A few days after my Belfast flat peeps had a big old party to celebrate the end our degrees, M and I went to Dublin to a very exciting event – Josh Ritter in conversation with Sinead Gleeson discussing his debut novel ‘Bright’s Passage’ which is newly released in UK/Ireland. (I’ve had it for ages since it was released in USA in case you are confused.) It was part of the Dublin Writer’s Festival which runs until the 10th of June. I am now on the mailing list and will be keeping an eye out for future festivals !
It was held in Liberty Hall (which we had some trouble locating on a map but all was well.) Due to the bus company changing the timetable THAT DAY we had to wait in Derry for 2 hours for a bus (I had gotten up at 5.40 with excitement.) So we barely had time to get to our Guesthouse (No more posh hotels for us) before we had to skip to the venue. Despite my worries, M was right about where we were going, and we chatted to an older couple outside who were from Dublin and said they followed Josh all around and ‘Isn’t he one in a million’ and they had nothing but wonderful things to say about him. I wish we had have asked their names.
The venue was lovely, quite small, but packed to the gills. It was also at 3p.m – I have never seen Josh in the day time before! Sinead Gleeson asked him a series of questions, mainly about the difference between writing songs and writing prose. He had many funny stories and such good advice. I tried to write down a few things afterwards, when we got back to the room:
“Poems are God’s sneezes.” – he quoted a lady, I think her first name was Alison, I can’t find it online.
He discussed how in writing a song, a writer provides a corridor, a long corridor with many doors branching off from it. The listener decides where she wants to go. When listening to a Leonard Cohen song, he said, you can suddenly be transported back to something that happened years ago, or start thinking about buying pretzels. It could be anywhere, anything.
You owe it to your good idea to make it as good as it can be. Perfect it.
Find your bucket! This struck a chord with me – he said he always knew he wanted to write, it was inside him but he needed a bucket to pour his words into, he needed to find the right medium. Among many of my writing problems I think this is one of them. I need to find the right bucket.
“Don’t punch your own time card.” He took up running a few years ago to try to get his brain ‘pumped’ and to give himself a break from all the thinking and writing. It’s important to do other things, things that are good for you and that you love, not just bow to the slog of work and bed. I’m not saying it very eloquently but it IS an important message. I might take up running…
I found myself nodding along to all the wonderful advice that he had.
He sang us a few songs afterwards, I have a feeling he would have sang more but one of his strings broke. M decided the strings must have been changed too soon before the event. There were two new songs, one very sad one about joy which I am looking forward to hearing again. He also sung an ‘angel’ song, Sir Galahad to suit the angel theme in ‘Bright’s Passage.’
There was a very long queue to have books signed after the event. We queued in a circular fashion in the lobby. M and I waited for an hour and I got more and more nervous as we neared the front. My palms started sweating and then M’s did too, he said I was making him nervous, and he didn’t know what I was going to do! A girl in front of me said she liked my shoes, and then just as she was going to meet him with her friend she sat down, and changed her mind. I stepped in. She got up and her friend mouthed ‘thank you.’ Yay. I have met Josh before, as you know, and also he still follows me on twitter, so I had dared hope that he might recognise me.
It was beautiful watching Josh hug every single person, give them his time, pose for pictures, sign their books. EVERYONE came away smiling, and it was a pleasure to watch them all go down the stairs, checking their signatures and photos and grinning happily. He kissed a few Mums on the cheek and hugged older men there themselves and it was all beautiful.
When it was our turn (I had nearly fled down the stairs a few times) he hugged us both and M was all awkward about it (bless). Then he asked us where we were from and we said Derry and I just accepted that of course he wasn’t going to recognise me, but then when he took my copy of ‘Bright’s Passage’ to sign and asked me my name, he said ‘Fiona! How ARE you?’ and hugged me again and said he was looking out for me. ‘You follow me on twitter!’ I squeaked. ‘Yeah!’ he said writing enthusiastically in my book. When I told him I’d just finished my exams last week he said ‘ I read that!’
Oh My God, you guys.
We told him how me met when he asked. (Youth group… not very interesting…) I told him I was raging he was going to Belfast when I’d still be in Dublin! He asked what we were going to do in Dublin and I kind of waffled and then asked him did he know Leo Burdock’s Fish & Chip shop. (I had listened to M talk about it the whole way round the circle haha) So we got a photo and it was all cosy. M took 3 cause I closed my eyes the 1st time. Then I further squeaked ‘Thank you Josh, you’re my favourite!’ and he said ‘Thanks for everything, guys, say hello to Leo for me!”
I was shaking trying to walk down the stairs, and was in the best mood ever the entire Dublin trip. I’m smiling thinking about it. Josh if by any chance you are reading this: Thank You from the bottom of my heart.
People say they wouldn’t want to meet their heroes – you do if it’s Josh Ritter.