Returning in Circles

February 11, 2012

To tell the truth, sheepish hesitation slunk through my finger in the second before I clicked into the ‘New Post’ box. I’ve returned here so many times from so many departures that I might as well be going in circles. I’d like to think, however, that they may be increasingly tighter, more practiced loops – like an eight year-old getting better at using a spirograph – and while I’m not sure that’s much to shout about, I should just embrace the wayward path of my blogging orbit and stop making excuses for myself.

So; hello again, most fine of readers. First up, I should mention that writing about videogame stories came to a halt when I actually found gainful employment working in the IT department at Aviva, something which has turned out to be a lot more enjoyable than I would ever have imagined, with the added bonus of paying somewhat better and more reliably than writing articles for small gaming sites. I have a suspicion some might also refer to this as ‘growing up and acting sensibly’.

As a result, writing has once again been elbowed out of its cosy corner in my life and I find myself, in quiet moments, faced with mental images of wide, doleful eyes asking ‘What are you going to do with me?

When pondering this question, I come to the same conclusion that, over a few years of writing things largely for my own amusement, I’ve never really done much at all with the fictional side of my writing.

There are two exceptions to this:

The first is a poem about the 2004 Tsunami, which can be found HERE. It was one of the first poems I ever wrote, at a time when I was thinking a lot about the power and nature of the waves, and received the honour of having it included in a group of poems and stories written by and for people who had been involved with the tragedy. I was in France when the gathering it was part of took place, but the poem was read aloud there by my girlfriend of the time – who I cannot imagine doing anything other than knock it out of the park – and I have always felt a real sense of resonance in remembering that my writing was out there amongst people, intertwined with their experiences and feelings. It feels like the words mattered.

The second exception, when compared to the first, is… Well; go past the end of the scale and continue on to other side of the observable universe. It’s somewhere around there. ‘There’s Plenty of Room in my Heart’ is the grisly, comedic, zombie-horror romance poem that I wrote for Rigor Amortis. When I finished writing it, I had the sensation that for the first time I had ‘hit something special’; that the abilities I had been honing for years had actually come together and formed the sum of their parts. It got published, I made a mighty $8, and received the following review from Barnes & Noble:

‘One of the most memorable selections in Rigor Amortis is unarguably Alex Masterson’s poem “There’s Plenty of Room in My Heart.” It’s simultaneously gruesome, playful and romantic – and just a brilliant piece… Masterson’s poem by itself is worth the price of this anthology alone.’

Where to go from here? In fitting with the cyclical theme of this post, I intend on returning back to almost two years in the past – the period in my life where my fiction writing was at its most prominent (read: when I was an unemployed bum) – to pick up the fragments of everything I started, and actually get them finished. The fact that this era can be found a mere one page back on this blog speaks volumes, and I won’t make any promises on the regularity of updates here, but rest assured – I’m back in business, and this time things are getting published.

Blog Meets Blog

June 25, 2011

Hello!

I think’s it’s fair to say that my scribblings here over the last year have been haphazard at best. To be honest, I’ve recently found myself wanting to try something with a bit more focus. So to that (not particularly lofty, I’ll admit) end, I’m starting a new blog..

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*gasp*

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However! That’s not to say this corner of the Writing Kingdom will be completely abandoned – DM will continue to be the mind-mirror of my life, writing, dreams and delusions, however sporadic those reflections might come. Also, I’ve by no means given up on writing ridiculous stories. The new blog simply has a slightly different, more focussed direction.

As for what that direction is, if you were to consult your blogging compass and give it a spin, you’d find the needle pointing towards storytelling and narrative in videogames. I think that’s somewhere inbetween North-North-East and Behind You.

After brainstorming title ideas for at least ten minutes, I’ve decided to call it

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which is almost as satisfyingly vague and pretentious a title as ‘Digital Metaphor’, so I think it’ll serve nicely ;)

There’s also an only-a-little-bit-nefarious secondary goal for this upstart of a blog, which is that I’m throwing all my efforts into becoming a videogames journalist. Once again, I have something tangible to work towards, and as such, Persuasion Check will also provide a good way to start flinging my writing around the internet in a games-related capacity, and act as good writing practice in the process.

I’ll be opening up the lightning conductors and cranking the switch on Monday, so if you fancy taking a trip over and letting me know what you think, it would be appreciated!

The url is http://persuasioncheck.wordpress.com/

Well, I think all that’s left for me to do is wish you safe travels across the Great Hyperlink Ocean, and see you on the untouched shores of a new blogging land!

It’s Christmas Time

December 24, 2010

O here we go again, can you hear

The choir’s festive warbles?

Someone shut them up before

They shatter all the baubles

 

And twinkling down on Santa’s sleigh

Is a shower of glittering lights

As the portly gent of bearded bent

Tries on some fishnet tights

————–

Just a quick Christmas entry to wish everyone a great festive season! In terms of blogging activity, I’ve definitely been naughty rather than nice this year, and am thusly expecting a lump of cyber coal in my inbox from the internet Santa.

Merry Christmas!

Moving House

September 3, 2010

And here…

…we…

..go!

From an Up to a Down

August 9, 2010

The other day, Fate decided that, having reached what it presumably saw as the pinnacle of my life’s achievements, the only path left to me was falling backwards fifteen feet off a ladder onto concrete paving.

Needless to say I rather disagree with Fate’s assessment, and we’ve since reached a consensus that such things should, in fact, be kept to a minimum wherever possible.

Convincing? No? Alright. By ‘Fate’, I of course mean ‘the laws of physics’. What happened, was that after starting some cleanup work on the outside walls of one of my aunt’s properties, I discovered that ivy had snaked its way around the walls and roof, in the way that ivy always does (presumably given the absence of more interesting things to do, like go to parties, or, say, take up parkour).

This, I was told, would not do, so it had to be pulled down. Being a person who is not a giant, I needed a ladder for this. Luckily there was one to hand, which was fine for the lower strands, however the ivy that was entangled around the roof remained out of reach despite my increasingly frenzied efforts, one of which involved a pair of shears, which were too short, and then a broom, which was, well, a broom and so not really all that much use.

After five minutes or so of waving garden implements around, a spark of “I’m going to sort this out if it’s the last thing I do” determination* hit me, and I decided to recruit the garden table into my mercenary band of ivykilling brothers. I placed the ladder on top of the table to gain the extra height I would need, and began to climb. It wasn’t the most stable of setups, I knew, but I had someone holding it steady for me. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

I’m not sure what it was that did cause the ladder to topple under me, be it overzealous grasping, poor positioning, or badly timed breeze, but topple it did!

They say that time slows down in that sort of situation. As it was, I only had time to wonder which bit of me was going to hit the ground first, before immediately finding out. Fortunately it was my side and hip so the impact was fairly spread out, resulting only in some bruising and a slight House M.D.-ish limp for yesterday and today.

I got most of the ivy down, too.

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*idiocy

Good News, Everyone!

August 2, 2010

I have my first actually-in-a-book-made-of-paper-got-paid-for-it-’n’-all-publication!

It’s not Nocturn. No, the world isn’t quite ready for that one just yet ;) But my journey to the lofty heights of writerdom is underway and, like most things in life, it starts with a bit of zombie erotica.

Hold up – what?

Okay, let’s backtrack a little. A few weeks back I mentioned that I’d come up with what I thought was the best piece of poetic writing I’ve ever done. Well, turns out a few other people think it’s not all that bad either, and so the piece has made its way into Rigor Amortis, an anthology of zombie sex, horror, and for my part at least, wry comedy. ‘There’s Plenty of Room in my Heart’ (such is the title)  tugs – hungrily – at the old heartstrings, and ponders whether love can conquer the occasional over-enthusiastic love-bite and the odd bit of exposed viscera. ‘Tis a charming tale!

More details as and when the date of publication approaches, but there we have it – no longer just a writer, but an author. How about that, eh? :D

Blowing Your Mind, in Five Easy Steps

July 25, 2010

1. Go to YouTube – here’s a LINK

2. Start watching any video.

3. Pause the video.

4. Hold down the Left Arrow key on your keyboard.

5. Play Snake

A Sliver of my Scribblings So Far…

July 20, 2010

The arias of archangels arc through the air as I am “assisted” into the amphitheatre. Their anticipation appals me, my arrival announced with apish amusement, ablaze in affected affluence. Alongside the angelic anthems, their applause is an absolute aural agony.

Abominations, all.

Behold – the buzzing breaks, albeit briefly, into a breathless babble as a bolt of brightness bursts into being, far above. It bears downwards, becoming bigger and bolder in the blazing sky and I blanch, barely believing that the bastard would bridge the barrens of Babel to be beholden to my embarrassment… but lo – in a beat – he is before me, and he burns with bitterness and bile.

My betrayal is brought to light, and with a bellow that blasts me backwards, he broadcasts that I am to be beaten, until both body and brain are broken. This is, unbelievably, better than the barbarity I would brook from the brutes on the balconies above, so I bow. I will bear the first blow. But before it begins, he bends down beside me.

Baptism by blood, he breathes.

-   CRACK  -

I crumple. On cue, a cacophonous crowing cascades into the courtyard and the collisions continue, coming without cease as carefully, quietly, my consciousness creeps away, consumed by cavernous… crawling…

Dark.

An Aria of Alliteration

July 17, 2010

This week, amongst property adventures and employment explorations I’ve mostly been writing a new short piece of fiction, naturally in complete odds with the writing goals set out in my last entry. It’s a bit gimmicky really, but basically the story is made up of paragraphs using words beginning only with the same letter of the alphabet,  going from ‘A’ to ‘Z’ (which, oddly, hasn’t been the hardest part to nail down). Almost.

I say ‘almost’, because without ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘a’, and other incidental words, even Tolkien or Lovecraft in their wordiest of writing fevers would have had trouble pasting a coherent sentence together. Believe me I tried it, but after much humming and lip-chewing  decided to forgo my first idea for a piece of writing that’s actually – hopefully – interesting to read, rather than just a pile of words that start the same way. I’m not using any thesauruses (or thesauri? The debate rages within us all, I’m sure), so it’s a masochistically enjoyable process, as I’m having to scrape the very bottom of my vocabulary knowledge with each new section. It’s a test of how capable I am, and all said and done, this thing is probably a psychological response to the fact that, lacking employment, I have no other outlet in which to prove to myself that I’m not completely useless. So this is how I’m doing it.

As for the story; it started off as the fairly mundane tale of a man looking for his kidnapped friend, but – and don’t ask me how – quickly turned into a much more… theological, supernatural tale of power and misjudged malice. Basically, more of the fun stuff ;)

Deep Space Discs

July 11, 2010

As most of us know by now, being stranded on a desert island these days means becoming instantly embroiled in adventures involving mysterious hatches, smoke monsters and electromagnetic anomalies. You wouldn’t even have the time to listen to your favourite CD ever, or settle down with a good book.

The silent voids of deep space, however? Now there’s a desolace worthy of a castaway from the 21st century! And so, if you were left drifting through space, and could have one book, one album, one game (or film), and a luxury item, what would you choose?

I would take these:
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1. Book – The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

As a young’un I was a rather voracious reader – a bit like Mathilda, but without the domestic abuse and psychic powers. However, for all my word-munching,  I didn’t know what comedy writing truly was until I stumbled across The Guide. Obvious thematic practicalities aside, I chose this book as my papery space companion for a few reasons. Firstly, it is emminently re-readable; there are a wealth of clever little details to pick up on, and the humour hits home on so many levels that it demands just a little bit more effort from the reader than they might be used to. And that was what attracted me so much as a child, and has kept me coming back. Secondly, this particular version of the book is comprised of all five parts to the story, so once I’d read the first three books, I would go about trying to rewrite the last two so that they were better, keeping me well occupied between bouts of space-snoozing. This leads on to the third point, which is that on reflection, the appreciation of Mr. Adams’ writing style served me well as a diving board into my own scribblings.

2. Album – Appetite for Destruction (Guns N’ Roses)

There are more complex compositions out there, sure. And those which perhaps invoke a fuller spectrum of emotions across their tracklist, but to me, if I was lost in the universe with no sign of rescue, nothing beats Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction for sheer energy and bravado. The guitar licks in this raw monstrosity could melt suns, and there’s not a single duff* track in there. Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City and Sweet Child of Mine are the well-knowns, but it’s the dynamic riffs of tracks like Nightrain and You’re Crazy that would keep my spirits burning long into the endless night.

3. Game – Planescape: Torment

This is a rare beauty of the gaming world. The experience offered by Planescape: Torment transcends  simply being something to ‘play’.  You take on the role of The Nameless One, a man who, for one reason or another, cannot truly die. He has lived thousands of lives, but each time he dies, he loses part of his memory. By the time we pick up his story he is waking up on a mortuary slab, covered in tattoos, with absolutely no knowledge of where, when, why, or who he is.

‘What can change the nature of a man?’

Along The Nameless One’s journey, it is you, as the player, who addresses that question, exploring his past and present, and forging his future. It’s a role playing game, with a script of 800,000 words. Yep. And the number of different decisions and choices you can make are astonishing, as you explore Sigil, a city of doorways to every other plane of existence. And those doors could be anything – a word, a feeling, an object…

Aside from its thoughtful reflections of the decisions we make, and what makes people tick, PS:T is also highly replayable due to the number of different paths it is possible to take through the game. So off it goes with me into space!

4. Luxury Item

Pens and paper for writing. Technically multiple items, I suppose, but it’s my catastrophe – I’ll let myself off. And who knows, with all  that time I might actually get something finished. And, er, be the only person to read it…

*(Hoho!)


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