Block Breaker #2

Block breakers are short stories, random ditties for which the only real purpose is to write something, anything when Writer’s Block strikes. Quality, verbosity, fidelity, consistency – none of these words apply. Just write or die.

Not done one in a while, but got an itch.


 

Middling William

by Jonathan Lawrence

I remember the day I first met William, like it was yesterday, even as the decades have flowed by, it’s one of my most vivid memories.

The strange thing is when I first met him, he didn’t leave that much of an impression immediately. He was middling everything, middling height, middling build, middling clothes – I mean everything.

“Ms Rebutem,” William said curt but polite.

“Constable,” I replied, barely noticing him among the crowd of Lookie-loos, here to see the accident. It took me several moments to realise someone had addressed me by name. I’m not crazy, or stupid, but when a tanker over turns as a police officer in London, your focus tends to be on the multitudes that come to gawp, oh don’t look at me like that, the fire brigade and ambulance were dealing with the driver.

“Excuse me, how do you know my name?” I asked him.

“It’s on your label,” he said matter of factly pointing at the velcro patch on my stab vest, it was a more dangerous world back then, “I’m William,” he was returning the gift.

“It also says Constable,” I said annoyed at the middling man, “I’m kind of busy right now.”

“You’ll be busier when that tanker explodes,” he said confidently, there was nothing middling about his voice, it was both strong and calm, easily audible over the throng of by standers, he looked at his watch, “In about one minutes give or a take a few seconds. I’d call everyone back, if I were you?”

“What?” I asked confused and still annoyed, and mildly alarmed even though in the back of my mind I was sure he was a lunatic.

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The Road to NaNoWriMo 2013

It’s that time again, when many writers put their heads above the parapet of their day to day fertile scribblings, (or piles of blank paper, depending on how their proverbial muse has been treating them), because right around the corner is NaNoWriMo.

Sixty-six days until the madness begins again.

In case you’ve never heard of NaNoWriMo before, it’s the National Novel Writing Month, (albeit it is now very much an international festival of writing). The goal through the thirty days of November is to write a fifty thousand word novel. How, and what are upto you.

I’ve done it several times, and I’m on a chain of wins, which I hope to maintain. Every year I set myself a bigger and bigger challenge. This year I’m doing the same one hundred and fifty thousand words – but the first fifty I’m going to aim to finish in three days. To put that in context, last year it was day ten when I hit 50k,the year before day 13. The harder a challenge I set myself the better I do – regardless of whether I ultimately complete the challenge, I will do more than enough to be proud of.

I’m not sure what I’ll write just yet, I have some great ideas I’ve previously mentioned, but I’ve either been working on them too much, or the idea turned out not to be as writable as I first imagined.

I may not have an idea for a story specifically, but I have some thoughts on style – basically I want to try my hand at a multi generational story, following three generations of the same family. If I go with science fiction then it will be based on a colony somewhere, and be quite western inspired, but I could go fantasy and set it in a world where a cataclysm is happening, has happened, or is fated to happen. I like both ideas to be honest – but I’ve not fleshed either of them out.

Cue mind mapping, and copious research. I may go with neither and do something else entirely, but that’s where I am right now. That’s the joy of the road to NaNoWriMo, getting ready for it… And potentially trashing all the plans and doing something else entirely come November the first when it begins.

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 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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Admin Round-up

It’s been a while since I did an admin post, probably because I don’t use my blog nearly enough.

However I’m definitely doing better on that front. As part of my daily challenge there’s writing going into my blog every day. Not just the daily flash fic challenge posts, I’m also working on:

  • Book reviews (I’m not good at these so I’m taking my time on my first one to establish what i want to get out of my reviews – otherwise known as the first attempt is already 4,000 words long and needs a good editing massacre)
  • Already one additional flash fic not related to the daily challenge, there might be otehrs to come, especially as it’s the weekend and plenty of time to write
  • I’m wokring on a full short story based on one of my Flash fics right now, and there’s several others begging for promotion to short story status, (either by sequel, prequel, or retelling)
  • I’m going to try and cover off some news stories and such
  • I’m planning a hand ful of articles based on my experiences for the first couple of months of the new year

 So, now’s a good time to review how my blog looks, and how it works.

Since I used WordPress, themes are a dime a dozen, though finding one I like is quite difficult. I’ve temporary settled on one called Scrappy By Caroline Moore, but with a couple of modifications for a more readable font, a header and picture of Ilkley.

Decembers Theme

It’s absolutely lovely, but it still isn’t quite what I’m after. I just can’t quite find one. That’s fine though, it gives me a new challenge, along side writing more frequently. I’m going to try and design my own theme – as with many things outside of writing, and often including writing, it’ll be ambitious but rubbish. I’m willing to give it a go though.

Speaking of ambitious I want a nice theme that can handle variety too – that way I can use a plug in or something to give certain categories their own theme when accessed. I.e. a sci fi category that has very similar theme to the front page but maybe has darker colours with bright blue detail, and a header pic that’s a nice generic sci fi pic (royalty free or self created of course). Each of my main writing categories would have their own theme, ones I don’t use often would be left with the main theme, as would posts in other areas, (except maybe poetry).

It also comes with a second job, reorganising my categories and tags and stuff. Which is on my to do list anyway.

I may go through and hide some of my earlier posts that I’m really not happy with, and edit them up to be fresher, up to date, and not ridicuously awful – plus you know, quick win on new content. I don’t mean that purely as a cheat, but because genuinely they’ll need plenty of work, and be changed enough to be pretty much new.

I also need to go through clean up my plugins, and update my pages to be either more up to date, or less date specific.

Lastly, these jobs are not a job for my blog directly, but I need to go through and organise my Picaso account better, and arrange permissions properly. I’d like to use that as the primary source for my blog images and stuff. While i have plenty of bandwidth and stuff, it makes sure i have plenty, and should the worst happen and my site is wiped, not only do I have frequent emaled database backups, my iamges aren’t in the same place as my site.

Plus there must be a good plug-in somewhere that can conenct picasa to my blog to make it easy to share media.

I’ve also started a tumblr account, and a sperate twitter account, (thus seperating writing subject from my business/travel/random fun twitter account). While this may have no obvious advantages right now, next year I’m going to try and actually drive traffic to my blog.

Courtesy of the great people I’ve met on #NaNoYorks, there’s already been a big jump, (but in fairness they are lovely people, and will click most links you show them, even if it takes them to a animated gif of a man naked (facing away from the camera) jumping for joy).

visitor-chart

So, that’s my state of the nation speech, covered pretty well.

If you had no faith in me as a blogger, lets see if I can turn that around. If might fail to achieve my plans – but I’d rather fail spectacularly then never have tried.