Tag Archives: London

If you don’t see me in November, blame #NaNoWriMo

With November fast approaching, I felt the need to explain my impending month-long withdrawal from society. Friends will be dismayed when I decline their invitation to the pub. Colleagues will wonder where I go every lunch break with my laptop (incidentally, I go to the pub to write, but don’t tell my friends). And my wife will offer me coffee while she catches up on all the rom-com trash I’ve hitherto vetoed.

I will not have time for such dalliances. I will be too busy creating!

If you don’t mind setting aside the pretentiousness of that statement, I shall explain: November is National Novel Writing Month, or #NaNoWriMo for short.

This means I will be joining thousands of other bleary-eyed writers around the world in attempting to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. Yes, you exceptional number crunchers, that does indeed equate to 1,667 per day. Also known colloquially as “a right proper slog”.

Back for seconds

I attempted (and completed – barely) the challenge for the first time last year, despite only discovering it on October 30th. That gave me two days to decide on an idea and plan some semblance of story from it.

The result was The Divine Alliance, an epic reimagining of The Iliad if Diomedes had recognised his ability to hurt the Gods. Thirty-odd chapters of Ancient Greek and Trojan kings rallying together to defeat their greater foe: the lords of Olympus.

If I’m honest, it has some problems, but there’s a body of work now, where once there was only the neurons in my brain keeping the idea in existence. It needs some rejigging, a little more agency for secondary characters, and an ending (I got to 50,000 words, I didn’t say I finished it), but I was pleased with it. There’s some great scenes, some neat concepts, and events that transpire as they do in the wider Greek tragedies, stoking themes of predestination and self-determination. I like it. And one day, I’ll go back to it and fix it up.

But not in November – no sir! In November I have something very different in mind.

End of the world as we know it

This year’s attempt will be a post-cataclysmic tale of survival. A woman finds herself trapped on the upper floors of a Piccadilly Circus building by a toxic mist that has come to rest over the streets of London. When escape becomes an impossible feat, she must turn to her copy of An Island To Oneself, a survivalist’s story of life on a desert island – only she’s on the rooftops, so scavenging for coconuts is out of the question.

The thrust of the story is the protagonist’s happy adoption of this new life, devoid of all the exhausting emotional trauma modern civilisation inflicts upon us. She builds a network of bridges between the rooftops, grows plants in a self-made greenhouse, collects rain water in office recycling bins, and sleeps in the empty luxury flats, devoid of utilities.

Now, my usual writing process is to just blurt out an idea and see where it takes me, something the writing community calls a “pantser” – ie, one who writes by the seat of their pants. So, spending more than a week on planning is an interesting experiment for me. We shall see if it reaps rewards.

In the meantime, please don’t take offence if I’m a little unresponsive for the next four weeks.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Good luck to everyone else participating! May your creative juices flow like the saliva of a dog in a butcher’s shop.


Featured photo by Mikhail Pavstyuk on Unsplash

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DLATD is my favourite day of the year

I want to take a moment to explain to you my favourite day of the year.

But before I go on, I want you to promise to hold your judgement until I’m through, because my favourite day of the year isn’t a bank holiday, or my birthday, or some commercialised national awareness day, like National Crumpet-Hurling Day, or Skydivers’ Bird-strike Awareness Week, or whatever (though they are no doubt worthy events).

No, my favourite day of the year is Drink Like A Twat Day.

Continue reading DLATD is my favourite day of the year

Goodbye Piccadilly, hello bitter City

Last month, the magazine I work for was bought by a competitor. Thankfully, our new owner wanted to keep the team we had together because we produced good content and our business model was profitable.

The problem was, it meant we had to move offices – I used to work in Piccadilly Circus, near the Trocadero, and we were moving to the City, near Cannon Street.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
The Horses of Helios on Haymarket

It’s strange how a person’s feelings towards a place can change so drastically over time. Piccadilly Circus is like that for me. When I was a kid, it was synonymous with the excitement and bustle of London town – I specifically remember the giant sinewy bronze horses on the corner of Haymarket, rearing up as though spooked by the traffic. To me, they were ancient statues, indicative of a powerful city that had stood for hundreds of years (I was not to know they were only built in 1992).

Continue reading Goodbye Piccadilly, hello bitter City

The march of progress – #writerslife

Swarana and I have been back in the UK for three months now and life still feels like its in transition. We were travelling around south-east Asia for the first six months of 2015, having a look around and eating all the foods, so getting back into office/school-life has been, shall we say, taxing.

Now that we’re back, we’re renting a small bedroom from a friend, sleeping on a mattress on the floor every night and using a pokey airing cupboard as our combined wardrobe.

Living in a little room to save cash
Pokey

It’s cheap, mind, which was integral to our returning to London; I had to provide for both of us until the school year started and Swarana could return to work.

But, thankfully, we’ll be moving back into our house by the end of next month, which is exciting. When we bought it last year, it was an ant-riddled shit hole that needed a huge amount of work. We worked on it solidly until Christmas Eve last year, when we finally had to leave it to the estate agents.

Continue reading The march of progress – #writerslife

Kraken – China Miéville – [Book Review]

Kraken by China Miéville
The book I brought out with me, Kraken, by China Miéville.

I first came across China Miéville last year, during a sci-fi binge that I had hoped would bring me up to date with the genre. Despite enjoying science fiction, my sample of it was rather antiquated – Shelley, Verne, Wells – being mostly from Literature classes.

Some cursory research (Top 100s and the like) led me to The City & The City (2009), an immensely rewarding fusion of science fiction and crime noir by Miéville. The concept is elegant: a city inhabits the exact same geographical space as another entirely foreign city, with denizens of both forced to ignore, avoid and “unsee” the existence of the other. The penalty of interacting, or even noticing, the opposite plane is named Breach and is swiftly and ruthlessly dealt with by an ethereal force of the same name.

It’s ruddy ace, it is. The plot follows a detective as he investigates a murder that appears to have involved some form of Breach from the neighbouring city, but a conspiracy is afoot and dark forces attempt to pervert the course of justice. Read it. It’s brilliant.

However, there’s something of a hangover from The City that lingers in Kraken, Miéville’s subsequent novel, like one rum too many. Continue reading Kraken – China Miéville – [Book Review]

Tim running out

Stress – its thick oppressive tentacles writhing out of the everyday to consume you like some Cthuluian nightmare.

I am experiencing levels of stress that I had not anticipated in giving up work, renting out a house and going to sit on a beach for six months. These are supposed to be stress-quelling events – No more work! Mortgage paid for! Sunshine! Mojitos!

But that’s not the case at all. I attached a countdown to the sidebar of this blog in an attempt to pump some excitement into my cranium, but the ticking clock has not become an app of anticipation, but a widget of worry. Continue reading Tim running out