NaNoWriMo :: Day 13

Nanowrimo 2017

Well, here’s a thing. It is all going REALLY well. I’ll grant you, some of my writing is shonky as hell at this stage, but the plot is golden. I’m confident with where everything is heading, there’s no panic over motivation or characterisation. When I write my two leads (and right now this is simply a two character affair) they sit in my head with glorious clarity. There is reassurance and comfort in familiarity. All that needs to happen now is to keep the momentum going. The only fly in the ointment is that I forgot to update my word count over the weekend and therefore won’t get my ‘updated every day for 30 days’ badge. I’m a gamer, come on, this shit matters to me.

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That gap’s gonna annoy me, you know…

However, as you can see, I’m over halfway to completion… but I doubt I’m actually halfway through the novel. Looking at where I am the final total’s gonna be around the 70k mark, and I’m being pretty economical with exposition. It just happens to be a long and complicated story, and I need to tell it complete before I can go back and consider chopping stuff out. Right now, however, according to the stats, I’ll be done with 50k around the 23rd, which still allows time to get the thing finished at my level by the end of the month. I hope to put some extra work in today and tomorrow in order to push myself to about 35k. That’s what I’d like to happen anyway.

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I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself because I know how important it is with the limited free time available before Christmas. Most importantly of all however, I need to prove to myself I can go from start to finish and make this happen, because there are so many other half finished projects I could be working on apart from this novel, and they all could potentially make me some money. It has become a bit of a personal crusade now to show I’m capable of sticking with this through to the end, as that’s always the part of the process with which I fail. Saying you’ll create something is one thing, having the courage to complete the task is a different ask entirely.

Today’s going to be a lucky day. I’m going to make sure of that, and take a huge step towards a major goal.

Communication Breakdown

Origins

Those of you paying attention will know that yesterday was my 51st Birthday. These events are often odd affairs: I can remember my 40th as one of the darkest periods of my life, whilst a decade on I was in Paris, with my family and staying in the fanciest Hotel I’d ever experienced. As human beings, we tend to put a lot of emphasis on these celebrations, and it is only this year that I’ve begun to understand why that is. Those revelations will undoubtedly serve as personal blogging fodder for several days: for now, I wanted to spend some time explaining how a very particular group of people have influenced my journey to this point.

You see, without exception, it is those who take time to be critical whom I respect the most.

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Being positive is, for a writer, often the coward’s way out. I can remember moments when asked to critique other people’s works, I’ve struggled to find anything positive to say. In those cases, the compliment sandwich becomes a difficult meal to make. You know how this works: two positives that act as the bread to a filling where you get to lay bare all the bad stuff. Except sometimes, there is only filling. As a society, we are now pushed to be positive for a lot of very good, noble and totally correct reasons. There are extremely sound foundations for encouraging this behaviour… except when your sandwich is sans filling…

It is a balancing act I’ve always found hard to maintain because I was made a blunt instrument. I’ve had to learn to communicate a balance, and over the years on my three blogs you can, if you take the time, watch this evolution take place. There will be days when I continue to say ‘fuck you’ to various sections of the establishment, and that remains the case because there is the realisation that these people just don’t listen regardless. If your idea of criticism is the passive-aggressive format that at least one of my stalkers took in an attempt to try and make me feel guilty for ostracising him? I can see the difference now. That ploy’s not going to work anymore.

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With everybody else, I can find a working relationship. Language differences do not matter: I can Google translate now if required (and I do when the need is there) and honestly if the willing exists on both sides, everybody wins. The best criticism I get, consistently, is that which simply holds a mirror up to my own failings without fear. It happens far more than most might realise too: the exchanges via Social media, realisations that are highlighted by (often) the most unexpected of people. The number of individuals who still DM me when typos turn up in posts is a true joy and is never going to get old. It isn’t pedantry, but a physical manifestation of care, and I will forever remain grateful.

Being online is becoming less dangerous with each passing day as a result. Those who are annoyed enough to block me from their lives have done their job in teaching the lessons around how sometimes, however hard you try, people will just hate what you are regardless. Occasionally those blocks, however, are for sanity, and the understanding that someone isn’t listening to anyone but themselves. For the people who really matter you just mute and allow them the chance to vent, because they give you that respect in your space to do the exact same thing. Having taken all my Twitter mutes off this morning after a period where I just needed to breathe (metaphorically speaking) there a readiness to engage again.

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Writing isn’t just an exercise in self-satisfaction, despite what some authors might say to the contrary. It is as much about being able to grasp and accept the critical responses of others as it is being able to do the same to them. I am happy to be edited, which was once not the case but only to a point. If I feel someone’s suggesting the removal of a point I feel is crucial to an argument or a narrative, it will stay intact. If someone sees the World in a differing way to me that is absolutely fine (and I can respect this) but not at the expense of my own view or indeed feelings on the matter. If it is obvious someone is not prepared to compromise… then you walk on. With too much else to do, some fights are simply not worth your time.

However, I listen to all the criticism I get. Good and bad, positive and negative, I have found the means to assimilate it all. That is something I know many people just can’t do, but for me, it has become as much of the process as the writing itself. I have been forged in the heat of decades of pitched Internet abuse, attacked by trolls and fools as well as finding some of the best and most brilliant friends a girl could ever ask for in her journey to enlightenment. Sometimes, you take it all because there’s the understanding that on some days, you get nothing at all.

This is what I have become, and it is glorious.

NaNoWriMo 2017 :: The Beginning

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Okay, people. November’s always been a big month for words in this parish, and 2017 is already shaping up to be the most significant yet in terms of how I do the entire writing gig. I have decided what I’m writing and it is one of the many Works in Progress that has existed on my hard drive for some time. In fact, I even got as far as making a book cover and a lovely Twitter synopsis, both of which will be retooled along with the original narrative. Having read through all that I have to begin with yesterday, to say I’m excited is an understatement.


For me, the biggest single problem that occurs in a NaNo ‘month’ is the conviction of an idea from inception to completion. This time around, I’m tackling a complete plot (with the exception of a hole in the denouement) and updating my writing style, plus adding some vital background and depth along the way. Getting to 50k this year, therefore, is of largely secondary significance to having a working and complete draft on completion. That’s my bigger aim: finally, finish a piece that I feel is one of the strongest narratively that I have ever produced, then set about seeing if I can’t get someone to want to publish it.

So I can devote 100% attention to this task, I’m taking November off from the Book of the Month project and the various stuff that normally takes place. However, there will be content here for the whole 30 days, with a subsidiary project that’s already in the planning stage. If you follow me on social media, I’ll be mentioning it as time goes on, but it is being created in the hope that I can give back to the Community that has helped me to fulfil my own potential as a writer in the last few years.

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In the buildup to November 1st, I’ll be sharing some of the thoughts I’ve had on this process, and there’ll be regular writing updates throughout November itself. If you want a more personalised view on how things are going, here’s a reminder that my personal site exists and that I’m far more likely to swear and challenge your traditional notions of sexuality there than anywhere else.

Write Off :: The Day before You Came

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Occasionally, you come across something that you don’t remember writing. That is the case with this week’s piece, sitting in a folder that had a bunch of house correspondence in it. It was produced for a writing challenge on Livejournal, and if the save date on the file is correct, produced in May 2004. What makes this a bigger surprise, I’ll be honest, is the genre it was written for.

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I’m a HUGE Buffy fan. I don’t make a song and dance about it, but it was a massively influential part of my life. Ironically, I never felt a huge affinity to the female characters in the show, but was more drawn to the men, especially the character I chose to do this fiction prompt for. I wasn’t attracted to him either: he was me, more or less. I couldn’t identify with any of the major protagonists, except him.

This is Daniel Osbourne (Oz) Fic. It happens before Season Two of Buffy begins. I’d never written Buffy fanfic ever, so decide how I did for yourself.

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It’s very much rated R for adult stuff too. I warned you.



The Day before You Came

Oh yes, I’m sure my life was well within its usual frame
The day before you came



the sky goes on forever

Oz turned seventeen in the slow, kohl-rimmed blink of her eyes: ancient in the moment of transition, bones brittle and painful in skin that now crawls with heat and dust. Her mouth is sucking the life from him, teeth on skin drawing blood as she slurps all too slowly across his stomach, destination crotch. Part of his brain, the smallest synapse, needs to prevent the inevitable: too late, boy, the flesh has won, desire is king… thankyewverymuch. He prays for strength, rain, time to stand still, but it’s the briefest of battles. The pills have slowed his world to a crawl; worm speed, worm food her food, kith and kin with the dirt and the fire ants. A thousand miles away the festival shows no signs of abating, the hurricane of noise and sweat building slowly towards optimum destruction. He needs to escape but he’s trapped here all night. The van was traded for a handful of chemical promises, the band’s gift to him on this night of evolution: something special to mark the transition. He wanted to just play and leave yet something stopped his passage. Someone. She smelt of smoke and mirrors, UFO’s and conspiracies. Flame red hair, eyes sharper than diamond… reminding him of a girl he wants to know, but doesn’t know how to ask. That’s for another time.

it should be cold not close to boiling i’m going to combust

The band bought him to Rachel, Nevada and now LuLu is showing him what girls who spend their puberty in the shadow of Area 51 know about secrets: smeared liberally with silver body paint and wearing only a g-string, she whispered in his ear she’d not hurt him, just give him what he wanted. Before he could protest she took him to a tent where her friends giggled and preened, replacing the dull brown polish on his nails for silver and gold, marking his forehead with an iridescent red star. In turn each one filled his mouth with champagne, then sucked the remnants dry, passing pills from tongue to tongue as they did so. Next he danced with them all: myriad fingers moving seamlessly from ass to crotch to zipper to balls, girl-women all-too-trained in the art of instant and painful arousal. Surrounded by the Sisters of the Conspiracy he became a child of the desert, at one with the night before the world got too fast: kaleidoscopic colours, audio overload quicker than either brain or body could cope with. Maybe he should have asked someone what he was taking, or maybe he shouldn’t have drunk anything first. Food sometime today would have helped, but he’s too lost for sense and good advice, too busy losing the battle with the substances. He’s past gone and coming back on the return stub.

LuLu weaves delicate snail-trails of saliva up and down his naked chest: teasing his expectancy, silver paint mixing with adrenaline and pheromone desire. As her mouth finally, blissfully wraps around his cock it’s the catalyst to his chemical reaction: mind and body separate in a burst of light and sound. He’s outside himself looking down on them both, amused that he can fly and get blown simultaneously. Great place to be spaced out: if he drifts too high will they send the Stealth fighters to intercept? Maybe he’ll just disappear in a puff of denial instead…

little green men yeah right big silver women mmmmmmmmmmm

Sunnydale has broadened his horizons: he used to be the ultimate skeptic, now he’s not so sure. There’s something in the air out here, not like the East Coast where he came from. They’re crazy, insane, affected… scared. He never got the fear, not until they passed the City Limits sign. Then it was obvious, that it had been there, traveling with his family: ingrained in him. He just never knew what it was.

Something clicks, a light goes on. His body is beginning to buck, semen shooting into her open mouth, pouring across his stomach, a huge tide of unstoppable reflex. He feels nothing, the drugs have blocked all signals to his brain: forced to watch the moment pass whilst simultaneously trying to work out how he gets his consciousness to fuse back with his body, Oz can’t understand why he doesn’t care. This is a big deal, remember? You should be there, in there… Seed runs away, scattered to the ground where it begins to grow, pale silver tendrils wrapping themselves around his legs, restricting his movements. He needs to stop her, hold her, tell her how grateful he is but there’s a rrrip of foil and something strange on his cock and her words in his ear we need to be safe, right? He tries to reach down, to stroke her hair and kiss her neck but the ground gives way as he feels her muscles around him and in him and

ohmygodit’shappeninghavetogetbacknowaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh

It’s over before it’s begun, the second spurt as she digs her nails into his arms, drawing blood as she screams into the night, drowned by a sudden throbbing bass rumble as the sound system overloads, plunging the entire desert into darkness. He’s no idea how long he’s been conscious, when he passed out or whether he dreamed the whole thing in the first place… then he feels the sudden burning feeling in his throat and the nausea is too sudden and violent to ignore. LuLu is stroking his head and asking if he wants to chuck any more… He’s lying next to a tent, inside which the lead singer of the headline band has one girl on his face and another around his dick, moaning expletives as the pair drag their painted nails across his body. He’s moshing, surrounded by hundreds of rabid drunken bodies, slick with sweat and caked in dust and silver paint…

“Oz?”

Consciousness is sudden, painful to every sense that still functions, ears complaining at the familiar scrape of metal on rubber as his van’s side door is pulled open. Outside it’s too warm to be the desert at night, the vague smells of vegetation and civilisation at the end of a long and hot Summer. He’s back in Sunnydale. Somewhere between Friday and right now he lost a whole weekend in a haze of stop-motion images: he knows what happened, just not the how and the why. Gotta stop doing this or you’re gonna explode. He feels like he could sleep for a week, but ten hours will have to do… there are too many questions but not enough words as someone lifts him, puts his arm over their shoulder, drops him on his bed, drives away in his vehicle.

It can wait until the morning.



Oz wakes up.

The sun is far too bright through the cherry wood blinds, smells of the desert clashing with familiarity, seeping through his semi-conscious defences. He aches in places he wants to forget, but the pain in his soul is too insistent to ignore. Emotionally he’s dead, having killed his own hopes thanks to too little independence and too much stupidity: that is enough to wake him, to force a body abused by the world to demand attention. He only just makes it to the bathroom before he vomits: it’s close. After the first retch there’s nothing but bile and pain, yet it keeps coming, spasm after spasm: the brutality a reminder of the perils of his situation. Finally, blissfully, he looks up and focuses on the clock: 8.45am. Downstairs there is movement, his family well awake. No way to avoid this, just take it head on.

It takes an hour in the shower and bathroom to return his physical state to something approaching normal, and he’s grateful for the acetone he finds in the bathroom cabinet. He’s all out himself, and he remembers all to clearly what happened the last time he went downstairs after a weekend away with the remains of his own efforts on his nails. Rebellion in this family has to happen, sure, just a step at a time. Right now, he’s doing it with clothes. The only souvenir of the weekend that’s not covered in either semen or vomit seems a good place to continue the resistance: that shirt the guys stole for him when he refused to enter the brothel, late on the Saturday night. Everyone grabbed some kind of a souvenir, that was the deal. Instead of sampling the women for himself Oz sat in the van, playing his acoustic, making a note to himself that when he gained manhood, it would be with someone special.

Yeah, and that promise lasted all of a day. Maybe it’s time to stop just doing this stuff and start thinking about the why. Maybe it’s time to get serious and find some new guys to hang out with on the weekends… Jesus, he sounds so old, and he is, a whole year gone, lost in the dust. Can’t ever get it back, remember?

Time to make a change.

Oz clears away the detritus of his weekend, wrapping his clothes and stashing them in his guitar case, to wait for the moment he can clean them without his mom seeing the stains. Then he opens all the windows, letting the Sunnydale air wash through his room, blowing the last of the cobwebs away while he braves downstairs and does something about the ache in his stomach. He arrives in the kitchen just as his mother is clearing away the breakfast things: his bowl and plate remain, Mom prepared to extend serving for his benefit. They never talk; it’s enough just to be there every morning, to keep up the pretence of routine. The smell of cooking batter should make him ill, instead there is a level of familiarity that soothes his senses, settles his stomach. He hasn’t eaten for over a day, it’s time to take the plunge and see what happens. After the sixth mouthful of pancake he knows things are returning to normal.

This next year at school will be different: he’s gonna work hard, do well, and work out how to make something of his life. Plus, he’s gonna find some new friends, special people who won’t get him stoned, then leave him in a pile of his own excretions in the middle of the desert.

Or who will steal his van when he’s unconscious.

”Sweetie, did you hear me?”

Mom is talking to him, and he’s not listening.

“Sorry, say that again?”

‘You haven’t forgotten, have you? You promised to babysit Jordy for Aunt Maureen tonight… you haven’t got anything planned?”

Jesus, after what’s just happened he could do with some monotony, plus Jordy’s too hyperactive to allow him to think for too long. That’s no bad thing. Yeah, babysitting will be cool.

What’s the worst that could happen?


 

Bad Day

WiP Day

There comes a point, in every writer’s life, when you look at a segment of plot and realise, with a heavy heart, that it is absolutely dire. After 16 years, I’ve revisited a story that is very important and yesterday, came to the first truly shoddy section of work. [*] I can’t in good conscience allow it to remain as it does, but the dialogue and exposition that takes place is pretty much vital to the overall development. So, not without a measure of trepidation, there has to be a rewrite of the entire thing from the ground up.

Once upon a time, this would have been enough for me to abandon the project. In fact, I know that’s the reason this has never been finished, time and again. At every point a problematic issue occurred, where hard-written words would have to be destroyed, panic would ensue. The epiphany that resulted from this bombshell yesterday has been making ripples all over the place this morning, and that is NEVER going to be a bad thing. In fact, it’s released a creative block that’s been hamstringing real progress for some time.

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I don’t care who you are, and how brilliant you believe work to be, everything can benefit from not being just written and presented as is. With blogging, goalposts can shift a bit, depending on the time of day something is written, or the creativity level you happen to be at when the post takes form. With fiction, rules are very different, because what matters above all else is your ability to maintain a believable narrative state. You’re selling this fiction to a reader, and to make it really immerse, there has to be a total belief that what you’ve presented is the best work possible.

That seems to matter a lot more in the realms of science fiction, which is where my story probably would be placed if they were selling it in a bookshop. Therefore, this section needs to be completely re-thought. I’m doing that right now, as it happens, as this is being typed. The scene in my head replays, over and again, working out what moves and stays, where characters shift, how dialogue alters. As soon as the sequence feels right everything is likely to be dropped so it can be plotted: that’s why the notebook’s here (/points) in case that happens when I’m out of PC range.

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Once upon a time there was a mistaken belief that all that really mattered was a decent story: now I grasp that with the best plot in the world, shoddy presentation simply make everything look bad. All the stuff learnt, over years of writing non-fiction, leads to the inevitable conclusion that sometimes, it doesn’t matter one iota how brilliant the prose is if the point you want to make is lost or indistinct. In my case, I’m explaining a central conceit of my novel here, and not doing a decent job at all. I’m 90% certain this is the right place to be doing it in (setting is solid) and the people doing the explaining are the right ones (characters are sound) it is just how those two things combine that is lacking.

Piece by piece, combining the factors required to make this work something that really matters, it will be completed in the timescale I put aside to do so. That, in itself, will possibly end up being the biggest triumph of all.


[*] Let’s face facts, it could all be shit, I have no idea, but there has to be a benchmark somewhere ^^

Take the Long Way Home

WiP Day

Those of you paying attention will know that Thursdays are now intentionally quiet on the Blogs because I’ve decided to dedicate an entire 24 hours just to writing fiction. The positive effect this is having on mental health is not to be underestimated, quite apart from the actual progress being made. 40 pages of editing was managed on MMXCI and the hope is to double that this week, but that’s not the whole story. I also forced myself to hunt down and seek out half finished works, notebooks full of treatments, and to track down fragments of documents saved on various back up CD ROMS.

The result is a new found confidence over what I have produced, and what can now be built from the foundations in place.

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Not all of these ideas are great, lets be honest. I’m not about to start shouting my proficiency from the rooftops, but there are elements from some stories that can be co-opted into others, for example. There are ways to take ideas and adapt them elsewhere, but the key is that everything is written down. Learning how to notebook, or if I’m on a treadmill write notes on my Phone has become a thing of great usefulness, and I’d argue that any artist benefits from not just working in their familiar spot or favourite space. Taking yourself out of comfort zones makes for interesting writing. By far the biggest buzz I got writing poetry this year was at a local festival. Sometimes, it helps to mix it up and do stuff that’s scary.

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What has been the most significant takeaway from all of this however is that I can write a decent story (if I say so myself.) What hasn’t happened is experimentation, or any kind of extension outside of what were very long-established comfort zones. That’s why I’ve picked the oldest story to start with, because in effect it has the most potential for re-imagination available. As a result, a major character’s changed sex, and a number of key scenes are being replotted in my MMXCI edit, to better reflect what I feel is the true diversity of humanity that should be presented. It seems odd now, looking back on what I feel had to be normal, realising that my own blinkered imagination was only reflecting back the circumstances I was trapped within.

Needless to say, I’m beyond excited at what is potentially possible with all of these works going forward. I’ll be keeping you up to date on progress, and am hoping to pick a completely new work to serialise on the website starting next year.

Summer Holiday

Origins

This week, I am winding down for a week away which begins (unofficially) on the 16th. As a result, there’ll be the scheduled essay on Wednesday, but only intermittent service after that until the 23rd. It’s okay, you’ll manage without me, and there’s plenty of scheduled content via Twitter to keep everybody occupied in the meantime. However, whilst I’m away, there are other things afoot…

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A while ago, someone asked me if I’d be willing to share some of my fan fiction pieces. Well, I’ve been looking at possible candidates and there’s stuff I’m willing to admit were mine, and that I’m proud of after all this time. This includes pieces for CSI, Doctor Who, 24 and The West Wing, which I’m working on compiling currently and which will be given their own home on the site across the Autumn.

Watch this space for more details once I return from holiday next week.

 

Secret Messages

Origins

Before I leave the 1990’s behind for good, there is one story that is worth repeating. It’s not well known, and is the basis for a love affair with computing and the Internet which has failed to diminish over the last twenty years. It began on the back of unabashed fandom obsession for a TV show many people will never have heard of, but which is an important part of UK genre history. The year is 1995, and the TV show was BUGS.

This show was notable because it was created with input by Brian Clemens who was responsible for creating both The Avengers and The Professionals. It was, despite the now highly dated nature of the title sequence, pretty decent fare, and I have a fanfic written (almost complete) that covered my favourite period of the show. However, that was not all I was responsible for during that time period. For a brief and glorious two year period, I was Webmistress of the Official Website.

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Bureau Two was my baby: the Wayback Machine has copies of the site still archived from 20 years ago, when I was responsible for upkeep and was being paid by the production company to do so. This was the first time an external website was linked to the BBC’s own architecture, making it pretty much unique, and I was immensely proud of the achievement. The date on this capture’s apposite too: six days before the debut of the show’s Season 4, which was cancelled as a result of the Omagh Bomb on the 15th, as the opening episode contained an explosion. The series never really recovered after that, and was quietly cancelled, after which I signed over intellectual property rights and handed the data to the production company for upkeep.

This was my first experience of ‘professional’ writing too, and I was pretty proud of it. I liaised with the production company, had an editor to sign off all the work, and did it all off my own back. It made me realise I was capable of better things than simply the job I was beginning to hate, and gave me a vital lifeline away from my normal routine. Personal circumstances however transpired to push me away from pursuing this full-time, and becoming pregnant pretty much put the brakes on everything that involved dealing with other people. However, it allowed my fiction to finally get a look in. With confidence in web design, I started a West Wing ‘Fansite’ whilst waiting for my son’s birth in 2000, and succumbed to the rapidly emerging online Cult of Fan Fiction.

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We spoke about this last week, and you can read all the sordid details I’m prepared to admit there. On reflection, these were important times: using other people’s characters as a means to find my own voice has a fair deal of merit. I never made any money from them, nor would I wish to, but the lessons learnt concerning narrative structure really matter. More significantly, 2000 was when I began my first novel, which I pulled out this week after an absence of several months and again began to tinker with.

This time, however, it is going to be finished before the end of the year is out.

August’s Book of the Month

This Month's Content

August’s featured text is ‘Consider Her Ways and Others’ by John Wyndham.
You can buy it here.

Each month, the Internet of Words presents a selection of content: fiction, essays, poetry and non-fiction, inspired and directly influenced by our Book of the Month.

To learn more about what you can expect, please read this.



Available Next Month:

2nd August

Understanding Wyndham: Described by Stephen King as ‘perhaps the best writer of science fiction England has ever produced’ we explain who Wyndham was and how his craft was influenced by the two World Wars he lived through…

Click here for the full essay.

9th August

Consider the Future: Consider Her Ways quite literately changed my life when I first read it in my early teens. Over thirty years on, the story of ‘a world without men’ is still relevant, funny and ultimately believable…

Click here for the full essay.

16th August

A Master of Storytelling: The remaining fives stories that make up this anthology are all miniature classics in their own rights. We discuss them all, and how they are indicative of Wyndham’s larger body of work…

Click here for the full essay.

23rd August

Soft Reboot: In a future where men are grown yet women are created, a fledgling AI makes a tentative pact with a disabled girl to advance the human race…

Click here for the short story.


patreoncontent

All the exclusive Patreon content this month will be poetry-based, with subject matter inspired by themes from four of the six short stories in the collection:

Odd

Stitch in Time

Random Quest

A Long Spoon

Pledges for the site begin at only $2, which grants you full access to all exclusive material.

Click here to become a Patreon