Couch to 80k Week Day 4

Boiler Plate: If you’ve been following, you’ll know, but if not: Couch to 80k is an 8 week writers bootcamp, requiring about 20 minutes per day (10 minutes of writing) by Tim Clare. I decided to do it to build some writing muscle and I blog my experience of doing it here.

Ok, that out of the way, on with the show…

No wait, one final thing. I’m blogging this, because, well, I missed blogging. The internet changes and evolves, I understand that – I’ve been here since about ’95 – when newsgroups where the thing, the www was a lot less of a thing, and people used gopher to find interesting stuff to read.

I remember telling people they should use google for search cus it much better than alta-vista or ask jeeves, or Yahoo!

But the general direction of the internet was towards openness, AOL tried to keep people locked in a single eco system, and failed.

I started blogging in about 2000, primarily to document my trials and try-outs for breaking in to comics as a professional (hence the original name “Back to the Drawing Board”) though, it became a journal of my first steps towards drawing.

Then came message boards (the Warren Ellis Forum, later The Engine, the 2000AD Message Board – which is still with us, and others) and now, finally twitter and facebook these were all ways to chat to other people about what was happening, and they all, bit by bit, took the steam out of what I was trying to do on the blog.

This year though, I’ve deleted facebook (second time around to delete it, there’s definitely stuff I’ll miss – though there’s a certain “what am I missing at this party if I leave” going on, hopefully that’ll settle down). I’m keeping twitter (I think twitter has made me a better writer, Tim Clare talks a lot – in his other podcast shows – of putting the most interesting word at the end of a sentence, so “The man came face to face with the Tiger” rather than “The Tiger and the man faced each other” and that’s a very similiar to what I’ve discovered with twitter, which is the joke only works if the word with punch is at the end. “I like drinking out of those tiny coke cans you get on planes – especially to the sounds of “dad, stop pretending you’re a giant” works better than “I like to pretend I’m a giant by drinking out of those tiny coke cans you get on planes with the kids shouting “dad stop it”). Plus I have a lot of followers on twitter, and you know, that network of people is valuable to me (not in a monetary sense, but in a wider, hey, I like you guys sense. Facebook was fraught – FRAUGHT – with difficulties, every friend request became a value-judgement “do I really want people to know they’re friends of mine?”)

And I’m back to blogging.

The Couch to 80k programme is helping me to blog every single day. I dunno if it’s interesting – I suspect it’s ok as long as I don’t waffle on too much (like I just did) and I KNOW – because people have told me – it’s pushed them to consider doing the Couch to 80k programme themselves. And that’s not a bad thing, right?

Anyway, today…

Today was another free write (I’m starting to loath the term) maybe writing’s not for me? Maybe free writing in multiple sessions isn’t for me? Ok, loath too strong a word. I feel like I want to move on, maybe. Today was a little bit of a struggle – I don’t mind saying this because – as Tim says in the podcast “If you’re finding it hard, it’s a good exercise.”

Tim took us for a little drive. I’ve enjoyed total silence, I live in the city, the sounds of cars are a constant of my life – and I’ve spent the weekend in Derry, taking the kids up to the St Paddy’s day parade, so if I’m honest I was looking forward to something like quiet. It’s not what I got. Instead I got the constant hum of a car engine.

I was also struggling a little because it’s sort of come to my attention in each of the three free writes so far I’ve one story-snippet about Stephen Hawking as a ghost contemplating the many dimensions of the universe, one about the last day of alien whose species can life forever and so they choose their own death-day as a sort of rite of passage, and a third story-snippet about the dying moments of an soldier hunting for wolverine and why every life choice he ever made led to that exact moment.

Yeah, so it turns out I’m obsessed with death.

So I was consciously trying to steer the craft away from that and yet every story felt like it led to it and instead of one big write about one big thing, today ended up being little ideas for about three different things:

“The soft purr of the engine had been replaced by the slightly depressing vmmm of electric batteries.

“This was the future we werent expecting.

I think I was trying for a little future-noir. It failed. And just became my brain rebelling at the sound of car engine in the podcast.

Then that moved (not terribly smoothly towards…)

“Rumbling along, the juggernaut halted at the edge of the precipace” which I could FEEL wanted to be about a self driving massive vehicle used to move mountain waste that wanted to end its life. I COULD FEEL IT. But I rebelled and made it about the human whose job was to walk beside it, making sure IT DIDN’T CRUSH PEOPLE. (Death. Death. I’m obsessed with it).

After that, I think I’d finally zoned the music out, and we cut to a giant …

“He stood up to his full height. The clouds parted around his head, he waved them away to get a good view

“From where he stood he could see all across the city, and its outstretched tendrils. Grey slabs of concrete where once there was green

“Maybe he’d been asleep too long?

Any way. I mean, I think there’s something in each of them. I’m finding with this stuff I can get a really strong visual sense of what’s happening. I can see the blurred purples, greens and dayglo colours reflected off glass in the city. I can see the massive yellow dump truck stood against the flat grey-brown of carved out hunk of mountain, and I can see what the giant is seeing, Belfast – from the cave hill. I can see all this stuff. I’m just not sure if I can make other people see it.

I’m not feeling as negative about it all as this maybe sounds, and if it’s feeling awkward and hard then maybe, maybe that’s the point.

(Oh look, please, say hello! Let me know what you think, I love feedback, it keeps me going, I promise – if people hadn’t told me they were inspired to try couch to 80k because of my blogging about it, I’d’ve kept doing it, but probably not felt the need to blog every single day)

Author: PJ

Belfast based Comic Artist who won’t shut up on twitter.