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Monday, 10 March 2014

taking inspiration where you can , or what happens when you ask a few friends for a first line .

So in a mild moment of whimsy I put the following post on my face book page +

" Mildly bored and want a challenge, or just something to distract my self with.
Someone give me the first line for a story, anything will do (except once upon a time) , the more obscure or silly the better , I'll see why I can make from it or them "

some would call this asking for trouble, poaching at the collective minds of my friends for inspiration . Anyway having done so i thought i should at least honor those who took the time to reply by acctually doing the stories ,, and below were the results with credits to those who inspired each little tale ........

Russell Brownbill "This is where dragons went."

This is where the dragons went, the deepest darkest caves. 
Far from where man frequents, with all his foolish ways.
Waiting out humanity, in lakes of molten rock.
While Eons pass in the world above, to them the ticking of a clock.
This is where the dragons went, don't dream of their return
For we'll be long forgotten then, long past had our turn

Simon Quayle " The boy fell off the cliff"

The boy fell off the cliff, slowly tumbling to the sand below. In his hand he still grasped the piece of rock which had come away in his hand. Down he tumbled never for a moment thinking that thirty odd years in the future his cousin would bring up his fall on Facebook.

Andy Hawley " Dr Proteus stepped out of the teleporter

Dr protus stepped out of the teleporter, feeling a moment of wondrous joy that his invention had worked. He cocked his head slightly to one side and pondered the minor problem of the side effects of dematerialising at one side of the lab and reappearing at the other. It was such a minor problem really compared to the achievement of matter transference through a secondary dimension. With this technology humanity could cross the void of space, eliminate the need for cars and public transport, the end of bus ques and no one would ever be late for work again. Pizzas would arrive on time. You could order a book on am a on and have it teleported to your ground room . Truly it was a marvel , and would make his name world famous.
In triumph he proclaimed to the empty lab "cluck......."
If only it did not turn you into a chicken.
On the bright side his assistant later had scrambled eggs as he wondered where the professor had got to , and why the chicken was trying to peck at the teleported keypad

Badger McThorg He took a second bite of the onion.

 He took a second bit out of the onion, his eyes already watering, streams of tears running down his cheek . but it was worth it , it was proving he wasn't what they thought he was. eating a raw onion like an apple though , it was hard to swallow. But needs must and he had to convince them not to stake him there and then , and once he had won there trust .........

Julie Dyson-Abad Eggcup jumped down the well

Egg cup jumped down the well ,, closely followed by saucer, china cup and the whole of the side plate family . the mass suicide of the Crockery sociologist church continued well into the night . the knife and forks watched on with horror wishing the serving spoon and the ladle would step in and halt the shattering of pottery ......... the Disney animator thought the little Ron L Hubbard animation was not really up to the normal standards

Diane Mcgarvey The Tinny tiny door creaked open and out stepped.....

The Tinny tiny door creaked open and out stepped..... the shattered remains of the egg cup form the previous story calling for bostik

Jo-anne Walls And from the sinkhole....emerged......

 And from the sinkhole....emerged..... little animated bacteria , all carrying little AK47's and shouting incoherently . Captain domestos to the rescue suave in his red white and blue to the tune of long live america ................., the animator thought bringing right wing politics into bleach adverts was a strange move by the republican party , but hey they were paying the bills

Robert Treadwell The sound of the explosion shattered the morning silence

The sound of the explosion shattered the morning silence...... "good god they are using suicide bombs on themselves now " said knife to spoon , from a couple of stories ago

Chris Hurst How the Haddocks came was a subject of philosophical conjecture.

How the Haddocks came was a subject of philosophical conjecture, not least because in the sea was the answer and the whole idea made going for a swim an experience that took on a new light ,, not least when you considered the rest of the sea life , why the ocean was just one big pool of sexual fluids floating around . who brought this subject up ,, oh chris ,,, no surprises there then ......

David James McKinley A handsome man enters, he looks suspicious.....

  A handsome man enters,' he looks suspicious', thought the barman of the dime bar in Bradford on a Thursday night . no beard , the lack of a world worn face, if he had charm to go with his good looks he was definitely in the wrong place. the barman check to make sure the 'no boy bands' sign was still in the window. As+Dave McKinley Music began to sing and the crowd got up to dance .

Honest Ron I awake nude in a forest

I awake nude in a forest ( Ronnie mate , no one wants that image )  

Friday, 28 February 2014

A tale by text (the Wolf King of Winter)

Every so often i write a story via text messages, the urge to write and the urge to entertain some one who is bored, converge and i sit watching some old movie and tapping away on my blackberry. The results are often interesting, to me if no one else, because it is the polar opposite of how I normally write. A stream of text messages gives you no editing ability beyond each text before you send it. I do them unplanned and generally without much of an idea where i am going with a story when i start it. It ends up been a some what free form exercise in story telling and has on occasion come up with a good story as much by accident as design. Possibly because i end up writing myself into a hole along the way. then spend a few texts trying to dig myself out. they normally start with a little core idea. Like a spaghetti western scene with the lone stranger riding into town that turns into a horror story some where along the way.
I don't do this often, but perhaps i should do it more often than i do, I am not sure the normal recipient of these little text deluges would agree, but at the same time she is normally pleased when i do them so maybe she would.
What normally happens is they got lost in the phones memory and long forgotten before it occurs to me i should perhaps transpose them into word or something so they are not just lost and forgotten. not least because while this has mixed results occasionally those results are good ones. little gems worth remembering or going back to and expanding upon .
The most recent of these, a bizarre little fable that started as one line which randomly occurred to me without much in the way of a plot. And became an attempt to tell a Myth of the orator style which could be told around campfires back in the age of stone. Not sure it ever really managed to be what it tried to become , but i enjoyed writing it and it was in turn enjoyed by the reader so perhaps that's was all that was important at the time . It was written to be spoken, as such is a little clumsy at times.
Thought i would put it here to give it a wider airing as much for how it was written as for the story itself, on the off chance people might be interested. I have tidied up the typos and the grammar a little but otherwise it is as it was written on the blackberry  so great work of fiction it isn't , but perhaps it will make a couple of people smile. The title came later but that's about all that's been added , and the dividers are where each text ended. again only included them to present it in the form it originated. though also because one of the challenged of writing these is to try and make the recipient wait with baited breath for the next text, something i occasionally achieve i hope.


The Wolf King of Winter 

Once in the land of endless winter, in a cave high in the mountains of morn, there slept the king of the wolves. Dreaming the dreams of his kind, dreams of flesh, and dreams of blood , dreams of the hunt , dreams of the taste of prey on the air. His dreams were ever thus, the dreams of his kiff and kin. Wolf dreams.

The long winters of the world moved on, slow and cold, as the wolf king slept. Always winter never spring. Then one dark night on the eve of old years, a strange thing occurred, a thing that had never happened before. A new dream crossed the mind of the sleeping king. A dream of a child , bright and beautiful, a new life in the world of winter. And the wolf kings slumbers became uneasy.
In the wolf kings dream the child came before him saying this, “I am the new spring dawning, the return of life to the world , will you welcome me oh king of the wolf folk, will you join me for the last feast of winters passing, to welcome the new dawning of days,"  the wolf king stirred uneasy in his dreaming and knew a strange fear he had never known before. So long ha=d he slept within his cave, through all the endless wintering of the world..... "What is this spring of which you speak child,." the wolf king snarled in his dream but the child was gone once more ......
But the unease remained and in it woke the wolf king, in fear , in anger , in rage he could not name . The wolf king howled in the darkness against the coming sun.
The wolf king gathered his pack, the alphas with their glistening teeth , the young males full of raw hungers , the queens and ladies of the wolf kings court, as vicious and deadly as any male , the cubs playful in there snapping, A great howl that echoed through the mountains drew them all, The great pack , the pack of all packs , and he did speak to them of his dream . " We must seek out this child , this creature called the new spring, and we must rend the flesh form its bones , suck deep upon its marrow, that we shall sleep once more in our winter, go forth with tooth and claw, with the guile of the pack and the fury of the howl, seek him , find him and devour" .......
And so the great pack searched for the spring child, they haunted the high places , delved deep in the ravines , sought him in the valleys and across the glaciers , And all the while the great howls filled the air , taking word back through the echoes to the wolf kings lair, where he awaited word of the golden child called spring
And the wolf king waited in his for the night air to bring him word , but as he waited fear grew , more voices fell each night for the great howling , till the echoes slowly fled the mountains of orn in the world of winter his pack seemed to dwindle , to vanish form the night , and his dreams were again uneasy.....
Once more the child appeared in the wolf kings dream , once more he spoke on to him , "hear me king of wolves, for I am spring come to bring forth new life and the end of winter , join me in the final feasting of the long dark, send not your people to slay me wolf king, I offer new life to all come to me, " In the dream the child opened forth its arms and there was the brightest of lights, that dazzled the wolf king and drove him running in his dream,...... the wolf king howled for his pack once more , but none answered his call , the mountains stayed silent of all but the echoes of his howl , slowly dwindling away .....
As morning came the wolf king determined to seek the child himself , to rend it with teeth and claw, to eat of its flesh and lap of its blood , "If there is a feasting to be had , then let it be mine , " he said
So off he set , crossing the howling peaks , the jagged teeth of stone , through snow laid thick for countless days, passed the caves where the echoes of the lost ones still sounded , cross the ice bridges of the yawning chasms across the frozen desserts and the flowing ice , down always down , out of the mountains , following the glaciers gnashing teeth that bit so deep, under grey skys the cold wind his only companion , so stalked the king of the wolves and his hunger grew .
 Time passed as it is oft to do and his journey long did take him beyond his mountain land his howl remained unanswered and within him fear grew, the air around him grew restless, with scent not old but new , the ice was turning waters m snow gave way to dew he came upon a great plain , an expanse of melting snow , from which shoots of colour reached out from  the frozen ground , little shoots of green that broke the icy white ground , new sound filled his ears , of water running free , of the dripping of the melt , and his fear grew greater still , around him was new life , bursting slowly through , His winter was dying slowly and he knew not what he should do
At last he came upon them , his lost abandoning pack , lazing on green carpets of freshly grown grass, He howls his rage upon them , but they answer not his calling , and in the sky he saw him , the child from his dreams the golden glow about him he hung in the sky and warmth flowed from him , melting snow and ice alike , the wolf king saw his folly , The child within his dream , the ending of winter , the coming of the spring , the golden child before him the great and golden sun
the wolf king howled his fury , gnashed in hatred with his teeth , padded in great circles , leap high into the sky, his great jaws snapping , but biting only air , His enemy did not taunt him , only bathed him in its glow , but the wolf could not be placated, his rage did only grow , he leapt higher , His  snapping with his  jaws , only to fall once more , crashing to the floor , He howled in rage and frustration then beat a haughty retreat , returned unto the mountains to once more in winter sleep , and in his dream he plotted , one day to eat the sun he sleeps now ever still , till the last feasting be done .

the end 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Characters seen through other eyes

The 4th draft of my novel has now been read by four readers (or possibly five if you count the very dodgy self publishing out fit i had the miss fortune to try) , all of which have given lots of great feed back, each of them have seen characters and situations in the book a little differently. Which is only to be expected, After all no matter how much the writer may feel in control of his words how those words are interpreted is at the end of the day at the behest of the reader .
This has however left me with a quandary or two as i approach the fifth draft, which was always going to involve some major rewriting, if only because i have let it sit so long.

The first quandary is a simple one, and much to do with my approach to writing, In the first quarter of the novel there is a lot of info dumping and back-story which, while it has a place, that place is spread much further through the book or dealt with in other ways. I suspected this to a degree, but having received professional advice on the subject from the wonderful  Steph Roundsmith of + and then read through the first half of the novel with fresh eyes its alarming how much I have done this through direct narration. Rather than in glimpses, hints, actions and character dialog. It does leave me the task of figuring out what to take out , what to put where, how to reuse it all in better ways. None of it is bad exactly , there is just too much of it all piled into the opening quarter of the book simply because i write back story as i get under the skin of a characters, so its written as I go rather than planned extensively in advance .

The second quandary is more complex in some ways, this concerning one of the two (or three depending how you count them) main characters, I was always aware he was the weakest of my characters and that his story develops least within the book. So I knew he needed work, this in itself is however not the issue. Where the issue lays is in the reading of the character by one proof readers who's interpretation of the character, his back story and his actions throughout the book , is wildly different from what i envisaged while writing him. Discussing the character with her lead me to realize that while I may have a firm view of him and his motivations, it does not mean my view is actually correct. Indeed having discussed the character I am convinced in many regards that this proof readers view is the more considered view.

Without getting into the nitty gritty of the character himself and what i need to consider while doing the rewrite. The reader has poured a lot of grey on my own view of the character and how he should be written. If anything it has made me want to write the character with a less sympathetic narration and handling. As opposed to trying to fix the character and make him read closer to what i originally envisaged. The flaws that i did not envisage in the character actually make for a more interesting story and I hope a more compelling one if the narration is less sympathetic. Indeed if his back story is explored with a different view it addresses something far darker than i intended and perhaps more important to address.  

The interesting thing about all this from my perspective as the writer is how wildly what I wrote can be interpreted away from what i intended. I say this because i have nothing but respect for the readers view. Her interpretation of the character and her perspective upon his story is far darker than my intent. Yet the readers view is the most interesting view and may well be the most valid view when it comes to any writing. No matter how much a writer may strive to make a character exactly what they intend a reader will always interpret them in other ways. There is after all always more than one side of the coin.

This leaves me with the issue of how i write the character, do i change him and the way he acts to fit my original vision for the character, or do i instead take him further in the direction of the proof readers interpretation. After a lot of consideration I have come to the conclusion the alternative view of the character is more interesting, though certainly darker in edge than i ever intended.

What makes characters intresting are the shades of grey , no one is all light or all dark after all, and seldom see the dark in themselves or indeed the light. Much rewriting ahead but hopefully with something more compleing to come out of the end of it ....

Friday, 24 January 2014

A little bit more Warrrarrgggggg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A continuation of the on going warrrarrrggggg!!!!!   because a few people seem to like the stories and they are just sitting gathering electronic dust in a file on my pc .


The Warrraggg rolled out of the pass and down the mountain side. A green avalanche of flesh and sharp pointy things. At its head riding in a Boar pulled chariot ReelBadBuga felt something akin to joy. In the recesses of his mind he thought. “This was how things should be, this was what it meant to be an ork. This was glory, the majesty of the Warragg. The sublime power which is a force of nature, the maelstrom of the greenskins focused with intent to unleash their fury upon the world that denies them. The birth right of his people, the birth right of the horde , the unstoppable force.” Only that not exactly how he phased it, from his lips it ushered out all combined in to one solitary word, howled at the point of his voice. “WARRRAGGGGG!!!!” it was a good day to make other things die.
Somewhere however, deep within the horde, there was discontent. A lone voice of dissatisfaction, lost within the green tide so intent upon crashing through the world. There would be others in time. This was the way of things, no warragg lasted for ever, a fact which other races could take some solace in. But this was the birthing of the warragg. When squabbles over pillage, in fighting between different groups  and of course the arguing over who killed the most pink skinned humes in the last big fight had as yet not become a factor. At this time only one solitary voice mumbled in discontent. The voice of Sniffal the squig herder.
It other worlds, in other times, people joke about the complexity, if not the impossibility of herding felines. Cats as you may be aware are somewhat singular in their yearnings and a desire to go where they are told is almost certainly never one of them. However Sniffal, where he aware of the unlikeliness of herding the domestic short hair, would probably declare himself up for the challenge. Not so much because of he would relish said challenge, he would almost certainly not. But more because by their very nature even a particularly  large glaring of cats, is unlikely to smell quite as bad a half a dozen squigs as they bounced down a mountain side. Sniffal had a prominent and rather sensitive nose and hated the smell of digested mushrooms, rats and occasional unlucky goblin which lingered in the air after each successive bounce. There was another advantage, which Sniffal would have reflected upon had the herding of moggies been an option. To wit the domestic short hair , though it had needle like claws the bane of many a carpet corner, and tiny sharp teeth which could nom quite successfully upon your feet in the middle of the night, did not have a mouth big enough to swallow you whole. Cats as a rule have better temperaments than your average squig as well. Though this was a truth shared by almost everything.  
On the whole, Sniffal mused vaguely, it would probably be easier to herd the squiggs if he had a longer a pointy stick. The stick however would struggle to be described as anything other than short. It would have pleased him a great deal, if it was a little bit longer. Not having much of a concept of measurements he would have struggled to say how much longer. At least twice as long as the stick had been originally, before one of the squigs bit it in half. If he had more imagination it may of occurred to him that someone else holding the stick would have been ideal as well. Due to the lack of a longer stick, or helpful victim, he was instead applying an age old method of squig herding, passed down from old squig herder to new. The technique was known as the ‘stay behind them and hope they are too distracted by what’s in fount of them to turn around and eat you.’ Method. This sage advice he had received from an old hand, who had then took the opportunity of his recruitment to run off in search of new employment. Arguably this was extremely efficient as a training method. It saved a lot of time and anyone who failed to follow the advice then served an equally useful purpose having graduated from squig herder to squig fodder.
Before his promotion to squig herder, promotion by been stood about looking ideal, he had been quite happy as a mushroom picker in the back of the caves. Pick one, put it in the basket, pick one put it in your mouth , pick one put it in the basket, pick one, look at it long and hard while little blue squiggles of light danced across your vision, eat it , contemplate the possibility of perhaps picking another one for the basket. He had been good at it, and enjoyed the satisfaction of a job well done when he remembered to take the basket back to the foremen. Good times, fuzzy, occasionally bemusing, and often very confused, but definably good times. Till some idiots started listening to war cries and getting all excited.
And now this , herding sqigs with a stick barely longer than his arm and the possibility of explosions of blue light dancing in his eyes as he East mushrooms a distant, and somewhat vague memory . Sniffal was a little body of discontent among the many. But been a goblin it was a sneaky, vengeful, vicious and just plain nasty little body of discontent. What little imagination he had was been bent rather strongly towards thoughts of unleashing his squigs through sleeping camps the moment he could find some way to blame someone else for the inevitable chaos. Sniffal smiled nastily before issuing out a choking coughing fit as he got a full wiff of a squig bouncing in front of him.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Slasher theory , or hacking it down to size

At a suggestion from a friend i am entering a writing a competition in the northern writers awards. On the flimsy grounds of nothing ventured nothing gained +
if nothing else it has been an exercise in constraint, good editing and removing the chafe.
To explain :  I am entering the first chapter of my incomplete novel 'The Passing Place'. on the grounds that they are not looking for competed works and because it has encouraged me to go back to it and get writing again. Though as i only have a week to knock it into shape. and a tight maximum word count to work with its been a strange exercise.
I am I must admit dreadful at editing my own words, not least because they become precious to me in the process of writing them. Neil Gaiman + said something on his blog recently  though i can not find the exact entry. But basically it was this, he writes first drafts by hand , because once he has typed something he finds it hard to press the delete key and remove a section and is more likly to be compelled to add rather than subtract. I know this feeling, and if Mr Gaiman feels like that then I am in fine company and not at all overly precious about my words. Though his I know are much the finer.
The problem I faced entering this exert form my unfinished novel was simple , the first chapter which is what I want to use was 8460 words long. and the maximum word count for submissions to the awards is a mere  5000 words.  So i needed to edit away over THREE THOUSAND of those precious words, those lovingly crafted sentences, elegant paragraphs, neatly constructed passages. Okay they may not be great. they may not be wonderful to anyone else , but they are mine, and to me hold a beauty that others may not see.
Another author whom i admire greatly, Stephen King + ,  said somewhere that the hardest part of writing a book is cutting the chaff from the wheat.  Taking a scythe to all those words and cutting out the waffle. I paraphrase, he said it better. But he went on to explain his first drafts are often almost twice the length of his final drafts. This from a man whom takes 100 pages to get started some times in long but wonderful books. I shudder to think how long the dark tower novels were under his first draft.
Anyway, forcing myself to do just that in order to hit a word limit and keep the chapter a complete and coherent piece of work has taken four run through and steady but careful editing. To the point where i change one word in for two and restructure a whole paragraph  just to lose one or two from the word count. Carefully rewording things to say in ten words what was first written in fifteen without losing the strength of the words. I want the exert to say everything the full chapter said, just say it in a little over half the original text.
After the first run through i hit 7000 words  having swung a heavy axe at whole paragraphs and sections and could not see how i could trim it more .
After the second i had trimmed only another 400 and it was looking like an impossible task.
A nights sleep and a fresh head the following evening and i manage to time down to under 6000 in a third run through. and then it got remarkably easy. I found my feet and found that yes you could say the same thing in half the words if you were careful , and oddly they ended up better words , concise, wonderfully descriptive words that said exactly what i wanted, even more so than the original text .

I guess the lesson here is a simple one , never be afraid to revise, never be afraid to swing the axe and remember the best writing is not by necessity the longest, tight neat concise words can be beautiful too .....

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

More Waaarrraaaaggg!!!!

As the first Ork story made a couple of people smile , here is a second short one. If people Like them enough will post more over time I have a few scattered in my 1000 word a day slush pile. Don't really intend to post stories here that often as that's not really the point of the blog but if your going to blog about writing you may as well post some once in a while . enjoy .

Warraggggg!!!!!! part two 

From the ring of mountains that formed the valley of the nineteen tribes the eastern road had for as long as any Sharman’s could recount been the road of the Warrrrraggg. It lead down out of the mountains into the green land of the humans, splitting into many paths. Raids into the human lands always traveled this way. Which made rich the Black irons who held the pass, and their Big Boss Boarbelly richest of the lot. Iron wealth was great wealth, and the Black irons wore their wealth upon themselves. The watch towers they built were high and the spike walls spread the length of the pass. The other tribes of the valley considered them strange, with their unnatural ways of battering and negotiation. Rather than taking what they wished they charged a toll to return to the valley of the nineteen. Raiding parties paid the tally. And the Black Irons let them pass through. Why they would not just take what they wished with force defied all sense. Now the gates out of the valley were closed, and Boarbelly surveyed the Warragggg gathered before them. Eighteen tribes, Squabbling for camp sites before his fortress. He thought of the strange dreams he had experienced all those years ago when he had lost his helmet and been hit in the head with an arrow from and elf lords bow. He thought of how he had seen a future for his people and how it hung now in the balance. H ehad taught his Black irons how to build and how to extract tributes and grow wealthy and fat on the work of the lesser tribes. Now even the lowest of his Black irons had suits of hard iron and strong weapons. One day he had hoped to lead them in subjugating all the tribes nineteen valleys and uniting them behind his rule, teaching them a better way , building a nation.
“We have great wealth holding this gate. Every raid that passes through pays us tribute, this great Warragggg will end all that. No more good iron and full belly’s every time they come back. And ReelBadBugga has the tactical nouce of a runt on a three week mushroom binge” Boarbelly stated loudly to his second in command FoulGoatSmeller who grunted in agreement, not that he understood all the long words. But you agreed with the Boss, it was the job.
“They will swarm pout of here down through the human lands like a green plague, and thunder unwisely into the affairs of stinking Elves and the ratmen. Blunder into a war they are not invited to like our kind have for so many generations. They will charge and they will die, burned by the cursed warp stones weapons and the foul magic’s of feeble elf’s and the slaughter will become legend, and out green brothers will suffer losses untold of.”
FoulGoatSmeller grunted again, “Sounds good” he said sagely.
“ Nineteen tribes have warred in this valley for generations. Till I became big boss we warred with them too.” The boss said waving his arms in a wide sweep of the visa from the walls.
“ Good times “ said the sage of goat smelling. Felling his blood surge a little.
“We had a chance to change all that, we have made them barter to pass through the gates, before long they would barter for food , perhaps have a chance to grow to become better than this warring that saps our strength. Had they listened to me, had they but learned , perhaps, perhaps there is still time to change this all. To Bring green kind up beyond barbaric butchery.”
The goat nodded his head , thinking barbaric butchery, now that was a fun thing to do. Better than stinking guard duty.
“ damn them and this warragg I shall bar my gates , in days they will fight among themselves , this foolishness of a warrragggg will all apart and then we can teach them trade , maybe to raise cattle and farm , perhaps , perhaps one day there will be art, music, peace among us ……” Boarbelly said ,, feeling statement like and proud , it would work , he could see it before him in a vision overlaying the warraggg before him ,, he moved closer to the wall. “ At last my friend , at last the Ork shall take its place among the civilised nations of the world in harmony and peace … and Arrgggggggg ,,,,,,, splat.”
FoulGoatSmeller looked down at the grease puddle of green flesh and blood impaled on the spikes below. and almost wiped a tear from his eye, he had been a good boss ,, shame he went crazy in the end. Still it had to be done. And he did not understand enough of regret to realize that he did not feel any for kicking his boss off the battlements. After all he was fool enough to let someone behind him and lean over .

“Open the gates ,,, we are joining the Warrragggg boys…..  “   he shouted ,, as the new big boss of the Black Irons,” WARRRRrrrraggggggggg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Sunday, 12 January 2014

A thousand word a day habit , or Warrragggggg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 Last year in about March I decided to try and write a thousand words a day and make a habit out of it. Unsurprisingly I failed to make a good habit out of it with the pressures of everyday life, work, and stuff. But I did manage to make it an almost good habit off and on for a while and do manage to fall into the habit occasionally again.
The rule is not to write 1000 good words, just write 1000 words be they good or bad in the theory that some of them will be good and when the writing bug gets you then you push on and write some more. It Was also the reasoning behind starting this blog way back in August last year, as something else to pour those thousand words a day into. As this is all of the 8th posts it has been far from successful as a plan but no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy after all. And the enemies of writing a thousand words a day have been many and various.
However, there has been the odd fun outcome from my 1000 a day plan. Not least I managed to write a complete if I suspect not very publishable novel. I have also managed to throw together a load of short pieces, some stories, some bits of stories, some ideas for bigger things. I have also pressed the delete button on a great many occasions after writing the words, but that's probably a good thing in of itself.
One of the results was a series of Ork fuels short stories written for fun and just to have a laugh with silly idea's, I was struggling for a subject one evening and my then live-in girlfriend suggested Orks mainly because she was painting some night goblins at the time and the top of my screen was littered with half painted savage orks I suspect. Be that as it may as inspiration for something light and fluffy to write ( with spiky helmets aggressive attitudes and lots of sharp objects) it was just what I needed at the time and a thousand words of ork fueled silliness flowed out. She liked the story that resulted so much that any time I said I was short of inspiration for my thousand words a day, she would shout "Orks" and me and poke me with sharp objects till I agreed.
Stumbling across these stories again as I try to order my documents a little made me smile and made me want to write some more ork fueled spikey shouty silliness just for the fun of it. So that's what I am going to do next time I struggle for something to write.
In the mean time here's the original silly ork story I wrote nine months or so ago. If people like it, or I feel the whim to do so, I will publish a few of the stories that followed here. If only to encourage myself to get back to the habit



ReelBadBuga kicked the night goblin out of his way, not with any great intent, just absent minded annoyance at having followed the little runt for two miles from the tribe’s camp site. He was a Big Boss he did not get summoned to the mountain. Runts don’t summon a big boss, Runts don’t send other runts with a summons. This was the way of things, even if the mushroom eating runt in question were Mushmuncha the Sharman and touched by Gork and Mork.
The night goblin flew towards the edge of the mountain track and over it madly scrambling for purchase with his hands flailing around. He grabbed a tree branch or managed to hold on at the last moment. But ReelBadBuga had not bothered to go and look; he did not even listen out for a satisfying scream followed be a small goblins sized squelch it hit the bottom. He was too focused upon his annoyance, and his temper was a thing of legend among the nineteen tribes of the god stone valley. Rumour had it when RealBadBugga stubbed a toe you could hear his roar of anger echo around the mountains from one end of the valley to the other for a week. When one Gurt Scarbutt’s wolf riders used his helmet for a chamber pot at a clan gathering three summers ago, he had taken the Buga’s Boyz tribe to war. Driven by his fury the Buga’s had ravaged their way through to the Scarbutts camps, decimating three other tribes who just had the miss fortune to be camped in the way. Then slaughtered half the Scarbutts and skinned their mounts making wolf skulls as trophies till he had from the offending rider. Pinning Gurt down he had urinated all over him, then with a nod declared the war over and took the Boyz back to their home camp. Not without a few skirmish on the way back of course but that was just for fun and not serious war business. As RellBadBugga stormed into the cave mouth, the night goblin he had kicked was crawling back over the ledge grinning with relief at averting his fall down the mountain side. He was just dusting himself off when two more of his hooded brethren came pirouetting out of the cave having been unfortunate enough to be in the way. The collision of green flesh and black robes tumbled backwards over the rim. ReelBigBuga would have probably smiled at hearing the screams and satisfying splats that ended them.
The caves were dark and full of green fool smelling smoke, enough to bring tears to the eyes of full grown men. Orks are not, however, hampered by tear ducts. Evolution never saw the need to equip Orks to weep, for some reason beating other Orks to death with any available object was a more viable survival trait.
In the caves, the rats sauntered in corners, too stoned to scurry. Mushroom of every size and shape grew in the dank dripping caves, fields of them in the lower levels. In some places, a spaced out goblin would be chewing happily while one of his kin was arguing with a rock which refused to let him past into the wooden stick for hunting in the dark. At least that is what the Ork assumed the goblins meant by night club.
Reel ignored the minions of the goblin caves and bellowed “ I Iz Hezes Mush wadda ya want. “ with his customary gusto .
 A runt in a black cowl pulling a runt squig on a leash no bigger than Reel’s foot came scampering up. “Mushmuncha says to follow me. Oh, Mighty Warragg leader.” He said which impressed Reel, he did not actually lead a Warragg, but liked the sound of the ‘Oh mighty’. He was too busy considering the sound of 'Oh Mighty' to hear the goblin append his statement with a whispered “fat oaf.”
He grunted, “Lead on then Runt.” He shouted, resisting the urge to swat the little night goblin but only because he thought it would be beneath him as an ‘Oh Mighty’ to do his own swatting of the runts. Somewhere in the back of his not particularly large mind, he considered for a moment if been if not been able to do so was a major downside to the whole ‘Oh Mighty’ thing. He grunted once more and fell in behind the night goblin who was scurrying along so fast he was more dragging than leading his pet squig.
 They progressed downward into the heart of the night goblins mountain realm. Reel was surprised how busy it was, he had not been aware there were so many of the little runts in the caves.  He suspected this may be due to a lack of good swatting, and absently tried to rectify this error with any of them that came in range of his hands.
The caves teamed with activity which mostly seemed to revolve around grown and harvesting mushrooms and making stuff from mushrooms and trying to teach the not so tame spiders to not eat the goblins but to allow themselves to be ridden. A process which seemed to involve as many goblins as possible so that eventually the spider was so over fed it gave up eating and one of them could get on the beast to ride it around. Why anyone would ride anything that wasn’t a boar escaped Reel, but then quite a lot did.
Finally, they arrived at a small cavern on the edge of a subterranean lake, where three night goblins manned a raft, with long poles. And the Night goblin with the squig clambered on board. Reel did not trust the raft , or the goblins, or the water much,  and any lake in the middle of a mountain was bound to have big albino flesh eating fish in it, he was sure. But ‘Oh Might’ isn’t scared of water, he told himself and climbed aboard the raft which sunk further into the water than was normal to the alarm of the good ships crew. One of which was sent flying into the water where he scrambled for shore before the killer albino flesh eating tuna got him.  Progress across the lake was slow, mostly due to the nervous nature of the crew, and the rocking of the raft cause ReelBadBuga to experience sea sickness and decorate the deck at one point. Finally though they reached a small rocky island in the middle of the lake where sat the wizened old shaman around a large cauldron bubbling with a green mixture which smelled suspiciously like split pea soup. Reel hated split pea soup.
“ Sit with me Oh Mighty one.” The Shaman croaked. “it is time to learn your destiny,” he said with due ominousness and a hiccup. “Mork and Gork have ceased there fighting in the sky to tell me of their mighty son who much unity the tribes.”
“Whoz this then, if anyone is leading a Warragg it will be me not some mighty son, the Buga’s lead we do not follow “  the smoky atmosphere of the caves making him nauseous, he longed for good proper smoke like the corpse of his enemies and their tents smouldering after a raid. Rather than this vile green smoke which was giving him a bad head.
“You are the mighty son of Gork and Mork , ReelBigBugga mush lead us all in the mighty Warragg, we must go east into the lands of the elves and the rat men, they fight a war and have invited us not. The gods have chosen you to lead us, with of course my advice, Oh might one" the Shaman intoned with dramatic menace, despite odd hiccup and giggling fit.
Reel was filled with visions of glory, of the great sea of green descending on the non-green and having a really good fight with him at the head of the Warragg. Tales for the campfire for generations, his name above all others as the might Warragg leader. So much was he enraptured by this vision he did not hear the shamans final words “ and I’ll get me some nice warpstone chunks while everyone’s busy fighting you big oaf then I’ll be in charge , hiccup.”

The nest day at the top of the mountain the cry went out , “WARRAGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!” and echoed across the valley of the nineteen tribes . Many were called , all answered , though not without a little fighting among themselves. 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

The Ballot ( short story )

The hardest thing for a new author is to get published for the first time, in particular with short stories as there are so few outlets for them. But unperturbed last year I attempted to get a couple of shorts published with a few magazines, if nothing else i got nice rejection emails, even if some of them took months to get back to me. Better to be rejected than ignored, is my philosophical opinion on this and with hundreds ( possably thousands) of shorts been sent to the very few publishers of anthology magazines the chances of not been rejected are slim at best. Of course it could be its just a rubbish story badly written and not worth there time. So I will publish it here for no other reason that don't intend to submit it anywhere else and I have move on some what. Trying to get a novel published is some what harder. For those of a mind however here is the story I did not get published. (note short stories are notoriously difficult to get right , so this may not be ) 

The Ballot
by Mark Hayes

Every fourth year on the anniversary of my birth I perform my public duty and visit a Rawls booth. There is no law stating I am required to this. There is no obligation on anyone of us to perform this task, but we each do so at some fixed point in our lives. Above the booths is the legend ‘A choice which is not made freely is no choice at all’. We all make the choice, as we have since the beginning of the neo-reformation. The choice to exercise our political will.
At first, or so I am told, It was compulsory. An act force upon us by the state, enforced so those who doubted Rawls wisdom would see they were in error. The histories tell us there were outcries and demonstrations. Something called the army was used to make people join the lines at the booths. In these enlightened days it has become simply a compulsion. A duty which we all feel to each other, for we live in the grace the booths have allowed us.  
The booths designed by professor Cymene, whose statue stands in the public park which was once called parliament square. The marble carved with a look of serenity which is a reflection of the legacy his work has granted us. The booths themselves are named for a long dead social scientist who in bygone days proposed an experiment of the mind. A thought experiment, for the technology to achieve his aim would never come to pass in his own time. It was nothing more than a hypothetical set of circumstances, constructed to put forward his political idealism. While respected in his field he was never to gain the fame of others of his ilk. His idea’s seemed too abstract, too simplistic, lacking the innate Germanic fury of Marx, or progressive French charm of Rousseau. Rawls ideas were considered worthy but the impossibility of putting his experiment into praise consigning him a footnote in the annuals of academia. That was of course until Cymene invented the booths which could apply Rawls principals, and then his fame eclipsed all the others. 
Entering the booth itself is a thing I find most hateful. On an intellectual level I understand its reason for existing, I understand what it is that it does to me. But going through the process itself makes my skin crawl. They teach us about them when we are young in simplistic terms. We are told it unburdens us for a short time, so we may choose what is right.  Childhood naivety makes the process quick and easy. I think this is because while we are still growing into who we shall be, changing so rapidly, it seems more natural to us.
As we grow older, and with it more assured of the self, they have to go into the details to give us a fuller understanding. The process feels more like losing something once you understand there is something to lose. Rather than a putting aside of self, it feels like having something stripped away. A peeling of the image we have constructed around ourselves to tell us who we are. To be willing to subject those hollow egos we have so lovingly built to the machine we have to understand the why as well as the how. We need to understand how things were without Rawls principals governing our lives. We need to accept the good that they do to allow ourselves to be subjected to Cymene’s machine. So it can apply them to us even for a short time. Without that acceptance we would fight against the processes, struggle against the stripping away, making it so much harder upon us.
On entering the booth, I am first immersed in total darkness. All light and sound from beyond the booth is extinguished. I am isolated form the world, placed apart for everything beyond. After long moments of this small pinpricks of lights start to flash in the air around me. A swelling of sound fills the air, surrounding me with discordant cords, too basic to be called music. I am disorientated, confused, distance becomes imperceptible. The sounds echo around me but indistinct, there could be words buried within the sounds or music with harmonies and counterpoints, poetry of verse and credence or the cries of wounded animals and the sound of the wind blowing through abandoned halls. In these moments I feel placed beyond, in a primal place, like a return to the womb. These moments are without time, or progression, they are just a holding state, moments of preparation before the true process begins.
When the true process of the machine finally begins and I panic as I always do. Fighting against it, despite knowing intellectually there is neither point nor need. Knowing this makes no difference. While I agree with the principals involved. I still hate the feeling of their application. The primal id deep within me rebels against it, this slow surrender of self, this stripping away of identity. These little agonies of that self being pulled apart, each little part of me that is stripped away feels a wrenching of my personality, leaving small chasms in the whole. Some, those given to melodrama, have called it the stripping of the soul. I do not consign myself to such melodramas for all I understand their argument. But despite this I fight it anyway, on the most basic of levels, while I accept it on cerebral one. It is required after all, for how else could I make choices without the objectivity which only Cymene’s machine can bring.
What the machine subtracts is the knowing of me, but only the knowing of me. After a few moments within its embrace I no longer know my position in the world, such unimportant matters as if I am a member of the rich or one of the poor. I lose the memory of my job, or if I even have one. My understanding of these concepts remains but I no longer know the status given to me in society by wealth. Am I a wage slave working forty grinning hours a week to pay the rent or a high rolling investor in businesses with expense accounts and sharp suits? Do I live in a mansion or a council tenancy or am I homeless perhaps? I could be any of these things. How could I choose ethically about such matters of taxation, or social welfare while thinking only of how it would affect me? In unknowing I am free to choose for the better for all.
The machine progresses, beginning to strip me back further to the core. I am fighting it less now, having lost something of self already there is less urge to cling to what remains. Soon while I understand the genders, I no longer associate myself with male or female. While understanding all aspects of sexuality, I no longer know if I am straight or gay. I could be bisexual perhaps or asexual or anything else for that matter. I have all knowledge of these things and what it is to be them, but no longer the knowledge of my own sexuality, or how my own could bend my view on all others.  
Concepts such as religion and faith I understand, but if I have sure a faith myself I no longer remember. This is not to say the machine strips belief from me, nothing so crude and debase as that. The beliefs I have remain but are suppressed within me, put to one side for this short time. Instead it places me in a frame of reference where I can accept all faiths and simultaneously none at the same time. Placing me in a state where I am intrinsically neutral to such concepts. If there is a god, how could he object to such a state of grace?    
The machine has no mirrors or reflective surfaces, not that they would matter as it first dampens down, and then fully removes my perceptions of self. While understanding of such concepts of race, of skin colour, of ethnicity remain. I soon have no more idea of my own than I do if my gender. Soon after this I am lifted and held in a stream of null, weightless, and unbound by gravity. My senses undergoing deprivation within the machine; I float in a state of null. No influence from beyond can reach me and I have no will for them to do so.
More of my self is stripped back until the I in the machine, the I that I have become, no longer knows if I am able bodied or disabled, if I am thin or fat, athletic or a coach potatoes. It takes all this from my awareness, while leaving the knowledge of these concepts whole. Other things of the I are taken. I understand the need of society to raise its children; I understand the concepts of parenthood. Why some chose it and others do not, but not if I am a parent or would chose to be. The machine takes from me all these things. Until while I understand concepts of everything, I know my own place in none of them. Here in this place, in this machine, I am a person, just a person, in as simple a form as can be. Not black or white, rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight, or any of the other endless combinations of definitions that separate us out from each other. I am just a person, a singular representative of humanities whole. A singular id, just one of the collective of us, and now, at last, I can vote.
The questions stream across the darkness before me. Projections or a non-reflective terminal screen, I know not. In this state, stripped to the core of my humanity, one of the us, I answer them. All these questions once the realm of Politian’s, elected by proxy to run our lives. How should we be taxed? How should we live? Should there be tolerance of all? Should the sexes be equal? Should each have domain over their own body? Abortion? Contraception? Religious freedom? Freedom of expression? Rights? Health care?  And a hundred more. All the questions summed up as ‘What kind of society do we want to live in?’ and I answer them in the state of the us. The state of the everyone.
The concept of the machine is simple. Within it we vote honestly and fairly, strip away of all the things which would once have made us vote according to our own selfishness and preconceptions. In the machine the only stake we hold is the one of the universal person, the everyone personified. Only then can we choose the society we truly wish to be in. This is Cymene’s machine, this is Rawls principal in action, and this is how we achieved utopia. I vote, as we all vote.
Afterwards I am returned from the universal us to the singular of me. I am all the things that define me once more. And can take my place again within the society of us. This is how we ended the tyranny of the individual. However we survived before the machine as a species is something beyond me.
There are those, those who remain beyond the machine, who would claim the me that entered the machine is changed when I leave it. The cynics who believe the machine programs us to accept this utopia. That it changes us in subtle ways so we accept the machine as a savior of our society. That to do otherwise would be wrong no matter how the laws it has created affect us as individuals. These voices of dissent are few and the peace we live in is a tribute to Rawls in that they are allowed a voice. Allowed by the society of the us to cling to their old ways. They make speeches, write political blogs, call in to talk shows and decry the Rawls conspiracy. Such voices of dissent seldom last however. For in time they too must enter a booth to vote. It is there duty after all. How else could they exercise political will?

Afterwards they always state publicly how wrong they were to distrust the machine.