Tag Archives: Sci-fi

Programming Goats

I’ve woken up this morning with a genuine clarity of mind. It has in turn made me feel really good within myself. I think it stems from the first draft being finished last night.

Often during the process of having I writing project on the go I’ll feel guilty about doing the stuff I enjoy. There is always the inner voice asking why I’m not hunched over the keyboard right this very minute. If I want to be a writer so bad and for that to be my main job then why am I not writing with every spare second I have free? It can get really miserable and means that I stress about going places or doing other stuff.

‘I’m getting older and need to crack this writing thing now!’ I will think to myself somehow of the strange belief that every newly published author is below 25.

After writing ‘The End’ last night I made a cup of coffee, laid out some biscuits and watched some wrestling on TV. I’ve done this before over the last eighteen months of this book project but that feeling of this act being frivolous vanished last night. It felt wonderful and probably contributed to the clear headed feeling I had this morning.

I’m off to Manchester this weekend for a Doctor Who fan convention. It’s been booked for a couple of months but I had the usual worry about it beforehand. Thinking about it this morning gave me a much more enjoyable angle on it.

Whilst the book certainly isn’t ‘finished’ it has passed that first major hurdle. Psychologically it’s been more beneficial than I ever thought it would be.

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551 Days

4th March 2017 to 6th September 2018.

That’s 551 days.

It’s the period of time it has taken me from writing the first word of this book to, five minutes ago, writing ‘The End’ on the final page if the first draft.

It reads horribly, I only did notes for nineteen chapters at the beginning yet seem to have run it up to thirty five, one character changes age halfway through because they were far better being older and the town itself only gets a name from about two thirds in. This is just the beginning of the problems this thing has.

Also this time scale would have been far shorter had I not been plagued with a severe case of not being bothered by it between September last year and February this. I think the initial rush of writing about these characters left me and the stark reality of having to do something with them set in. For many weeks I was avoiding doing anything for fear of having to sort all this out.

But the crucial part is that it exists as a whole project. I’ve partially broken Open Office doing this but I’ll fix that later. For now I have some wrestling articles I really need to write up. The first hurdle is done though and that’s the best feeling.

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Empty Arena Boss Fights

The rain helped.

I’m now standing on 54,150 words and there’s probably another chapter to get out of this. Probably one more session will do it but that might have to wait until Thursday when I’m next off work.

I’m in Manchester this weekend so I’d really love to get it all done before then.

The end (of the first draft) is in sight.

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When The Summer Is Over

The Scottish school kids went back for term a couple of weeks ago and the English kids are following them this week. It’s belting down with rain outside so any thoughts of taking another trip out to the coffee shop today are being put on the back burner.

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The current view from my back window.

So it looks like a good day to write. As I look at the file now I can see that my word count is just shy of 53k so I’m not that far away from finishing what I consider to be a first draft. It’s a terrible read though with half formed ideas suddenly being introduced halfway through without much backing of set up. Once I begin the rewrites and the process of putting those new chapters into Microsoft Word as opposed to Open Office (those keeping track will remember that I broke Open Office spell check about 25,000 words in and it hasn’t returned) I’ll perhaps put some sections up here from both the old version and the new and show what sort of angle I’m going for. It’ll also hopefully detail how much the tone seems to have changed from what I was writing 18 months ago when 4,000 words was a major achievement.

 

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You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Chipping away, chipping away.

I’ve not been able to blast the home stretch as much as I would have liked to. There’s been the odd few hundred words here and the one hundred word chunk there. It’s okay though, I’m not feeling it as much of a battle as I was halfway through.

The last few session have got me thinking about myself at the age of thirteen or fourteen. The kid who would sit there in his room with one lamp burning until the early hours of every morning. Every single other person in the house had long since (sensibly) gone to bed and were asleep. I’d be up writing in a pad with a pen in my hand. I didn’t even have a computer or a laptop to edit anything with back then. All the stories I wrote were in ink with single words and paragraphs struck out.

I’d write whilst drinking coffee which was a recent introduction to my life. I’d done work experience in a local library and, upon turning up on the Monday morning, I’d been asked if I wanted a cup of coffee. I recall thinking that rejecting this offer might make me seem awkward so I’d agreed. Having never really had a cup of coffee in my life I wasn’t sure how I preferred it. I essentially said no to every follow up question.

So it arrived black with no sugar.

And I spent the afternoon skipping around the place filing books whilst on a caffeine buzz.

Dear reader, it has remained my one true vice.

I’d write whilst listening to late night talk radio. I loved the sense of danger and the truly strange people that would sometimes be allowed on air. With the internet today everybody who has an opinion can broadcast it within seconds. Back then you might have been speaking on the airwaves rather than tapping on Twitter. I loved how different people spoke and how the conversation flowed. Dave from Cardiff might be convinced there’s a ghost in his kitchen. Jenny from Newcastle would phone in about the aliens again.

Most of all though I’d write whilst nursing the burning desire to ‘be a writer’. At that age I was hopeful I could find a way to get a career out of making up stories. It often crossed my mind that I might have given up on that idea as I got older because it seemed so distant and more than a bit silly.

Fourteen year old me would be happy that thirty seven year old me is far from giving up. He’d be over the moon that there’s nearly a first draft of a book finished.

Every time I sit down at a keyboard I’ll have a smile for that kid.

Because one day we’ll make it.

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Metal Plating

I have yet to go back over the book in full. That process will have to wait until the end. I have however zipped back and looked at individual parts just to see how they stack up, almost like a preview of the work that’s to come.

Now I have a much clearer idea of the ending (much more than I did a year ago put it that way) I can see exactly what was going wrong with the characters when I was starting out writing them. From the point I’m at now, looking back, it makes it really easy to give them a much better starting point and to push small details that work towards that goal.

Also I’m finding that it’s only at this point, over 50,000 words in, that the book is really finding its voice. I had thought that I was going to be handling a very serious, dark story about a missing child assumed murdered. The truth about this though is that I’m not sure I have the skill to do that any kind of justice. As a result the sci-fi elements have taken over much more and the whole thing isn’t quite as doom laden as it might have turned out to be had it stayed on the original course. I’m not saying it’s now all sunshine and roses but there’s a certain dark sense of humour running through it which gives it a Scottish edge.

Because generally we Scots have a morbid outlook on life.

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Little Green Men Problems.

It’s been almost twenty years since I had my last year in secondary school. During that time I was mad/bored enough to take Sixth Year Studies English and a big part of the course was to write about a certain genre of book. Being as I was burying my head in Blade Runner, Akira and Ghost In The Shell at the time I picked sci-fi. If my memory serves me correctly I ended up doing an essay about ‘Brave New World’ by Aldous Huxley and ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep’ by Philip K Dick (because Blade Runner). The essay itself was probably terrible but my main take away from the whole thing at the time was a long discussion about the definition of science fiction as a genre.

“Science Fiction can probably be defined as a warning against currently human behaviours as they reach their obvious conclusion”he said with confidence. I was eighteen years old and didn’t really have the tools to argue with a guy who knew way more about this kind of thing than I did.

“Just because you put little green men in a story does not mean it is automatically science fiction”.

This memory suddenly came bolting into my head today as this is pretty much exactly what I’ve done whilst describing my book as sci-fi. There’s not really any grand theme about taking a feature in society at the moment and putting that forward to the natural conclusion. The story itself is very much in the present day and doesn’t feature anything like a driverless car or genetically altered meat produce. It’s a small Scottish fishing town with a little green man hiding in it.

Have I been doing this wrong all this time?

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Opposite The Cathedral, Down The Alley, Up The Stairs and Hang A Right.

Whilst this blog is usually writing about whatever I’m actually supposed to be writing at the time I have, on occasion, written about other people who are doing good things locally. It’s not exactly as if I have vast numbers reading this blog and the people in question will instantly get a massive boost in numbers. It’s more that it’s very easy to be negative about anybody making cool projects from scratch and sometimes you just need to know that somebody else appreciates what you’re doing.

This will be one of those posts.

Give me a bit of space to set the scene here…

Carlisle is not a massive city. In fact I could pretty much get away with saying that Carlisle is like eight different villages sellotaped together with a shopping district in between. Sometimes it even has the attitude to match. Anything cultural seems to get storied away in small pockets of the city and only let out for a couple of hours a day for grazing purposes. The usual big chain stores exist in Carlisle but it seems a bit tougher for the smaller, individual shops who may specialise in a particular field. Most bigger cities I’ve been to have stores dedicated to comic books and general geekery almost by default. Carlisle never really has, until now.

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1Up is in very early days having only just opened their doors at the tail end of 2017. I’ve been in a couple of times firstly to check it out and then to buy new pieces for the X-Wing Miniatures game and some new Batman comics. I don’t know the guys who run it but they always come across as really friendly and willing to put the time in to this fantastic venture.

Building such a business from scratch is difficult and they’ve recently started a crowdfunder to pull some initial cash together and get furniture for the store so they can make it not only a shop but a hub for the culture in the local area. You can read the details on the link right here…

https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/1upcomicscollectibles/?

A lot of the time when any new business is covered by the local press the words ‘This is just what Carlisle needs’ are spoken even when it’s the 100th bar or sandwich shop in the city centre. Those words are true for this project however because there is certainly nothing like this in the area. Carlisle does indeed need something like this.

If you have some money going free then please chuck it in the pot. If you’re near Carlisle then pop on by and see for yourself the start of something a bit special. Even if you’re miles away or in another country altogether then still donate. You’ll have the warm glow of knowing you’ve helped somebody get a good project on the road.

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84p

My parents have taken my son and his cousin away for the day today so after doing some cleaning around the house this morning I’ve been able to sit down with the book today and get some more of it done.

In fact about ten minutes ago I broke the 30,000 word barrier. I am oddly happy about this. Yes, the story is wobbling in places and I really need to go back and clean up major parts of it but the main thing is that I reckon I’m about halfway there. I’ve tried to drop the obsession with having a finishing wordcount over the last few weeks. When I first started back in March I was aiming at 75,000 for the only reason that the number seemed like a ‘proper book’ number of words. As I’ve gone on I’ve remembered that this is an idea originally designed for a 90 minute film and so therefore I might be better aiming for a bit less than that so as to not end up stretching the story out. One of my favourite books is Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and that clocks in a 55,000. It’s a fairly concise and great story because of it so that makes me a whole lot more confident in the long run.

With the pressure off a little in that regard I’m writing whilst feeling I can be far quicker with the story and not have to pad just to get more words in. As such it’s possibly reading a bit better.

In the meantime I’m going to make a burger to celebrate.

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All Things Legendary

I went for lunch with a work colleague yesterday and happened upon this poster in the bookshop we passed by.

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I’ve never been to Fisher Street Galleries before yet I know where Fisher Street is so that’s not a big problem. I work during the day most Mondays in Carlisle so it would be fairly easy to just take a change of clothes, grab something to eat somewhere and pitch up at 7pm. My car parking permit runs 24 hours so that’s not really a problem either.

The £35 is affordable.

I’m not sure if they’d want me turning up with half a novel written and a few notes though. I’m liking it from the perspective of meeting other writers for a five weeks spell. The last time I did something similar to this was when I was in school years ago (I think I was about 17-18) and it was something of a disaster. Obviously I’m a grizzled 36 year old now with stubble and everything.

I’m currently mulling this one over.

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