Nuke the site from orbit…

It’s the only way to be sure.

I pulled the trigger on deleting my tweets. (I used tweetdelete.net)

Why? I don’t think there’s anything contentious in there, but over 12 years and 60 thousand tweets the odds are that I can’t tell you exactly what was in my mind on every single tweet.

Twitter and social media in general has become a cacophony. It’s like being in a quiet room filled with people you can hear the hubbub of genial conversations rise in volume, as people start whispering to the people close to them, then get louder so they can be more clear to those people then suddenly every one is shouting nonsensically and a fight has broken out.

We’re at the rising volume stage.

I don’t think there’s any value for me being on twitter any more in the way I have been. I’ve secured work from it, that’s true – I’ve managed to do some cool, extraordinary things and hang out with people I’d never have met if not for twitter.

But.

But I find myself looking for stuff to be angry and frustrated about. I mean, that’s not what I tell myself. I tell myself I’m keeping informed. But that’s what it amounts to. Every morning, a 2 minutes hate. Except it’s never just two minutes. It’s most of the day.

I’m also not entirely convinced that human beings can manage social media at the scale it is.

We’re just a bunch of stone-age tribes managing with digital-age technology.

Right now, my mind is on deleting twitter and taking a step back, photos and when books are coming out and blogging and maybe looking for an alternative. Somewhere where the network is smaller and more focused, but I dunno, it may well be that horse has bolted.

Weekend Visit

From the book 712 More writing Prompts, this prompt was “Write a thank you note for a weekend visit where everything went wrong“.

Dear Aunt Mabel,

It was lovely to see you this weekend. Even though it was only for a fleeting second as you caught us right in the middle of a bank robbery.

It is unfortunate that, while we got away with the money, just as you arrived so did the police.

Hopefully see you again in 10-15 years.

712 More Things to Write About

My wife picked up a book, 712 More Things to Write About, probably after hearing me moan about not doing any writing – after spending a few months reading and doing the coach to 80k, she figured (rightly) this might be a good thing to kickstart some habits.

So, I’ll put them up here as I do them (then, at least, the blog gets filled).

So… #1 “Write Yesterday’s Horoscope”

CAPRICORN

You will encounter a wild new alien species who will wish to make first contact with humanity.

They will abduct you in the morning, perform experiements on you through lunch and by afternoon will have extracted all of human knowledge from within your brain which they will then use to judge humanities suitability to join the other star going species.

Unfortunately, they will find humanity wanting on many levels, but mostly to do with your specific failings as a person, and so, will erase your memory of the entire day leaving you feeling empty and wondering what the point of it all is.

Writing has stalled

After getting to week 7 of the Couch to 80k writing challenge, I balked out of the last week, exhibiting a pattern of behaviour which I can only describe as “mission nearly accomplished”.

Week 8 is about writing that novel, getting her started, big writing chunks, nothing but writing. And I figured, right, I’m not writing a novel, time to move on.

And it was good for a while, I ended up developing up half a dozen projects that are all more complete than any writing thing I’ve done before, but they’re still largely unfinished – a few I’ve mentioned to writer friends who’ve been keen to take on the burden of writing the script (and I’ve been equally keen to work with them and walk away) combined with business in drawing comics means the scripting has stopped (well, never properly started).

The dredd script I’d been working on I had so many notes that, honestly, I wasn’t sure how to synthesis them all into a single solid script and then I lost the way of myself and started doubting everything I’ve ever thought about everything. (If I’m wrong about this… can I be right about anything).

I think I need to be better keeping my enthusiasm up when I’m on my third round of notes, or, at least, be able to move on to the next thing.

The Friday Fixup has been a fun venue for writing, though like writing articles about topics I know well, it never feels like writing so much as me just spewing my thoughts out.

Just finished pencilling a six page script that was written Marvel style and it’s made me think maybe.. just maybe… I should just write some of these stories marvel style and then draw them up and dialogue them afterwards. Just purely for my own amusement.

Anyway, I’m aware this year was the year I would tackle writing and we’re more than half way through and I have one script with an artist, but nothing else written, and I just wanted to stop and take stock a little. Got to pour myself into more drawing work (WWII will be drawing this strip for several months) and hope I can find the time and energy and balls to just write and draw one thing.

Dredd to Writes

That title is overburdened with puns, and I apologise for that.

So, I was in Enniskillen recently, and was chatting to the guys that put together the 2000AD fanzine Sector 13 – issue 3 out now Dredd fans!

I mentioned that I have an old script that I wrote a while ago, a 12 page Tale from the Black Museum (it’s a fun little idea I think) that I’d pitched to Tharg and he’d rejected it (for sundry reasons, only three them amounted to “this is terrible”). Actually, for funsies here’s the plot:

We open on Henry Dubble down in the black museum’s basement where he’s fishing out giant, Justice Dept 1 issued “Life Candles” (issued by the City to all citizens at birth in the event of one of MC1’s regularly scheduled disasters) and he starts telling the tale of the House Of Mega Wax. A run down waxwork whose business has been destroyed by the city’s new craze of competitive eating. A solitary fat tourist stumbles in, as they’re despairing over their bills. He dies, they panic and hit on the brain wave of converting his body into wax using the plot-convenent alien waxweavils who can eat anything and secrete wax which they use to make a Two Ton Tony Stubbs waxwork. This starts the business with a new plan: invite fatties, kill them, make unbelievable large waxworks attracting more fatties… and create the greatest House Of MegaWax ever seen. All is going great, when, on a visit from the Mega City Obese Orphanage and Family Free Fatties Association, they take the fattest orphan off to the side intending to do him in, but the plan is ruined when the fattie unzips and reveals he is, in fact, Judge Dredd and two other judges in a large fat suit. They fight, Dredd wins. Henry Dubble closes the story by revealing what happened to all that wax and the waxworks: they remain in constant use creating the Life Candles, nothing goes unused in Mega City 1.

I think Matt’s biggest problem was there’s almost certainly a touch of old fashioned silliness about it.

The chaps at Sector 13 liked the idea, and said they could print it, but it would need to be split in half. Now, tbh, I’m not keen on splitting a stupid one off in half, it doesn’t have the weight (no pun intended) and I’ve worked on fanzines before and I know the time delay between issues can run to several months, killing any possibility of a story carrying momentum.

So I mulled it over on the drive up from Enniskillen and thought I could write up a different script that is shorter, and I came up with something that I thought would be fun. I wrote it up in a blitz and sent it off to a few readers who’ve come back with a collection of notes.

This, in itself, has been instructive – getting good notes from several sources has sort of had my head turning – it’s impossible to implement every note (and some of the core ones are actually contradictory) so I’ve got to figure out how to rewrite it while keeping my own voice in it.

It’s also taught me, next time, be more selective, one good reader at a time, maybe.

On the plus side, the notes I got were more additive than anything nothing critical of my writing so much as suggesting elements of the plot that could do with being altered one way or another (one key element in particular had notes suggesting I do thing A, and notes suggesting I do the mutally exclusive thing B)

Once done, I’ll send it to Matt. I’m not terribly convinced he’ll pick it up (I mean there are so many good dredd writers) but if he doesn’t I may end up writing / drawing it for myself since it’s got some fun visuals going on in it.

I still have to do Couch to 80k week 8, the proper writing week, but my aim all along was to write some comics and this is a proper comic script, so I’m happy about that.

Couch to 80k Week 7 Done and dusted

Let’s see. To recap day 4, a pause on writing and a little chat about building an ideal schedule, with a 10 minute window to write one out. These are the sorts of things I’m never sure I’m right or wrong – born partly out of the fact that there isn’t really a right or wrong way to do them, and partly because sometimes I’ll do something so quickly I’ll spend 8 minutes staring at it thinking “surely I’m wrong on this”.

So, a schedule of sorts, I think if you’re a long time reader of my blog, you’ll know I’m half obsessed with schedules. I mean, I never manage to stick to any of them, but I don’t half spend a long time thinking about them. So when Tim asked on day 4 about your perfect schedule it took one minute to write out my answer. And it’s this:

I mean, it’s not ambitious, I don’t think, and it’s pretty doable. Real life gets in the way, of course, and I get in my own way. But that would be as good a day as you could hope for. The Drawing in the schedule is my day job though, but I typically draw until 1am, so 12pm is a good stop point for me. And 2 pages of comic writing SHOULD be achievable within 3 hours (it’s wildly unambitious if anything) but doable.

Of course, I will never ever get to do it. But you know, live in hope.

Day 5 was a rewrite of the Day 2 climactic scene of my novel (remember, it’s all about writing a novel, even if I had intended to do just do this course to help me build up to writing a comic, I ended up having to come up with a novel – it’s not brimming with originality, if anything it’s basically the Masters of the Universe film or John Carter – normal schlubb finds himself the centre of a galaxy wide revolution and with the help of aliens, a princess and robots has to destroy the creature taking over the universe, then he goes back to his day job. The only unique point is, in the remix, the hero really leads the dullest life imaginable, and goes back to it a changed man).

Anyway, day 5, rewrite, that was fun, taking the final scene and giving it a different spin starting with the words “that’s not how I remember it…” (and, for your reading pleasure, or for you to completely ignore, that bit is at the end of this longish post)

Day 6 – today’s task was to write five scenes that are important key points in the novel. Remember, I’m not coming to this bootcamp with a novel fully formed, my main ideas are comics, so I’m making this on the fly, but even so, I was happy with some of the scenes.

Kind of mad I’ve been at this for 7 weeks (a little longer if you count some of the mid-week gaps therein).

Week 8 will be basically timed writing, taking this first steps and moving towards a full length novel with them. I’ll do that last week, though I’m not convinced I have a novel in me.

After that, as per various recommendations, I’ve bought Ursula LaGuinn’s “Steering the Craft” (such a great title) and will hope to spend a similair amount of time per day doing the exercises in that book.

Anyway, here’s the rewrite (forgive typos, dangling threads, changes of voice, etc, it’s a draft zero)


That’s not the way I remember it…

He came in, the Accountant. Weedy and desehevevilled. In his right hand he’d forged a sword out of some sort of iron rod that looked like he’d been adjusting a fire with. He really did look ridiculously out of place in the great majestic hall of Aucheron, above him, through the glass ceiling you could see the twin suns revolve around each other, vast streams of energy intermingle.

And in front of him…

Well, my Lord, you stood. Towering over him, senew, muscle and energy, crackling. Majestic in your strength. Armed with eight curved swords, ready to battle against the human to save the great palace, and everyone in it from whatever foul deeds his otherworldy nature would perform.

I saw you confront him, calling him the coward he is, challenging him to best you, in all your powerfull glory. But he could not, and I heard him admit as much. At least, he could not on his own.

I saw him call forth the cowards and traitors who had been, until now, rightfully banished to the edge of the world, they poured in, numbers the likes of which I have never seen. But you were undauted. What where they but as an insect to the tail of the Mighty Orayax.

To my shame, I witnessed the treachery of the Princess – A hex on her name – YOUR VERY DAUGHTER – channelling her energy through him, using your own power against you.

But you were, of course, too cunning for the human. He may hold dominion over the numbers of the sheet, but your power is of such vastness that it dwarves him and all how ally to him.

“This ends now” snivelled the coward, little realising the end was for him, not you.

It was my great honour to be in your presence when you redirected the power flowing from the Princess, to him and then to you. Using their own energy to take out the ragtag group of treacherous villains they had assembled.


And now, five scenes from today’s workshop.

1. Peter’s in the office. This is our first view of his life. It will be a montage scene, of an entire year. His world is small. He goes to work, watches the seasons pass. He sits at his desk. His eyes light up when Julie walks past, he goes home to a small empty flat and opens a tin of beans and decides to just eat it cold. Peter’s life is empty except for the scifi that he loves. A room full of toys. A bookcase full of scifi novels. A set of DVD of classic old british scifi.

2. A dimensional breach, an new world beckons, in the bathroom of Fleming, Fleming and Fullerton. Peter was in the loo, trousers by his ankles, when a princes, a robot and a beastman, beckon him, they need him, they need his help. He runs forward.

3. He’s on a precipace, to the left are the armies of the evil lord, to the right are the new friends that Peter has made. He has to make a choice, sacrafice himself to save his friends, or save himself. Peter chooses, and somehow makes it out alive. But from here he will never be the same.

4. The climax, Peter versus the great monster. Peter’s friends trust him, the princess trusts him, Peter has to win this battle. But he’s not strong enough. Until he is.

5. The return. Peter decides that he doesn’t want adventure, he doesn’t want airships or princesses, or robots or monsters. He goes back to Fleming, Fleming and Fullerton. But he’s changed. He won’t take any more nonsense, and he asks Julie out and ends with a promotion. But that’s not enough and soon he’ll start his own accountancy firm, a changed man.

Making room for writing

I love my job, but it does feel like it consumes every minute I throw at it (and many minutes I don’t).

It’s the nature of it, I suppose, drawing is a calling rather than a 9-to-5. But I’d like to get to 9-to-5 (impossible with kids and family obligations, but it’s a goal, right?)

Don’t get me wrong, outside 9-5 I’ll still be drawing, just not the stuff that is for deadlines.

I think I need to think realistically about what I can do with my free time. Last year I did some acting, and I really enjoyed it. I may still do more (the rehearsals ate up a fierce amount of time, but I did enjoy the regular getting out of the house, even if I lazily drove up the street most of the time).

I’m coming round to the idea of doing one writing/drawing/lettering/colouring project of my own a year. One 40 page THING. A complete book that belongs to me would be lovely. Sure it’d be nice to be paid to do a thing like that too, but you know if I’m paying my bills, then who cares, right? I get to play.

I know what the first thing will be (let’s call it “WR”) and I have a notion what the second thing will be and .. really, there’s no point going further than that. The projects are likely to be unrelated to each other, except in that they’re things I want to do.

Of course, that may not happen. I always have plans.

Right now “WR” is a bunch of half written scenes, and a rough plan of 40 pages. I may not be a good enough writer to carry it off, I may not find the free time to draw the damn thing, lettering it will be a pain and colouring – sheesh, who has time for that.

But it feels nice to have a focus, really. Something to think of as a hobby away from the day job.

Maybe this could be my hobby.

(Also: I might write it and pitch is somewhere, which would be an interesting experience if nothing else)