Friday, October 28, 2011

Come To Me, And Rest Thy Soul

Come to me, and rest thy soul –
Wherefore dost thou hide away
Where shadows are as black as coal,
And let thy spirit then decay?

Come to me, and then be still.
I speak, the roaring ocean calms –
I stand upon the the holy hill.
Come rest in my unfailing arms.

Come to me, because I know
Of why thy tears refuse to cease.
I know of thy unbeaten foe,
And in the dark, I offer peace.

Come to me, thy broken heart,
And let me mend thyself again.
The teary sea of blood will part,
And only dry land will remain.

Come to me, and rest thy soul –
The innocent do suffer much,
But come now, come and rest thy soul.
Thou shalt be healed upon my touch.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

When Do You Read Blogs?

This post is going to be short, because I don't actually have much to say. It's more about your feedback and comments.

So, here's the thing: this week I discovered a blogging feature called Scheduling. Yea, this week. I know, I know, I'm a little slow on discovering things. But anyway, scheduling made me realise that there could be a most efficient way of running this blog.

For example, if I have nothing to do one week, or if I'm bored, I can write lots of blog posts and schedule them throughout the next few weeks. That way, when I'm super duper busy the next week, hey, I've already done my blogging. Or, if I'm going away on holiday and won't be near technology for a week, then I don't need to worry about being absent from the blogosphere. I'll use scheduled posts.

The point is, I can make this blog work for me.

But more importantly, I can make this blog work for you.

I can now post at the most convenient times for you. I can post just when you're sitting down at your computer with your cup of coffee, rather than just when you're climbing into bed to disappear into Dreamland for eight hours.

So, to make Writing Fire work for you, I want to know when you read your blogs. Do you do it in the morning, at seven or eight, or perhaps later, just before noon? Do you crack open the laptop during your lunch break, or later in the afternoon, or during the evening? And on what days do you read blogs the most?

I'd love it if you included your timezones in your comments, because, as I live in New Zealand (GMT+12 and leading the world into the future), I need to able to convert your answers into local time so that I actually get a good idea of when I should schedule posts for.

So, that's it for today! Happy blog reading!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Third Campaigner Challenge

First of all, I'd like to draw your attention to my first ever interview with Jess from Jest Kept Secret as part of her Before They Were Published interview series with (obviously) unpublished writers. Eeek! Excting! Anyway, it was really fun answering the questions, and hopefully I said some stuff that made sense. So go check it out, if you feel so inclined. Thank you kindly.

Now, what this post is actually about. I didn't think I'd be doing another one so soon, but the Writer's Campaign threw that out the window and told me to think otherwise. So, without further ado, here are the rules for this challenge:

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:
  • that it’s morning,
  • that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
  • that the MC (main character) is bored
  • that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
  • that something surprising happens.

So, I wrote a flash-fiction piece. I've taken the liberty to use the point about something stinking behind them as a metaphor - as in, their pasts (which are behind them) were dark and generally unpleasant. Here it is. Enjoy!

(And, by the way, I wrote this listening to My Name Is Lincoln from The Island's soundtrack, which is probably why it turned out like this.)
*     *     *     *     *

The wind howls through the night, bringing the Arctic cold from the north. I hear the sound of waves crashing upon the shore and feel the sand between my toes. Next to me is Katherine, sound asleep, but I see that she is shivering, so I take off my jacket and cover her with it. Then I hug my knees tighter as my mind wanders.

It’s hard to be patient when you’re anticipating happiness. We’ve been waiting for hours, hoping to see a boat sail into view. A boat that will take us across the sea into a new land. But it hasn’t come.

Sighing, I rub my eyes, and consider drawing a picture in the sand of what I think a flower would look like to pass time. But, with further thought, I realise I can’t imagine one, so I just sit there. Katherine fills my mind.

My eyes close at the thought of her, and I smile. My mind … drifts … under.

Suddenly, hours pass in a second, and I wake to the sun rising over the horizon, casting a golden light upon the beach. My eyes flash open.

When they finally adjust, a gasp escapes me. The sea is stunning: the waves are calm now, and they sparkle as they wash the sandy shore with purity; the water beyond the breakers glows with brilliance in the morning light.

It’s the second most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

It’s hard to imagine such wonder when you’ve lived your entire life in darkness. I look past Katherine, still asleep, to the shattered world from which we came: the darkened sky and black clouds, the ruined buildings.

I turn back to the blazing sunlight and the sea. My heat jumps. There is a black speck on the horizon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Reward Yourself

Double meaning, folks.

First off, David Powers King is rewarding his followers for making it to the 400 milestone with a giveaway. If you aren't following this guy already, I really suggest you go and do it now. He is a fantastic blogger with great tips about writing and publishing. And he has just under 365 days to land a book deal ... or forfeit his dream of becoming a published writer entirely. Just look at those stakes!

Anyway, in this giveaway David is offering a chance to win four books:
  • Variant by Robison Wells
  • Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans
  • Seers by Heather Frost
  • Beyond Foo by Obert Skye
Head over to his blog to find out more.

The second meaning of my gloriously thought-out title is the small rant I wish to present to you today. When I was just starting off writing seriously a few years ago, I read a load of internet articles on everything from writers' block, to vanity presses, to plagiarism, to plot structure - and everything in between. Of course, somehow, I completely missed the blogosphere on my internet wanderings, only to find it earlier this year.

However, one of the articles I came across talked about rewarding yourself in your writing. For example, if you can get your daily quota of words out, reward yourself by surfing the internet for a while, or by buying a coffee, or by sunbathing for a while. If you reach a milestone, like 25K, 50K, etc., buy yourself a moleskin notebook.

I've never really done this before - probably because I feel good when I achieve things anyway. One of the things I've learned about myself this year is that progress is one of my main sources of happiness. I get stuff done, the result is a happy Nick. And so maybe this is why I've never felt that need for extra rewards.

But recently, I've been thinking ...

... and thinking ...

...and thinking ...

... about how I desperately need a new laptop. Desperately. It was the cheapest one on sale when I bought it in 2006, and now it runs ridiculously slow for a computer made after the turn of the century, plus it only has 37GB of hard-drive space, low RAM as well, and the thing won't charge, so I have to keep it on AC power all the time otherwise it shuts down and I lose whatever I was working on. The screen wobbles excessively, and the mouse-pad sometimes decides to stop working. But worst of all, my computer doesn't agree with me having over fifteen tabs open in Google Chrome at any one time. I mean, how am I supposed to surf the blogosphere successfully, plus check Facebook, e-mails, and Twitter using less than fifteen tabs?

So, I've decided it's time for an upgrade.

But not yet. Later. I'm going to make the upgrade a reward. Allow me to explain.

On the last day of 2009, I had an idea for a fantasy trilogy. I can't tell you what the idea was, because it will ruin the twist at the end of the first book. But that idea made me realise that there was a story inside me that I really wanted to tell. So, that fateful night, I wrote the idea down in diagram form on a little post-it note, and began wondering how I could use it.

Almost two years later, I'm still planning out the story. I've come an exceptionally long way - don't get me wrong - but I'm still planning.

So, as the summer holidays are fast approaching here in the Southern Hemisphere, I have given myself the task of finishing my plot outlines, back-stories, world-building, and general and general what-why-when-how-where-who questions, so that I can finally get onto writing the thing. It'll be a stretch, but I can do it if I go all out.

Because of the size and scale of it all, I've given myself an extra incentive. When I'm ready to write the first draft, I'm going to go and buy a new laptop. That's my reward. It means I'll have it to write my draft on, and I'll be able to check out all your blog posts using over fifteen tabs.

And, if I'm honest, I'm actually quite excited.

So, what about you? Have you ever considered rewarding yourself in your writing?

Friday, October 14, 2011

How To Deal With Senseless Criticism

A few days ago I had the absolute pleasure of talking to the most opinionated seventeen-year-old I have ever met at a school drama rehearsal for Macbeth.

Lies, that was all sarcasm. It was probably the least pleasurable thing I've done all week. Let me explain. For anonymity's sake, I will call this particularly person Rage - which, of course, has no connection whatsoever with the actual meaning of that word.

Anyway, I happened to be sitting near Rage offstage during one of the scenes in which neither of us were acting. I looked over at another guy next to me who was studying out of a massive biology textbook, and remarked, knowing that biology wasn't exactly his favourite subject, "Science, huh? Stink."

He didn't even get a chance to respond. "What do you have against science?" Rage snapped.

"Well, it's boring." I do have better reasons for not enjoying the science subjects at school - such as that they are a lot less analytical and creative than courses like history and English - but this was all I could thing of at the time.

Suddenly Rage slammed his hand against the desk around which we were seated and glared at me. "Well then you can **** back off to the Middle-Ages."

I know, right? What did I do? It was in this moment that I realised that I had probably engaged in this conversation with the wrong person. Probably. But I couldn't take it back now - I had to say something. Stay calm. Just be polite. Diplomacy.

"Well, hey, I'm just saying. We all have those things we enjoy, and those things that we don't. You like science, I don't. I'm more into writing and such."

His next sentence contained no fewer than five swear-words, and so I decided that it'd be better if I just didn't say anything else. But he seemed to be enjoying insulting me, because after a while he scowled at my silence and said, "I guess next you're going to tell me that you're going to get a B.A.?"

It's hard to ignore questions. "Yea, actually."

Rage swore again, looking at me as if I had just stabbed someone. "And study what?"

"English." Duh.

All of a sudden he laughed. Not, like, a normal laugh that you hear all the time when you tell a funny joke. But, instead, an evil laugh - one of those ones that you only hear in movies. I silently wondered if he'd been practicing it. "My mum graduated uni with a B.A.," he said. "Now she works in the ****ing hardware store."

I ignored him. A few minutes later an unvoiced thought ran through my head: J.K. Rowling graduated uni with a B.A., and now look where she is.

*     *     *     *     *

Okay. I decided to share this story because the truth is that people are going to criticise you for the single reason that you love to write - doesn't matter what you write or the quality of it. Some will be more abrasive than others. Some will be straight up rude.

But you can't let it get to you. You can't let words crush your ambitions.

I have a dream, and I know that one day I will achieve it. I know that making it in the writing industry is tough - I think we all do. I know the risks. But becoming a published novelist is still my dream - and until I get there, it always will be.

So, secretly (between me, you, and the rest of the world), I hope that Rage takes his precious B.Sc. and follows his mum straight into that hardware store, while I spend the rest of my life doing what I love.

And next time you receive senseless insults or criticism, just remember:

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