they would still find me this morning when I woke up.

Hoping that at least I would remember what I envisioned to be the closing line of – well, of whatever it is that I would write. Memoirs? A journal entry? A short story? A poem?

Somehow, some of it did stay with me. That closing line was still in my mind when I woke up – and is now written down.

I feared when I first awoke that I had lost the fire and I guess I did a bit. But I still managed to sit down at 8am and write 1800 words in an hour. They may not be the most poetic, fire-infused words, but they are a start.

People have told me, ever since I went to Ireland, that I should write my story. That I had a way of telling it that was just dramatic enough to be interesting. I was never sure, I’m still not, but at the very least, I now feel that I would like to write it.

Storytelling, like music, is at the heart of the Irish psyche. Whether I’m telling my friends a story, or writing one down, I am engaged, I live through that story as I tell it. I hope that I can live through the good and the bad in an authentic and real way, that I can tell the story that wants to be told, that I can be true to my memories and to those who people them.

I hope that I don’t loose the thread as I have done with other stories I have started out to tell.

There is so much there, so much material, so many stories within the story.

I guess I will, as Lewis Carroll wrote, “begin at the beginning and then go on till I come to the end.”


12 thoughts on “On the movie, Once, and my own Irish story

  1. It’s a constant battle for me – sleep or write. Sometimes, I decide I’ll just read for a bit before bed, but then there’s always something in the book that gets me fired up. Thanks for sharing and describing your inspiration at bedtime.

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