Kicking the Video Game Habit

The other day my self discipline failed, and after weeks of craving I bought a video game. Addictions are never broken; they are only tamed. Eventually they will escape the leash and savage a passing pedestrian. For weeks I’ve been browsing the game shops, debating the for and against of giving in to temptation. This time the for side won, but for a very simple reason: giving in to the addiction was also the best way of kicking it.

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Unreal Reality

I’m working on a piece about my Top 5 ‘secondary realities’ this week. Imaginary cities, invented worlds,  inspired gallactic vistas…from  Tolkien’s Middle Earth to  Asimov’s Foundation Universe, what are the most fascinating unreal realities and why?

I have some idea what my top five are (I’m not giving them away just yet) but I want suggestions for any particularly wonderous worlds of imagination that I might consider, the weirder, cleverer or just plain more escapist the better.

Any and all suggestions gratefully accepted.

The Dark Elves Have It

Between pieces for the Guardian, reviews for the The Fix and various bits and pieces for the upcoming Clarion workshop I’ve had barely any time to do anything here on the ranch except occaisional posts linking out elsewhere. So today I’m going to update on writing progress which I’ve been pretty silent on recently.

This week I had to make the difficult decision to put The Black Bull back in the trunk for the time being. Its been causing me headaches for the last three or four weeks as I’ve been investing all my available writing time into it and making very little forward progress. This week I made a measured review of where I was with it and concluded that being 80% through the second draft I was absolutely certain that I would need to do a complete 3rd draft, radically overhauling the narrative voice throughout and completely rewriting the second half to make it publishable. On a 15,000 word story thats a siginificant task and one that is going to have to wait until after Clarion now, for one major reason.

For the last year or more I have been developing two ideas that I think will work as novel length stories. One is an urban magic idea, the other an epic fantasy. Whilst working on The Black Bull my mind kept coming back to the epic fantasy, suggesting new characters and events. About a fortnight ago I realised that the epic fatasy had won out and it was the idea I wanted to take a crack at developing into a novel. I took a writing day today, put the Black Bull away and started noting down story arcs and characters for the epic fantasy and wrote the dialogue for two scenes. Having been smacking my head against one story for a the last month its a release to turn to something I’m brimming over with enthusiasm for. So in the few weeks I have before Clarion, where I will be working only on short stories, I’m going to try and get the foundation of a novel in place so that I have something to come back to after San Diego.

The epic fantasy is going by the working title of The Fall at the moment. I’m not going to say all that much about it other than that its a tragic romance mirrored in the destruction of a utopian civilisation, and that it re-works the fantasy trope of dark elves. I’ll put some extracts up as they emerge.

I have three stories sitting in slush piles currently, The Great Western Pile is with Weird Tales, My Love Sick Zombie Boy Band is with Intergalactic Medecine Show and Horizon is with a market that shall for the moment remian nameless who have just let me know it is receiving ‘serious consideration’, which is good news in itself but fingers crossed the answer isn’t ‘After serious consideration, we have decided this really is as bad as we thought.’ !

And as a closing note, I have been using the writing software Scrivener on and off for the last few months and have been impressed enough to purchase a copy this week. It does two very useful things, the first being keeping a stuctural record of a piece of writing through a file and cork board system, and the second being flipping to full screen mode so I can only see the document I’m typing without other distractions. Highly recommended for anyone attempting a novel and I’m usualy very cynical about writing software.

Boring old sci-fi

OK, I admit it, sci-fi is boring. After endless Star Trek re-runs, innumerable badly scripted Hollywood movies and a thousand video games with pixel-deep narrative, the once wondrous ideas of sci-fi have become yawn-inducing. Fortunately for me, beyond the world of tedious mass media sci-fi, lies the exciting world of literary science fiction or “SF” constantly producing new ideas to satisfy my hunger for wonder. Now a radical sect of writers and critics claim that SF needs to abandon all those wondrous ideas, and concentrate instead on the everyday and the mundane. All hail the Mundane Revolution!

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