Tag Archives: writing

Flash Fiction – Alien Landscape/Forgiveness

Alien Landscape.

He fought hard against the growing tide of assaults. Inch by inch crawling over the itchy grains., each one like a mountain exhausting to climb. Another wave, battering, forcing him back what seemed like miles. There was one aim, to make it home. All he wanted was that safe place. Again he pushed almost frantic to be with those he knew.

He could only feel, no sight to speak of, just a sense of where to go. Homing in on what he desired, fighting the pain of each slow movement. Would he never reach his goal? From deep inside his spirit grew, finding inner strength to move forward. He carried everything he owned on his broad back. A single mistake, he would lose all.

The path was clearing, strength growing, his target in sight. One more push, one more almighty effort. Another assault, he held his ground waiting as it past. Breathing deep, he moved upwards towards his chosen spot. Crowded, covered by kindred spirits all searching, he inched his way through. He felt the spirits of those before as he nestled with his group. His search complete, his journey done waiting for everything to begin.

The lights shone bright, as the first note was struck. A thousand voices cried their name. Now he was home, back again.

Forgiveness.

He looked out at the sunset. Despite the heat, he was cold inside. He held the flower, a simple blue beauty its life so short. It was her’s, one she enjoyed. A faint memory surfaced, in a sea of blue, the pure white of her dress. Her smile welcoming the Knight home, helping to shed the cares around him. A single touch sparked the fire within, the two dragon stones calling to each other, bonding again.

He looked down at his stone. It was dying, lost without its twin, the spark needed yet so far away. A sigh escaped his lips, it was deep and sad beyond what he thought. Something nudged him. Scales rubbed against right hand. Looking into the eyes of his dragon, a silent bond between the pair. They both understood each other’s loss. Both felt alone now in a strange way, both trying to reach out.

He looked out at the shattered landscape and placed his right hand against the dragon. Out there they would find her, rescue her and ultimately ask her forgiveness. He placed the blue flower inside his armor, climbed on the dragons back. He heard her cry inside his heart, always watch over me.

He looked again at the bright blue flower. There was her scent captured in the bud, held for as long as he could remember. There was still the faint light of hope, he knew that he had to believe it. To complete his quest, to find his one, he had to truly believe. He rose from his knee, his armor battered a little more.

Flash Fiction 1

Hello Dear Reader

Flash Fiction 1

Over the few weeks, I have challenged myself to write something called flash fiction. This is sort of shorter version of a short story. Although, some would argue that many pieces are short stories. The current definition of flash fiction is from 50 words to 300 and possibly up to 1000 words.

I took up the challenge and produced three pieces. It took me a time to sort them out and one may not be as good as I wished. One has been entered into a competition, it has the same chance as anyone else’s. I can’t show that one for obvious reasons.

So how do you write flash fiction? Here are some points;

How to write flash fiction:

Start in the middle.

Don’t use too many characters.

Make sure the ending isn’t at the end.

Sweat your title.

Make your last line ring like a bell.

Write long, then go short.

David Gaffney, Stories in your pocket: how to write flash fiction, The Guardian

So you see, it’s unlike other forms of writing. Then again, there so many forms of writing, just like music, photography or art. So I offer my first two flash fiction pieces. Follow the link and enjoy.

Alien Landscape/Forgiveness.

Tagline; “When one word can mean 1000’s”

 

Writing Weekend Part 1

Hello Dear Reader

Writing Weekend Part 1

In the past, I have attempted to visit writing festivals. There has been some success, to be honest. Some of them in St Ives, Cornwall during September holidays. That is a difficult venue now due to various things. I did visit Hay-on-Wye festival, however, that was more a literary weekend rather than writing. Many festivals take place when time is short or the best parts are during a week when hotel prices are high.

Having spent many a time in St Ives, I sort of knew what I wanted from these. Really I need a writing weekend to finally prove I can write. Well, I can write as I published a book. What I want to prove to myself is that I can write both poetry and fiction. I have been successful to a degree, having both a poem and short story published by Keele Creative Writing. Yet I want to push myself.

Entering the unknown

This past weekend I managed (with great help), to get a place on a poetry workshop at York’s Literature festival. This for me was both very exciting and rather special, as added to the workshop was two talks, one by Mark Gatiss and one by Michael Palin. Two people whom I knew as both performers and writers.

York itself is a wonderful place to visit, it has history and atmosphere that can make a writer think. There is a rich vein of architecture, surrounded by ancient Roman walls. Yet there is the odd flashes of modern just peaking here and there. Very much like St Ives.

First stop for the weekend was York’s Art gallery, another old imposing building. This poetry workshop was entitled ‘Bodies and Flesh‘. Now, straight away you have to look at the title and step back. You can fall into the trap of wondering what or which way it might go, but for me, it was the chance to be guided by a poetry author.

I had no idea what to expect, which in itself is good. I was not concerned about meeting new people, I do that all the time. I was mindful that my work might not be as good but this was a chance to learn. So of I went into the unknown.

There were 10 others on the course and the lecturer. We all introduced ourselves, each of us a little shy I felt as we all wanted to learn. Having self-published I was conscious not to ‘boast, it did not feel right. The lecturer, Christy Ducker, was a published poet and took us through what the workshop was intended to cover. Reading a few poems, making notes, writing a couple drafts and visiting the art gallery for inspiration.

Shaking out the gray mist.

I re-learnt something valuable within the first 10 minutes. I have been told it or read it before, it made sense… again. The first task was to shift that gray mist that often clouds the mind, obscuring the wordsmith. A simple three-minute exercise writing the following;

‘My body is…’ and then you add a few words about your body.

Its simple effective and should be likened to a warm-up before any sort of training. You should always warm-up, no athlete would just start running. It was difficult at first but quickly became easier as I let my mind go. The fog lifted nicely.

We read a couple of poems, the subject being bodies and flesh you can guess the various ones we concentrated on. The first poem was this one.

Mirror

Standing dripping wet, water from the shower running down.

I gaze at myself in the mirror.

It feels like years since I last explored like this.

It’s my body, I should know it better than the water.

The mirror distaste the real truth, my skin appears faded after youth.

I watch a droplet find its own path down my thigh.

Should it swerve like that avoiding a pothole?

My back seems shaped yet oddly poised, pulled around muscles tense.

Water stops collecting in odd places, should that really be like that?

An interesting start if not a stark view from the poet of their own body.

Wandering a Gallery

After a couple more poems and stretching the mind, it was time for our first venture out of the classroom. I was completely unprepared for this, not in the sense of notebook, pens etc but it was for me a really interesting and fresh idea. The plan was to go into the gallery and study a few pictures. The exhibition, of course, was on bodies and flesh, all fitting into place now. Oddly wandering the gallery was a woman in her pjs, quoting poetry. I was glad that was not part of the workshop, I had not brought any.

We had to pick a picture and write about it from the subject’s viewpoint, not the artist. It fitted the poem we had just read. I decided after a wander to pick a painting called ‘The Wrestlers’ by William Etty. It took me a few minutes to consider what I might write about. They do say inspiration finds a way and as I wrote down a few words it hit me. What if the picture, of two men, one white, one black fighting, was a snapshot of real chess pieces? I realised this was my view into my poem. For me the two ‘bodies’ had been forced to fight, maybe daily, maybe weekly, whatever for the whim of their owners. Hence the outline of my poem formed.

Bits of bodies

I was enjoying this now, as the workshop was challenging my thoughts, making me see some things differently. It was also very engaging to the point that time passed quicker than I would have liked. Another couple of readings and then back to the gallery to look at more art. A poem about what I might see in a mirror was written, followed by the final task. This one was based around being out of control of your own body. I chose the subject of archery and how I can be used to show the execution of a shot. It is still to be finished mine but it worked.

Final Thoughts

So the workshop ended and I was both happy at what I had learned and achieved, yet wished it was an all day event. It certainly has helped me think about different styles, ideas and how to reuse pictures etc. It also helped in a project I am working on, combining poems to pictures I have taken or will take. It was rewarding for me to see that I could put my mind to new ideas and explore different strands of poetry. Clearly, the three need working on. The draft of Mirror is a good start and I do like how the poems began. There is always more to do, but looking at others work it shows me poetry is such a vast amazing field.

Tagline: ‘Bodies are poems, it’s just finding the right words’

Passing QC

Hello Dear Reader

Passing QC

An odd title one might think but something of a challenge for me these past few days. QC in this instance means Quality Control. I have decided to offer some of my photographs to a website, take part in my first photographic competition, complete a written guide and write a screenplay. All of these take time of course and juggling of what comes first.

The competition was relatively straight forward given I had three pictures (that in itself was mad) to just print and frame. Underestimate a task I think is the possible downfall of almost all failed attempts. I know now differently. Just getting the printing completed was a task in itself and then frames. Well, happy to say I completed that task and handed them in. Whether or not I get selected is now just one of those things. I will be disappointed if I don’t but I have three of my photographs framed and I know what to do next time. Still, does not mean I will get selected. There are hundreds of photographers out there all doing the same.

It is the same case for writing, blogging, music or whatever. Likewise, trying to get pictures available for sale is just as hard. Again I hit those two words QC. Now, I have to admit that in this instance QC is meaningful as it helped me consider how I was taking a picture. After all many never move away from automatic and never show their pictures to others. That is fine. I realized I had to refine my pictures. This, in turn, made me review what I was considering and helped me solve a few problems. I have now successfully had three pictures admitted to the website.

Quality Control, for me, used to mean something different. However, now it is a means of helping me, at least, understand how to improve not just my photographs but my writing as well. The term QC, might not be explicit in writing as such, but it is there in terms of editing and revision. You can say that editing and revision also is in the production of photographs. Each person or website has their level of QC which you need to reach in order to pass to the next level, so to speak. Even passing QC does not mean you will get noticed, just you end up in that sea of offerings.

Doing this has raised my own levels of QC which is no bad thing. It means I hope my writing, blogging, and photography will improve again. That in itself will give me the chance to stand out just that bit more.

Tagline: ‘I am ready for my photo now Mr. DeMille – ISO 100, f8, 1/35’

 

My Writing Process

Hello All

My Writing Process

I recently posted a blog about my first e-book, Zen and The Art of Timetabling. Many have asked me about the process involved, in order to publish my book.

At first, I thought that was very easy to write. But then I tried to remember what my process actually was. I realised, to be honest, my process was very haphazard. In fact, I can learn from my chaos.

As I said before, I started the book more as rules and then kept going. I had no real process at the start, just writing. I suspect that is how many of us begin, just writing. The process started after I realised I had more than just a report, but not where I might have ended. After my first rough draft, the process began by mapping out what chapters I might need. This helped me construct the book and allowed me to focus on a variety of topics and subjects. Mind-mapping is key to any book I feel, it allows you to track characters, subject matter, scenes and more. Mine did not have characters as such, yet still needed that part.

Once I had completed the full first draft (I was unsure of how many times I would do this loop), I had on my hands a ‘product’. Again, looking back it is hard to describe anything I did next as a process. But I feel people can use my experience as the foundations of a process.

Here are some of the things I looked into after I finished my first draft;

Looked into editors and proof-readers

Looked into publishers

Looked into self-publishing

Looked at computer publishing software

Looked at sites such as Amazons KDP, Smashwords etc

Listed pros and cons of the above

Made notes on various companies based on information from the Internet, writing magazines and the Writers Artist Yearbook.

Set out my needs based on the above (what did I want?)

Set a budget

Get quotes

Make my decision

That is not what many would recognise as a process, however, it formed I guess the basis of my process when I look back. Being my first book, I did not have any idea about where this would take me. I know now I can do this a lot better given the experience. If I was to map out a process it would look something like this;

  • The Idea
    • Which idea are you going to write about?
  • The Synopsis
    • This gives you the scope, creates the boundaries and can be used later
  • The Map
    • This shows you the paths, the characters, places and let’s you time travel. It can be as simple as the chapter headings as I used. I added a brief note which made it simple to expand or move information as needed.
  • The Draft
    • Sounds obvious and it is. It’s the place at which you decided to go forward, rewrite (you will edit later) or maybe save for another day.
  • The publication route
    • So you now have reached the point where you want to publish. The list I mentioned I would say is a one-time in-depth deal. You can do that before you write. What this point means is are you self-publishing or finding a publisher.
  • The Edit
    • I know I am stating the obvious but you can either do this yourself or spend some money and get a professional independent view. I did the latter and it proved to me I had something worth publishing. You will revisit this a few times.
  • The Publisher
    • If you pick self-publishing there are two routes here; you do all the work or you go to a company that will publish you. This is different from a publisher. You can just create a Word or Scriber document and place it onto the web. You may get something from it or not. You won’t have an ISBN, maybe a cover, maybe some web presence. That’s your choice. If however, you pick a self-publishing company, they can help get you an ISBN, create a cover, place your book in the right spots. With the company I used YPS, I retained all rights both as the author and publisher. My book sits in the British Library (very proud) and I have a presence on the web.
  • The Marketing plan
    • Just getting your book into Amazon or YPS Bookstore is one thing. You need a plan to sell it, push it to people, social media, a web site and whether you want hard copies or e-book.

I guess I could write a book on how I wrote the book. It feels like I have written so much more since I completed this. Yet I still am unsure of a fool-proof process that I used. What I have detailed is my best remembrance of all I did. There were hundreds of hours spent re-editing, checking proofs, approving covers, writing my biography and synopsis. Even writing this and something for two magazines has taken time.

Would I do this again? Yes. Have I learnt what to do better next time? Yes. Would I encourage anyone with a book in mind to try this? Yes.

I hope this helps.