Recapping my Aims; Pockets

So. For a while now, I’ve been struggling with this. I’ve been posting nearly twice a week, and in order to maintain that pace, I’ve been slowly but surely looting my collection of pre-written poems and stories. It’s reached a point now where, while I still have a bit of a reservoir of older, unposted poems, I can tell that I’m not blogging in a way that’s going to work. Sooner or later, I’ll completely run out of old material, and then I’ll get frustrated, and when I’m frustrated with my writing, I don’t write.

So the first thing I’m going to do is cancel my overdue pieces. According to my calculations, I owe… 3? I think? pieces of creative writing to this blog. And working behind schedule was stressful and unproductive. So I now don’t have a backlog to worry about.

And now, while I’m considering reducing my output to once a week, I won’t make that change just yet. For now, I have to continue on two posts a week. However, as I have occasionally done before, it doesn’t always have to be new pieces of writing by me. I think I still have a LOT to learn about how to write, so some of these posts are going to be about things I’ve learnt on technique and different writing styles.

So let’s kick off with these two beauties:

a

What have I got in my pocket?
What have I got in my pocket?

Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail never clinking.

a

a

Alan Lee - The Hobbit - 19 - Riddles in the darkVoice it cries,
Wingless  flutters,
Toothless bites,
Mouthless mutters.

a

a

Ooooh. Dark and mysterious, no? If you don’t know where these are from, these are two of my favourite riddles from Tolkien’s The Hobbit, when Gollum and Bilbo challenge one another to a battle of wits which, ultimately, Bilbo wins by being more than a bit cheaty, thus setting Gollum up to permanently want his money* back. If you don’t know or can’t remember the answers, please have a good think about them first, before you check the answers in the comments. If you still don’t know, I recommend you don’t solve them now, and come back later, rather than cheat.

I know, I love cheating too, but the sensation of solving a riddle is so much fun. And that, in reality, is what I’ve been trying to capture with my riddles. To be able to create something that makes someone think is great in itself. To create something that makes you think and, if you solve, it, make you briefly very happy and pleased with yourself is extra special. Which is why I won’t give up on my crazy Riddle Poetry plan.

I think this is plenty for today, especially as I already have superb ideas for a few more posts to come. I hope that my absences and my lack of new work don’t stop you reading.

See you Mid-Week.

logic puzzles

*precious

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Riddle

Hello Loyal (and disloyal) Blog Readers!

It’s been a slow week. A lethargic week. A week, not coincidentally, where I put aside lots of time to write. Maybe I’m spending too much time waiting for inspiration in front of a computer screen, and not enough time travelling, or walking, with a notebook, waiting for ideas. I also think I need to go back to readng short stories.

Anyway, I needed to get more writing done this week, as I’m going to visit friends in Leeds and Scotland and pop on up to the Edinburgh Fringe this coming week. Ideally, I’d get well ahead with my writing and set up the blog so it releases the new posts on the days when they are due, therefore keeping up with the deadlines and giving myself a bit of time off to socialise at laugh at some comedies. Surely, that’s when I’ll get all my best ideas, right?

Okay, so I still owe this site one story or poem from my backlog of unwritten posts. However, I’d prefer not to put up anything too rusty or incomplete, so I shall keep that in an “IOU” box, and just give you the one for today:  another riddle poem. I’d like to get a lot more of these done, so I would really like suggestions on this – make them as silly or as sensible as you like. Preferably things not famously riddled before. I especially like the idea of giving something inanimate a human voice, emotions, and some kind of character. That way, while the solution is a “thing”, it’s also an aspect of human nature, or a moral, or message, or satire, or in some way, valuable on two levels. Riddle poems, of course, do make it very hard for me to stick up pictures…. Ah well, this poem shall go without one.

Riddle

Ice in first.
There till the end,
Pealing for attention.

Then, layer by layer,
I build, ever growing,
Ever changing, ever swirling,
Impression on impression
Onto rocks below.

I am formed by the saccharine,
The sour, the mundane,
And the unusual.

But if they ever stop mixing,
I will fuse and be one,
And the taste I leave on your lips
Will always be the same.

Haiku and “Save Point”

Hey all.

It’s the weekend, and I’m locking myself into what has become my “office”, where my desk is some big planks of wood across the snooker table in the room that has all our old games and books from childhood. Still, it works quite well – I have internet, but only JUST, so I can check my emails but any silly TV shows would take hours to load, so I mostly don’t bother.

While I’ve been more productive at my 1,500 piece jigsaw and trying to get my head around cryptic crosswords than I have writing, I have done a bit of work. However, most of it has been on as-yet unfinished works. First off on my catch-up day is a little riddle haiku I came up with in Bristol last weekend. It only works, unfortunately, if you pronounce “ordinary” “ord-en-ree”… you know, the ordenree pronunciation of ordenree (ordinarily). “ord-en-airy” messes the rhythm. Admittedly, I could choose a different word, but now I’ve typed all that, I won’t bother.

abig clue that I couldn't resist

Haiku

a

Searching ordinary art

for spatters of irony;

sneaky graffiti.

a

a

As before, answers in the comments. Not sure, but I think this one’s harder than the last, and I doubt American readers will get it…. but we’ll see.

a

Second up – computer games. This poem has gone through quite a lot of incarnations, and hopefully, it’ll go through a few more soon. Somehow, it’s managed to turn loosely into a sonnet today. Don’t know how that happened. Anyway, here it is:

aDungeon Siege

Save Point

Here, I retreat from real life (RL)
to realistic, from decisions to
return-to-last-save-point.
I swap chores for quests and
homework for spellbooks.
Here, the people are glad when I come.
They ask for help, I oblige;
I raise one point of Charisma.
It’s not quite happiness, not quite
an answer, but a stall for time –
life goes on hold as the game does,
a pause button for a sullen dinner,
then I escape into the fantastic
to gain valuable experience.

http://uk.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/dungeonsiege2/index.html?tag=result;title;0

a#I

If I do make up that final backdated post today – and there’s a reasonable chance of that, by the way – I think it would be better in a separate post. So it’s easier to find things when you’re going back through my old posts. See you soon, and feel free to comment.

Tomatoes

Arghblarg.

Blog. I owe you more things. It’s not that I’ve not been writing…. it’s more that I’ve not been posting. More things will appear. Presumably this weekend, we’ll have 3 (that’s right 3) little bits.

This is a flash fiction. A friend of mine wrote a flash fiction the other day about a woman making a cup of tea, and if he posts it to his blog, then I shall post a link to it and stuff. In the mean time, here’s a flash fiction I wrote the other day about a woman making a cup of tea. To clarify, this is a different story, not his story stolen and plagarised.

Tomatoes

mrs duckIt was a grey day out, and windy, but her daughter was insisting. Allison had always been demanding as a little girl, and though she was now a mother of two, she still had a way of carrying herself that made Margaret give up and go along with it. They would go down to the duck pond with the little ones and feed the ducks. Margaret was making tea, taking out three mugs, putting the kettle on the Aga, then turning back and putting one of the mugs back in the cupboard.

Allison was off somewhere with the baby, who was crying about something. Margaret supposed that meant she was in charge of little Steve, but then Steve seemed to consider himself quite capable these days.

He had, after all, spent half of his childhood running about the old farmhouse. He knew all the little corners, knew what he could touch and what he shouldn’t. Margaret found herself comparing his eager survey to hers on that day, when she’d first moved in. Back then, her father-in-law had put in that creaking black stove, especially for her. Coal burning, it had been, and a darn sight better than whatever had come before it. An accomplished cook, she had upgraded to the Aga when they could afford it, which now stood dusty. But both, she reflected, had kept them warm through the winters.

A young bride, she’d walked round the house with a mix of excited pride and despair at how much work there was to be done. She’d had to convert an upstairs room for the summer help, and she’d kept his bed and board. It was a big place, and it took a good long time to clean, especially without washing machines or dryers or dish washers. Lunch for her husband and all the workers at midday, when this kitchen, now so quiet, had buzzed with talk and heat. And Allison and her older brother and sister, eventually.

All of the things little Steve couldn’t touch were things that she’d bought, or at the very least approved, over the years. All of his hiding places, his mother had found in her turn. In that strange way that children and grandchildren mimic one another, both Allison then and Steve now held a certain reverenced awe for Margaret’s bedroom, with its neatly tucked sheet corners, not to be disturbed. She’d not told Allison, but for the last two days Margaret had taken to sleeping in the guest room. It was the other side of the house, and the air felt different in there.

Of course, there were things that needed talking about. Allison’s brother would be coming home from agricultural college, and so Margaret needed to spruce up the old bedrooms for him and his family. But mercifully, today was not that day.green toms

Today was a day with little wellingtons and anoraks by the door, and egg and cress sandwiches, and the leftover loaf for the ducks. She poured the now boiling water in the teapot, and turned to the window again, wondering if it would rain, like she felt. Sometimes a miserable day was just what you needed.

She realised she’d forgotten to put the tea bags in the pot, so put them in and stirred them with a spoon. The bang of a door told her that Steve had been in the little white conservatory by what was officially the front door, although of course everyone used the back door these days, which led out onto the farm.

The baby upstairs had stopped crying. That was one of the joys of being a grandmother, she reflected. You had the kids when they were good, and the parents dealt with them in their moods. The positives without the negatives. Whenever her grandchildren visited, Margaret was filled with a kind of warm glow, and although today was no exception, it somehow felt simultaneously weaker and stronger, as though the fire had grown stronger, but she was colder, distanced from it.

“Granny,” Steve had trotted solemnly into the room.

“Yes, dear?”

“I’ve watered Poppa’s tomato plants.”

“Thank you.”

“The tomatoes are still green, but he said they’d turn red soon.” This wasn’t a question; he was informing her. She nodded.There was a pause, and she turned back to the tea, but she knew by the way he was standing, he wasn’t done.

“Granny?” he said, fidgeting. “Is there a greenhouse in heaven?”

She looked down at him, and her eyes welled up again, only this time, she was smiling brightly, as brightly as she could muster.

“Yes, Steve. Yes, there is.”

“Oh, good,” he said, and she could hear the relief in his voice. Satisfied, he ran off, and Margaret looked out the window again, crying quietly and thinking of tomatoes.

Tempting Bathos

Hello. Everywhere I go these days, I carry a little notebook with me. The current notebook has drawings of palm trees, random thoughts, story ideas, and at the back, reminders and notes on some stand up I still need to fix. Me writing funny things down in my notebook has led to some strange situations, where friends tell jokes and then look at me, as if to say, “What? Aren’t you writing it in your clever little intellectual notebook?”

Also, since my lovely old mini camera broke, I’ve been using to write down drunken musings – both my own and any I can get out of the people with whom I am drinking.  From these occasions, I came to the conclusion that I was more creative when drunk.

With this in mind, I dared myself to take part in a social experiment I devised. I would drink a bottle of wine, 1009525554_5121b39880alone, on a quiet night, and see what happened. If it was a success and it made my write in floods, I would become what Kipling once deemed irredeemable – a man who becomes an alcoholic quietly and in private, a drunk artist, sinking lower and lower until all self-esteem, credibility and hygeine were lost.

Half way through the bottle, I decided it would be more fun to watch a DVD than write, so I did. After the DVD and wine were finished, I thought, “Oh crap! I’d better write,” and in a spurt of very worrying creativity, I bashed out three medium length poems and a big part of a short story I’ve been stuck on. Resigned to my fate as a closet drunk, I toasted my success with the dregs, burped, and carted myself off for a mere 6 hours of sleep.

The good news, though, is that when I read my masterpieces this morning, I found, amongst other extracts, these bits:

1) We haven’t spoke in months.
Sure, Facebook, once or twice.
Does that count? Still, it’s
your voice, this time. Different.

(note the bad present perfect in the first line)

2) And for WHAT? That is the question,
It’s not to be or not, it’s Yorick,
the “comic” stopper in an otherwise
tragic tale. Gravediggers indeed.

and, from the short story:

3) Was this one of the “stolen” horses I’d heard abou?If so, how would Mitchell know?But then the light came on.

Hmm.

One lesson from this is, as I’m sure you all already know, is that when we’re drunk, we think we’re better than we are. And what we think is poignant and deep is actually a load of codswallop. Seriously, all 3 poems, while based on reasonable subjects, are just plain terrible. I can salvage about 5 halflines from 30 full ones in each poem.

HOWEVER, The short story stuff is actually quite good. Not just the material – there’s a great scene where the guy holds an imaginary conversation with an intimidating horse that I could never have written sober – but also that the brash confidence got me through a passage I was stuck on, and barged me through an extra thousand words.

SO I’ve decided to cut alcohol from my writing. Except as a sledgehammer to my writer’s blocks. And I’ll rely on you guys for an intervention if my drinking gets too heavy and solitary. Look after me!

My Favourite Philosophers
My Favourite Philosophers