Bit of Admin…

I know a lot of people access my posts through the WordPress apps, and site and stuff, so this might not have much impact, but I’m not sure I’m happy with the design/theme on my blog.

Actually, that’s not true, I like how it looks, it feels classy, under stated… but it makes a few hundred words look like a massive tract. So I need something a little wider, so need to have a look around. I like the featured image bit, it’s sometimes a pain in the proverbials to find royalty free images to use, but I do I like them a lot, so need to keep those. I don’t think it needs the side bar, that could be a drop down menu, or at the bottom, free up the real estate.

So for those that access the site itself, expect a change or two over the next few weeks.

And yes… this is what procrastination looks like, but better now than in November.

88 Days… Not all that long

So apparently NaNoWriMo 2018 is creeping up on me, it’s just 88 days away. I need to get plotting, planning, and researching. I won last year… first time in ages, and it came off the back of plotting, so that’s the way I’m going again.

Only, I’ve been so focused on Dune recently, that’s all that’s in my head. Think I need to go in another direction entirely, science fiction is out, maybe a fantasy story in a much smaller space. Shall see what inspiration strikes.

So, for those taking part in NaNoWriMo, what are you doing to prepare, or are you holding back until closer to the time?

Mea Culpa

So I’ve been quiet for a while… my bad – I’d like to say I’ve been busy, and to some degree that would be true, but I’ve also managed to squeeze in a lot of binge watching on Netflix and the like. So, mea culpa.

So, what have I been up to? Great news I successfully finished NaNoWriMo 2017. First time in years I’ve made it through the 50k, and not only that but I completed the story.

I’ve begun work plotting out my next project, switching from sci-fi back to fantasy. Will talk about it more later, at the moment it’s all rough planning.

That’s the writing stuff I’ve done and am doing, I’m also going to go back to writing short stories, need to keep writing, it’s very easy to fall off of the bandwagon.

Aside from that, I’m going to aim for a minimum of two blog posts a month, because I do enjoy blogging – I just fail at getting round to it. I’m going to change that.

No promises, because promises in the past don’t pan out the way I’d like them to –  but I’ll make more of an effort.

Site Update

Clockwork

So been doing quite a bit behind the scenes to sort out my blog.

My old hosting was a bit overpowered for my needs, about 8 years ago when I’d gotten it I’d had bigger ambitions than a blog, and over the past few years the performance on the site had been excruciatingly slow and frequently chose not to work.

Instead I’ve gone just for wordpress.com – all my posts and such have been imported and I’m just playing about with the look and feel of the site. The good news is it now runs nice and zippy, and can concentrate on writing and blogging.

If you were following the old blog, you’ll have to refollow again I think.

Expect regular posts from now on.

Well well well… look at who’s darkening your door step

So I’ve been gone a while, but I’m back. I lost my mojo for a bit, combination of many many factors, which ultimately are dull, and uninteresting compared with what’s going on in your life, and the world in general – but it was important to me at the time, and it dragged me away from writing, and blogging.

As the title suggests, and the first line, (because apparently reiterating your point, however pointless is the best way to get it across), I’m back. I’m currently working on a project, an epic piece though slightly unoriginal in a world populated by George R. R. Martin, J. R. R. Tolkien, and many others… but it’s fun, and maybe along the way I’ll stumble into a something unique and interesting in the world of fantasy story telling.

I have other ideas piling up, which is great suddenly the creative juices are flowing again.

And I’m half way to fixing my site up – I’ve reinstalled WordPress, and managed to upload all my old posts and comments, (which turns out is very easy), but it’s still running slow.

I’m not sure what I’ll be blogging about – just a journal of my life writing, commentary on writing news, a significant amount about NaNoWriMo this year and future years, (and if that’s news to you… surprise! I’m obsessed with the non-competitive writing competition), a challenge or two, and I’d like to analyse other people’s stories, not just writing but other media’s too – because I find it fascinating. I’ll try and sort out things like that out, but I’m all a quiver at being back, and to be writing for  a few weeks, and I wanted to share that.

My oh my, well it has been a long time…

My last post here was the 31st October, just getting ready for NaNoWriMo 2013. I’d had the ambitious aim of finishing in twenty four hours, but alas, I was a bit ill – quite a bit ill actually, and it waylaid me. Still, I managed a day ten win, so I’m still proud and happy.

A lot has happened in the past eight months, in November I started a new job. A very busy, stressful, demanding, and satisfying job. Lots of travel at the beginning of the year for work, (I’ve racked up something like twenty nights in hotels this year so far). In January I had to move from my home of over a decade, but I now have a two bedroom back to back all to my lonesome, and it’s nice, if a little too quiet at times. Both new and old friends have been coming and going, each bringing those indelible marks onto my life, the little changes, the memories, the lessons not to be forgotten.

This is just a synopsis though, you’ll have to wait twenty years for the biography, because all that life stuff isn’t what this blog is for. No, this is blog is for the writing. If I were to look at my life and say what label I would most like to be identified with, it would be ‘Writer’.

Of course writers write. Being published, even read, that’s irrelevant. Writers write. That’s the only thing that defines a writer. I write stories, that’s me. Despite everything going on, I’ve actually been doing that. Had a few false starts, that are now doomed to the dusty and neglected corner of my mind labeled “For future use”, but there’s one that’s fast forming a story that I’m quite proud of. It’s post apocalyptic zombie stuff, so hardly original, and somewhat dated with the zombie fetishism rapidly vanishing from fashion, but I’m enjoying writing it, and it has clever touches.

I’ve been reading a lot too, I’m practically devouring novels at the moment, but it’s helping me form my ideas for NaNoWriMo 2014. A nice big epic story to achieve my highest November word count yet, and of course another attempt at the one day 50k.

What else is happening? Well the post apocalyptic zombie novel should be finished this month. This July I’m banning myself from social media, (I don’t count blogging), no TV binges on Netflix, LoveFilm, et al, just four hours a week to watch films, healthy diet, exercise, chores being done, and the rest of my free time being taken up with writing and reading. I’m going to be highly productive this month, starting with finally updating here.

Will be pulling more interesting stuff together as well, rather than just recaps of my life, (because there’s enough replays around with this World Cup nonsense).

So watch this space.

Daily Flash Fiction: The Early Conclusion

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

Genesis 1:31

And the writer saw everything he had written, and behold, he saw 14 grammatical errors, 27 spelling mistakes, 5 plot inconsistencies, and 3 unbelievable truths

Jonathan L. Lawrence, May 2013

 

Hands up if anyone noticed I’d not posted in a month? Well I noticed, and it was very annoying, because it means I’m really really quite far behind on my daily flash fic posting. So far behind that it’s gotten to a month and a half, (well 44 days to be precise). I’m never going to catch that up, because I don’t think I can commit to daily stories at the moment. It’s never been my style, I’m not a short story writer. Well despite 135 short stories to the contrary.

That said, I am really proud of some of them, yes they all need a lot of work – the challenge was not to edit and just keep posting, but there are some real gems in there.

And since I’m very fond of stats, I’ve had a look at some for this challenge:

105,168 words written (in story only)

796 average story length

Here’s some graphs, because I love a good graph. The first shows my words per day, and a moving average word count. It shows I was gradually getting shorter in length, which was a goal of the challenge, so that’s something positive to take away:

From Word Usage

The second is just for my interest really, I like seeing an accumulative word count. Of course with a limit of 1,000 words maximum, and for most of the challenge a minimum of 500 it was pretty much guaranteed to run a relatively straight line, but it’s nice to see all the same:

From Word Usage

Aside from getting bogged down in distractions, apathy, and writer’s block, I’ve enjoyed the challenge for the most part. And it’s succeeded in several ways, such as having the chance to try new things, practice things I’ve never been particularly good at, writing with a little more abandon. It’s also given me ample opportunity to see where my skills are weakest in the fundamentals, (spelling and grammar that I simply don’t get).

It’s also more words than I’ve written outside of NaNoWriMo since I started doing NaNoWriMo, and probably from before then too.

I’m not done though, although I won’t be trying to keep up with 365 short stories in a year, I am going to post the occasional short story – to keep my eye in for next year, to give me a break from other projects, and to simply test out an idea I’ve got bouncing round in my head.

In the meantime I’ve got two pretty big story ideas, neither of which will be saved for NaNo, I want to write them now. I’m in a planning phase at the moment with brain storms and notes scattered all around. I’ve decided which one I’m going to write first, though I’ve written a few lines, (the proverbial foothold in enemy territory of the plain white page), I’m mostly writing out the back story. It’s a fantasy piece and it requires a good backing mythos to really work.

I’ll get you next time, Gadget. Next time!

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge: An update

For the past few years I’ve done my best to maintain a work life balance. I’ve worked hard to be fast and efficient at my job so I’m able to fit more into my working day, limiting the amount of work I have to do outside of working day.

However, this new year has been getting busier and busier at work. My to do list will soon make me look like a short arse in comparison, (and I’m six foot four). Ultimately this has led to my work-life balance going a bit out of kilter, in favour of work. Lots of hours, and when I’m not working, I’m mentally exhausted.

It’s why I’ve gotten behind on writing again, and it’s annoying. I know I’ll catch up, but it’s a blow when I’m trying really hard to write everyday. And it’s not like I don’t have time, it’s that after a long day I don’t have the words. I write what i can, and that’s usually at least something each day, so when I come to catch up, like tonight for instance, I can follow through on the idea I had.

It’s not going to get better until Spring is gone either, but I’m not surrendering the challenge, I just have to acknowledge that some days I’ll miss target, some days I’ll have to double and treble and quadruple up, and realise that’s okay.

So for those that read my blog, (hey, lovely to have you here), bear with me, eventually normal service will resume.

P.S. Yes, in the time I’ve taken to write this I could have caught up – but no one’s perfect.

P.P.S. To those that balance writing everyday with work, university, zoo keeping child rearing, and what not – you have my full respect. You do amazing things.

Surprise! I’m a writer!

Why surprise? Well I’ve surprised myself, we’re now two months into this writing challenge, and I’ve not stopped.

I wasn’t entirely convinced I’d stick with it, but I have this far. There’s still 298 stories to go, but it’s been a good start.

There’s a lot going on in my life, which has served as quite the distraction. I’ve missed one day – ironically on the least distracting of days. There’s been a fair few days where writing has been last minute.
I should offer a word on quality, or lack thereof – the challenge is to write, not edit. The only editing I’m doing is to trim the word count to fit in my maximum of one thousand words. It’s not always pretty, but it’s creative.

Well kind of creative – there’s probably twenty ways to armageddon the world. Pleasantly, sometimes bitter sweetly, occasionally tragically it’s been a lot more than destroying the world, I like to think I’ve got some genuine drama, emotion, and fantasy in there.

I’m going to be making a list of goals – stories and styles that are off the beaten track for me. Things I might not be good at, but are a stretch.

I’m also going to launch a separate but related challenge to edit two stories a week. Two of the Daily Flash Fiction Challenge stories, just seem spelling, grammar, flow editing, maybe do some rewrite to clarify what I intended. Otherwise the main rules of the Daily Flash Fiction Challenge, 500 to 1,000 words, a self contained story, not just a series of chapters.

Anyway the upshot is I’m writing and enjoying it. Which puts me in a good place.

Here’s to writing.

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge, an update

So today was the 34th entry in the challenge, so I figured I’d have a little catch up with you all.

I’m quite proud to have gotten so far, it’s proved as much of a challenge as I expected. So how have I done?

34 stories written
1 late by one day
6 done just in time

The one that was late, I completely forgot about until the next day, so on the 31st December I did two stories.

It’s a great challenge though, it’s given me the opportunity to try some new things, different styles, and genres. There’s plenty more things to experiment with yet, so I’m going to make a list. The list will come in handy when I’m running short on ideas, because keeping the ideas coming for another 331 stories is a worry.

The rules have been refined a bit along the way, so the rules are as follows:
One per day (anything extra is not part of the challenge)
To qualify it must be a story of 500 to 1,000 words in length
Editing is allowed to reduce word count, otherwise editing is discouraged
Stories must not be sequels to previous pieces of the Flash Fiction Challenge, or stories from outside of the challenge – however stories can be set in an existing universe
Research limited to no more than twenty minutes per fic (that’s a new rule, it’s too easy to get lost in detail you’d never be able to use, and not actually get to the writing at the comfortable time)

I think that about covers it – though the rules are somewhat restrictive in places, they’re all meant to help with writing.

A friend of mine from NaNoWriMo is doing something similar at 750words.com – the rules are a bit different, but the concept of writing daily is enshrined, which I like. I like the act of sharing though, the majority of what I write never sees the light of day, and if you’re not telling stories, you’re not a sorry teller.

It’s that sharing, putting the story out there to be appreciated or criticised, even with family and friends on Facebook, which is the number one thing I like about my challenge, I don’t judge, I don’t critique my own work, I just post it. That’s a good feeling. That’s not to say I’m going to post everything I’ve ever written, the big stuff will continue to sit in my editing pile, but when it is edited, I’m going to feel more positive about doing something with it.

So, head down back to writing. Ta ra folks.

Jonathan L. Lawrence