War of the Words

 

I am still on my Quixotic quest for recognition within the literary world. To define recognition, I mean to the point where someone might actually read something that I’ve written.

I had a conversation with someone recently where I optimistically yet glibly observed that you get out of something exactly what you put into it.

This goes a long way to describing exactly why I am getting absolutely nowhere in regard to writing but am getting positively everywhere in regard to weight gain.

So in my sloth I have signed up for Story Wars.

‘What is this Story Wars thing that you speak of?’ I hear you ask. Well, I heard you ask until my medication kicked in and the voices subsided.

Story Wars is a collaborative writing platform and an entertaining one at that.

It is not to be confused with a literal literary war. I have not signed up to lob books at the enemy from a well-stocked library trench, which is probably in breach of the Geneva convention. There is, to be fair, a compelling element of friendly rivalry and one-upmanship.

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It works on a similar concept to a traditional Storytelling game, where one participant begins the story and then passes the tale telling torch to the next person in line.

I used to play a version of this with one of my friends. This would involve frantically typing on a typewriter – yes, a typewriter, and then obscure all but the last line.

he would then follow on from the last line. In most cases the results would be quite surreal and fragmented, but that was essentially our intent; to take a story in a direction that it would never naturally go if it was meticulously planned or tackled as a solo pursuit.

Story Wars is the online equivalent of this.

‘How does it work?’ I hear you ask. I am now considering doubling my dosage, the mysterious voices have returned. I will indulge them just this once.

It works on the premise that someone writes the first chapter of the story.

Once submitted, the story becomes open to the other users, who can then submit the next chapter.

These are submitted initially as drafts – once this round has finished it moves to the voting round.

During the voting round the users can vote on their favourite draft chapter – whichever draft gets the most votes will become the next chapter.

And so on.

Any stories written within the Story Wars platform are covered by the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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To summarise, I have only just begun the journey of using Story Wars, but from what I’ve seen over the last couple of days, it is a fantastically constructive way to collaborate with other writers.

It can be used as a tool to hone and develop your skills, as a way to network with other writers in the community and most of all, to express yourself and have a little fun along the way.

3 Quotes in 3 Days : Day the First

Before anything else, I’d like to thank amusing2write for nominating me to do the 3 quotes in 3 days challenge, and for giving this new blogger some greatly appreciated blogging love.

If you haven’t already I suggest a visit to amusing2write‘s place. I hear she’s just put the kettle on and arranged the chocolate digestives attractively on a splendid china plate.

This, to some extent, is dragging me kicking and screaming out of my safe weekday hiding place; my blogging panic room – if you will.

My current writing routine revolves around attempting to post something blogworthy by Friday afternoon.

If blogworthy isn’t possible, probable or achievable; then some partially realized, half-baked, caffeine-soaked hysteria scribbled with a shaky hand, onto spectral paper, written in invisible ink, should suffice.

I’m going to restrain myself from waxing too lyrically about the late, great, Kurt Vonnegut. Instead, I will just say that as an author Kurt Vonnegut has inspired me greatly, and will continue to amaze, educate and enlighten generations of readers to come.

This is a complete understatement in regards to how much I feel Kurt Vonnegut has influenced the literary world, and the impact his work has had.

So, I will stop talking, shelve my opinions, and let this quote speak for itself:

 

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“Everything is nothing, with a twist.” -Kurt Vonnegut

 

My nominations for the 3 quotes in 3 days challenge – Day 1 are:

The Caffeinated Writer  – Caffeine fiend, and one of my first readers and followers.

Parlor of Horror – That haunted cinema that your friends dare you to spend the night in.

Writerish Ramblings – Journey into the written word.

In the Planetarium

I normally don’t post this early in the week.

It’s a common occurrence that I gather my jumbled thoughts, and then scramble those thoughts into some type of baffling composite; a non-linear word omelette, which I unleash in all it’s irrational, made-from-stuff-I-found-at-the-back-of-my-mental-fridge glory on a Friday.

Today, however, I have had one of my Drabbles (100 word short stories) published on The Drabble blog – so am extremely excited.

Well, getting some of my fiction published or noticed was the primary intention of becoming a blogger, that and attempting to become a freelance writer.

So, thank you The Drabble for choosing my work, it makes all the difference and inspires me to keep writing and submitting.

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By Alex Munro

They flowed nebulously into the foyer, buffeted by the rain.

Stairs stretched out ahead, beckoning.  Early – they sat in silence; gaze refusing to meet, eyes slid off of each other like snowflakes hitting a radiator.

Ushered in, they took their seats. The show began.

Stars stretched out in infinite grace; breathtaking and beautiful. The music swelled, mercurial and purposeful. Wonders swirled, a visceral balletic crescendo. The audience, except the couple, applauded.

Rising from their chairs; tenuous and vague, twin wisps of smoke.  Conciliatory, hands clasped; momentarily tightening, then falling loose.

The space that she left could never be filled.

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Drabbles and babbles.

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As the shabby chic door of the past slams shut on 2015, yes I know, that was so last week – the newly painted doors of fresh opportunity open on 2016.

I have used the image of a typewriter to illustrate that I have been engaged in the noble pursuit of writing.

A more accurate account of the writing process would be a bedraggled partially pyjama’d miscreant slumped over a laptop weeping and pouring coffee into their ear. But unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pictures to represent that.

I have quite clearly not been very active on the blogging front, mostly due to the festive season and the inevitable distractions (damn that insidious duck), I have however turned my semi-idle hands to flash fiction: in particular, the 100-word long drabble.

Yes, I was equally shocked and surprised to learn that drabble is the correct term, it sounds like the collective noun for unruly drunk Scotsmen.

I am not sure how many of you have given this a try, but from my perspective, there is a certain allure to working within the restrictive confines of a strict 100-word format. It certainly gets you to conform to the brutality of a succinct writing style and, as a consequence forces clarity in conveying your message. At least, that’s the fun of it.

So what have I found out during this?

As of now I have joined two sites dedicated to the 100 word short story.

1. 100 Word Story

The whole is a part and the part is a whole. The 100-word format forces the writer to question each word, to reckon with Flaubert’s mot juste in a way that even most flash fiction doesn’t. At the same time the brevity of the form allows the writer “to keep a story free from explanation,” as Walter Benjamin wrote.

This is the first site that I found whilst searching specifically for anywhere that would showcase 100-word fiction.

There is a very useful photo prompt section where, on a monthly basis, a random photo is displayed as inspiration for narrative. This is the section that I have been making the most of as, lord knows, we all need a little inspiration at times.

You can freely submit your piece in the comments section at the bottom of the page, and there appears to be no restriction on the amount of content that you can submit (you must adhere to the 100-word format, however).

I have also noted with interest that, in the short period of time I have been a member, there appears to be quite a number of submissions which implies that there is an active audience.

100 Word Story also post some interesting articles celebrating and promoting the flash fiction genre, such as this article from Lit Hub: A Crash Course in Flash Fiction.

As an extra incentive, every month the best story is chosen to be featured in the next issue.

If this is of any interest to you I would strongly urge you to submit something. Who knows, it may even get featured on the site.

2. Drablr

Drablr is a real-time self-publishing platform connecting readers and authors.

At the heart of Drablr are works of flash-fiction called Drabbles. Each Drabble is exactly 100 words long, but don’t let the small size fool you, authors are clever folk and can express great ideas in just a few words.

To be honest, I have only joined the Drablr family today, and as such can’t really give it the attention that it deserves.

From first impressions, Drablr appears to be very simple and intuitive to use. Much like 100 Words – it is free to join and submit your work.

My initial step was to create a profile under the ME section. I knew some stuff about ME, so this was relatively simple to populate.

Once you have created your profile you can submit your first Drabble.

Again, Drablr appears to have an active community, and as such your hard work will be seen – and rated. The rating comes via a voting system to keep track of just how (un)popular you are becoming.

It looks as though the Discover section is Drablr’s bread and butter. As with most sites of this nature, participation is the key. The more participants that you follow, vote for and comment upon, the more likely they will be to reciprocate.

I have not had much of a chance to test this theory, as previously mentioned, this is my first day as a contributor.

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In closing, I would love to hear from anyone who may have advice, or who has any information on similar sites.

I am also extremely keen to hear of your trials and tribulations if you have, as a direct result of reading this blog, taken some positive action to submit a cheeky 100-word vignette to either of the aforementioned sites.

And as for me? I may, in future, branch out with my flash fiction and write something with 101 words – I know it’s a massive stretch of the imagination, but I am sure that I am equal to the task.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can’t teach an old blog new tricks

Confessions of a freelancing amateur and blogging novice.

The decision to begin a blog has been both easy and difficult. Allow me to elaborate.

I can see how, after conducting research into the pros and cons of starting a blog, it is a wonderful way to get you into a disciplined frame of mind to write and consequently lend some structure to that writing.

By the end of this exercise I plan, with your assistance, to transform my writing into a vast shining futuristic monolith with mirrored windows and not the ramshackle partially thatched cottage awaiting demolition that it is at the moment.

Prior to researching I was attempting to write everything in alphabetti spaghetti which was unnecessarily messy, expensive and ultimately extremely difficult to deliver to the appropriate audience unless they were localised in my kitchen.

That is of course a mild fiction meant to entertain. I am aware that most successfully published authors, or popular bloggers for that matter, tend not to convey their message in pasta. At least not at the beginning of their careers.

The truth of the matter is that the written word is something that I love.

At the moment I am a struggling office worker struggling to become a struggling writer. If I play my cards right I may eventually make enough money to starve.

For now that sounds more like an insanely idealistic and somewhat impractically lengthy job description. With any luck it will improve over time to just being short and insane.

So why haven’t I done something productive before now?

I have, like many others, fallen foul of the polar opposite of being disciplined and have been deeply ensconced in the all too familiar routine of work, family, commuting and procrastination. It becomes far too easy to find excuses and then justify those excuses with vague reasoning before succumbing to distractions that only serve to compound your lack of motivation.

Oh look, a duck ! Where was I?

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A Duck

Cry havoc and let slip the blogs of war.

If you have made it this far and wish to read on, then congratulations, you probably deserve some sort of award. I will now stop digressing and get to the point, yes, there is a point.

My main aim is to chart and document my failures and successes, or indeed successes and failures in attempting to become a freelance writer of resounding ambiguity and enigmatic hairstyle.

I will use this blog as a living breathing resume of sorts; a method of showcasing my distinct lack of formal talent within this field, or for that matter, any field.

I would love for you all to share this journey of self discovery and random diatribe with me and to keep me focused on my goal.

Focus, after all, is a major achievement these days. Whether we are frantically checking emails hoping that a human being is on the other end and not trying to sell us something; or endlessly flicking through videos of kittens peeking over the top of wellington boots and clogging the drain of social media like cute and strangely compelling clumps of hair, we are all being sidetracked.

We are, on a daily basis, subject to completely losing concentration while getting immersed in click through advertising promising us chiselled ankles, delicious ways to both gain and lose weight in some sort of Sisyphean battle of culinary futility and any other in a plethora of brightly coloured and mildly attractive distractions, quizzes and listicles. It’s a wonder that any of us ever get out of bed.

Oh look ! There’s that duck again.

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A Duck – but again.

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So, I am making a pact with everyone that I will attempt to the best of my abilities to :

  • Write something, anything on a weekly basis at the very least.
  • Make my writing insightful, informative or failing any of these, vaguely entertaining.
  • Cease my procrastinating ways and be more productive.
  • Research running a blog, and promote any material that has assisted me to do so.
  • Value the advice, opinion, assistance and support of my peers.