Friday, 23 November 2012

Social writing experiment #1

Hey, it's me again.  I know, twice in the same week, who'd have thought it?

I have had an idea.  It may sound a tad crazy, but to hell with it, what's that saying?  If you don't ask, you don't get. 

Question - Is it possible for a collective of people who don't know each other to write a book?

I find that at times, more than I will honestly admit, that I really want to write, but when I am then sat in front of the ever patient, blinking cursor, sometime the words don't come.  So what I do to get the old juices flowing is pick an object outside of my window, it can be anything, a tree, a person walking past my house, I even once did this with some litter that was being pushed around by the wind, and I write a short story about the subject matter.  For me, all this does is get me thinking and before I know it I'm ready to tackle the main piece I am currently working on.  Often the short story I used to get me started gets left and never thought about again. 

So this got me thinking, if I do it, surely there are other that do it too, or at least something similar.  Rather than delete these little bits of writing that we start and never finish or we do in fact finish them but find that after having read those little morsels it turns out they're no good, what if they could go towards something bigger. 

Here's the idea, it's probably already been done, but I curious to see if this works. I am going to write a few paragraphs to the beginning of a story and then I am going to invite anyone and everyone to submit their own bit.

There are no rules to this 'Experiment'.  People can write as little or as much as they like, (If anyone writes anything at all).  Feel free to introduce characters, create plot lines, etc.  Anything goes.  I don't think there should be any rules when it comes to this.  All I ask is that it is kept within the feel of what was written before and it has to be credible, if that makes sense.  There is no 'theme' or 'genre' either.  I'm curious to see what kind of a story could emerge.

I'm not going to give this possible story a title, not yet, that's maybe something we can debate about if this idea takes off and people contribute.  So to start off it will be called simply 'Chapter One'.  Two words that scare the crap out of me.  If you would like to add to this you need to make sure that you are one the blog post labelled 'Chapter One'.  This will allow anyone to read what it is we have (hopefully) collectively written in what I hope is a chronological order.

If this works, all you have to do is reply to the post with your contribution and then when you have finished end your post with the words <TAG YOUR IT!>.  And then hopefully someone else will take over, etc.

So it is with great trepidation I start this experiment in combined thinking and writing.  You never know, together we could write something epic.  If you would like to take part, please click on the link below to get started.  Let's see if what we write can inspire others to write too.


Additional Note

I realise that if this project does take off that there might all sorts of legal mumbo jumbo that might concern people.  Copyright stuff mainly and other things that I have no clue about. 

We live in a world were it's almost impossible to trust anyone and the intentions that they may have when they ask us for something, especially if it's for free.  And it makes me sad that we have to watch out own backs so closely, but please remember, this is just an exercise in fun.  If any contributions are submitted but are considered to be offensive, insensitive or just out right rude, they will be removed.

Apparently if an infinite amount of monkeys, each had their own typewriter, eventually they would write the complete works of Shakespeare.  Well we are not monkeys, but that doesn't mean that between us we couldn't write an epic.  It only has to start with one word.

Take care, but above all, stay cool.

Chapter One

His footsteps echoed loudly as he ran down the dark alley. The repeated clack, clack, clacking of his shoes as his feet hit the wet tarmac was reminiscent of a broken, if not somewhat ominous metronome, counting time to a beat and rhythm that should never have been played.  But he didn’t stop running.  He couldn’t.  They were after him.

Persistently fear would try and infect him, but with every exhale of his breath he would try and push it out.  He had no time for fear.  Fear made people weak; it created doubt and stole away hope.

His lungs felt as if they were on fire.  He needed to find a place to stop and catch his breath, but all he could make out in the low light of the alley were bags of litter, gathered around dumpsters which were already brimming with waste.  At least this particular alley didn’t have a dead end.  He was grateful for that.

Halfway down the impossibly long alley he stopped to catch his breath, he didn’t want too but his chest felt like it was going to explode and his vision was starting to go dark around the edges.  Leaning against one of the filthy wet walls, swallowing down huge gasps of the filthy smelling air he looked back at the way he had come.  He couldn’t see anyone, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t there. 

He pulled up the sleeve to the expensive shirt he had worn for tonight and looked at his watch.  The time piece told him it was 23:23.  Seeing the two numbers together unnerved him, but he wasn’t sure why.  The sound of an empty can rattling across the hard concrete floor tore his attention away from the numbers on his watch.  He didn’t stop to look and see who or what had disturbed the can.  With more effort than it should have taken, he pushed himself away from the alley wall and continued to run.  He could see light at the end of the alley that he desperately wanted to leave.  The street lights shone, as welcoming and as warm as any open fire in a hearth on a cold and miserable day.  If he could just get to a public place, he would be okay, they wouldn’t be able to get him once he was out and in amongst people, normal people, real people.  Once he knew he was safe he would then be able to figure out what had happened.

With less than forty feet to go before he reached his destination he foolishly started to believe that he was going to be okay, that he was going to get out.  But hope, whilst powerful, can be as delicate as crystal and as small as a grain of sand.  Easily smashed and easily lost. 

With the finish line in sight, a tall dark silhouette stepped out of the inky dark shadows, obstructing the exit, cutting through the light from the street on the other side like a black shard.  Its elongated shadow cast an ominous shape on the wet, litter strewn floor.

The running man skidded to a stop less than ten feet away from what he hoped would have been relative safety, his shoes losing grip on the wet concrete.  He fell to his knees.  Panic and fear was now being smothered by a new emotion, acceptance. 

He knew escape was impossible as the dark silhouette took a step towards him.  The darkness of the alley and the backlight from the street made it impossible for him to make out any discernible features of the being that took another step toward him.

Inexplicably he started to laugh.  At first it was more a chuckle, barely audible and then the inappropriate sensation got stronger.  Before he could explain it he was laughing out loud hysterically.

Still unable to make out who or what it was that now stood in front of him, the man on the floor stopped laughing.  He wasn’t going to fight, it was pointless.  The shadow reached out slowly to him with a pale, skeleton thin hand.  The man on the floor knew that if it touched him, it was over.  But he was too tired to try and escape, besides, if he did manage to fight his way out, they would find him again.  Instead he chose dignity over fear.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, ready for whatever came next.

Past the dark alley, in the protection of the lit world, a car horn blared.  The man had expected and waited for his life to flash before his eyes.  Wasn’t that what people said happened when forced into a situation like this, but instead the last thing he would hear would be an irate driver hitting their car horn impatiently.  Then he heard it again, only this time it was louder.  The man on the floor opened his eyes to discover that he was no longer in the dark alley.







Thursday, 22 November 2012

It's time to kick arse and chew gum, and I'm all out of gum.

Okay, it's time to get serious.

I have been writing my story/book for over 18 months.  I am powering through my 3rd draft now and feeling pretty good about where I am regarding my writing.  No, wait, that's a lie.  I'm not happy where I am with my writing, but for the time being I'm doing the best I can and I'm okay with that.  Anyway...

When I first started I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't read any writers blog's on how to write, I wouldn't look into subjects regarding what to do once I had a written a book, etc.  Not that I didn't want to, I did, I really did.  I just wanted to make sure that I wrote the damn thing first, before I caught up in the idea that one day I was going to be the next New York Times Best Seller (We've all been there).  But let me tell you something if you are reading this and considering doing some writing of your own, it's harder than you think.  The reason I didn't subscribe to blogs and visit different writing forums was because I was a little worried that I would get caught up with idea that I would write a book instead of actually writing a book.  There are some amazing blogs out there that are open and honest about the ups and downs of writing, offering advice and support.  And then there are others that are a little more blunt. But at some point they all say the same thing.  Writing is hard work and not a guarantee to fame and fortune, which I bet would put a lot of people off.  Apparently everyone has a least one book in them and if there was a machine that could extract it from us and put it on paper we'd all be writers.

I think, and remember I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I believe that anyone who makes the decision to sit down and attempts to write something, somewhere in the back of their mind is the idea that they might be able to make a living from it.  I'll be honest, whilst it wasn't at the fore-front of my mind, it definitely crossed it more than once. 

Now I'm finishing draft 3 I'm approaching the stage where I have to consider the concept that after all the hours I have spent writing the damn thing, perhaps it might be worth seeing if anyone is interested in doing something with it. 

I feel I need to point out here that I have no expectations of anything coming from my writing and believe me when I say that.  But what if?  Just what if?  It has happened to others, maybe it can happen to me.

I'm starting to discover that there are many options when it comes to the possible/potential/wishful thinking publication of my material.  I'm aware that it doesn't mean I will be able to make a living from writing, but I do wonder what the likes of Stephanie Meyers or JK Rowling went through mentally when they wrote their first book.  I'm guessing that they never considered the idea that their books would become so colossal.  I remember reading somewhere that JK Rowling was knocked back dozens of times before she finally got picked up and now look at what she has accomplished.  Amazing. 

The one thing I am starting to like about writing is the idea that you have to earn it.  There isn't an '(Insert Country here) Got Talent' or 'X-Factor' for writers.  (Although I would love to go to an audition if there was, can you imagine the characters that would turn up).  I doubt it would be a group of wannabe's who (mostly) look the same, sound the same and think the same.  The diverse range of people who might audition would be inspiring I think. 

Anyway, I digress.  What I am saying and it isn't clever or original, just an observation.  You can't cheat with writing.  You have to earn it and after spending countless hours working on the piece in question, it still doesn't mean anything will happen, but, and this is what keeps me going, I have learnt so much about myself.  Just by getting to the point I am at now and knowing I still have miles to go doesn't concern me.  Yes I get frustrated and pissed off (See some of my other dribble, especially the one named - Why Bother?  No-One Cares.  That was a bad day).  But that's okay, I am learning everyday and you never know one day I might be one of the lucky few who can do what they enjoy for a living.  And whilst I now do read other writers blogs regularly for hints and tips and just to try understand what makes them tick I am discovering that there are other like me. 

I know now that there will be good times as there will be bad.  And I know that it might be all for nothing.  If my blog is anything to go by, I don't imagine my writing to be much cop.  But do you know what, I'm okay with that, because maybe, just maybe...

Stay cool

Pip   x

Friday, 9 November 2012

The kindness of strangers...

No, don't run away.  I promise I have calmed down since my last entry.

For any and all people that may have read my last rant I would like to take a moment to apologise. 

I don't want people reading this and thinking what a (please enter expletive here).  That really isn't my intention, but (and I realise I am opening myself up to riddicule here) I don't have anyone who I feel I can vent my anxieties, fears and frustrations too.  All together now...Ahhhhhh!

But with the help of the interweb you can feel like you have shouted your lungs out and expressed yourself well enough that eventually you feel (hopefully) a little better.  And every now and again, if you are really, really lucky, a kind soul will provide you with a supportive and above all honest word and the offer of help. 

And for that I would like to send a huge Thank you to Anne R. Allen.  You know why. 

Please check out Anne's blog, especially if you are a writer, aspiring or otherwise.  The information and support I have gained are invaluable and I will be reading your blog long after mine has died a tragic and pitiful death from a Jack Daniels overdose.  And that's if I'm really lucky.

Anyway, it's the weekend and I have promised my girls that I won't spend the weekend locked in front of this thing.  It's going to be difficult, so wish me luck.

Until next time.

Take care and stay cool.

Pip  x

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Why bother? No-one cares.

This is me right now!!

Hey, it's me again and I had better warn you now, I am having a really bad day.

Nobody reads this blog, so I don't really care if what I write pisses people off.  I am going to sound really pathetic for the next 10 minutes, but at the moment, this little blog I have is the nearest I have to a friend right now.  And whilst I realise that you can't talk back and offer me reassurance, a supporting shoulder to cry on or even give me a bloody good slap for acting like a complete dick, it's still nice to know that I can vent to something, even if you are essentially an imaginary companion. 

Oh my God, I am 36 and have just realised that the nearest thing I have to a confidant, is a laptop and a blog screen.  My life truly is pathetic.

I feel I am very close to admitting that my experiment in whether I can change my life for the better is nothing more than a failure.  As is everything I try and do. 

Do you ever have that feeling that you were put on this planet for a reason?  I used to, if I was to be honest, I still do, but I am starting to suspect that my only purpose is for people and life to use and abuse me for whatever they can get, and then when they're done bleeding me dry of everything I can offer, they fuck off and leave me wondering what the hell is going on.

My head hurts!

I'm finding it really difficult at the moment to put into words just how it is I am feeling.  In my head it feels like there is nothing but chaos and entropy.  I am having serious trouble making sense of things. 

Is this what it feels like to lose your mind?


Is there anybody out there who can help me, please????

I hate feeling like this, I really do, but I have no idea what I can do to make things better.  I feel like I am nothing more than a burden, a pain in the arse.  I don't mean to be, but I am so frightened right now.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

My cure for the blues...

Hey, it's me again.

Well I have been 36 years old now for almost a week and am fully aware that I am creeping ever more closely to that daunting 40 number. Don't get me wrong, whilst it would be a lie if I said that turning 40 didn't bother me, I am more concerned about where I am at the moment and what I can do to change this.

I realise that it might seem a tad melodramatic but I am having serious doubts at the moment whether I can change my life for the better, which is after all what this writing experiment is all about for me. I feel at this point that I need to explain what it is I am trying to do.

I am not trying to write a story/book with the expectation that I will be able to make money, although I would love to be able to tell people, one day, that my name is Pip Connor and I make my living from writing books. But the idea and drive behind me writing a story/book is to see if I can just do it, to see if I can produce several hundred pages with words on them with the hope that if someone was to read it, they would hopefully enjoy it. But now I have started on 'Version 3' and I will probably regret saying this, a very small part of me is starting to believe that I might just have something here.

The last few years for me have been the toughest I have ever had. Almost everything that could have gone wrong has. And I'll admit that for a long while I let it all get to me. I didn't just wallow in the self pity and despair I felt (and to a certain extent still feel) I let it consume me completely. I took to drinking, quite heavily and was put on some pretty heavy medication too. And for a while I barely knew where I was and what I was doing. And then something changed. I don't know what it was, I really don't, but I decided that enough was enough.

I realise that other people who suffer from depression have their own tales and experiences and I don't want to belittle their own situation as I have learnt the hard way that depression is a very serious condition to have to live with, but in my own experience I realised that at the time I wanted, perhaps I even hoped, that someone would make everything okay and in turn stop me from feeling what it was I was feeling, a fairy godmother perhaps. But in my experience these people don’t exist.  Fortunately for me, and I mean it when I say fortunately, I somehow managed to figure out that whilst my wife and baby girls helped more than they will probably ever know, there was only one person that was going to make everything all better and that was me. All the medication + the booze and everything else that went with it, for me anyway, weren't working. In the end I had to bite the proverbial bullet and sort my life out myself.  So I decided the best way was to concentrate on something I reaal wanted to do and so I decided to try and write a story/book.

You might wonder why it is I refer to what I am writing as a 'story/book' and the reason for this is simple. I don't feel at the moment I have the right or deserve to call what I am writing a book. Not until I see it printed, even if ends up being nothing more than a pile of paper sitting on my table.

But by writing my story/book I have found that whatever it is I am trying to fix inside of me it seems to be working. I do feel better, more than I have in a very long time and the closer I get to finishing it, the more confident I feel about things in general. People still scare me, a lot. I seemed to have lost all my social skills over the last few years and I have real trouble trusting anyone, but I am hoping that one day that might change too.

My only problem now though and I am trying desperately to ignore it, is this little voice in the back of my head that seems to be getting slightly louder with every page I finish which is persistently asking me what happens if nothing comes from what I write? What am I going to do if it’s no good and no one else likes it?  At the moment though I am choosing to ignore it, as I have a sneaky suspicion that even after I have finished writing my first story/book, that doesn't mean that everything is done and my gut is telling me that there is still a very long way to go.

Anyway, time for me to go as I am taking the afternoon off to watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the comfort of my own home.

So take care and stay cool.

Pip x