Splendid isolation in Yorkshire: A creative writing course in the shadow of Sylvia Plath

Once money’s sorted out, I’d like to go on holiday here. It’s a retreat for, and a course in creative writing, which seems pretty interesting. This flagged up in my news alerts, and now I just want to go.

Lumb Bank, Hebden Bridge

I’ve got days left to book on my annual leave, even with a couple of weeks booked off for my walk from Ilkley to Windermere in August. It sounds wonderful, and now I’m writing consistently I’d like to learn to write well, and be more focused. If not before August then definitely after the Science Festival in Newcastle in September. Around Christmas I’m intending on having a few days on the coast to get some more writing done. Busy year all told, but I really want to fit this writers retreat in. I’ll find room somewhere, if not this year, then next.

http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/uk/splendid-isolation-in-yorkshire-a-creative-writing-course-in-the-shadow-of-sylvia-plath-8473754.html

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge 20: The Wheel of Life

This is the 20th 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.

Banquet for the Lost, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 21st December 2012

Word count: 999

Theme: drama, gambling, holiday, letting loose

The story:

Peter Simmons was a careful man, usually, he didn’t gamble, didn’t risk. Life was too precious to waste. So how he came to be in a casino gambling on his life on a roll of the dice was somewhat out of character.

It all started three days ago, he’d had to come to the South of France on work business. For some reason his boss felt he was the perfect person to go to buy up a collection of rare wines.

“Safe pair of hands,” his boss had noted, it somehow irked him more than it should. The fact he was being forced to take a weeks leave as well, (“You’ve got too many holidays unused, everyone needs time off”), only added to the annoyance.

Was this his life? Safe pair of hands? Something inside him just clicked, and so he went to France determined to enjoy himself on the company’s dime.

That wasn’t so easy, outside of work and his books, Peter had little else. So he did the most obvious thing, he went to a vineyard.

Continue reading

Aspiring.org Repatriated…

Well I’m back in sunnyfoggy Leeds once again. Prague was amazing, took a lot of pictures, saw a lot of sights, ate a lot of food, and drank a lot of beer. Perfect holiday. I also squeezed in two and a half chapters of Memoir of a Space Corsair.

I would thoroughly recommend Prague as a decent retreat, though there are plenty of distractions – the goulash is amazing, and the semi-dark beer is awesome.

Now I’m back, I want to focus a bit on my writing once more. I’m finally back ahead again with my current serial, having two and a half chapters currently unpublished onsite. However, I won’t be posting anything for a little while, I want to take down the first four chapters and do a thorough editing on them, cut out some of the extrenuous detail, close a few plot holes, and clarify some of the confusing elements. Unfortunately, though it was always my intent not to, very little editing was done on what I’ve posted. Just a spelling and grammar check. The idea was to just write – however having gone through the initial stories to compile a list of characters, character attributes, places, ships, and events (both covered and implied), I found far too many mistakes to just let it lie. So for the next few weeks, I will be concentrating on a thorough editing of the initial, and the unpublished chapters, to try and form a more coherent story.

It’s a good place to do it, the first unpublished chapter establishes Arsène Frassin into a different situation from before, where he has more control of his actions, the second removes most of the metaphysical shackles that bind him, and allow him to flourish as an individual, and not just someone trapped by circumstances (though, as there are no magic wands, some circumstances are still very much present, its the form that allows his freedom of action). This is where the story really begins, we’ve cleared the back story, and that is an excellent achievement.

There are other things I’ll be doing the next few weeks too –

  • I will be completing my notes on the story, which will help to avoid future plot holes, and blatant mistakes, (the worst of which is forgetting a character completely, and having him turn into a different character).
  • I’ll also get some of my notes written up, which is in the form of a writing diary, a kind of behind the scenes look (not that there’s much to see, but I’m sure there will be as the story really takes off).
  • I’m also going to plan out a few a chapters ahead, and give a rough gudie, for myself, as to where I’m going with this (read more of this further down)
  • Lastly, need to do my Autumn playlist in Spotify

Being a child of modern times, I spend a lot of time online, and one of my favourite sites is Ctrl+Alt+Del an online webcomic, which is updated regularly, and aimed at gaming, and gamers (though I’m not really one, I do play some games so get most of it). Tim that creates the comic, has recently just finished a storyline, where fans could email in their choice for the next action. A bit like the Choose Your Own Adventure books of years ago (one of which I have on my Kindle). Now he’s finished, he’s just done this post, in which he has a tree diagram of the choices that were made, and were possible. I’ve never done anything like this for a story (I’ve done story boarding and such, but its always a linear thing, and usually never in great detail). I quite fancy giving a similar diagram ago.

I would definately have decision paths, for my purposes though, I would literally fill loads of them with sample short adventures, which gives me the choice each time I write a new chapter to go one way, or the other, or stick to the core story. I think it would be a fantastic tool because it allows me to have both a plan, and an evolving story – as each sub adventure, in some way or form will add something to the core storyline, while also keeping to my main aim of a exploring as many different space adventures as possible. The great thing about writing in serial form is that if I don’t want to further the main story line for several issues, that’s okay, as long as it eventually ties back in.

So, writing wise, that’s my next few weeks sorted. It’ll give me a October to then squeeze some quality writing in, before I break off from existing projects and switch over to NaNoWriMo 2010.  Yes, its not far away at all now.

I think science will probably feature in my NaNoWriMo novel this year, purely because next week I’ll be at the Science Festival in Birmingham, absorbing lots of lovely science to be recycled into my writing.

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Then, soon enough it will be Christmas, and the year will draw to a close. It’s been an amazing year, and we’re only three quarters through so far. Why am I getting so far ahead? Just so I can mention that next year Aspiring.org will go international again (as in I’ll be holidaying across at least three different countries next year, go me). This last paragraph is of no relevance, but it makes me happy, so tough.

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Aspiring.org goes international

Good day folks, or as they say where I am now dobry den (or ahoy).

I’m currently on holiday in in the beautiful city of Prague. Only been here a day, but the creative juices are flowing (get your mind out of the gutter I meant the intellectual ones). So far in MSC (Memoirs of a space corsair) we’ve not done much but there is our first proper space battle coming up, and some actual piracy – I’m going to base the world they go to fence.their ill gotten gains on the Czech capital I think. It makes sense, the more we leave where we came from, the more we try to capture the spirit of what we left… so in the future major colonies will be heavily influenced by their language/ethic groups in architecture and design. The architecture here is beautiful that it needs to be preserved in some fashion by the Czech speaking people 500 years from now.

I think it will be especially true of language/ethnic groups that lost much of their homes on Earth during the wars of 100 years from now. Well its war or catastrophic after affect of going over the green cliff (entirely depends how preachy I’m feeling when I write it).

Just need to break my current chapter and the show will really get going.

Stop the presses! Shocking news, I love Technology says blogger with umpteen laptops and mobile phones.

I love technology – I really do. I love gadgets, I think gadgets make my life better – though I don’t believe they make the world better (but that’s another issue I’ll sidestep). I can’t help it, I’m a geek, it has to be bigger faster, smarter, and shinier than what came before. I want bells and whistles, I want it all. Yes, I said bigger – size does matter, I don’t want a mobile phone the size an ants nut.

Doesn’t matter with its a pen, a computer, or a phone – more technology is simply better, in my universe. Zero technology has its place, I mean sitting their doodling with an e-pen is kind of a waste, and drawing is better with a pencil on paper. That said, I have an Amazon Kindle, and it is all kinds of fantastic, and I don’t feel the urge to go back to the printed word.

My point is, as I mentioned I love technology. However, in a strange kind of way I’m a traditionalist, I like my technology to be technological. I like that sometimes it requires a bit of brain power, some intuition, and a touch of luck to find my way round a piece of technology. I don’t want a smooth easy user experience, if I end up with one, I’ll only break down the veneer of civilisation covering the rugged peaks and valleys of performance that makes technology grand. I don’t want easy, I want fun.

For me, its about fun – at the end of the day I don’t need any of it, I could suffice with just the basics, even down to going back to pen, paper, and the printed world, I’d find myself happy enough at that. However, I do so enjoy new gadgets, new toys.

I’ve finally replaced my crappy Nokia 5800, I now have an HTC Desire running Android (which I’ll be upgrading to Android 2.2 this evening, I’m far too impatient to wait for HTC’s own upgrade of the operating system). Its an absolutely fabulous piece of technology – I don’t even mind not having the things I normally miss in a phone (a physical qwerty screen, and resistive touchscreen). Okay, its not great for writing my Nokia E71 was, but it gets by, for short pieces, writing up ideas and such. I do feel kind of dirty, I’m not usually a Google fan (in fact I think Google are out of control, but those kind of things fix themselves in time, and my surrender to their mobile technology is hardly going to delay the downfall). Compared side by side with an iPhone (3GS, not 4, since I know no one with the new iPhone), and the HTC Desire wins hands down on all the bits that matter to me… and that really is the only measure that counts.

I did fancy the Motorola Milestone, but the new one is out soon – and I’m happy enough for the improvements to that to pick it up in a year’s time when its cheaper. The first Milestone has a keyboard its true (major appeal), but its not the greatest writing surface, so figured I’d survive well enough just the touchscreen.

There are some things I do miss about the Symbian operating system, but Android isn’t that different, its just as open and customisable – and it is firmly current generation, the aging Symbian system does feel old hat. Symbian^3 is out soon, and it looks swish (the whole N8 does), but for me, it hasn’t come far enough from what I’ve seen of it. Who knows what Nokia will have out in a year’s time, they look like to put out many phones, to match a whole host of needs – maybe Symbian^3 will come on in leaps and bounds, and it will leave Android and Apple with a massive headache as that hill they’ve been climbing to be a major mobile phone player suddenly becomes a lot steeper.

What I look forward to is the day we go buy our mobile phones from any company we want, and can then choose what operating system to have it on it. We’re getting there, I hear tell rumours that Windows Mobile 7 might be installable on some Android devices, not sure if its vice versa or not. Of course, a model like that would lead to us having to pay for a phone, and the operating system, because licensing deals with manufacturers would go out the window.

In other technology news, my netbook is now at the point where its my perfect travel companion, its running Windows 7, has an extra gig of ram, and now has an extra large battery, combined with its existing smaller battery I can get quite a bit of time out of it between charges (between five and six hours), which is perfect for my holiday to Prague in four weeks time, and my following trip to the British Science Festival two weeks after that.

So yes, if you didn’t get the message, I love technology.