What I Blog About

So, let me make something clear – I’m in no way a successful writer, I’m not published, I enjoy telling stories and one day I may hit upon something I’d want to publish, but my craft is no where near where I would want it to be for that. I am an aspiring writer, hence the title of this blog, Aspiring.org.

I also really appreciate, and like to look at other people’s stories, which is why I’ve been adding in stuff about story telling from other writer’s, and other media. Now reviewing, or essaying about these is relatively new to me, and I’m early into honing it as a skill. I will improve though. I don’t think I’m going to ever be up there with the YouTube channel Movies with Mikey, who I highly recommend:

I can aspire though, and that’s what I’m all about. I will still be doing posts on the craft of writing, as I work out my way to becoming a half decent writer.

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 45: The Furthest Man

This is the 45th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

The Snow Angel, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 15th January 2012

Word count: 1,000

Theme: exploration, the first, technology, tribute, hope, drive, future, determination

The story:

“Charlie Whiskey Tango,” Captain Peters said into his microphone, “It’s oh nine thirty seven, I’m on final approach.” He settled into to the final manoeuvres that put him on course for entry into the planets atmosphere.

Captain Peters was five hundred light years from home, and on course to be the first man to set foot on an alien world outside the Sol system. Even with faster than light travel it had been a four year journey to reach this point.

The mission had started out as the brain child of Augustus Medley and John Bradley, two PhD students in Manchester, England who had devised the engine. Claire Cowley had joined later, being the person who had discovered the first supposedly habitable planet other than Earth, thus both the planet and the mission were named after her. The ship was named after its designers, the Augustus John. The planet Captain Philips was now fast approaching.

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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 38: Meaning

This is the 38th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Meaning, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 8th January 2012

Word count: 925

Theme: technology, listlessness, future, hope, meaning, striving, determination

The story:

It wasn’t a glorious childhood, but nor was it a Dickensian tale of woe, abuse, and suffering, but it wasn’t glorious. It was kind of bland, you know? Just like five billion others out there. I guess that’s why I did it.

It was never planned, not early on anyway.

I was like everyone else, I woke up in the morning, showered, brushed my teeth, had breakfast, had coffee, then drive into the office. It was a nine-five job, only it never worked out that way. That said, when I was honest with myself, I didn’t actually know what my job was. It was one of those meaningless jobs, I attended meetings, spouted sage-like nonsense and plans, listened to other people make sage-like nonsense and plans. Then we’d make actions, and go bug other people. Invariably it would all be very exciting, and buzz words would fly around, names would be dropped, and ultimately nothing would happen.

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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 34: Dystopian Dreams of the Absent Minded Author

This is the 34th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Dystopian Dreams of the Absent Minded Author, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 3rd January 2012

Word count: 793

Theme: war, hopelessness, future, dystopia, desire, dreams

The story:

Humanity, the tiny blot on an otherwise pristine lifeless landscape of the universe, was growing ever larger. Though no destiny could ever bring a race such as humanity to rival in significance the awesome size of the universe, they were becoming noticeable.

Earth had quickly become a hard place to survive, once the planet went over the Green Cliff seas rising, depletion of fresh water wild food stocks started to be affected by the masses of extinctions. Land vanished, crops withered, disease ran rampant. Mankind had no choice but to look to the stars for salvation.

In the century following, a billion people left Earth, over a quarter of the world’s population abandoned the planet for better lives among the stars.

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Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 33: Utopian Dreams of the Absent Minded Author

This is the 33rd in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.

Utopian Dreams of the Absent Minded Author, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 3rd January 2012

Word count: 765

Theme: peace, desire, future, hope, utopia, dreams

The story:

It was early in the twenty third century that mankind finally found peace with itself. It was thanks to those early colonists, those pioneers of mankind, establishing worlds to settle on, a system of laws, a trade network they put resources in everyone’s reach.

However there was a creeping problem, stagnation. Birth and death rates were kept in balance by what was seen in the past as draconian birth control laws, which were now a fundamental necessity of life in limited sized colonies.

Technological development slowed as the need for a life of constant change subsided. With a stable population, for whom all the needs were met, empire building was no longer a priority, mankind stopped spreading.

It was peace, but towards the start of the twenty fourth century in the Alpha Centauri colony, there was the growing realisation of the looming stagnation. A small group gathered  to try to resolve the situation, how to stimulate the human race. There were many ideas, and a lot of resistance for every idea from the government of Alpha Centauri. The government saw only risk to every idea the group tried to present, and refused to be involved or provide resources.

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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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Pay Up!

No this post isn’t about turning my blog into a pay per article service, or any such notice. I don’t even use ads, this an entirely free blog, my reward is in writing, and the odd comment or two. If my blog inexplicably became uber-popular, and my existing over resourced was somehow unable to cope and I had to get bigger more expensive hosting, I would have to review the situation to recoup costs. That situation isn’t likely, but I do appreciate that the internet can be expensive at times, and someone has to pay.

There is a point where quality and quantity must come at a price. For published authors that point has come, people have deemed the quality and quantity worthwhile paying for, and are ready to stump up the cash.

The world is changing though, and the point of quality and quantity is higher, it’s an uphill struggle against thousands of other writers to hit that point. The internet has had a major impact, books are less popular because there’s so much out there for free, and more convenient.

Amazon was a revelation, you no longer had to go to books, instead they came to you. That hit bookshops hard, but they struggled on. The focus of books changed though, the priority for quick ROI’s (return on investment) is pushed. Books now have to hit the most people for the least popular price. A strategy that seems to back fire more and more. This strategy led to the rise of the ridiculously priced minor celebrity biography. A scatter gun approach to the problem that spreads the investment over many similar books, hoping that one will catch the eye, and return enough money to pay for the lot. Plus I imagine a few publicists like rubbing shoulders with celebrities, and those in the know.

Regardless, sadly the book industry is dying. Various strategies, to my mind, have exasperated the situation, but it’s only hastened the demise, not caused it. The new killer started to rise a couple of years ago, the eBook. EBooks have been around for a while in one form or another, but various technologies are aimed solely at enabling this market, from software for computers and PDA’s to dedicated eBook readers. Libraries of books can be fit onto a memory card smaller than my thumbnail.

Many companies are trying different models to get a ROI from eBooks. The problem is DRM will always be breakable, which means one person pays, cracks, and shares with the world.

It is robbery, but one that’s hard to pinpoint, hard to deal with, and in these days of burgeoning technological advances both sides of the line, hard to track. There are those that argue that it isn’t morally incompatible with the arts, just the same way they argue with the film companies, and the music industry. However, for the time being, the issue isn’t nearly so great as with films and music – and the value of revenue streams is far different.

Throw in that much of the content available on the internet is legally free, in terms of literature, I doubt the publishing industry could get anywhere close to the extreme actions of it’s bigger sisters (music, film, and television).

I’ll put my cards on the table, I don’t necessarily agree with how copyright works now, though I acknowledge the illegality of file sharing certain files, I don’t believe the law is set up right for the twenty-first century. The basis for copyright laws dates to the 1600’s (must query and confirm), when small publishing presses were re-publishing books of bigger firms. Back then copyright was set at a decade, and then books would become fair game, giving the larger firms ten years protection on profits. Then, with a lot of lobbying from bigger publishers, copyright duration was extended, and extended. Loop holes were systematically excised, and precedent cases were brought against people and organisations, big and small.

Though over the past few hundred years there have been countless alterations to copyright law, international versions have been set up – the principles are the same. The current creative industries are hooked, their whole business models inflexibly require this antiquated form of copyright, and they fight any and all efforts to change this.

Even as the world changes, leaving them behind.

Truth is, illegal file sharing wouldn’t nearly be so big, popular, or socially addictive as it is now, had the corporations, and governments come into the game earlier, and dealt with the situation. They could have spent the past decade looking at changing their businesses to fit with the twenty-first century, while protection their revenue. However, a short sighted view, and inefficient weed killer, has maintained their own degradation as the source of creative media.

They only have themselves to blame. However, I digress slightly, but only slightly.

The point of this article is to explore a very valid point, one that multiple industries are faced with.

Given the abundance of free and legal sources of entertainment on the internet, of reasonable quality – would you pay for it elsewhere?

Say for instance, I’m a bestselling author – I’ve just written a ground breaking piece of fiction. It’s gone to the publishers, and has been released into the wilds of the bookshop. Now, I have some sort of weird control over my own works, that prevents my publisher from blocking me from publishing elsewhere, (I would expect they have better control of contracts than this, but it’s a necessary machination for my role-play), and I decide to offer it free to an online community, or two.

Everyone can go and download and eBook version of my groundbreaking book, (by the way, if you’re wondering it’s an awesome book, the best you’ll ever read), the media publicises this fact widely, so lots and lots of people know.

The consumer has a choice, they can download it for free online, or purchase the book. Which do you think the consumer would choose?

I believe they’ll choose the free meditation. I would. However since this a ground breaking, and unbelievably amazing book, maybe I’m hoping they want to buy a physical edition, to keep forever. However, the revenue is going to be far less.

Now, bearing in mind we’re dealing with an ultra-amazing groundbreaking book, if I were to add some form of advertising to the download page, I can recoup some of the lost revenue. Given how amazing the book is, that’s a lot of potential individuals to advertise to.

Of course, financially that’s not quite satisfying, I’ve got bills to pay, and a five storey, one hundred bedroom mansion to buy, (you know, the essentials in life). Next up, I want to look at putting advertising in the eBook – of course I’m a proud writer, and I don’t want LucoCola logo or text interfering with the story itself, so maybe on the front and back pages, and water marks in the corners? Intrusive, but not story ruining. The added advantage to this is, if you want the book without the advertising, you can go to a shop and pay for it.

Seems like a reasonable business model, no? I get lots of good attention from online downloads, plus a reasonable advertising revenue stream, and I get a decent payback from the physical copy of the book. It’s a business plan I could live with, except it would only really pay off with something destined for success. If only one hundred people download your book, the advertising revenues would be tiny, and certainly wouldn’t get me close to my SR-71 Blackbird, even a retired fixer upper.

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