My first pingback!

Of course, you know some people read your site, friends who follow your cross posts, and the odd visitor from the blog ping aggregators.

I got my first ping back today though, from another blog, not just a random blog though, but one I occasionally read, as an E71 fanatic (though you’ll have to forgive me today, I’ve just seen the N97, and my commitment to the best, and most productive phone I have owned, has slipped slightly)

Many thanks to TomH over at WOM World (http://www.womworld.com), who posted this: http://www.womworld.com/nokia/9814/e71-making-life-more-manageable/

Thanks to those who have come over to comment, and share. Enjoy.

My Writing Toolbox

I don’t really have a toolbox, however I do have certain things that are either must have’s for my creativity, or they’re tools that make my creative output quicker, slicker, and better than without.

There are two sets of toolboxes, since poetry and writing do require different things for me. There are also categories within toolbox, from books, to stationary, to software.

I’m going to look at some of the things in my toolboxes, things that are special to me, or are especially useful to me. Continue reading

Imagination: Worlds of My Creation

Writing is a truly amazing thing for me, it allows me to dump my big random imagination, and allows to keep it for all time. Even if I don’t get far into a novel, anytime I want to relive that imagination I just read what I’ve got.

I’m one of those writers that are blessed with hardcore imagination. Ideas come easy to me, anything can trigger an idea. There isn’t any work involved in shaping the imagination, if I let it just run wild, and I can reconjure an imaginar episode with just a few mental or physical prompts.

Of course if I want to shape this into a story I have to harness it, and that requires a great deal if force.

I imagine whole world’s in my head, a litany of characters, intensive situations, there’s detail o’plenty, as a character slams into a building, I’ll be stood at the bus stop opposite, I’ll see every half broken brick, and bits of mortar. As the protagonists of my imagination move closer for that all but inevitable kiss, I can see it happening, I can see the lines in the woman,s lips, I can see the guys forced face as he struggles not to go too fast, he wants to project a certain image with that kiss, and I see the car speeding towards them, the one who’ll brake hard, and speed away, the moment spoiled. The driver by the way has brown hair, a blue denim jacket, and was smoking – he’s actually fleeing the scene of a crime, which he had nothing to do with, but he’s got form and doesn’t want to go back to jail on a mistake.

The reason it needs to be strong armed is two-fold, firstly my imagination can run rampant at the worst time, I can easily switch between genre’s, decades (even centuries), and characters, it takes practice to keep it on track. The second reason is writing for a mythical readership, I love my imagination – most of the time it’s better than TV, but it’s to my tastes (most of the time, there are occaisionally things I can’t stand, and even offend me), however whether it’s to the taste of a reading audience I’m less sure. Therefore if I want to write an imaginary scene it has to be guided, and then censored and modified further as it flows from the pen.

There is of course another downside, an overly rampant imagination can completely change tracts, starting a whole new story when your only part way through the current one. This does happen frequently, and usually coincides with me losing the will to write. You put all that effort in, and lose the zone for that story, it’s a terrible thing, you’re not interest in the new scene unfolding – or rather not interested in writing. I have to find a way back to the original imaginary story, if I want to continue. That’s one of the things I had to learn during NaNoWriMo last year.

Most of the time, me and the left side of brain are usually on excellent terms, feeding things between us. Living the ideal life, the scary life, the exciting life, the romantic life, and the mysterious life.

The final great thing is I find it wasy to roll into an imaginary story details from research and such.I’m a sponge for information, and I can squeeze me out and spread them over my stories. So if I’ve read something about a theoretical form of space travel, and find myself in need of a mechanism to travel through space, (in my story, if only I could craft the real world as easily as my story ones), I draw through the details, and give my world a touch of realism that sets it shooting for wherever it needs to go.

My imagination is my most treasured asset as a writer, were I to lose that, were I to go in life without that – I honestly would rather be dead.

Where’s the Inspiration?

A man walks onto the scene, he strolls with forced assuredness, yet you can read in his body language he’s not as confident as he’d like to be, he eyes the megaphone in his hand cautiously, before coming to a step. He lifts the megaphone up, taps the small end, then raises it to his mouth, before clearing his throat, “Ahem!”, then he queries, “Is this thing on?”, his words boom out of the megaphone’s big end. He laughs nervously in response to the annoyed stairs he receives.

The man stands there a few moments before finally seeming to get the confidence to raise the microphone to his mouth again, as he megaphone reaches position this time his cheeks take on a bit of velour, and his eyes seem ablaze, he takes a deep meaningful breath, and speaks into the megaphone,

“Right, listen up,” now all eyes are on him, only they’re attentive rather than annoyed, “I demand to know where my inspiration is! I think it’s wholly unfair that you’ve abandoned me right now. I need you, I can’t write without you. Without you these pages are blank, and what words come are empty.
“Inspiration I’ve never needed you so bad, I’ve got all these things to do, and you’ve abandoned me, given up the fight, and now I stand alone against the tide of battle.
“I beg you return to me your charm, your talent. Words are meaningless without you!”

The audience looks rapt, his words have moved them, they feel his desperation, and they ponder borrowing the megaphone.

The man looks down upon his audience, upon their swept up faces, he watches the emotions play across their faces. Then a thought dawns in his mind, a realisation, maybe even epiphany.

What the man realised was this – inspiration is hard to achieve, but it can hit at the strangest moments, and all you can do is find the nearest waiting apparatus and take advantage.

Everyone has different things that inspires them to write, and inspires what to write. For myself these are most often two different events, for others they might be most often the same.

There is also another possibility one without the other, which can either be liberating or frustrating, for example:

  • I may have a brilliant idea what to write, but no inspiration (will) to write it – so it all plays out in my head because try as I might I can’t convert it into words. Obviously a form of writers block.
  • Something may give me inspiration (the will) to write, but without any inspiration. Here my mind, and the paper is ab empty canvas, and I can just let my thoughts flow freely. Probably doesn’t make for great reading, but it’s fun and liberating for me.

Everybody is different when it comes to inspiration, I know all too well what holds true for me, is complete gibberish to another. In broad strokes, I have probably captured the general forms of inspiration.

In terms of what inspires me to write (gives me the will), it falls down to three categories: the outdoors (nature, weather, scenery, architecture, etc…), other people’s creativity (a book, a film, a piece of music, also biographical information about a creative person, or someone who’s faced adversity in their life), and challenges (nothing gets my creative juices better than a bit of competition).

Sadly these things aren’t guaranteed to get me writing, but most often once I start writing it’s because I was inspired to by one of the above.

In terms of my inspiration what to write, it’s usually something close to hand, something I’ve imagined happening, my emotional state (yes, I can be a bit emo in my poetry), or a need to impress others so I can belong, and validate myself.

I’ve written about many things, from religion to coke cans, from fantasyic tales to mundane moments of life, and from historical events to nature.

Sometimes my indpirations puts me on the path to something specific, sometimes it’s just the starting point, or catalyst for a cascade of ideas.

I will say this, whatever the idea, I do love it when it happens, it’s a veritable joy to let poetry over take me, a joy and love that only falls short of sex.

As I’m getting older, inspiration is getting harder – dry spells last longer, but when the floodgates open, I feel sure the joy is deeper, as I come to appreciate it more.

Still I would live in those moments more if I were able to, giving myself over to the wild abandon of inspiration.

So I feel abandoned when inspiration doesn’t come, and call to it from my megaphone, hoping to attract it back. For me my megaphone is going to beautiful places, reading and listening to music, and entering challenges – hoping beyond hope, inspiration heads my call and answers.

That’s what inspiration is to me.

Poetry Practice: Day Ten

My tenth day of writing practice poems to get myself fit for competition.

Today we have one about the weather, which bears no relation to the weather experienced this weekend funnily enough.

Atmosphere Alight
Furous titans battle at the edge,
Tempestuous gods push back,
Might against might
The battle of nature rages.

Hurricanes battle warm fronts,
Thunder and lightening attack,
Atmosphere alight,
Man measures its puny gauges.

Rivers swell breaking banks,
Weather defences seem to lack,
Dangerous sight,
The battle for nature through ages.

Evolution of a Writer

Charmander - beause everyone should be a Pokémon - or something like that

Charmander - beause everyone should be a Pokémon - or something like that

So Charmander gets in a fight, it’s against a more powerful Pokémon, though his trainer is sure his Pokémon can handle it.

The battle rages, and indeed in a last ditch effort, Charmander gets the win. The crowds go wild, it’s the little pocket monster that could.

Wait, but what’s happening now? Why Charmander is glowing, what’s going on? Suddenly the glowing shape of a small odd looking lizard is replaced with a larger odd looking glowing lizard, and as the glow fades, Charizard is stood there looking thoroughly chuffed with himself. He’s evolved, become a better Pokémon, bigger, stronger, and smarter. Everyone is shocked into a stunned silence. His trainer starts clapping, and soon the auditorium goes nuts.

What’s this got to with anything? Well after a fashion I think writers evolution is similar. Certainly my own is, I get stronger very gradually, but every so often I tackle something big – and win. The gradual improvement, the many small lessons learnt, and the sudden influx of effort and challenges pushes me to a new level.

I’ll admit, it may be a confidence thing – I’m not a biased judge of my own ability, in the absence of Mr Horobin and Mr Barrand (my English teachers in high school), I can only presume to rate myself.

Every piece I write I get a little better, every review and edit nets me a few more lessons to avoid problems in the future, but every major trial tests everything I’ve learned, and gives me so many new lessons.

In terms of talent and experience, I evolve into a whole new monster, with new lessons to learn and embrace. I find the end of a piece of work, or project, the most exciting time, and I need to focus on that when the challenge seems too daunting, or I lose the inspiration (will), I have reasons to carry on.

It’s true of most things in my life, I’m a far better analyst now than I was four years ago, there are periods of gradual improvement, and those moments where I’ve jumped to a whole new level.

Now I’ve turned myself into a fictional firey Japanese lizard, I think the job is done for this post.

P.S. I don’t know Pokémon that well, if I’ve got the evolution wrong, aplogies to the diehard Pokemon fans out there.

Poetry Practice: Day nine

Well today is day nine, I’m starting to feel good about writing poetry, well I always did, but having been away for nearly a year, I felt anxious about writing. I’m not a confident person, I’m honest, hard working, and caring – all great qualities but I lack confidence. Writing today’s poem, I felt confident about writing poetry, and that is a fantastic feeling.

Anyway, here’s today’s poem:

Trumble

Trumble trumble
The train is speeding along the tracks,
Like the cliche it goes on and on,
It doesn’t care how many poets pay tribute,
How could it? It’s a train, it suffers no dispute,
Like the cliche it goes on and on,
Until age, fault, or accident attacks,
Trumble trumble.

Trumble trumble,
It might carry passengers or sacks,
Train doesn’t care, just goes it’s way,
For cheap fast long distance it suffers no substitute,
It’s masters do, they’re not nearly as astute,
They only care about getting more pay,
Preventing the goofd things train lacks,
Humble grumble.

©, Jonathan Lawrence 2009

Well we’re back to political rantscommentary as poetry, throw in a bit of business, but mostly it’s politically motivated. The train may not care about the state of British railways, but I do – between Labour and Conservatives, the railways have been turned into a wasteful, inefficient, unenjoyable, expensive and ill-fated form of travel. Why ill fated? Well if enough train companie go under, the rail network would grind to a halt – either someone wealthy would get wealthier running a shadow of the service, or it simply stops. The rail network, and it’s subsidies, have been so artificially raised up, no government could take it back – though they’d happily pay as much to the wealthy hero to take over.

I’m grouchy – I love public transport, or loved is more accurate. Have such fantastic memories, and feelings of trains of old. By old I mean my relatively recent childhood – big black and white Intercity’s with their golden stripe were always a mystery. I never got to go on one before they became GNER, then National Express trains. The design, and routes may not have changed, these cheap rip-offs, the amateur replacements are no match in my mind for the glorious behemoths of memories.

I remember going to the National Railway Museum in York as a child with my grandparents – if I loved the idea of the Intercities, this was where I was blown away. Amazing contraptions everywhich way, Mallards, and Stephenson’s Rocket, walk through 30’s 1st class carriages, and even take a short ride along the tracks, steam billowing from the front, distinctive whistles blaring.

I’m on a train now, a Pandolino (on mobile so not easy to check spelling), it doesn’t compare, and though I have somewhere good to go, the journey isn’t the same.

I should probably have written a second poem, this post deserved it, as did my memories. Maybe another time I’ll revisit that passion.