Asteroid Blues resurrected

It’s true, writing involves gestation time, like baby chicks, bread, and monsters inside John Hurt. Last night inspiration decided to recur, and Asteroid Blues has a story I’m actually excited about, and it seems to be making sense at last. It takes a while to plug into the characters, sometimes, to actually LISTEN to what they want, and the poor sods also needed a decent story to hang off – or I needed to HEAR that story. Anyway, I think we’ve made it. Writing will burn on full this evening.

I swear I would have woken up to start it early this morning, before work, but sadly the cat decided to hack up an especially gloopy furball at about 4am. Thanks, Moz. Kept damage down to one bath mat at a wipe clean tile. She looks so sad once she’s done it, like a fluffy, slightly ill little chicken.

So she’s all right and I’m certaily not blaming her. But when is the best time to write? Well, ‘any time at all’, should be the answer. In reality it’s more like – when I have a quiet moment. When I’m not knackered. When I’m not rushing out the door to work.

No more excuses. Gotta get on with this.

Asteroid Blues resurrected

Rewrites and the value of feedback

So, the first draft of ‘Sleepers in the Sand‘ has been done. That was relatively easy; the story pushed itself out into the world, creating something nasty which will hopefully appeal if you’re into horror, at least on first glance. It’s not a classic, but I want to be proud of it.

The gist of ‘Sleepers in the Sand’ (working title) is that a boy is on holiday at a fishing village with his parents. He meets a girl and after a while, even though he’s a bit sick of her, he decides to go with her to a secluded spot where they can make out. Then it goes slightly Wicker Man.

I’ve shown it to two people I trust and the feedback seems to be:

Character motivation. It wasn’t clear why the boy acted the way he did.

Setting. Emphasis on the location of the story, more description

More buildup. This ties in with creating the setting and establishing a greater sense of atmosphere, perhaps making the setting for the horror contrast more with the holiday setting

Too nasty. While this is a valid criticism, ‘Sleepers’ is a horror story, but the criticism involved me doing ‘more with it’.

There were other criticisms more specific to moments in the story, which would be fairly spoilery to relate now. Suffice to say, I’m still thinking over the feedback and a reworked, buffed up and sweetly despicable new version is percolating in my head.

I have other stories to work on, as well. Some are horror, some are more fantasy-sci-fi based, and I think one is going to dabble in crime or noir fiction. More on that lately.

What I really should do is redraft ‘Asteroid Blues’, as not having it complete is giving me heartburn. Now that’s a thought…

Rewrites and the value of feedback

Almost finished….

Feeling pretty good about the ‘Sleepers Under the Sand’ story. It’s got sand, sex and scary shit. It’s short. So short. But I’m about to complete it. That means a lot.

I’m determined that this won’t be one of those writing blogs about a writer who never actually writes anything and spends hours moaning about not being able to write. Not that there won’t be a bit of that. Like, 30%, tops.

I think the process of it is quite interesting, but I know full well what I’d rather read. Stories, not excuses. Narrative, not boring old real life.

Anyway, I’m hoping to have it posted in the next day or two. Just want to get it right. But the story is nearly done. Is examining it good or bad? Being too conscious of the process can really kill a story. But if you don’t do that at least a bit, you could be the literary equivalent of a heedless X-Factor contestant. Shudder.

So, stay tuned. ‘Sleeper Under the Sand’ is coming soon…

Almost finished….

When in doubt…

When in writing doubt, anyway, I’ve decided to do what I do with books and open up another.

I thought Asteroid Blues was going well but what do I know? I’m only writing it! It hasn’t exactly ground to a halt, but Blues is certainly being a dfificult birth. It might have to be a caeserean, or at the least be in there a few more days. Annoyed, but this is a learning – or a relearning – experience after all. They say it’s easier after the first one, right?

And because of this, I’m giving myself a straightforward little horror to try out, working title ‘Sleepers in the Sand’. A boy, a girl and a mysterious cove in Cornwall. Very promising. It’s as though I’m trying out styles that have intrigued me amongst all the books I’ve been reading. I’m still seeing a lot of this as a big purge towards getting back to GOOD writing. That’s where ‘Sleepers in the Sand’ is coming from, anyway. Channeling my Clive Barker, Brian Lumley and a dash of Ramsey Campbell here. All very derivative, but fun, I hope. Short and poisonous, and readable, let’s not ignore that important necessity.

When in doubt…

2012 – back on track?

2012 is here. Jeez. How quickly did that week off go? I feel I’ve had a break, but how fast things move! After a sunny and cold New Year’s day, on the day everyone has to return to work in the UK, the weather decided to be downright terrifying. Combine this fun with a gruesome cold (a six-tissue-box-er, bleurgh) and it was not the most auspicious start to the working and writing week.

It is amazing how things can change in under twenty-four hours. By the time I had breakfast today the sun had more or less returned and my cold was really getting its arse kicked by my immune system. Able to breathe at last, I put the tissue box down and started writing Asteroid Blues again, feeling a deep sense of focus after the darkness, frantic present buying and deadline-hitting (100 books, yay!) that dominated the dying days of December.

All right, I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but I will be writing the rest of this this evening, hopefully giving it a polish within the next couple of days, and then – not sure what I’ll be doing with it, but I want a completed story just to prove my brain is capable of it.

I can actually compare writing a complete story to figuring out an equation. A lot must be balanced to make it readable and satisfying. Even if this first effort doesn’t blow anyone but me away, I will feel like I’m well on my way to getting back to what I love.

Here’s the sample, see what you think:

K-DIC is the loneliest, most gutter-wasted dump of a planetoid you’d ever have the misfortune to land on, let alone live for the past fifteen years like I have. There are better asteroids barely a light year either side of us, which is where all the big cruisers went. K-DIC’s brief period of usefulness is long past, and even by the time I met Jed, most of its precious metals had been harvested and most of those miners had left, leaving just a few scrabbling in the dirt, finding tiny seams of rare minerals to sell for life-sustaining Credits. There was usually just enough to afford food and booze, and that’s all most people still on K-DIC actually wanted.Out of all these little left-behind colonies, eking out an existence on a forgotten frontier of space, I still can’t believe that Jed and Elly decided to spend their time on ours. Out of all those lumps of rock in space, the chances of them reaching our pathetic shithole still makes me shake my head.I was twelve, and already bored as hell of our tiny dustbowl. During the frequent nights I would fanatically follow the course of the big cruiser ships, their lights blazing above us as they headed to the C-CLARC or VN-GT ‘roids that were our still fruitful neighbours. I would dream of living a glamorous life aboard one of these, just as I’d seen on our scratchy vid screens, of adventure and beauty and having women (I was just noticing women) swoon over my exploits. I also looked forward to he occasional visits from the Army ships, the military cruisers would occasionally drop off small pods of soldiers who were patrolling these backwaters for the odd deserter or traitor that might try to hide out on our shit hole in particular. After a few synth-beers my father was fond of joking that not even criminals were dumb enough to come here.That comment just made me resent him more for staying put in the first place. K-DIC’s limits were suffocating me. After the Forever War, things calmed down a bit, but not quite in time to spare my mother, who’d been killed by an enemy grenade just a week after I was born. My father had left the army then and took me and my grandmother to prospect out here, where frankly things were already slowing down. We ended up on K-DIC and my father and Grandma soon got too comfortable to move, having found one of the last rich seams early on, and spending it all too fast, they got themselves wedged here on account of debts, and being setup with no real incentive to leave.For me, the flickery vid-screens were temptation enough, but the endless dust, which blew light blue and purple when the wind came from the east, and dark red and turquoise when it blew from the west, and brown the rest of the time, was intolerable. It tended to wear out the robotic machinery necessary to survive on worlds like this. Everything was rusting under its influence and I was at least kept busy doing that, when I wasn’t at school. I wasn’t often at school.Now, I’d kind of like to paint myself as a bit of a tearaway, but the truth is that apart from the truanting I was a pretty good kid. Both I and the teacher, Mrs Jonas, attended school even less once most of my friends has been taken off-world. As they left, the remaining ‘young people’ were either much older and more interested in each other, or just about old enough to walk. Either way, no one was left for me, so my father did something truly great, and just after my twelfth birthday he bought me a robo-dog.

Now I knew the robo-dog was a cheap knock-off of a ‘ROBO-PUP’ which I’d seen on all those scratchy vids each evening. A ROBO-PUP was a realistic Synthetic dog, with everything you could hope from a real dog (not that I’d ever seen one up close) and without the drawbacks, like crapping all over your lounge or physically needing a walk unless you felt like it. They also had fur – fur you could change to any colour you wanted. I saw some hideous examples, fashion-plate robo-pooches sprayed pink, with spiky glued or gelled hair and some with almost no hair at all. I didn’t want that, I just wanted a basic dog that would fetch stuff and growl on cue.Robo-dog, my cheap substitute, certainly looked like a real dog, although at a glance you knew it was no ROBO-PUP. He was a scraggly thing, perhaps he had gone through two previous owners before my father got hold of him. I named him Aggro – passing on Blood because it sounded stupid considering what a sweetheart he looked. Aggro just about suited him. He had a sleek brown coat, just long enough for brushing but a little worn in places. His eyes were dark and bright, and his bark was rusty, and sometimes he would growl even if I didn’t tell him to, or ignore the odd command and take ages to get back indoors. He became a great ally and excuse not to rush back each evening. Neither Grandma or my father could complain, as I knew that Aggro hadn’t been cheap, even for a knock-off.I think it was due to Aggro that my dad had to stop drinking for several weeks in order to meet repayments. My grandma quietly pointed this out one a few year ago.My time with Aggro didn’t last long. One day I woke up and prodded Aggro to come out and play with me before breakfast. He didn’t move. I prodded and prodded, and found his power button and pressed it and pressed it, holding it in, letting it go, even awkwardly trying a recharge as I knew he wasn’t a young dog. Still, Aggro remained in a curled up ball at the end of my bed, and heavy as the hulk of metal he actually was. I rubbed his worn out nose and hugged as much of him as I could. My grandma heard me calling and checked out Aggro. I’d already tried all her suggestions. She called to my father, who also took a look once he’d shaken off the synth-beer haze. He said, “Needs a new battery. We’ll have to check him out in town tomorrow.”We did this later that day, and waited for Aggro to recover, but it wasn’t the battery at all. Something inside poor Aggro was burned out, and when I heard this I ran off before anyone could hug me or tell me to get over it.I ran away from our homestead until I reached the abandoned carcass of the big DIGGA robot that the miners used to use. It looked as dead and gone as poor Aggro. We used to play near him, chasing around and pretending to hunt each other. Sniffling, I clambered up its side to a well remembered hidey hole, and huddled there, preparing to cry until the asteroid winds stopped blowing entirely. I think I was there for a long time.

I woke up with gritty eyes and an awful taste in my mouth. As I sat up I saw movement below me. As I cleared my vision, eyes stinging, I replaced my goggles and straightened up in astonishment. There, the last vision I’d have expected. A girl. More than a girl, and actual grown woman, and she was like nothing I’d seen on this rock before.

She had a mane of yellow hair, and although she was wearing a dark jumpsuit, she had long limbs and a sleekness that suggested athletic ability – and the jumpsuit did a very poor job of hiding her curves. I watched, transfixed, as she walked around the DIGGA with a frown on her face, her big green eyes taking in the rust, the rattling, the wear from all the dust, and above all, me. I didn’t pull away fast enough. She shouted, “Jed!”

A man came out of the DIGGA. He wore overalls, a checked shirt over these, and his goggles were pushed over his head making ragged hair stand upright. He ran to her, and lifted a gun.

…To be continued!
So, dreadful, endearing, likeable, worst crap you’ve read ever, please, if you have a minute, let me know what you think. Regardless, it will be completed this week! This was just a little bit, there is already more, but that’s the best chunk to show what the story is, until it’s done, redrafted and looking much, much prettier.
2012 – back on track?