The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Week 5

What I wrote:

  • The Story: Letters on a Wall
  • The Genre: N/A
  • The Plot: A sinister bookworm loses a legendary sword and discovers the world.

I… I have no words for this one. I just. ~hands~

What I read:

Wednesday (day 22):

  • Short Story: The Blue Unicorn by Bruce McAllister
  • Essay: The Importance of Maps in Fantasy from Start Writing Podcast
  • Poem: Pictures by Jessica Guevara

 

Thursday (day 23):

 

Friday (day 24):

 

Saturday (day 25):

 

Sunday (day 26):

 

Monday (day 27):

 

Tuesday (day 28):

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Week 4

At this point I think it’s fairly accurate to say that I do not stick to genre at all. I mean, they’re a starting point I guess, but I have a hard time staying there. Still, I’m writing, and that’s the important thing. Not only that, but we’re starting to tread deeper waters with regards to the essays. I did go on something of an amazon spree, downloading Hume, Montaigne, Franklin and a lot of the old philosophers. More than anything I think the essays are crawling their way inside my head and changing things up a bit. Whether for good or ill I can’t say, but I’m finding it much more relaxing to sit back and mull things over for a while rather than constantly spouting an opinion about something or other.

What I wrote:

  • The Story: The Last Bus Home
  • The Genre:  Sci-fi/Mystery
  • The Plot: A talkative bus driver helps another world and discovers the queen.

What I read:

Wednesday (day 22):

  • Short Story: Subject: Found S1 Ep1: Tumwater by Paul Sating
  • Essay: Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity by Adrienne Rich
  • Poem: Because I Will Be Silenced by Ha Jin

 

Thursday (day 23):

 

Friday (day 24):

 

Saturday (day 25):

 

Sunday (day 26):

 

Monday (day 27):

 

Tuesday (day 28):

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Week 3

This week has been a shit of a week to get through. I’ve been battling a headache pretty much every day and seem to be sliding into something of a slump mental/mood wise. I’ve struggled to find the motivation to do anything and have mostly been thinking about everything I need to do to move forward. It’s all huge. Even when I break it into small chunks it seems insurmountable. Still… life goes on and shit needs to get done so here we go.

What I wrote:

  • The Story: The Changing Tide
  • The Genre:  Drama/Fantasy
  • The Plot: A persecuted advisor must find a village by finding the city.

I cant lie… this one took me forever to wrap my head around, but the genre was something I was more familiar with so that helped.  Here’s hoping it makes slightly more sense than last week’s short story.

What I read:

Wednesday (day 15):

Thursday (day 16):

Friday (day 17):

Saturday (day 18):

Sunday (day 19):

Monday (day 20):

Tuesday (day 21):

  • Short Story: Hero by Davian Aw
  • Essay: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread by Rabbi Julia Neuberger
  • Poem: Domestic Violence by Roger Reeves

June 2017: The Neverending Story of an Ongoing Fuckup

I can’t believe it’s June already. I thought the years were supposed to be getting astrologically longer, not zipping past at this rate? Is this what ageing is? Ignoring most of time passing because it’s isn’t new and shiny enough? SO I need to start practising mindfulness and concentrating on every little thing to squeeze as much life and joy out of it?

It sounds Exhausting, but fine. Lets get to it, shall we?

Weight Loss & Health – Aha. Ahaha. AHAHAHAHAHA! Oh this month has been terrible. Truly. I am heavier than when I started, I managed the gym once because I now have a trapped nerve and that shit is stupidly painful, and there’s a lot of stuff going on that is eating away at my time. On the plus side, I have been cooking more, and since we’ve pretty much cut out all meat other than chicken, I do find myself snacking more on vegetables and whatnot. I have a lovely row of dried beans, pulses and grains happily sitting on my kitchen shelf now so I have plans for a lot of veg-based chillies, some hummus and other more vegetarian based dishes. Probably going to be adding a lot of spices to that too, since everything is tasting bland and boring at the minute.

Writing – I am no further along with Cassie. Actually, I think I’ve gone backwards. The plot points I thought I’d worked out are sticking again and I reckon it’s just because I DO NOT want to write this version of the story. I’m much more interested in Cassie chasing a meth head with a Lucky Rabbit’s Foot than I am about her infiltrating a student house to find a cursed brooch. Besides, neither of those things are the main plot that I want to write. Maybe I’m trying to cram too much in? I know that’s a problem I have.

On the plus side, I did pick up the Ray Bradbury challenge, and since one of the objectives is to write a short story per week (see week 1 and week 2) it’s forcing me to streamline the process, forget tangents and just bash it out. It’s working out at the minute as 3 days thinking about prompt, 1 day writing, 1 day edit, read through, edit and publish. I’m not expecting them to be masterpieces. More the opposite actually- I expect them to be utter dross and then hopefully start showing some sign of improvement as the weeks go by. Thing is, since my expectations are so low, I’m actually having more fun writing them because there’s no pressure to pack value into them, or have them publishing house ready. It also means I’m flexing my writing muscles while I’m struggling over my latest project.

Work –  Not much to say about this one. I have a couple of ongoing jobs that fill some of my hours but other than that, meh.

Home – I am too angry over recent events to get into this one. Let’s just leave it for a while, shall we? That said, there is one caveat. I need a break. Nothing major, but getting out of the house would be a good start so, weather permitting, I’m hoping that at least one day a week, I can get out of the house and go for a really long walk. I’ll take a notebook and pen so I can write down any thoughts or sketch out anything interesting, and I should definitely take a mini picnic or something, just so I don’t have to cut the time short. I think it’ll help me physical and mental health wise.

It’s that time of the month again!

So for April and May I did a tarot reading for the overall direction of the month, just for funsies. This month is no different. A one card draw just to see what my subconscious is plotting away at.

The Question: What’s the general direction this month will take and what should I keep my eye on?

The Card: The Hanged Man.

Key Words: Reversal of values/attitudes, Patience, Surrender/Sacrifice, deepening of experience, peace, independence,

My Interpretation: Actually, this is the perfect card. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things recently regarding life, the things I care about, my priorities and how I interact with other people and there are a few conclusions I’m coming to that are comforting, confusing and sometimes a little worrying. Until I’ve worked through all thoe thoughts though, I’m going to concentrate on a few other things.

Patience, for one. This is something I’ve been having a lot of trouble with the last few years. Part of my subtle and ongoing existential crisis is the idea that my life is going to end so I need to do everything NOW. I need to have written 20 books now, I need to be 120lbs now, I need to be monetarily well off now. In a way, I need to give up fighting that notion and “surrender” myself to the idea that yes, I am going to die, and yes, it might be tomorrow, but at the same time I need to believe I’ve got another fifty or so years to get shit done so I need to chill the fuck out a little.

If I really sit and think about it (which I am loathe to do because hello anxiety) I am wasting the little time I have focusing on other people’s problems. My trouble is that I place no value in myself, so I allow myself to be used more often than not. That’s changed a little over the years, but this year has felt like there has been or is going to be a massive shake up. I’ve been let down and disappointed by people I thought better of, and that’s toughened me up a little.

The overall message of this, I think, is to CHILL THE FUCK OUT but also to have patience with myself and my projects. Steady progress is better than bursts followed by nothing. I should also consider the value I do have. I’m not the best at anything, and I never will be. That’s okay because I’m not the worst either and I do have a lot of skills that can be put to use so I should put value in them. In effect I need to reverse my attitude regarding myself, stop letting people take the piss, and start working towards my own goals rather than being side-tracked by other people.

 

 

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Week 2

Welcome to Week 2 of the Ray Bradbury Challenge. This week we have cyborgs, revenge and love as the theme… which took me a goodly while to think up a story that made any vague sort of sense. Enjoy.

What I wrote:

  • The Story: Dear Margeurite…
  • The Genre: Romance/Historical
  • The Plot: An angry cyborg disguises itself as an old enemy with the help of a stuffed toy.

It’s pretty safe to say that, once again I missed the genre completely and wrote way outside of my comfort zone by making this more sci-fi than historical romance. It’s pretty bare bones as far as sci-fi goes, but I’m thinking this may have potential in the future if I develop it a bit more… that said, considering these stories are meant as practice and are more for getting the juices flowing, I’m pretty happy with it. I’ll hate it by morning though.

What I read:

Wednesday (day 8):
  • Short Story: Welcome to the Lost Place: The Lift Podcast
  • Essay: The British Castle: A Woman’s Place by Roberta Gilchcrist on BBC3’s The Essay
  • Poem: Keough Hall by Francisco Aragón
Thursday (day 9):
Friday (day 10):
Saturday (day 11):
  • Short Story: What are Jelly Babies by Mark Nixon (The Lift Podcast) –
  • Essay: The Broom Cottages by Elizabeth Edwards for BBC3;s The Essay
  • Poem: Ghost, Fountain by Elise Paschen
Sunday (day 12):
  • Short Story: Emotional Eaters by C Bryan Brown (The Lift Podcast)
  • Essay: Cultural Rights in the 20th Century by In Our Time Philosophy
  • Poem: (Demilitarized Zone) by Sun Yung Shin
Monday (day 13):
  • Short Story: Broken by Daniel Foytik (The Lift Podcast)
  • Essay: Good and Evil by In Our Time: Philosophy
  • Poem: Anti- Elegy by Thomas Centolella
Tuesday (day 14):

The Wrap Up:

So I think it’s fairly easy to say The Lift is fast becoming one of my favourite podcasts. I love hearing the different stories and Victoria is an excellent creepy saviour/condemner of souls. The different essays I’m listening to are also interesting. I haven’t really run into anything that truly challenges my world view yet, but I have no doubt I will soon enough. Poetry is rough going. It really isn’t my sort of thing, but I am starting to appreciate it more. I am left with the impression that I really should think about word choice and cutting out everything that isn’t strictly necessary. Hmm. I’m looking forward to next week too.

The Ray Bradbury Challenge: Week 1

If you remember my post last week, I decided to out do myself on the road to abject failure and picked up another challenge. Since the first week now comes to a close, I find myself with a mind beginning to work again. Don’t get me wrong, this is not the rough, violent movement of boiling water but more the slow, sluggish bubble of sludge from which the odd air bubble eventually escapes. I have struggled with writing. Real life and inner brain have conspired together to allow a spiral of low energy and low mental health but still, I eventually managed to shit out something. Whether it’s any good or not remains to be seen. So, without further ado…

Onwards, Intrepid Hero…

What I wrote:

The point of this was to write outside my comfort zones, so I decided to use plot and genre prompts, courtesy of Springhole. Here’s how it went.

The Story: The Mourning of the Hunt

The Genre: Historical Fantasy

The Plot: On Halloween Night, an insane man, a gamer, and a programmer transform a strange creature into the bones of a werewolf hunter using a strange board game, a missing episode, and a remote control.

What I read:

Wednesday (day 1):
  • Short Story: Sunwake, in the Lands of Teeth by Juliette Wade. – Odd. Took me awhile to wrap my head around it, but actually really fun to read- humans take a backdrop against a war between the Aurrel and Hnnwan on a planet nothing like Earth. The heart of the story is a grizzled general trying to reconnect with friends and stay alive in a rich backdrop that I definitely want to read more about. I’ll be hunting down more of Wade’s work. Definitely recommend this be read.
  • Essay: Julia Blackburn – Sleuthing for Napoeon’s Ghost (1/5) from BBC3’s The Essay – This has a giant tortoise called Johnathan. This pretty much guarantees I’m listening to it again. Also it’s a rather posh Limey lady going to France to find Napoleon’s ghost. I can’t complain at all.
  • Poem: The Fall of 1992 by Randall Mann – Honestly, I’m not sure what I think of this one. I’ve listened to it and read it a couple of times now. It’s certainly evocative- I can imagine the gnats and the humidity of the rains, but there’s an undercurrent of (maybe?) crushed hope that I can’t quite put my finger on. The preamble gives context which is helpful. I still need to listen/read it a couple more times to make up my mind.
Thursday (day 2):
  • Short Story: The Sound of by Charles Payseur – Creepy. Not in a scary sort of way, but the encroaching interferance of authority and the constant knowledge of being watched… it creeps me out. For me personally, the Sound almost takes a backdrop even though it’s the last bastion of freedom. Accepting it is absolving the self of responsibility and autonomy and that is a huge no for me. Highly recommended.
  • Essay: Andrea Stuart: Josephine (Napoleon 2/5 from BBC3’s The Essay) – Something of a closer look into the wife of Napoleon. I enjoyed this one; learning something new.
  • Poem: From summer, somewhere by Danez Smith – Evocative and emotional, and a glimpse into a life of experiences completely alien to my own. Much better listened to than read.
Friday (day 3):
  • Short Story: Black, Their Regalia by Darcie Little Badger – Aspects of Native American culture, goths, the supernatural and a plague ridden apocalypse. There’s a lot packed into this short story. It focuses on the characters rather than the surroundings- giving just enough detail to ground the story. I think this story would have benefited from being a touch longer, as the resolution is a little sudden, but aside from that I really enjoyed it.
  • Essay: Adam Nicolson: On living with his father (Napoleon 3/5 from BBC3’s The Essay)
  • Poem: Black Map by Bei Dao – Strangely maudlin Not exactly a fun read but worth reading nonetheless.
Saturday (day 4):
Sunday (day 5):
  • Short Story: A Prince of Thirteen Days by Alaya Dawn Johnson – I love this story. Absolutely love it. I spent the first part confused about whether the people were human or not, but everything is explained at the end and everything resolves itself. It’s really a lovely half coming-of-age half fairy story and I love it!
  • Essay: Je suis un Table by Ian Sansom from BBC3’s The Essay – An exploration of the literary, philosophical and cultural history of the table.
  • Poem: Call it Music by Philip Levine – (2 pages)
Monday (day 6):
  • Short Story: The Pragmatical Princess by Nisi Shawl – A highly intelligent, somewhat rebellious Princess, a father set on a course of conquest and colonisation, and a dragon watching after his own health. This- this was not at all what I expected and it was wonderful. HIGHLY recommended.
  • Essay: Homage to Caledonia: Scots Abroad by A L Kennedy (from BBC3’s The Essay) – What is Scottishness and what it means to her. Featuring tartan, a kilt and a sense of identity.
  • Poem: 1, 1, 2000 by Philip Levine
Tuesday (day 7):
  • Short Story: The Dryad’s Show by T Kingfisher – Aww! This is such a sweet little story It’s a retelling of Cinderella, but it’s adorable. It has a tlaking bird and gardening. I fucking love gardening, and Hannah is filled with righteous ire when her seed beds are trampled.
  • Essay: Homage to Caledonia: Morality & Misery (from BBC3’s The Essay) –
  • Poem: 1-800-FEAR by Jody Gladding – No punctuation. The bane of my life. It took me a few go throughs to find the rhythm. It’s an interesting thought- door to door evangelists talking about fear. Makes a change from Jesus.

The Ray Bradbury Challenge

Photo by Alan Light

Whyfore you do the Ray Bradbury Challenge?

Because I’m an idiot?

Probably, but mostly because I realised recently that I’ve been slacking on my reading and through had I’ve lost a lot of enthusiasm for writing. I don’t know why. I’ve always been that way. Since I can’t exactly have a career as a writer without actually, you know, getting words on pages, I decided I should do something about it. Since I can’t do anything by halves, it seems, I decided to take on the Ray Bradbury Challenge- because why not? I obviously don’t have enough things to fail at in my life already.

How did you learn about this?

Honestly, no idea. Randomly surfing the internet and I ended up clicking a link. Now I’ve lost the link because I’m a paranoid sort that has my history cleared when I close my browser. It looked fun though.

The Challenge:

  1. Write a short story every week for 52 weeks.
  2. Every day read a short story, a poem and an essay for 1000 days.

Changes:

Now here’s the thing- I am a busy wench. I’ve got shit I need to get done, and since it’s next to impossible to read a book and paint, I’m putting my own spin on things. In all three categories I’m counting audio.

Fiction wise I have subscriptions to a few podcasters such as Nightmare or Lightspeed Magazine. I also count fictional podcasts like Mars Corp, The Black Tapes etc.

For Essays, I’ve got philosophy books on my kindle and a few other factual podcasts such as Long Now Seminars, In Our Time and The Essay.

Poetry wise, I’m hunting out my old books from school and (you guessed it) more podcasts.

Recommendations are always more than welcome.

To what end?

The idea is to branch out into stuff I wouldn’t actively seek out as part of my entertainment- and especially find stuff with differing opinions to my own. I want something that’s going to challenge me as a person and improve me as a writer. Diving out of my comfort zone is part of that. It might also spark the creativity and joy in my own writing that seems to be lacking.

I dunno. It seemed like a good idea at the time.