Wrimo Time

It is that time of year again the National Novel Writing Month, or nanowrimo as it is known to its participants. As usual Leigh Keating and I will be joining in on the madness and frustration that makes up this event.

In previous years I have both won and lost (winning is writing 50,000 words in a month) at the event but I have always started with at least a direction to take, this year is different. this year I have 3 directions and I am not sure I like any of them so I am doing all three.

So what are they… I am not going to tell you to be honest. Not at this moment, not right yet. Enough to say they cover a prose story (future fantasy), a slice of semi-autobiographical and prose contemporary story and a section that is more document or artefact.

If that is intriguing, good. if not, also good 🙂 I may or may not return to keep you updated. You can join us all in nanowrimo and if you are in the North West you can join our region. We also welcome people on Facebook in the Regional forum.

 

‘the violence calls up silence’

 [This is the second of two stories written for the Lancaster and Cumbria Nanowrimo groups first creative writing challenge]

Ed looked into Lily’s eyes and saw nothing. Once they were filled with laughter, love, intrigue and sometimes sadness. Her eyes were truly the gateway to her soul and would reflect every inner thought. In the throes of passion and in each tumultuous fight he would know her inner feeling just by looking into those green seas.

Seas, the ever shifting landscape that they both loved, it is why they stayed in Blackpool. For all its cheapness, bright lights, wailing sirens, dilapidated arcades with wind-faded signs and streets littered with bargain shops. They loved the seas, the winds, the dunes near to Lytham, it was change and decay in equal measure. Like a fading relationship filled with contradiction and melancholy. You could come to Blackpool and just let yourself merge into the miasma of broken dreams and empty promises. Here you could let things fade away slowly hanging onto a facade filled with wild smiles and madness with nothing underneath.

Even in the days of Austerity, with its investments culled and ambitions slaughtered the town survived. Every boarded shop and for sale sign patterned with a thousand billboards and stickers, moated in vomit. Empty holes like the sockets where teeth once stood. The rest of those teeth kept all bright white and artificially straightened to hide the decay inside, the rotting core and receding gums.

Blackpool was a period piece that was condemned repeatedly yet still survived. A dinosaur with the tenacity of a turtle, out evolved but still plodding along cocooned in a hard shell. That was what Ed and Lily loved. To them it was a treasure, a peasant in a toilet who knows that even princes have to piss. Blackpool was not restrained by its past, it was proud and even mocking.

Blackpool saved them. It brought them back together all those years ago. They had returned to this town, near to their birth and closer to their hearts than each other and had found themselves. The fading matched the shift in their lives. The decay, hidden beneath the apologists polish, a match for the hole in their lives.

But the ever-shifting seas, the sands and the skies.

The rich red skies of morning, the deep reds of night, had rekindled a deeper understanding. They saw themselves as a part of the tapestry, they were matched to this scene and as Blackpool’s fortunes shone and dimmed, so could their love. But is still went on, the tides would never stop, the winds would blow, the skies shift and the world would turn and they could see that together.

But now her eyes, those emeralds highlighted beneath the gathering brows of age were dulled. They no longer shone, or danced with laughter, they no longer held that love for him.

But he held no love for her.

Ed had loved Lily more than he knew. He had held her in his arms through all of life’s rich melody. They had come to understand each other’s needs so perfectly that they could explore the deeper relationships. He knew that he would stay with her until the end of his life, that without her life itself had no value. He just did not want it to be so soon.

Endings are inevitable, not even the universe would last forever. Lily had said that mankind’s destruction was itself and she was right. It was man who made the compact with the forces of darkness and unleashed the hell upon the world. It was man who sold his sould to the devil of science. It was science that created the virus and Hell the creatures that caught it.

As the world went insane and the virus spread Ed and Lily had prepared for the end. they had shored up supplies and built defences and held each other in the dark as the lights all faded and Blackpool went dark. But they could not hold out for ever.

The creatures did not stop, did not pause, did not feel. Finally the barricades fell and they came in and Ed and Lily fled, here to the seafront, to their special place in the dunes, to look at the seas and watch the sunset of mankind. But even here in the stillness they had come.

The creature had launched itself at Lily but Ed had got to it first. The fight that followed had been beyond belief, even now Ed could not believe his own anger, hatred and fear. He had taken the life of a woman, an infected near dead creature, but still a woman, a mother or a sister, a daughter at least.

But she had already killed him first. She had bitten his arm and transmitted her filth into him. Impregnating him with a hateful seed that would turn him into a monster. Lily had cried and held him as he started to turn and in his last moments of conscious thought. Before he became an unthinking thing, a zombie he had made his decision. They would be together still.

That was when Ed had bitten her, had sunk his teeth into her flesh drawing blood despite her screams, impregnating her one last time.

Ed looked into Lily’s eyes and saw nothing. Just the milky white of death as her limbs twitched and she lurched upwards. Deep inside of him the last of his humanity went away, and milky-eyed he stood next to her and stumbled across the sands.

* Zombie, The Cranberries

‘It’s In Your Head’*

[This is the first of two stories written for the Lancaster and Cumbria Nanowrimo groups first creative writing challenge]

‘The Zombies are coming out of the sea, no need to breathe, won’t tire, don’t stop. They’re walking remorselessly up the beach as ther waves crash around them. There are thousands of them, the whole beach is swarming with them, maybe there are millions, some are crawling with limbs torn, twisted or missing, some merely the few remnants of flesh held together by a will to feed.’ Ed paused and looked into Lily’s eyes.

‘Don’t worry. Thankfully holding the Tower is key to the strategy devised to turn the tide of battle. The perfect place to hold from. We can defend the lower levels and if we need to we collapse stairwells and retreat to the top, if, and I mean really when, they breach our defences.’

Ed saw her look, ‘don’t worry, we don’t need to hold out for long, the answer will soon be discovered, the cure that will turn the tide of battle.’

‘Ed,’ she said softly, ‘I came here to talk about us.’

‘Us, this is bigger than us right now.’ he held her hand, ‘but it will soon be just us. This is so big, this changes everything, the whole world, after this no one will ever be able to see Blackpool the same way again.’

Lucy closed her eyes and looked down from the cafe on the fifth floor of the tower, out across the promenade towards the sea. The skies were grey with small white clouds skipping beneath, playful in the blustery winds.

‘We haven’t known each other long,’ she paused.

Ed smiled and filled the silence, ‘I know,’ he laughed, ‘it was great, I mean amazing, it’s why I had to bring you here, to see this.’

‘To see what?’

 ‘The setting for end of the film,’ he laughed and stood, ‘the first one. Its going to be awesome.’ Ed looked at her, ‘I still cannot believe it, yesterday I was just a struggling writer, then I get told I am going to be a movie writer and I celebrate and then, you. You are the most beautiful girl, this is perfect.’

‘Ed,’ Lucy looked at him, ‘sit down.’

‘What’s wrong,’ he smiled at her, ‘last night was perfect, don’t worry I won’t let fame split us up.’

‘Ed, stop,’ she looked around to see if anyone had heard her raised voice. An old couple and young parents with small children waiting for the soft play to open. They did not seem to care.

‘Ed,’ Lucy looked at him, ‘I was just,’ she looked out at the sea. ‘it was just that I was always interested by you, I like dreamers, I like people with ideas and so when I heard your news, and the music, the food, the drink. I was just swept up by it, on a tide I guess.’

‘It’s a tide that will build, baby,’ he laughed.

‘Tide’s go out.’ She sighed. ‘This isn’t Dawn of the Dead, the bloody tower is a bad defence, trap yourself in a single location with nowhere to go but up and limited supplies.’ Lucy let a breath escape in frustration, ‘and what about food, power, water, the bad place to be in the event of a bloody fire. Stupid. There is also no bloody point to the rest of your story.’ She shook her head, ‘I mean, zombies! Gods. No understanding in the bloody zombie apocalypse crap of either the word zombie or apocalypse.’

‘The only zombie story that came close to being worthwhile on film was the original, though I liked Shawn for the laughs and Dylan Morgan, who you look a bit like. In books, World War Z and I know that’s your favourite movie, you told me twenty times already, and I hated it.’

‘You see that’s where you fail. That’s why we are not meant to be and this was always just one night. Grasping for the fantastic instead of looking at the world with all its in-built complex wonder and seeing the true beauty in the mundane. Ed, what’s wrong with a simple story why does it have to be fantastic.’

‘Here is something for you to consider, you know my love of words so I looked things up. God bless Google and Wikipedia. Zombie isn’t undead, it is a sleeping draught used as a punishment, a toxin from a fish. It is a form of religious paraphenalia and nothing to do with animated corpses or fast moving infected people.’

‘On that note, how do you get a cure for being dead, surely the whole point is there is no cure, just to further pick at your story, not that I don’t think people will watch it, there’s about a million Resident Evils and they are beyond dumb.’

‘As for the other part of that couplet, apocalypse never meant end of the world, Ed. Not until the fourteenth century when a bunch of zealots used it to apply to Revelations. It wasn’t part of the Bible until we rewrote that book in English.’ She let a small smile pattern her features, ‘the beauty is in the word, apocalypse isn’t destruction it is knowledge. It is the lifting of the veil, a revelation, an understanding, not an ending. That’s why this, the whole story, this phantasmagoria is just facile. You are simply riding a zeitgeist with no real understanding of what things mean.’

She stood and looked at him, ‘it was why we were never really meant to be, you look only skin deep, beauty to you is astonishment, the amazing, exciting, brilliant,’ she looked out at the beach, ‘not the shifting twists of sand that flit on a windy morning. Not the ever changing skies that have more wonder than anything constructed in a Hollywood basement.’ She buttoned her coat and smiled at him once more, ‘it is why our brief affair is over, consider it an apocalypse where the only zombie was relationship.’

* Zombie, The Cranberries

A Pair of Zombie Stories

My local Nanowrimo group is running some challenges throughout this year via our facebook group. We are writing some short stories to keep in the nano mood and to continue the energy.

For me this is really helpful as I failed Nano last year down to being too damned busy to write. This was very demoralising and something that has been irking me greatly.

So the challenges are at least some blessed relief.

The idea is to write a story based on some similar conceptions. Our first challenge was 500-1000 words, the Zombie Apocalypse, Ed and Lucy and Blackpool.

We needed to write a story using those basic similarities. These are writing challenges to keep skills fresh and not great works of art (well mine are at the very least, I shouldn’t say that for others). I have decided that I will publish some of them to this blog.

So for the first challenge I wrote two pieces, and expect to see them soon on here.

Doing the Write Thing*

Twenty-twelve (or two thousand and twelve if you like to be pedantic about the pronunciation of mathematical notation) was a good year for me in terms of writing and blogging.

In total I wrote over one hundred and fifty different pieces for blogs this year, including an eight thousand word epic post on the first twenty-five years of the Perl programming language.

I did start to feel demoralised that I hadn’t blogged enough and then I remembered that I do maintain a large number of blogs between family, personal, company and community and when added together the number of posts is quite significant, about three a week is a good number.

I also managed to fit in two different books and the Nanowrimo, though the two books were a completing of one and a re-edit of another, even still with my busy schedule this was a feat I think. This year’s Nano story is already undergoing an edit and being read in serial form by my wife so there is hope that I might do something with it as it is the first in a short series of linked stories that I am planning on writing.

I am hoping to up my quota for the coming year and I will probably do a short piece like this on what I achieve at the end of the coming year. If you keep watching you may read it. One thing I will be doing is keeping a closer watch on the number of articles I write so I can have a set of figures to present and maybe make graphs and charts with (I like pretty charts). We shall see.

ttfn…

 

* Yes it was an awful pun I do apologise.

Nanowrimo 2012

I didn’t think I could do it…

I know I have uttered those words before about Nano, especially the last couple of years as my life has become super full of things to consume time with. But this year I really had a bad feeling.

This was borne out as November trundled along and I had failed stories, lack of time to write and home/work duites that just mounted up. By Friday 30th November the last day I was 17.2K words down from the target of 50K. I was right, it seemed, I couldn’t do it.

Then Leigh gave me an odd look and said that she was upset because we would no longer have the same Nano stats…

I had only had 4 hrs sleep, I had a busy day, but by the time 11:40 had rolled around I couldn’t get enough work done, or that damned comment out of my head. I also felt that I would be lacking if I didn’t give this the good old Keating insanity rush.

So I poured a lot of coffee into my system, thought about where the plot had to go and how to get there and started. I would make a charge and at least finish closer than 2/3rds…

‘I bwoke my bwain’, my fingers burned, but by 21:30 I had also done the near impossible in my mind, I had made it as the comeback kid. Nano 2012 was done and I was a winner…

Next year I have to do this differently 🙂

(I also have to finish this story…)

NANOWRIMO 2008

Yep, it's back nanowrimo has returned in its 10th Anniversary year and I am sure it will be bigger and better than usual. Also, as usual i will be silly busy that month with parties to attend, write-ins, the usual ammount of $work and the fact that I am the organiser of the London Perl Workshop 2008 which is at the end of November.

-sigh-

Anyway Nan Knows Rhino, w00t….

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