That’s a nice little hobby you have there… Hmmm

Now I’m returning to writing, and to blogging, I thought good place to start in my new run of blogging was to attempt to explore both what storytelling is, and what it means to me, or why I do it. However, as it turns out, that’s actually much harder than it sounds. So I present to you the inconclusive answer, in time I will revisit this subject with a bit more self awareness.

In this entry in going to discuss why I write, there’ll be a disproportionate amount of randomness, segues, grandstanding, self depreciation and no doubt you’ll see the words “I don’t care what you/they/anyone thinks”,  but don’t worry it’ll only be after seeking your praise.

The post will be in three parts :

  1. What is writing/storytelling to me?
  2. What do I get out of it?
  3. What do I enjoy most?

Let’s begin

1. What is storytelling to me?

Storytelling is the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, often with improvisationtheatrics, or embellishment. 

Wikipedia: Storytelling

It’s simple right? Storytelling is the act and at of sharing anecdotal or fictional stories. Writing is the act of committing words to a static medium. 

But who wants a clinical description? No, to me storytelling it’s about exploring, experiencing, and growing these fictional worlds floating round my mind, and then finding a way to convey them to an audience. 

In truth, I’m not great at that last part, that’s a confidence thing though, when I do set out to write fiction or most things, I do so with an audience in mind and intent to share it when them. 

2. What do I get out of it?

One last thing about what storytelling is, is that it’s about is potential, because a great piece of writing can change the world, whether it’s big or small, whether it’s an actual effect on the real world or simply how someone experiences it – writing can do that, and everything written has with in it that potential. 

Don’t believe me? Tolkien has touched the world for millions of people, he don’t just write he created while universes, with interconnected narratives, has spawned a genre, and an industry, made some people incredibly rich, and sent others to barreling through nerdvana.

Jane Austen who didn’t just define the modern romance, but how through relatable characters and comic twists, but also how social commentary could be highlighted in accessible ways. 

I could go on, but we’ll get way off topic, but definitely look out for a future post about how writers can and have changed the world in some fashion. 

That potential is exciting to me when I write for two reasons, firstly that I may have an idea that could reach people on the level my favourite authors have, and secondly that they a story I’m writing may change me, from learning new things like how a fusion generator works to how I approach the challenges in my life. The latter is nearly always true, the former continues to be an ambition I aspire to.

3. What do I enjoy most? 

The challenge. I’m not going to pretend to be good at storytelling, I struggle for originality, I struggle for the technical things like grammar and structure, and I struggle for confidence in what I write… and that is what makes it fun. The more I write, the better I get and one day I’ll overcome the things I struggle with.

I love challenges, that’s why I like to play pool and snooker, I’m terrible at them, but those moments where I overcome my own weaknesses there is a glory – more so when there are others to offer praise, so here I am sharing my thoughts and my stories in a blog, in the hopes others will see something of merit., and say “well done”, or “thank you”.

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.

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.

Space photos from teen’s £30 eBay camera are out of this world | from The Sun

This is fantastic – when can I try?

Ooh come to think about it, I’ve got a raspberry pi that could be interesting near space. Not sure there’d be much 3g coverage for control, but a radio might work.

Might be out of my league, but I’ll add putting a satellite into space to my bucket list. How fantastic would it be?

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/4528949/Space-photos-from-teens-30-eBay-camera-are-out-of-this-world.html

28th Birthday Poem

So in the interests of establishing my own personal traditions, as with last year I’ve written a birthday poem, and as with last year its later than my birthday. We are getting closer though, last year it was a week, (or two),  this year its just a day, (or now two, as its one in the morning).

I make no claim to it being especially good, or an annual highlight to the poetry scene, (though my 27th Birthday Poem is the most read page on site – from people Googling for the exact words of the title I guess), its just a poem about my birthday and what the day means to me.

A Year to be Surpassed

A shadow fell over yesterday,
I turned twenty-eight,
It’s not that aging is bad,
But that another year has gone.

For every joy I’ve had to pay,
Yet seek joy come what may,
The same old slate,
Without a wipe date,
I will not say it was all sad,
And it didn’t make me mad.

The beast of success I did not slay,
My performance didn’t rate,
Yet for moments I am glad,
With a niece as lovely as a chiffon.

Another milestone be gone,
Next year I’ll have myself outdone.

©, Jonathan Lawrence 2010

P.S. I should add, as a cautionary note – I haven’t listed anything other than my niece being born as being explicitly good or bad. So I should note, that since my niece was born, I’ve enjoyed a fantastic time, being an uncle, thanks to some fortunate circumstances I’ve lived like a king, I’ve been to Prague, and I’ve come here to the Science Festival with some great people. Things like this were the moments I am glad for – just in case anyone thinks that I think I should be so rich and fortunate in life that the past two or three months have been less than notable.
When I think about it, it is quite strange that my niece coming into this world has marked such a massive turn around for my year, right at the end. However, life returns back to normal from here on in, I need to to start saving to make next year that bit more magical, all year round.
So to all my family and friends who have provided the highlights to my year, those moments I am glad for, have helped keep me sane when all else might have rendered me mad – I would like to say thank you. I hope I can do the same for you.

Oh and Happy Birthday to Aspiring.org

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Just a quickie, my blog is a year old this month – how fantastic, probably not dedicated as much time to it as I should – however still feels great to hit a mile stone.

In the past year I’ve written forty-eight published posts, five pages, across sixteen categories, using one hundred and eighty-three tags, I’ve recieved fourteen comments, sixty-one photos across four galleries.

I hope to build from here, and keep this going – I’ve enjoyed my time here.

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Aha! Found You!

My muses have elected to return to me it seems. I suddenly have the ability to write again, and am doing so with gusto working on a new project. I know, I have lots of unfinished projects I should be working on, but I’m just enjoying writing right now.

So the new project, it’s currently titled Journals of a Space Corsair, and is a sci-fi piece. Inspired by the concept of the Bio of a Space Tyrant novels by Piers Anthony, which I read recently, and once I finished reading those books, I also read Michael Crichton’s Pirate Latitudes, between the two of them, this whole science fiction universe of mine was inspired and created in my mind. What’s more is I’ve been able to put it into words, something I’ve struggled to do for the past eighteen months.

It’s a nice feeling, not too many words just yet, but just passed the 20,000 mark in two weeks so that’s a comfort.

The way I’m doing this project is blog posts, it’s an auto-biography, so I’m going to write it as a series of confessionals, the man’s story in his own words, detailing his good deeds, but mostly his crimes, the lifestyle he led, and the suffering he brought and received. The hardest part is not giving in to my tendency to make the character a flawed good guy, or to have the character swing from bad to good. I’m trying to write something that reflects a man, and not an archetype from a TV series. That isn’t to say there isn’t an arc, in fact there’s a pretty big one, and my aim is the character goes from illegality to legitimacy, and then back to illegality. Times are turbulent, wars rise up and allegiances change.

I do feel the need to acknowledge Piers Anthony, and Michael Crichton, as their books are a massive influence on this story, it was their books that really lit my imagination on fire.

From Michael Crichton I tried to take a sense of how pirates actually operated, and in many ways how the new world worked, the trade routes between the colonial lands, the stopping off points like Jamaica, which I’ve tried to translate the spirit of into worlds and space stations.

From Piers Anthony, obviously I’ve tried to take the format, the fictional autobiography of a significant figure in future history, I’m also borrowing some of the technology he mentions in his books, the travelling via a beam of light, over massive distances, which is as reasonable a way to explain interstellar travel as any. Of course it is fraught with its own difficulties in a story that takes place in real time, with politics, wars, and tactics – I can’t really afford it taking decades to travel from one planet to the other. Instead, I shall embellish the idea with faster than light energy – so it takes days and weeks to travel between the stars.

I think it is important to acknowledge where a story comes from – it is not my intention to plagiarise these amazing authors, but they have inspired within me a tale which I think is unique and distinct in its own right. Besides when it comes to science fiction, it’s never easy to come up with easy ideas for propulsion, and story telling in general tends to form into archetypes. I think that’s one of the advantages of writing an account of a self confessed bad guy, while not ground breaking or unique, it is a point of view that is carried far less often than that of a hero, heroically battling to save the world.

My intention is to post up a chapter (and if I write it right, it will be more of a self contained short story, which feeds into the overall tale), every fortnight, detailing a significant memory of this space corsair. I won’t be launching it right away, as I want to build up four or five chapters ahead, this gives me a nice cushion with which to edit the stories (because while the muse does flow, it tends not to check the grammar for me, nor does it worry about the annoying inconsistencies of writing large pieces of work in small bits). Also, my sister’s baby is due next month, I’m on holiday in Prague in August, and I’m off to the British Science Festival in Birmingham this September, so there’s plenty to interrupt my schedule.

Speaking of the British Science Festival, I’m really looking forward to it, it feeds a lot of knowledge in my science fiction, such as the power system for the ships in my story – I learned that from a presentation I went to on fusion energy, I always favoured the methodology employed in the tokamak fusion generators, rather than the method involving lasers, purely because it seems to me that once such devices as ITER are operational and producing massive quantities of energy, we would be able to learn from this and scale the process down to have a device that can sit aboard a starship and produce the kind of energy I need for propulsion, FTL (faster than light) travel, and of course the staple of most space based science fiction, the weapons.

I am genuinely excited to be writing again, and long may it continue. Nanowrimo is in November (it’s always in November, hardly a surprise there), and this year I’m going to ace it. Mark my words.