Tag Archives: writing

Blogging Challenges

2 Jan

As I’m attempting to complete NaBloPoMo this month, I’ve spent the past couple of days trying to plan out my posts to keep myself on track. And what should I stumble upon while trawling the internet for inspiration but TWO creative writing challenges! The first is from Lady Antimony, whose Ghouls Galore challenge I took part in last October. The challenge is this:

Resolution Confusion!

You have 6 choices of ‘resolutions’ – it’s your job to twist them as you see fit, make it go wrong in the worst possible way! 
You have up to 750 words to do so.
You will post your entry on Tuesday the 10th of January.
The ‘Resolutions’

1: I will go on a diet and lose weight.
2: I will donate more money to charity.
3: I will work harder to get that promotion.
4: I will write that book and get published.
5: I will go to anger management classes.
6: I will drink less – alcohol, caffeine etc.
But as that’s only a one day challenge, I of course felt that I needed something else to keep the creative juices flowing. Again, Antimony helped me out here, her blog linking me to the #Nightgale challenge:

 4 stories, 200 words each, Thursdays in January

Immortality vs Mortality has been an intense topic through out the ages and especially with Romantic Poets. And I don’t mean romantic as in kisses, hearts, and flowers. I mean Romantic as in the time of Romanticism with William Blake, John Keats, and Percy Shelley. The time of Frankenstein and striving for the ellusive life everlasting through any means necessary.

As it will be a new year I decided that what better way to start it off than to embrace our fears and joys over our own mortality, isn’t that what everyone thinks about every new year? lol.

So for this Blog Challenge I issue you to create four stories 200 word minimum that includes a sort of journey or realization about immortality or the lack there of in striving for it.

In Keat’s poem Ode to a Nightingale  and Shelley’s Hymn To Intellectual Beauty they try to acquire or become one with  immortality in the following ways:

January 5th – PROMPT  Through Hemlock

Keats: “That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim:”(Ode To A Nightingale)

January 12th – PROMPT Immortality comes to you, you do not go to Immortality

Shelley- “Why dost thou pass away and leave our state, This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate?… No voice from sublimer world hath ever, To sage or poet these responses given – Therefore the name of God and ghosts and Heaven, Remain the records of their vain endeavour,”(Hymn To Intellectual Beauty)

January 19th – PROMPT To Die and become one with Nature

Keats – “Darkling I listen, for many a time, I have been half in love with easeful Death, Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme, To take into the air my quiet breath; Now more than ever seems it rich to die;”(Ode To A Nightingale)

January 26th – PROMPT : Writing is Immortality

Keats – “But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Though the dull brain perplexes and retarts: Already with thee! Tender is the night, And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,”(Ode To a Nightingale)

So there you have it! Check back here on Thursday to read my first #Nightgale entry, and if you want to sign up for either of the challenges then do so by clicking on the links which I’ve provided!

Fiction Friday: Santa vs. Technology

23 Dec

My first Fiction Friday in a while, the prompt was:

Santa has employed a publicity agent and marketing firm to revamp his style; as he feels he has lost touch with the modern child. In your flash fiction submission, choose a scene or event surrounding this event. It might be his decision, his attempts to approach credible firms, or a glimpse into what the “new look Santa” has to offer.

Santa sat in front of the computer, feeling thoroughly confused. Of course, he had delivered these machines to countless children over the years, but until the present moment he had never used one himself. Still, it couldn’t be too difficult. He had already managed to get the thing switched on, and after only forty five minutes. Everything else should be a doddle now that he had figured that out.

Three hours later though he was still staring blankly at the screen. That was the state in which Leonora found him when she arrived to check on his progress. Leonora was a publicity agent, and in her own shrewd opinion one of the best, but she had never taken on a client quite like Santa before. But then she always had problems with the older clients, she just needed to convince him to move with the times. He certainly seemed kindly enough, and hadn’t kicked up a fuss at any of her suggestions. Not even the one about the naked pictures.

Still, from the bemused look with which he greeted her she could tell that it was going to be a long afternoon. It was times like these when she wondered whether her policy of letting the celebrities have as much involvement as possible was really for the best. They tended to get irritable if they weren’t involved, but they were just so incompetent. For goodness’ sake, she could have worked her way through the majority of this list of tasks in less than an hour on her own.

“I just don’t understand what it’s all about.” He was saying helplessly now, gesturing towards the screen. “It all seems rather silly to me.”

Leonora sighed, flipping a wayward strand of hair out of her eyes with a long manicured fingernail and taking control of the mouse. “Twitter’s actually a very valuable tool for self-promotion.” She explained, willing herself to stay calm. “All the celebrities are using it.”

“I see.” Santa nodded, considering. “And what would happen if I pushed this button?”

The screen juddered and then went black. Leonora blew out a breath. She could smell a change of policy in the air.

The Night Of Writing Dangerously Live Blog

20 Nov

21:32: Time to get started! I have my laptop, my story plan, a room full of fellow crazy people, what more do I need?

21:35: If my laptop screen would stop wobbling it would be very much appreciated!

21:37: It would also be appreciated if the rugby lads who are chanting in the next room would shut up…

21:51: Oooh, someone has just mentioned pizza! Never mind the fact that I’ve already eaten, suddenly I’m starving…

21:52: One of my friends has just asked us for ideas of places to go on a third date. Another friend replied “To a bull fight?”

21:53: The first friend has now asked for the title of a fake romantic film. The second replied “Cow tipping…in Venice!”

21:55: Everyone is now discussing the plot of this fake romantic film. Coming soon to a cinema near you?

21:57: In other news, I’ve written 73 words in half an hour. Perhaps writing with friends isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

22:07: Pizza successfully chosen – now hoping that everyone else decides quickly so that we can order!

22:15: 185 words down. This is going incredibly slowly…

22:24: The mathematicians are now discussing square roots. Kill me now…

22:32: Pizza is now being ordered. Now if only I could motivate myself to write before it gets here!

22:56: “How would you describe something between soft and hard?” Someone asks. “It was like clutching a hedgehog!” Suggests someone else.

23:18: PIZZA TIME!!!

23:50: There has just been a rather epic fight over a brownie. Clearly we will do anything to distract ourselves from writing…

23:59: Our secretary has been maimed in a tragic sofa-vaulting accident. Who says writing isn’t dangerous?

00:31: Essential essay reading has taken priority over writing. Oh the trials and tribulations of student life!

01:17: Distracted again, this time by awesome word games. There is far too much hilarity and far too little writing going on in this room!

02:04: Finally started writing again, and have decided to extend the evening due to lack of progress. There’s some talk of staying until breakfast…

02:14: So far tonight, I have written 811 words. Not quite what I was hoping for, but it all adds to the word count.

02:23: Just broken 15,000 words.

03:16: Still not getting very far with this. Might be time to call it a night…

NaNoWriMo Update: The Night of Writing Dangerously

20 Nov

Much as it pains me to say it, I have to admit that I’ve failed. With only 14,000 words of my novel completed, I have realised that my chances of winning NaNoWriMo this year are slim at best. And having missed several days of NaBloPoMo, it would appear that that too is not happening for me this month. I could make excuses about work, and other commitments, and the need to prioritise sleep over writing, but they wouldn’t change anything. In fact, they would be little more than an excuse to procrastinate more.

So, instead, I am changing my goals, aiming for 25,000 rather than 50,000, and taking comfort in the fact that that will still be the longest piece I’ve ever written (certainly the longest I’ve ever written in a month). The rest will come eventually, and maybe this way I won’t completely fail my degree for the sake of NaNoWriMo. And to help me beat my pathetic word count into shape, tonight I am participating in the Night of Writing Dangerously with a group of friends from the Creative Writing Society. To make this event even more fun (and because I enjoyed it so much last time), I will be live-blogging my way through the night (which will go on until around 2AM). How many words can I write in just over four hours? Your guess is as good as mine!

Drabbles: Ice Fishing and The Crow

16 Nov

Firstly, an apology. As I knew would happen, I have given up on successfully completing NaBloPoMo. I am also severely behind on NaNoWriMo, although I have high hopes of correcting that with the Night of Writing Dangerously on Sunday. But I did get some writing done today, with the Creative Writing Society’s Drabble Night. For those not in the know, drabbles are pieces of fiction which are exactly 100 words long – no mean feat, I can assure you. I managed to write two, which I’m posting here for your enjoyment: constructive criticism is, of course, welcome!

Ice Fishing

Sometimes, in the winter, we would go to visit my grandfather in Canada. And sometimes, during those visits (only if we had been especially good), he would take us ice fishing. It doesn’t sound like the sort of activity that would entertain a small girl, especially not one who spent most of her days playing with dolls and reading fairy tales, but I loved it. The unknown of the water, hidden beneath its thick blanket of ice, fascinated me. I wanted to know what was down there.

Until, one day, I found out. And things were never the same again.


The Crow

The crow sits on the branch, silhouetted against the night sky. She looks down at the people walking below her, watches the wonder on their faces as they stare at the glowing moon turn to horror as they catch sight of her. She would smile in amusement, but her beak makes it impossible, so she simply lets out a loud caw, making the couple jump in fright. She can’t tell them that she means them no harm, that she’s only a crow who likes to watch the world go by. Maybe she wouldn’t if she could. No-one will ever know.

Ghouls Galore Challenge Week 4: Home At Last

9 Nov

This is a couple of weeks later than scheduled, but I wanted to finish the mini-saga which these prompts had inspired, so here it is, hopefully better late than never!

The prompts were:

Borborygmus (Rumbling in the guts)

A creature of your choosing

Home At Last

“Do you know,” Michael mused, collapsing exhausted onto the living room sofa, their mission finally completed, “I’m starting to think that Crazy Meg might be in league with these creatures.”

Sarah raised her head wearily to give him her patented Big Sister Glare. “Stop looking for trouble!” She scolded. “She may have led us on a bit of a wild goose chase, but I think she’s just mad, not evil.”

“Not at all.” Ben agreed, quite charitably given the circumstances. “She hasn’t actually caused any of these situations, she just seems to enjoy prolonging our misery once we’ve landed ourselves in them.”

Just then, a loud borborygmus noise erupted from behind them. The siblings looked at each other in confusion, each making gestures to indicate that they had not been responsible for it. Eyes meeting, they each felt a sinking feeling in their stomachs as realisation set in.

“So what kind of creature do you think that was?” Ben asked, sounding more than a little terrified (and with good reason).

“I have no idea.” Sarah sighed. “But I’m sure that whatever it is, Crazy Meg will have a book on it!”

An Extra Four Hours

8 Nov

This popped up in the suggestions box when I posted my last entry, and I couldn’t help but think how fitting it was. I, like many other people, can never find enough hours in my day most of the time. But this month, what with all of the challenges which I’ve taken on, I barely have time to breathe, let alone anything else. So currently, given an extra four hours per day, I would:

  • Spend more time on NaNoWriMo.
  • Spend more time on my dissertation.
  • Spend more time learning Russian verbs.
The depressing thing is, I’m not sure that an extra four hours would be enough!! And, even more depressingly, I know exactly what I would do if I was actually given those extra four hours, and it wouldn’t be anything on that list. What I would actually do would be to procrastinate, and my friend recently found a graph which illustrates this phenomenon very succinctly:
The fact that he was trawling the internet for such links when he was supposed to be working on his fourth year project is very fitting, as is the fact that I was on Facebook so see it when I should have been working on any of the things listed above. Procrastinators unite…tomorrow!

NaBloPoMo Prompt Responses

7 Nov

As you probably know, I’m participating in both NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) this November, and for NaBloPoMo there are daily prompts to help get the creative juices flowing. Thus far, I haven’t needed to use these, but today I decided that I would go back and answer the writing-related ones. Personally, I love reading writers’ blogs, and find it interesting to read about how they approach the creative process. I hope that some of you will be interested in reading about me!


What is your favourite part about writing?

When it all comes together. By this, I don’t necessarily mean finishing a piece, whether that be finishing a draft or making the final edit. I mean those moments when the ideas are flowing, the words seem to fit together perfectly, and I remember why I want to make writing my career. Invariably, I will then read something by a much more accomplished writer and be plunged into a black pit of depression, but it’s those eureka moments which make me want to persevere.


Can you listen to music and write? What song did you listen to today?

It very much depends. Sometimes I can’t bear to sit in silence, sometimes silence is exactly what I need. What I listen to depends on my mood as well (it can also depend on what I’m writing, but generally it all hinges on my mood), but generally I listen to the same song over and over. I live in student accommodation, so this practice must drive my neighbours wild, but I have to do it because only if I know the song well enough will it be able to fade into the background. I generally listen to music with lyrics though, mostly because I’m not a huge fan of classical music, so I won’t tend to have any at hand. Today I haven’t been listening to music while writing, but I have had “Mrs Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel on repeat for most of the day, so that would probably be my writing music of choice if I were to pick something.


When you are writing, do you prefer to use a pen or a computer?

Honestly, I prefer good old-fashioned pen and paper. I have a reporter’s notebook which I carry around everywhere with me, and especially when I’m on public transport I love scribbling away in it. However, that unfortunately isn’t very practical, especially with projects like NaNoWriMo, so with those I will usually type from the outset. Shorter fiction though, and even some of my blog posts, will start their life as biro scribbles in my little notebook.

Fiction Friday: Two Timing

6 Nov

I know I said that I wouldn’t be doing Fiction Friday this month, but apparently something has happened to my common sense, because here I am writing words that I can’t add to my NaNo word count. *sigh* The prompt this week was: “Your character has lived a life full of excuses and until now has gotten away with them”.

Jay hadn’t intended to get himself into this situation. On the whole, he considered himself to be a decent, upstanding sort of guy. Things had just spiralled out of control recently, and he had no idea how to fix them.

It had all started when he met Laura. It was the first time really that a girl had shown interest in him (getting rid of his braces and growing into his nose had helped), and naturally he had been ecstatic. He hadn’t really expected it to go anywhere though, despite exchanging numbers with her at the end of the night.

Then, not two days later, his lab partner Michelle had asked him out for coffee. At this point, he did feel the slightest hint of a guilty pang, but he doubted that he’d ever actually hear from Laura again, so he’d accepted. That was when the problems had really begun.

At first, it didn’t feel like he was doing anything wrong. ‘New York dating’, one of his friends called it, and although he was promptly berated for knowing such girly terminology, he made Jay feel much better. It was only coffee, only a drink, only dinner. He wasn’t doing anyone any harm, not really.

Two months passed though, and things began to get more serious. The L word started to be bandied around, and Jay wasn’t sure what to do. He wanted to say it back, really he did, but the trouble was that he wanted to say it to both of them. Was that wrong? He consulted with his friends yet again, and this time the vote was unanimous. Even the most laddish of them thought that his behaviour had crossed the line. It was around this point that he stopped discussing his relationship dilemmas with them.

It was around the year mark that he decided that this couldn’t go on much longer. He still didn’t know which of the girls he liked better though, they were so different and he enjoyed spending time with both of them. But dividing his time was becoming more and more awkward, the excuses were becoming more frequent and more creative, and the guilt was a rock in his stomach. He had to choose, and soon.

In the event, the decision was taken out of his hands. He was sitting in a restaurant, holding hands with Laura, when he saw Michelle walk in. He could have run, could have hidden, could have feigned illness and gone home early, but he just stayed, rooted in place. Watched Michelle walk over to them, saw her lips move without hearing the words coming out of them, observed everything as if in slow motion. This whole situation had been a disaster waiting to happen and, perversely, he was almost relieved to have been found out.

His last thought before drifting off to sleep that night was that at least he wouldn’t have to spend so much on dinners out in future.

NaNoWriMo Update: Word Wars and the Durham Write-In

5 Nov

I went to my first write-in today! I’ll admit to being a little apprehensive, more about what the weight of my humongous laptop would do to my shoulder on the walk down than anything else (cannot justify buying netbook just for NaNoWriMo, cannot justify buying netbook just for NaNoWriMo), but I’m really glad that I bit the bullet and went. The write-in was held at The Bishop’s Mill, a branch of Lloyds Bar, so a lot of self-bribery with chips and pudding was going on, which only added to the excitement. I got to meet some real NaNo vets too, including too who are publishing their own novels this year, and one who wrote 500,000 words in last year’s NaNo – if that doesn’t inspire/terrify you, I don’t know what will!

But for me, the best part of the afternoon was the word wars. I discovered yesterday with the Let The Words Flow contest that the best way to motivate myself is by having a challenge (as if NaNoWriMo weren’t challenge enough), and this proved true today as well. To illustrate this, here are some figures:

  • I stayed at the write-in for around two hours, in that time I wrote 1,733 words.
  • During my time at the write-in, I participated in two word wars.
  • The first was for 15 minutes, and I wrote 536 words.
  • The second was for 30 minutes, and I wrote 983 words.
  • Overall, therefore, I wrote 1,519 words in word wars, and 214 on my own.
So if anyone fancies a word war, then feel free to get in touch! Best inspiration ever!