Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 12: The Elementalist

This is the eighth in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing from 2nd December 2012 until the 1st December 2013. It’s intent is to keep me writing throughout the year, and not just in November. you can find out more about the challenge here.

The Elementalist, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 13th December 2012

Word count: 999

Theme: competition, sport, super powers, mutants, utopian future

The story:

I bounce on the balls of my feet, oan outsider might see a competitor warming up, in truth I’m trying to work off a building sense of fear and excitement that were ripping me apart.

“Its the World Championship, you’re allowed to be nervous,” that’s my coach Silenius Smith, I resented his calm, but he’s been through this, he was an old pro, maybe in his forties now.

“I’m just wired,” I tell him.

“No Rusty, you’re terrified, but it’s okay you won’t lose control in the arena, you’re more than good enough for a first round victory,” Silenius admonished.

“I’d rather hear you’ll be kick my arse if I mess it up,” I tell him, trying to laugh.

“No, that wouldn’t be fair,” Silenius said sternly, “I’m going to kick your arse in training tomorrow anyway,” giving in to a smile.

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My Daily Challenge for 2013

Okay, so now NaNoWriMo is over for another year, I have to face up to something. I’m not really writing at any other time of year, which is a very bad habit. So, I’ve had this cunning plan of copying someone else sort. There’s a member of NaNoYorks called LittleSparks, who is writing 750 words a day, and has done so for the past 340 days consecutively.

This, I find incredibly impressive, and so I’m going to copy, kind of.

What I’m going to do though is try and do a single story every day for a year. Including right through NaNoWriMo, and the two Camp NaNoWriMo’s that precede it. Completely separate from any other word count scores I should add.

Then, I’ll post them here, after a little bit of editing.

It’s an act of creativity, perseverance, and timing.

It doesn’t matter where I do it, or how I do it, it just has to be done everyday, no catchups, no getting ahead. Each one has to be greater than 500 words, but less than or equal to 1,000 words. It doesn’t have to be super original, in fact I doubt I could do 365 short stories and be truly unique with even a handful of them, so there’ll be cliches, and things might seem familiar on occaision. They will hwoever be my words, and my idea at the time of writing.

What else? Oh yes, to achieve this awesome goal, I’m going to use prompts. Anything from a random photograph, conversation, and yes my much trusted and used StoryCubes. Where possible, I will try and include the prompt, if someone feels they can do better, who am I to stand in their way?

This is running from today (2nd December 2012), until the 1st December 2013

Anyway, I’ve set up a category for my daily challenge, let’s see if on 2nd December next year I can look back and count 365 seperate posts in there.

In the meantime, a post is coming up with my first offering.

Also, if you want to find out a bit more about Flash Fiction (i.e. very short, self contained stories), there’s a wikipedia page to explain here, and here you can go read countless examples of the art form.

 

Ta ra folks.

NaNoWriMo 2012 – a long awaited update

Usually during November I post every few days about my NaNoWriMo progress, that is until I crash and burn and end up riding the fail train until the end of the month, (though I did win last year). This year has been different, oh yes, on both accounts.

First of all I’ve failed to get round to inane blog posts about my progress until now, (now into the final week). Secondly, for the second year running, I missed the connection to the fail train and gained my win early. In fact at ten days, I was on the success train four days earlier than last year. That’s right, choo choo, I’m a winner again!

Okay, a grown man putting “Choo choo” in that statement may not sound like a winner, but it felt good, and so did winning.

This of course isn’t about rubbing all your noses in my success, (not entirely anyway), it’s about how I succeeded, and what I’m currently up to, (and no its not running round city centre bollock naked going running up to people before going shouting “Choo choo” in their faces – that behaviour gets you sectioned, and NaNoWriMo does not qualify as mitigating circumstances).

So, my last NaNoWriMo post before this, that was actually published, (have a whole post on tools that I didn’t publish, which is good as I went a different way), was all about my final decision for project this year. I originally had decided on three possibilities, and had a whole scientifically inaccurate way for deciding which I would go with.

Then October hit, and the Road to NaNoWriMo was in full swing, and I decided I didn’t want to do it. All that planning won’t go to waste, but it’s not being used right now. Instead I had a grand plan for revolution, with a Tyrant in Downing Street. I’m sure you can see the appeal of this given the times we live, and are likely to be living in in the future.  It’s tough, it’s exciting, and it’s political. What more can a guy ask for in a novel?

So with the planning session for the West Yorkshire chapter of NaNoWriMo, I plotted out my novel, sorted out my main character and time a line leading up to the main events. Then November the 1st at 2:30am (I napped longer than I expected), I got to work on the ambitious story I had in mind.

Another reason for choosing this particular story was I did it as a history book, narrated by a single voice, but telling many of stories of the life and times of said tyrant.  It meant I didn’t necessarily have to care about continuity, writing in the right order and what not, it’s going to be easy to chop and change in editing. Whole sections can be lifted and moved, or indeed just removed without impacting everywhere. It was quite liberating, so much so with a big first day, and a huge Saturday I was well on my way. I was hoping for a Wednesday night finish, (50k in 7 days, epic), however NaNo crud hit early this year and it threw me off my game somewhat in the first Monday and Tuesday of the competition. It was a distraction I could ill afford for the 7 day 50k. So, I didn’t do it. That said, it didn’t stop me, I carried on when I was better, and won on day 10. 5k a day average? I can live with that.

So November 10th was a glorious day, since I won. Unfortunately for my 100k plans, the story lost its traction after that. I’ve stopped it at 52k, and moved onto a new novel, with the aim of doing a second novel in 10 days. So far I’m behind after losing two days to the curse of technology, (my laptop by loathsome ransom ware).  The second novel got me to 100k in eleven days, and I completed the 50k for that particular novel on fourteen days.

Below you can see a chart of my word counts, per day, up until today. I did my best, but I was no where near consistent. (click the image to see the chart in full size).

From Word Counts

Neither is finished, but both need a bit of extra planning to tie it all together and finish off. So I’m calling December finishing month. There’ll be three to do, as tomorrow I’m starting another story. This one will be short, about 25k, just to finish off the last week. I’m not worried if I don’t hit 25k, it’s just a bit of fun.

The plot is entirely driven by StoryCubes, (see below for the selection in question). No idea how it’ll work out, and I’ll probably need more StoryCubes at various points to pad out the plot.

From Story Preparation

I have a whole post in mind as to how much StoryCubes helped me, and how I used them, and the fun. So I won’t share my interpretations just yet. I think though I’m going to do a StoryCube story once a month, just for fun.

It’s early yet, but I’d hate to forget, so here are the obligatory thank you messages.

Thank you to:

  • NaNoWriMo for hosting and organisation the month.
  • The Yorkshire chapter of NaNoWriMo for being such a lovely encouraging forum
  • #NaNoYorks chat room for its many word counts, and encouragements, and putting up with my plot talks, and occasional boasting.

In particular, I’d like to thank (in no specific order):

  • Sparkie, for whom I was desperately trying to race, but out paces me for writing with worrying ease – even hundreds of miles away in her new home.
  • Kerantli, for secretly being the organised and responsible one, and prodding me when I needed to stuff.
  • Rokk, for talks about Bond and plots.
  • BoredRobots, for being the foil to my personal story

A further mention goes to:

  • My colleagues at work that have put up with me talking about things they have not a single care about.
  • My mum for encouraging me, and my dad for taking an interest in the plot.

So yeah, plenty of thanks, and I’ve missed a lot of people out. Some people don’t even realise they’re helping, but they have. I could never have made it through NaNoWriMo these past couple of years without the care and support of all the other WriMo’ers I’ve encountered.

I’m stood here on this podium in tears now… but no one’s handed me an award yet. Ah well.

Annoying Writing Habits…

Doing NaNoWriMo in the company of others has shown me something – how many annoying habits I’ve built up

I’m not talking about actua writing issues, I’m talking behavourial one. The one I’ve noticed most often has to be the tapping of keyboards. Not the keys themselves, but the frame or rest area, when I’m trying to think around a problem, or plotting my next move.

I also seem to  a very emphatic gesture when hitting the carriage return, it’s like every new paragraph is a victory. Also, it seems full stops too.

The other one I’ve noticed, though I’m trying really hard not to do this in public, is the chewing of my tongue during tense, or really busy period.

There’s a few more, but those are probably my biggest crimes against the people around me.

It has led me to wonder, what are your annoying writing habits? Answers on a post card – however since I’m not giving you my address, probably best to answer in a comment.

NaNoWriMo 2009 is a go!

Weeks of anticipation, preparation, and nerves have finally lead to the start of NaNoWriMo 2009.

It started at midnight, and so did I, or close enough (what I actually did was start the procastination early, by waiting an hour to start while I worked on a spreadsheet to track my writing… erm oops). Anyway, today I went to Café Latino in Leeds, met up with another writer doing NaNoWriMo, and we got to work properly on writing our novels.

I’d like to say I’m target, but I’m about four thousand words short as it stands, and annoyingly I’m currently averaging a very poor, and very slow four hundred and fifty three words an hour, I’m not really sure why, the ideas there. Hopefully when a few more characters turn up, and we get some good interaction (not just phone calls), the words will start to flow.

My ideal is to do ten thousand words a day at weekends, with an extra five thousand on a Friday night. Now I know this isn’t entirely sustainable, which is where week nights come in, they’re my bonus rounds where I can pick a few extra on the word counts, but I can also take some time to create and organise notes, drawings, and do plans to help me at the weekends. The weekend and Fridays plan brings me to my target of one hundred thousand words, across two stories – and thats where I need to focus my efforts.

I don’t really need to feel too bad about not hitting target today, this Sunday is an extra, above and beyond the plan, so any words today, just help take a bit of pressure off later on. However, aside from a few chores, and writing this entry I’ll be writing right up until bedtime. Sadly this year there won’t be any bus writing, my little netbook is still out of order (bang out of order as it were), and I’m confined to using my seventeen inch monster laptop which is just about portable, if I’m writing in a café, or some such, not really something I can sit on a bus with.

I am feeling really confident about this year though, I’ve got a good plan, and some great ideas. There’s a lot of pressure, but I write better with pressure, its how I made it last year,  when I did 80% of my novel in just ten days, right at the end.

I’m going to try and fit in time to keep writing here, this is what my blog is for, writing, and discussing writing, and this is the month I’m going to be doing lots of it, so i’ll have plenty to discuss.

To all everyone doing NaNoWriMo out there, I wish you all the best of luck.

Poetry Practice: Day Eleven

My eleventh day of poetry practice, somewhat delayed after first having site issues, and then computer ones to boot. I’m not giving up, and I do have a back log of poetry to post, however I’m at work, so figured I’d write a quick one, and prove I’m still alive.

Disaster of a Dream

Soaring high above the world,
Glorious hue of unadultered blue,
Wisps of clouds stretching far beneath,
Breaks of green, and brown, and blue,
I am free, nothing can ever get to me here.

Feeling secure here, I swirled,
Blinded by beauty, I never had a clue,
My flight is at an end, I fall towards heath,
Panic flairs, my joy now seesm untrue,
I am trapped, falling to my death in fear.

Without warning, I am curled,
My workplace, twisted and strange,
An assault of vaunted ceilings, and a scary bar,
Signs of the office I know in the range,
I flee, this new world is out to get me.

The scene to Birmingham I’m hurled,
All about me recognised in change,
I bump into a scarey person with a scar,
He grabs me, we fall down a derange,
I hold on, he continues to fall free.

©, Jonathan Lawrence 2009

Now just a bit about this poem : Continue reading