Well blogging, we meet at last. I’ve had mixed feelings about the practice of blogging since I first heard of it and thought “Really? That’s the name you’re sticking with?” But it has finally reached a point where I think, well why not? Now I’ve never kept a blog, and I don’t actually know that much about them despite being part of “that generation” that should apparently have a manual of some sort in their brain for all basic computer programs and functions, in which case I don’t know if there’s some sort of formula to blog posts or some kind of blog management etiquette, but I’m sure I’ll figure things out. I only mention it so that if there are accidentally 20 posts in a row of the same thing or something you’ll be forewarned of the experimentation and learning period in progress.

So, the theoretical point of this blog is to be somewhere for me to post things that I write. And I do mean ‘things’ because I tend to write short snippets of fiction, though sometimes there are short stories and such too. I suspect most of my posts will come from an intriguing book I have which is called ‘642 Things To Write About’. It’s simply a collection of short (anywhere from a couple of sentences to just a word) starter phrases designed to get you thinking and writing. For instance, “The greatness of sandwiches” or, “Go to a café and closely watch two people interact. Then write a scene about to people in a café” or “Create an imaginary friend (human or not)” (I have high hopes for a hedgehog being involved in this one), and so forth. As you can see, they’re diverse, so posts on here could be pretty random. Just the way we like it I say. I imagine there will also be some first-person posts from me, who can say? But when things come from “the book” I’ll use the prompt as the post heading and then my writing about it as the body of the post (I say confidently, like I’ve already mastered my heading/post functions).

I’m not sure yet how often I will post something because I’m not sure yet how this blog and I will feel about one another, but I will try to post with reasonable frequency because, really, it’s just stagnating and taking up space in the ether otherwise. That being said, welcome to my blog invisible people!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Use these words in a story- powwow, harem, opposable, grim, pragmatic, sanctimony, tremolo.

“Nathan! My god man, don’t look so grim!”

“George, we are in a harem! A harem, how am I supposed to look??”

“Pretty cheery I would think, actually... Come on, apparently we’re going to have some kind of little powwow in the courtyard”

 It looked as you would expect it too, sumptuous, I believe the word is. Wide, open passages, ornately tiled with vines creeping in through arched, glassless windows. Pillows absolutely everywhere. Stop behaving with such sanctimony George had told me, but it’s not that really, I appreciate the female form as much as the next man with functioning eyeballs in his head, no, it’s more that I’m pragmatic at heart and I knew we had been invited here with an agenda, one which I was waiting on to become clear, one which I suspected could make it difficult to extract ourselves from this situation and not for pleasant reasons.

“It looks like it’s going to be some sort of musical performance eh?”

“What on earth gave you that impression George, not the musical instruments, surely?”

“You can be as sarcastic as you like, but I think one could be forgiven for not noticing the instruments at all...”   

There were five women, lavishly, though scantily, dressed arranged in a half circle in one corner of the courtyard, each one holding an instrument. We were seated facing them with our backs against the edge of a fountain, the centrepiece of the courtyard, which the sun touched just the top of at this hour, on its way to the far wall. We were all seated on pillows, naturally.  

“I say, that’s rather good isn’t it? Listen to that thing they’re doing, the sort of wibbley sound...”

“Yes, it’s called tremolo, where has our host, the guide fellow, got to George? He was just sitting over there before...”

“Tremolo eh? Lovely. And I don’t know, probably just to the gentleman’s or something, listen, they’re almost finished I think” 

And so they were. When they’d finished they gave brief nods of their heads in acknowledgement of George’s singular and abundant applause and then began to disperse. One of the women approached us. 

“You enjoyed the playing I believe gentlemen?” 

“Oh yes, lovely, just really, really lovely, I must say I particularly enjoyed the tremolo you know, which naturally, with a keen musical ear I-“

“The playing was delightful, thank you Madam”

There was a pause.

“Thank you, just opposable thumbs and practice really”

“Ha! Opposable thumbs! Excellent, yes-“

“And now perhaps you would like to follow me gentlemen, so we might have a word”

“ Ah, splendid! Yes we’d love-"

“Actually I’m afraid we had better wait here Madam, you see our host has gone somewhere but I expect he shall return directly and we wouldn’t want-“

She started to laugh, an unusual laugh, a lovely laugh. 

“Ah, but gentlemen, I am your host”.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Write a story about an empty glass.

It really shouldn’t have been a difficult decision. There should have been a moment’s hesitation, a polite, murmured deferral to one another, and a decision should have been made, the evening would have continued, it might have gone brilliantly, how can we know? But it didn’t, the question lingered in the air, the pause extended, three people trapped in a vortex of awkwardness and the knowledge that it should not have come to this. Expressions became slightly pained, there were multiple and extended “Ummm”s. I believe we may have been on the verge of uncomfortable laughter, which could even have absolved us, but instead the waiter said “Maybe I’ll just give you another minute....?” and bowed out of the situation, leaving a vacuum of silence in his wake. They sat there between us, the empty glasses. Such a simple question to unravel the evening before it had even begun... red or white?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Green Exhibition

So I recently submitted an entry to the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts Exhibition, where the theme was 'green', below is my poem, which is on display in the exhibition.


Gravely Urging Green                                      

It is truthfully said we must be more green
We must live lives which are a bit more lean
Use less resources, create less smog,
And stop living in a consumerist fog!
Look after the flora, the fauna, the oceans, and rivers
It's a promise we must make, and one on which we must deliver
But what about the economy, our jobs, you say
To which I respond "hey!"
Nothing will diminish your ability to get your family fed,
More than if you, following the planet, are dead.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Write about a tree from the perspective of one of its leaves...

So I wrote two pieces for this prompt, I could see different directions you could go with it, so below are two separate versions.

I'm reaching. Reaching out into open space, towards the sky, the horizon. I can feel the sun on my face, warming me, giving me strength. If I look behind me I can see everyone fanning out, heading out in their own directions, separate but together. From one point we started, the same place, but now we're above, below, all around, reaching out, breathing as one, sighing in the wind. 

Day 214. Progress is still slow, base camp is still in sight in the distance. And I'm still being followed... They're lurking there behind me, don't even have the decency to try and hide themselves, they're just there in their matching green uniforms, following at a regular distance. What do they want? Are they using me as some kind of scout? Seeing what I do, what happens? I've employed a new tactic to try and throw them off, I've changed my uniform to a reddish yellow. It seemed to work at first, but I'll be damned if I didn't look back this morning and they're all wearing it too! Plan 'abandon ship' is now under consideration...

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Hello to anyone wondering what's become of me and this blog! While this one may be languishing in disuse, I am actually still writing; it's just that I'm travelling at the moment so I've started a second, travel blog documenting what I've been up to. This is the link for anyone interested in a bit of non-fiction, travel adventure and mishap: balancingwildwatermelons.blogspot.com. I'll update this one when I have material, it just might be pretty sporadic for a while. So that's the story wishbone! Radio silence temporarily recommencing in 3...2...1...

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Start a story with the line "When I confronted him, he denied that he'd ever said it"...

When I confronted him, he denied that he'd ever said it. He lied to my face, standing there on the train platform in Thailand, facing each other through the haze of humidity. He stared at me, his expression, genuinely perplexed, or just sheepish and uncomfortable? I couldn't tell. "But that's what you said, I thought this is what you meant... that I should join you, that we'd be together, travel together, forget everything else!" I didn't like the note of desperation in my voice and if I could hear it, so could he.

"Well, hey it was great, we spent a great couple of weeks together but we knew this was coming, right? I'm going on to Laos and you're...going home". He let it linger there between us, this divide in our lives which as soon as he got on that train would grow wider and wider, spanning whole continents and years ahead of different, separate experiences. But we didn't know this was coming; I didn't.

We had met just over two weeks ago, me at the beginning of a short holiday seeking sand and sun, him in the midst of his long term travels, his world wandering he had called it. We had felt an instant connection, but I had resisted because it wasn't practical to get involved with someone on such a short holiday and because I still had a slightly complicated situation to sort out with someone back home... but he had been so charming and attentive... we had a whirlwind affair, two weeks spent under the sheets and at the beach, having deep conversations about our lives, our hopes and plans for the future. They were lazy days of sex and swimming, eating and talking. It had been wonderful, and he'd said how much he would miss me, how he wished I could stay longer, how much fun we would have travelling together... could I have misinterpreted what he meant? What else was I to think?    

I had believed him, and on our last day, after an emotional and fond farewell, when he had left for the train station, and I was meant to be headed to the airport, I changed my mind. I chose him, I chose adventure, I chose to take a risk. And now here we stood, him looking surprised and not pleased to see me, telling me I had misunderstood, thanks but no thanks.

"Look the trains about to leave... I've really got to get going... I'm sorry, it was wonderful, it really was but.....take care of yourself and have a safe trip home!" He touched me lightly on the arm before hopping on the train just before the doors started to close. I could feel the tears on my cheeks mingling with the sweat. I held my arms across my middle like I'd been punched in the stomach and tried to breath, gasping breaths of warm, thick air.    

When the train started to pull out of the station, it felt like someone had attached my heart to it with a rope, because as it rolled away, I could feel it rip it out of my chest.

I watched the train get smaller and smaller in the distance, and eventually my breathing slowed and came back to normal. I felt a flash of anger, in the midst of my ache, and I looked around at the other platforms.

"Screw it" I said, and started to make my way to the nearest train, going wherever. I'll make my own adventure. 

Thursday, 24 January 2013

What you ate for breakfast...

Why have one cereal when you can have three, am I right? You know when you get to the end of a box of cereal and you don't have enough for a whole bowl of cereal, just an awkward, garden-gnome serving size worth? What do you do? It's too much to throw away without feeling guilty, so the usual course of action is to leave it in the pantry indefinitely, just in case you suddenly have a need to feed a tiny person, until one day you think "why do I have so much stuff in my pantry?? I can't find anything!!" and you throw it out in the cleaning rage which ensues. Well, I have found a way around this breakfast food paradox and its associated pantry complications.

The key is to buy multiple, compatible cereal types at once. Personally, I like to get a health food one which is made from 'exotic' grains such a millet and sorghum and two different types of sweetened cheerios, a multi-grain variety and a honey and oats one. Armed with this cereal selection, when I go to have breakfast of a morning I get out the health food flakes and one of the varieties of cheerios and pour equal parts of each into my bowl and mix them up with my hands, I figure this way I'm getting my healthy grainy stuff without the signature, bland health food taste (I find the general rule is, if it tastes good, it's bad for you, if it tastes bad, it's good for you. Not to say there aren't exceptions, and of course being an 'adult' now I eat the healthy stuff anyway, but I still stand by this statement) because its got the sweet stuff in there too, but I'm also minimizing the amount of pre-sweetened cereal I consume in a sitting, so win-win situation!

Anyway, the way this solves the tiny, left over cereal serving issue, is that when you end up with this amount left of one of your cereals, you simply mix the tiny bit of cereal in with the other cereal and then a bit of the newly opened third box of cereal and it all evens out! And because this is a perpetual cycle of getting low on cereal and buying more cereal, this method can go on indefinitely, thus, no tiny servings of cereal hanging around; and if that tiny person/garden gnome ever does come to breakfast, well...you'll be more worried about your sanity and where you're going to find a tiny bowl and spoon than whether you have just the perfect amount of cereal to offer them.