Daily Flash Fiction: The Early Conclusion

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

Genesis 1:31

And the writer saw everything he had written, and behold, he saw 14 grammatical errors, 27 spelling mistakes, 5 plot inconsistencies, and 3 unbelievable truths

Jonathan L. Lawrence, May 2013

 

Hands up if anyone noticed I’d not posted in a month? Well I noticed, and it was very annoying, because it means I’m really really quite far behind on my daily flash fic posting. So far behind that it’s gotten to a month and a half, (well 44 days to be precise). I’m never going to catch that up, because I don’t think I can commit to daily stories at the moment. It’s never been my style, I’m not a short story writer. Well despite 135 short stories to the contrary.

That said, I am really proud of some of them, yes they all need a lot of work – the challenge was not to edit and just keep posting, but there are some real gems in there.

And since I’m very fond of stats, I’ve had a look at some for this challenge:

105,168 words written (in story only)

796 average story length

Here’s some graphs, because I love a good graph. The first shows my words per day, and a moving average word count. It shows I was gradually getting shorter in length, which was a goal of the challenge, so that’s something positive to take away:

From Word Usage

The second is just for my interest really, I like seeing an accumulative word count. Of course with a limit of 1,000 words maximum, and for most of the challenge a minimum of 500 it was pretty much guaranteed to run a relatively straight line, but it’s nice to see all the same:

From Word Usage

Aside from getting bogged down in distractions, apathy, and writer’s block, I’ve enjoyed the challenge for the most part. And it’s succeeded in several ways, such as having the chance to try new things, practice things I’ve never been particularly good at, writing with a little more abandon. It’s also given me ample opportunity to see where my skills are weakest in the fundamentals, (spelling and grammar that I simply don’t get).

It’s also more words than I’ve written outside of NaNoWriMo since I started doing NaNoWriMo, and probably from before then too.

I’m not done though, although I won’t be trying to keep up with 365 short stories in a year, I am going to post the occasional short story – to keep my eye in for next year, to give me a break from other projects, and to simply test out an idea I’ve got bouncing round in my head.

In the meantime I’ve got two pretty big story ideas, neither of which will be saved for NaNo, I want to write them now. I’m in a planning phase at the moment with brain storms and notes scattered all around. I’ve decided which one I’m going to write first, though I’ve written a few lines, (the proverbial foothold in enemy territory of the plain white page), I’m mostly writing out the back story. It’s a fantasy piece and it requires a good backing mythos to really work.

I’ll get you next time, Gadget. Next time!

Daily Flash Fiction Challenge: An update

For the past few years I’ve done my best to maintain a work life balance. I’ve worked hard to be fast and efficient at my job so I’m able to fit more into my working day, limiting the amount of work I have to do outside of working day.

However, this new year has been getting busier and busier at work. My to do list will soon make me look like a short arse in comparison, (and I’m six foot four). Ultimately this has led to my work-life balance going a bit out of kilter, in favour of work. Lots of hours, and when I’m not working, I’m mentally exhausted.

It’s why I’ve gotten behind on writing again, and it’s annoying. I know I’ll catch up, but it’s a blow when I’m trying really hard to write everyday. And it’s not like I don’t have time, it’s that after a long day I don’t have the words. I write what i can, and that’s usually at least something each day, so when I come to catch up, like tonight for instance, I can follow through on the idea I had.

It’s not going to get better until Spring is gone either, but I’m not surrendering the challenge, I just have to acknowledge that some days I’ll miss target, some days I’ll have to double and treble and quadruple up, and realise that’s okay.

So for those that read my blog, (hey, lovely to have you here), bear with me, eventually normal service will resume.

P.S. Yes, in the time I’ve taken to write this I could have caught up – but no one’s perfect.

P.P.S. To those that balance writing everyday with work, university, zoo keeping child rearing, and what not – you have my full respect. You do amazing things.

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.

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

Poetry Practice: Day Ten

My tenth day of writing practice poems to get myself fit for competition.

Today we have one about the weather, which bears no relation to the weather experienced this weekend funnily enough.

Atmosphere Alight
Furous titans battle at the edge,
Tempestuous gods push back,
Might against might
The battle of nature rages.

Hurricanes battle warm fronts,
Thunder and lightening attack,
Atmosphere alight,
Man measures its puny gauges.

Rivers swell breaking banks,
Weather defences seem to lack,
Dangerous sight,
The battle for nature through ages.

Poetry Practice: Day nine

Well today is day nine, I’m starting to feel good about writing poetry, well I always did, but having been away for nearly a year, I felt anxious about writing. I’m not a confident person, I’m honest, hard working, and caring – all great qualities but I lack confidence. Writing today’s poem, I felt confident about writing poetry, and that is a fantastic feeling.

Anyway, here’s today’s poem:

Trumble

Trumble trumble
The train is speeding along the tracks,
Like the cliche it goes on and on,
It doesn’t care how many poets pay tribute,
How could it? It’s a train, it suffers no dispute,
Like the cliche it goes on and on,
Until age, fault, or accident attacks,
Trumble trumble.

Trumble trumble,
It might carry passengers or sacks,
Train doesn’t care, just goes it’s way,
For cheap fast long distance it suffers no substitute,
It’s masters do, they’re not nearly as astute,
They only care about getting more pay,
Preventing the goofd things train lacks,
Humble grumble.

©, Jonathan Lawrence 2009

Well we’re back to political rantscommentary as poetry, throw in a bit of business, but mostly it’s politically motivated. The train may not care about the state of British railways, but I do – between Labour and Conservatives, the railways have been turned into a wasteful, inefficient, unenjoyable, expensive and ill-fated form of travel. Why ill fated? Well if enough train companie go under, the rail network would grind to a halt – either someone wealthy would get wealthier running a shadow of the service, or it simply stops. The rail network, and it’s subsidies, have been so artificially raised up, no government could take it back – though they’d happily pay as much to the wealthy hero to take over.

I’m grouchy – I love public transport, or loved is more accurate. Have such fantastic memories, and feelings of trains of old. By old I mean my relatively recent childhood – big black and white Intercity’s with their golden stripe were always a mystery. I never got to go on one before they became GNER, then National Express trains. The design, and routes may not have changed, these cheap rip-offs, the amateur replacements are no match in my mind for the glorious behemoths of memories.

I remember going to the National Railway Museum in York as a child with my grandparents – if I loved the idea of the Intercities, this was where I was blown away. Amazing contraptions everywhich way, Mallards, and Stephenson’s Rocket, walk through 30’s 1st class carriages, and even take a short ride along the tracks, steam billowing from the front, distinctive whistles blaring.

I’m on a train now, a Pandolino (on mobile so not easy to check spelling), it doesn’t compare, and though I have somewhere good to go, the journey isn’t the same.

I should probably have written a second poem, this post deserved it, as did my memories. Maybe another time I’ll revisit that passion.

Poetry Practice: Day Eight

So my poetry practice continues, where now into the second week, and still I hope to continue upon this path. I am going to start introducing mandatory elements into my daily practice poems, just to liven it up, and stretch myself technically, and emotively. I will cover these in more details in a post later, laying out what I intend on doing.

That being said, it is possibly that I won’t be posting for a few days as I go away, however I will try to avoid this, as I really like keeping to a poem a day, and will be writing them, so it is only a minor hassle to fathom a way to post them.

Anyway, onto today’s poem – as I write this, I haven’t started writing the poem, this is coming straight out of my head and into the pages of this blog. No preparation, or hesitation.


The Gifts of Poets Gone

As I lay here, on the backs of giants,
Poetry forebearers that carried the skill into art,
Whose tireless efforts, and many a sacrifice,
Have given me today,
The bed upon which I lay.

By which I mean the literary warrants,
The rules, tempers, and heritages they impart,
For which I am able to add my words, spice,
And never say nay,
The words my mind may.

As I lay here dwelling in fragments,
Of poetry past and present, musing my part,
I have yet to play, indulging my vice,
I suffer no defray,
It will be words day.

©, Jonathan Lawrence 2009

I think this poem is relatively clear, and it’s source easy to identify (see my last blog post), it is also something I genuinely believe and hold dear. Though I am a pale imitation of their art, their skill, and their lives, I am no less beholden to them for the gifts they have given that have led me to where I am.

Where I imitate there style, where I borrow from their prose, I hope they would be flattered, and hope they would appreciate my gratitude.