On what to do with a summer's break
Today I return to the Dust Lounge to move some dust around, and generally bash your eyes with NEWS, sweet NEWS. And this news doesn’t involve any voting, politics or fact-checking so y’all can relax.
Here’s the question – are you a plotter or a pantser?
Do you work out the ins-and-the-outs of what’s going to be happening in that story you’re about to tell, or do you sit down and let your pants take you where they will?
Are you an organised planner, or do you set a fire under yourself and write by the seat of your literary pants?
Today I am all sorts of pleased to welcome Mark A King to the Dust Lounge. The author of brilliant debut novel Metropolitan Dreams, and general all around top dude, we chatted about all things bookish, inspiration and cheese.
So without further ado, let’s get down to the good stuff.
Well, are you?
Of course, if you’ve not heard of NaNoWriMo, then there’s a fairly high possibility that you think I might be talking about some new trendy form of high-rise city slicker drug parties, or perhaps a new type of technical hackery that’s gradually taking over the interwebs when we’re not watching.
But no, this would be the yearly foray into writing a shedload of words in not a lot of time and generally doing ALL OF THE WRITING YOU POSSIBLY CAN. I did it last year, and it was great fun, and I was massively knackered at the end of it.
NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s the month, November to be specific, where you pledge to write 50,000 words. That’s 1667 words a day.
That’s the sort of wordage that feels like it needs some sort of Rocky-esque montage.
I was toying with the idea of doing it again.
I wanted to.
I mean, you’re probably not going to write a finished masterpiece (hey, maybe you will, you evil genius, you) but you’re sure as hell gonna get into a great writing roll and somewhere in all of that there’s bound to be something you’re gonna want to keep.
But I know, for me, this year, I’m just not going to find the time to commit to it. So instead, I’m going to attempt to join in ‘in spirit’. I’m not going to try to keep up with the word count, but I am going to be writing something every day. Whether that’s a blog post, a short story, some more on the current work in progress, or maybe just a really clever tweet (there is, after all, a first for everything) – it’ll be writing. And it’ll be writing every day.
And to those of you officially riding on that crazy NaNoWriMo train, I salute you.
I’m jealous of you.
I’m cheering for you.
I’m wishing you all of the words and plenty of biscuits and probably a few glasses of wine to keep you going into the winter evenings.
Go NaNoWriMers, go write, go write everything.
GO BE MORE KERMIT.
It’s been a while since the FlashDogs have been out and about, prowling the digital streets, releasing fine paper beasts of flash fiction into the wild and raising money for charity.
This is sad, because I missed them.
But it’s good, because they’re each up to other things, other projects, and that is all very exciting.
But now they’re back with a twitterfied version of even shorter fictions. This time they’re working with the VERY SHORT STORY. Stories short enough to fit in a single tweet, but big enough to make you laugh or make you cry or make you scream.
They’re bringing daily prompts, y’all just see the prompt, then cast your very short story into Twitter with the hashtag #VSS365.
What, you want rules?
*Digs in pockets, discovers dog-eared wad of post-its*
VERY IMPORTANT UNOFFICIAL RULES OF #VSS365
First rule is: You do not talk about FlashDogs #VSS365.
Second rule is: Wait, what? Forget the first rule, shout about it, join in, retweet, make your VSS’s and spread them liberally across the internet-lands.
Third rule is: Someone yells stop, goes limp, taps out… umm… think that might be a different game.
Fourth rule is: Everyone’s invited, the more the merrier.
That’s all I’ve got in my pocketses (honest), but check the FlashDogs website for how it actually works.
Here’s just a small sample of what’s been going down in the first week…
I love covers.
I really love covers.
I’m not talking about musical covers. (As an aside, if we were talking about musical covers then I’d point you in the direction of Tori Amos’s Strange Little Girls album. Just covers. Just bloody awesome.)
I’m talking about book covers.
It’s holiday season – time for ice cream and deck chairs and the aromatic burn of barbecues.
It’s time for mosquito bites and criss-crossed tan lines.
It’s time for my legs to shine bright like matchstick beacons during the one week of the year they’re let out from their shroud of denim.
And this year, for the first time in five years, I partook of an actual holiday. A holiday in the sun. A break from the pressure and the strains of everyday life. And I went italianing.
It was hot. And it was the best of holidays. Good friends, good wine, good food. Days of walking and evenings of card games. Seeing the sights – the Colosseum, the Leaning Tower, the lesser known Torture Museum of Lucca.
And it was amazing.
And in honour of this great event, this instalment of Creative Input is all about summer reads, music for the hottest of days, televisuals for dusky evenings.
Reading: The Fireman by Joe Hill. I’d picked this up to consume in Italy but only really cracked into it a few days before the flight stole me back to the UK. So far, so good – I mean, apocalptic spontaneous combustion? What’s not to like for your summer read?
Watching: My current binge is Sons of Anarchy. Midway through season three and I just want to point out right here how brilliant a character Gemma Teller is, and how great Katey Sagal is at playing her. I will be losing days to this programme until it’s done with. Perfect for days where it’s just too hot to leave the house.
Listening: Cards in a hot country was accompanied by the blues harmonica strains of Muddy Waters. This has featured previously in the Creative Input files, but deserves the second mention. Seriously, try it. I suggest playing a version of Rummy with bespoke house rules invented after a few glasses of wine, just don’t ask me to explain how we played it.
It’s been a bit quiet over here in the dust lounge, I do humbly apologise. A combination of the day job attempting to delve its nasty little fingers across the work-life balance scales, and fitting in the final-pass edits on Grind Spark have pretty much flung me off the radar.