December 14, 2017

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Given the season it seems appropriate for today’s blog song to be a Christmas Carol. This rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas comes from one of my favourites, Stu Larsen.

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Current chain of writing days: 24

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I didn’t know if today’s entry should go into the journal category or short fiction, because it’s a tale of my life but also involves me telling a made up story. It was quite the dilemma, I mean it was no Sophie’s choice, but still. In the end I went for the journal option…obviously.

So, the first thing you need to know about this entry is that twitter recently doubled its character allowance per tweet, increasing it from one hundred and forty to two hundred and eighty. The reason this is important is because a while ago I had the idea that I would tell a story through twitter, and not just tell a story, but also have it be interactive. The way I would do this would be to have a poll of alternative story options attached to every tweet that people would vote on to decide what happened next. Basically like a collective choose your own adventure. However, upon trying this I found the one hundred and forty character limit to be too restricting. I couldn’t get across enough information, or write in any enjoyable way, and it simply came across as stilted and unimaginative. I gave it up as not possible, at least, until the recent increase.

It turns out two hundred and eighty characters is just long enough for me to do what I wanted. Of course, I still had one issue,  if nobody voted my story would quickly hit a dead end. Luckily, that turned out not to be a problem. I threw out this initial tweet…

…and soon had the confirmation that I would have at least a dozen or so people to help me out, and I’m happy to say that number grew as the story went on.

Enough set up though, right? Here’s how it went…

(They stalemated me! I decided I had to do both)

It was an exceptionally fun experiment, one that received an even better reaction than I had hoped; speaking of — thank you to all my fellow twitterers who voted and in so doing helped me tell this tale, and to every one who sent me messages about it.

I’m now thinking of starting a separate twitter account for just this purpose, we’ll see.

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Remember, ideas are easy, it’s the doing that’s hard.

Talk soon

Damian

 

August 28, 2017

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Today’s music is from Englishman Newton Faulkner, mostly because I relistened to his album Write it On Your Skin then other day and remembered how good it was. This is the title track.

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Current chain of writing days: 29

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I mentioned in the last post the in order to start getting that project completion high more often (and share more of my writing) I would write a new piece of flash fiction every weekend. I then immediately failed in this task.

Admittedly, that first weekend, I did a tonne of writing, it just wasn’t towards any flash fiction. Instead it was towards the horror novella I’ve been working on, the one that will be combined with three others (written by podcasting pals) and then printed in an anthology known as The Seasons of Fear. The good news is that it’s finished! Other good news is that early reader, The Lady Holly, has said she’s enjoying it. Admittedly, she may be biased due to the whole loving me thing but still, it makes me happy.

This one took quite a bit out of me – a lot of forcing words out, a lot of doubting, a lot of rewriting – but it feels like another satisfying step towards me becoming a better writer, which is more than enough reason to make it a positive experience, let alone the potential to share it with readers. I will be sure to pass on further details once they’ve been confirmed.

But, back to the flash fiction. So, first weekend, fail. Second weekend (the one just passed), success! I wrote a 900 word sci fi story, that came out quite well if not easily, and most importantly definitely gave me that satisfaction that comes from have a completed piece of work; even a very short one. The plan is to share it on here tomorrow, after rejigging the website a bit to figure out the format I’ll share them in, and then share a new one every Monday indefinitely.

I’m already looking forward to writing the next one, now I just need to figure out what it’s going to be about.

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Something cool also happened on twitter this week.

I posted a tweet, a joke, that turned into a mythical piece of folk lore:
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Then something amazing happened.

Something that optimizes the coolness that can come from making connections on the internet.

Something that made me giddier than the giddiest schoolgirl.

The tweet got itself some fan art…

Crab King
I love it! Full thanks and credit to Lena for its creation.

I’m now thinking to write a radioplay about the world of the Crab King, long may he slumber.

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Finally, I saw this short video this week that I thought was quite nice, not to mention good advice. Check it out.

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That’s it for the blog this week, flash fiction coming tomorrow.

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Remember, it is better to burn with embarrassment than to drown in doubt.

Talk soon

Damian

January 30, 2017

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Music today is from an instrumentalist called Tony Anderson. He has a number of albums but is more known for his work providing music for films and television. His music is ambient, emotional, and damn near perfect for writing to, able to provide tone without the distraction of lyrics.

I just saw a screenshot a friend of mine posted on facebook. It was an interaction he had on twitter where he tagged a celebrity in a photo he tweeted and the celebrity responded. That itself is telling of where we’re at today. He facebooked a tweet he had with a celebrity. The world is weird and not just because anybody is contactable through social media but because it made me think of how much we give of ourselves into our phones.

It wasn’t even the multiple layers of social media present in the photo that started this thought. It was the notification bar at the top of his image that was almost accidental added when he took the screenshot. It was littered with symbols displaying all the apps and functions that were currently in use on his phone. Tweets were being received, photos were being synced, something was being downloaded, awards were given for playing games, and a multitude of other symbols for things I didn’t know, as well as arrow suggesting there were more symbols that weren’t being displayed because there wasn’t enough space on the notification bar. Then when I scanned across to the symbols on the right – those for bluetooth, wifi, reception etc. – I saw that his battery was almost empty. It seemed like a perfect analogy.

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I have felt like my friends phone must right now. Overtasked, overstimulated, overconnected, and running on nothing. Too often I can feel like this. I get it, I want to be productive. I want to connect and play and sync and download. The problem is there’s just too much of it. Too much content waiting at our fingertips that it’s impossible to get through all of it, but our fear of missing out tells us that we must. Articles to read, tv shows to watch, interviews, recipes, music, photos, memes, advice, videos, news, and an endless stream of social media that we can just keep scrolling and scrolling through endlessly in an attempt to get to the bottom of the metaphorical well. Instead we just end up getting lost in it.

The trick, of course, is to know when to log off; but it’s so hard to do. A dead battery is a clear sign that it’s time for a break but instead we just plug in the charger and keep on going. How many of us check our devices as soon as we open our eyes in the morning and how often are their screens the last thing we see at night. I’m as guilty as anyone, which was why seeing the screenshot rocked me so much. It felt like I was looking at a notification bar for myself. It instantly made me want to stop and do nothing until the bar was cleared.

Remembering to do nothing, or at just less things at once, is the hard part. Often I think to myself I’ll log off from whatever I’m doing right after (insert digital activity here). Then that digital activity leads to another digital activity to another digital activity, or three, or four at once, until all the tabs in my brain are open and I’m exhausted and I’ve forgotten that I was going to set aside some time to do nothing. Then I remember again when I lay down to sleep and find myself weary but wired.

So, consider this your reminder, and mine. A reminder to stop, cool down, and recharge quietly. What am I going to do now? Well, first I’m going to post that screenshotted status bar somewhere where I can see it regularly then I’m going to go give my girlfriend a hug and read a book.

Talk soon

Damian

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Also, because I saw this earlier today and it seemed appropriate here’s a comic from Poorly Drawn Lines

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