Friday 31 August 2012

#FridayFlash - 2:34am

She lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. She'd counted the cracks in the plaster too many times to remember, and the next step would be to name them.

She rolled over and looked at the clock. The glowing green digits spelled out '2.34'. She growled, and hauled herself out of bed. I'm awake, so I might as well go to the bathroom. Again.

She opened the bedroom door and padded across the living room. She kept the lights off to preserve her night vision - she didn't want to go stumbling into the coffee table on her way back to bed.

The bathroom lay on the other side of the living room. A full moon shone through the window, casting a pale glow into the bathroom. The toiletries lined up on the sill threw irregular shadows across the wall.

She sat down and watched the reflection of the night sky. A gentle breeze stirred the tree outside, the ruffled shadow leaves on the wall dancing to the wind's tune. She sighed - the night used to be hers. She longed to escape to the rooftops, caught between the city and the sky, watched only by the stars.

She stood up and flushed. Movement in the corner of the room caught her eye. Something rippled across the sky, its shadow swimming across the bathroom wall. She turned and peered through the frosted glass of the window. That was no full moon - that was the Signal.

She narrowed her eyes and stomped out of the bathroom. She walked straight past her bedroom and headed to the closet. She ran her hands across the engineered latex that made up her catsuit, and lifted the wafer thin metal mask out of its box. She stared into its empty eyes, and her own animosity stared back.

If the City had its hero back...then it certainly needed its villain.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Landscape and Writing

I had a brief visit to London over the Bank Holiday weekend, and ended up at the British Library for their Writing Britain exhibition. Now, I lived in London for seven years, and it is to my eternal shame that I only visited the British Library twice. It's often easy to overlook the British Library as a destination, overshadowed as it is by the likes of the National Gallery and the British Museum, and when you live somewhere, it can also be easy to take for granted what's sat on your doorstep.

The British Library is a fantastic space, and they seem to put a lot of thought into their exhibitions - a previous one that I saw was about photography, while the last one was about Charles Dickens and the supernatural (so clearly of great interest to me). The Writing Britain exhibition had at its heart the aim of exploring the ways in which the British landscape has inspired British literature over the years. In many cases, they'd included original handwritten copies of the texts, as well as early first editions - and it was interesting to see the actual handwriting of these literary greats. It somehow makes them more human when you realise that even they write like a crack-addled panda with a box of crayons.

The exhibition itself had two major effects on me. The first was in truly appreciating the diversity of the British landscape. I'm not one of those people who has travelled all over the world, filled with stories of the Far East or south America, but I am a person who has seen a great deal of Great Britain (I've never been to Northern Ireland so I shan't call it the United Kingdom). Weirdly enough, I still sometimes forget the range of locations that comprise our little island. Rural pastoral scenes, wild moorland, coastal escapes and our industrial past couldn't NOT inspire writers, and the exhibition made me long to explore the untamed landscapes of my native Northumberland.

The second made me examine my own work, to see how much of the landscape around me had inspired my writing. Strangely enough, I don't think it has inspired my writing to the extent that I might like. Elements of Victorian London can be seen in my steampunk Vertigo City, and Edinburgh provided a lot of inspiration for the Underground City in my work in progress, The Necromancer's Apprentice. Beyond that, I struggle to find any 'themes' related to landscape - and there is essentially nothing of Newcastle, my hometown, in my work. If I'm honest, I'm actually ashamed of myself for that.

I'm not really sure how to categorise my writing - normally my idea is formed from a 'what if', or it's related to something happening. I often have ideas for settings that I want to use but I only like to actually use these settings when I have a story that I can tell within them. After all, a setting is all very well, but it's nothing more than an empty set unless something is going on in it. I suppose you'd consider me a 'plot driven' writer, in that my stories have to be about a 'thing' or 'event'. If I was a character driven writer, would my work be different? Would I find it easier to use landscape to reflect conditions surrounding a character, or their own internal landscape?

It's something I think that I will endeavour to explore, and I highly recommend the exhibition for writers and bibliophiles alike.

Writing Britain is on until September 25 and you can find out more details here. Image is Writing Britain: Wastelands to Wonderlands, Top Withens near Haworth, Yorkshire 1977, by Fay Godwin © British Library.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

End of my photo prompts

Yesterday marked something of the end of an era for this blog, though I don't know if anyone realises. For the past one hundred weeks I've been posting photographic writing prompts every Monday, offering them up as a means of generating inspiration for other writers. All of the photographs have been my own work, too. I haven't asked for much in return - just a link so I can see what the photo led to. Only a handful of my photo prompts have borne fruit (that I know of) and as it takes up a fair bit of time both taking photos and trying to find ones that will make good prompts, it's time to lay it to rest.

The photo prompts will still be available, and if you click here you can scroll back through all of them if you find that you're stuck for ideas, but I won't be posting new ones unless I see something that I think will be absolutely stellar for kick starting a story.

So I hope you still have a flick through, and that something might spark an idea. If it does, let me know, yeah?

Monday 27 August 2012

Photo Prompt 100

New prompt available!

If you want to use the prompt, all I ask is that you include a link to this entry and a credit to me for the photograph, and that you post a link to your story in the comments box below so I can see what you've come up with! If you don't comment on this entry, then I can't comment on your story.

The 100th, and final, prompt is Toys.

Aston and Theodore

All photo prompts are my own photography - you can find more of it on Flickr. You can also buy my prints from Deviantart. 20% of all proceeds go to charity - the other 80% go towards my PhD fees!