Friday 9 July 2010

Chaos and Chance

Here's my attempt for this week's Fiction Friday challenge on the Write Anything blog, also submitted to the Friday Flash collection. The prompt was;

In her right hand a woman holds a loaded gun, in her left, a coin that just came up ‘tails’.

The silver coin flashed in the air, a disc of light that flipped and landed in her waiting left palm. Her right hand gripped the revolver swiped from Sarah's antique shop.

Temper flared behind her eyes as she stared at the coin. Instead of looking down at the profile of the Queen, she saw only the ring of dolphins on the 'tails' side of the 50p.

"Tails again?"

Andrew shifted in his chair slightly. The ropes binding his arms behind his back chafed with the movement. He smiled, despite the pain. Sheila tossed him a filthy look.

"That must be the eighth tails in a row, isn't it?"

"This isn't fair!"

"Just face it, Sheila. You don't have it in you to shoot me. You have to pretend you're some stupid supervillain and flip a coin," he said. "You want to be able to blame it on chance, but even that's not on your side. You have to take responsibility for your actions, you know."

"I'm not Sheila, I am Chaos," she replied. She tugged on the hem of her costume's skirt to prove it. The cheap black vinyl made her skin itch, even through the tights.

"Rubbish. You're not Chaos, you're just angry I left you," said Andrew. "Are you really surprised I walked out? Jenny would certainly never be seen dead in that get up."

"Talk back to me again and she will be seen dead," replied Sheila. She pulled herself up to her full height of 5ft 4ins, hoping she looked imposing. She remembered to thrust out her chest and planted her hands on her hips.

"Oh shut you, you silly cow. You don't know what you're doing - you're a real amateur at this, do you know that? You've even gone for the hero stance instead of the villain hunch."

"Shut up, Andy. Just...shut up." Sheila let her shoulders sag.

"That's your big witty comeback? Pathetic. It's all so ironic. You're doing this to punish me, aren't you? You're punishing me for leaving you for someone else. Yeah, I cheated, aren't I a bad guy? But what you don't get is that if I'm a bad guy, and you punish me, then that makes you a hero, not a villain."

"Shut up!" Sheila banged the revolver on the desk beside her. She jumped at the sudden slam of metal against wood, but Andrew barely flinched.

"No, I won't shut up. God, Sheila, you just haven't thought this through, have you? You call yourself Chaos, but then you do something you've clearly spent time planning. Not very chaotic, is it?"

"It is chaotic! Your life depends on the random flip of a coin!" Sheila stamped her foot.

"Eight flips is hardly random. What are you going for, best of twenty?"

"Stop right there!"

The door to the basement flew open. A tall figure with a mane of red hair stood in the doorway. One hand rested on her hip, while she held up the other in some kind of 'stop' gesture. She strode down the stairs. Sheila gawped at the white Lycra catsuit and white domino mask.

"Jennifer? What the hell are you doing here?" asked Andrew.

"I am not Jennifer. I am the Angel of Order," replied the newcomer. "And I'm here to defeat Chaos, wherever I find it!"

Andrew groaned. His ex-wife and current girlfriend struck amateur fighting poses beneath the striplight. He rolled his eyes, wondering where he could find a normal woman.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Here be gems of genius!

Every now and then, I like to share posts on other blogs with you - posts that I've found interesting, fun or useful, and that I hope might be of some interest or use to you, too. So let's kick off proceedings, shall we?

First off, go and check out the Chinese Whisperings website. If you're looking for quality short fiction, posted regularly, you'd do well to check out the writers contributing to this year's anthology (Wow, would you look at that? One of them is me!)

If you're a writer who always has multiple projects on the go, then perhaps this post on A Big Creative Yes will be of some use - maybe it's time you stopped cheating on your existing projects with new ideas...

A lot of blogs talk about 'what you need' for writing, but Fuel Your Writing condense the basics into one post.

If you write sci-fi, particularly about aliens, then perhaps this post over on the IO9 blog might give you some food for thought!

If you're looking for visual stimulation, then check out Audrey Kawasaki's truly stunning wood paintings...

Or maybe the daily photography of Leslie R. Lee? His photos are stunning, and having spoken to him on Twitter for a while, he's a lovely guy!

In the same vein, agent Rachelle Gardner has come up with a list of eleven non-writing related things you can do to become a better writer over on her blog. She also has another interesting post on how to keep track of small details like character descriptions or addresses throughout a novel.

If, like me, you're in the "novel-writing" process, then check out this Write it Sideways post about the debate over short or long first drafts.

For trouble writing dialogue, check out the first of Annie Evett's dialogue series over on Write Anything.  She's a very talented writer, and her tips are very useful.

And last but not least, no links post would be complete without a plug for my compatriots in Below the Fold. You can follow the links from my blog sidebar...

Monday 5 July 2010

Give yourself permission to NOT write

I've just spent a very enjoyable evening doing nothing but knitting a sock, and watching the first three episodes of Castle. Now, most evenings, I make myself sit down and do some 'work'. It might be drawing, or working out some more 'punchlines' for my forthcoming comic, or it might be working on the next instalment of my serial, The First Tale. I might even be writing another Friday Flash, or deciding what I'm going to blog about. I might be rewriting my novel, or figuring out what I'm going to say in my next AudioBoo. I don't know about you, but that looks like a fair amount of things to be doing in my 'free' time.

'Not finding the time to write' is a common complaint of writers. Other creatives say they simply cannot find the time to create. "Modern life is so hectic", they say. "I have a full-time job and three kids and an invalid parent to care for," they cry. I can fully sympathise with the full-time job issue. Of the approximate seventeen hours I am aware, I have just four to spend on myself, and everyday errands. That's without a family to take up my time!

There are a myriad of blogs out there that will tell you it's okay to cut down your TV time by 15 minutes, or it's healthy to wake up 15 minutes earlier, or that no one will mind if you skip something else in order to write. You can "give yourself permission" to write. It's a very valid argument, and I agree with it wholeheartedly - there probably is a lot of junk in your day that could be safely jettisoned to make room for your creative pursuits. However, creative people often don't like to do anything creative because it's fun. It doesn't feel like work. It can often feel like an indulgence when there are errands to run or chores to do.

That being said, I'm here to tell you it's also okay to give yourself permission to NOT write. Normally, I've got so many projects on the go and so much that I want to do that I get stressed out if I don't get it all done (which would be impossible anyway, unless I somehow found a way of adding more hours to the day). If I hit a creative block, I panic. The work I want to do becomes work that I need to do and thus it becomes actual work, rather than 'work', if you get what I mean. Once that happens, I don't want to do it any more, and then I become frustrated with myself because I start procrastinating, and stop producing. It doesn't help that all these books and blogs seem to be telling me that I need to be writing almost continuously in order to really be 'a writer'. So now I'm not a real writer because I'm not writing every minute of every hour of every day? Golly, talk about pressure!

Yet it has been a wonderfully relaxing couple of hours after I told myself it was alright not to do any writing (aside from this post) for one single evening. I've made some decent progress on my sock (this is the left one I'm currently working on - eventually it will look like the right sock I've posted a photo of up there) and I've discovered a new TV show that combines my interest in crime dramas with my love of Nathan Fillion and a consideration of the writing process - win! As it happens, various ideas have been ticking over in my brain and now I feel refreshed and rejuvenated - ready to start writing on my way to work tomorrow.

So give it a go. Give yourself permission to have a night off, and see what wonders you can accomplish.

Sunday 4 July 2010

Spoken Sunday

I wrote a blog post on Tuesday about the new phenomenon of AudioBoo, and how much I'm enjoying figuring it out. Well now there's an extra reason to get on board, as Benjamin Solah's #SpokenSunday hashtag gets into full swing! Benjamin's written a post over on the Spoken Sunday blog to explain in greater detail, but in a nutshell, Spoken Sunday combines the concept of the #FridayFlash tag with the 'open mic' quality of AudioBoo.

It's my intention to write a short, 100-200 word flash fiction with the sole purpose of posting it as a spoken word Boo every Sunday, but this week I was very tired so I decided instead of go back through my archives of material. I've chosen The Crossing, which was originally published on Gloom Cupboard in January 2009. I'm still very proud of it, and I thought it would be a good flash to dust off, and give an airing for Spoken Sunday. You can find it here.

I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you get involved with Spoken Sunday!