Saturday, November 05, 2011

Splodgenous Abounds

Let's hear it one more time for introspection!!!

What a complete and utter waste of my life. At least, when I've frittered away what little time we get in the past, I've had inane bollocks such as drugs or Margaret Thatcher to blame. This year I've blamed my health and I'm not yet 50. How pathetic is that? Actually, not having any money has been the key factor; but it's really easy to just blame a bad back or aching elbow to avoid doing something and at times over the last six months I've done just that. Inactivity breeds inactivity. I know this for a fact; I've lived it before.

However, a word in my defence. Actually. No. I have no defence. I could have done more. Full stop.

I'm happy about the fact that I've been writing - practising - a lot and two finished rough manuscripts for short stories - however quickly I wrote them - is at least something to show; but that's about it and with the amount of time I've had that number should be at least half a dozen and a couple of finished - you know, properly finished - stories. So, with a nod to my new job. I'd give my last 6 months a D+ and that's only because I have a soft spot for myself...

***

Shortie had an early night, because she's working overtime today; so I pottered about the house for a while; watched some mindless TV - The Graham Norton Show (for which I felt a little sorry for Carey Mulligan and Ed Byrne, because they essentially might as well have been in the audience once Depp and Gervais took over. Mr Depp is a strangely hilarious character; you'd never guess he was American) - and sat in my office doing something I've made into an artform - doing nothing. I'm not in a frivolous games mood at the moment, so my time wasn't going to be wasted with that; so I sat and stared at a blank Word document, trying to work out if I really like the new idea I've had enough to actually try and write it.

Picking up on the odd things that have inspired my two previous short stories, I had this idea about the worst winter in the UK ever - a freak mini ice age that grips the UK between the end of November and the beginning of March. A winter so bad, that 40 feet of snow has fallen in some places; the country is at a complete standstill and 90% of the British Isles is under snow, ravaged by sub zero temperatures and weather conditions are preventing anything but token help from the armed forces and government. Talking about it probably means it won't happen; but what the hell...

Tentatively called Cold As Hell and following on the slight theme I've had in both short stories I've written this autumn - isolation - it was/is the story of David - a 62 year old semi-retired plasterer, whose wife and eldest daughter have gone for a pre-Christmas get away in France, leaving him to rattle around the house for a week. Once the bad weather sets in and disrupts every body's lives, David settles down to an enforced period of doing very little, but his peace is broken by Winston; David's nerdy and needy 30 year old neighbour. Winston is mixed race, lived with his mother until she died and now exists in the house adjacent David's, fuelled by his love of science fiction, horror, comics and a most bizarre music taste. Winston can't cope and David takes him in thinking he could do with the company.

The weather gets worse and the small town the two men live in becomes cut off from the outside world; the power goes out and suddenly it becomes a battle for survival against the elements and for David against the onslaught of shite spurting from Winston's mouth. Soon even the phones are down; mobile networks become strained and people are dying; but David and Winston are unaware of this as they play out their own drama in David's terraced house. By the beginning of February, with snow drifts higher than houses and even major roads impassable, the need for food becomes dire; David decides the two men need to walk the ½ a mile to the local supermarket, but even the small distance proves too much for Winston. So they return to David's house and sit and wait for the snow to stop.

Several nights later, David spies a lone figure struggling through six foot of snow. He watches the man for an hour as he makes less than 100 metres progress before he collapses in the storm. David rushes to his aid and eventually gets the man into the house. He is 28-year-old Mickey; an ex-con who, it seems, was looking for empty houses to burgle - for food and whatever he can flog once the weather changes. He'd been outside for 6 hours and got lost in the white out. He was going to freeze to death if David hadn't seen him. Mickey had a bag with some food in it and tells them that the supermarket had been stripped clean.

It doesn't take Mickey long to realise that Winston is the world's largest pain in the butt and what happens next explains how they survived the next four weeks before the weather broke...

Now that I've put paid to that by talking about it; I might come back to it at a later date, because I see it as sort of a play, because it will be dialogue heavy.

Roger had this good idea, which was to collect all the short stories when they're finished and publish them on Kindle. It's certainly not against the realm of possibilities; I've got over the hurdle now - the physical one and the mental one - so, who knows? If I do that I want to have at least 5 short stories - average 20,000 words each - so that it's value for money.

Talking about Kindle. My Monthly Curse made it to #1 in its category chart back in August, it was only for a couple of days, but I was chuffed to bits; despite that #1 position being attained by selling just under 40 copies. Of which I'd like to send a massive sloppy kiss to all the purchasers. Hopefully I'll have a spurt at Christmas, but my sex life isn't being discussed here.

I have an edited version of the book now; my old pal Dave Brzeski, former main man at House on the Borderland, offered to pass his eyes and editing skills over the manuscript - something I really should have done before publishing it, but I'm nothing if not impetuous. I've had Dave's edits for over a month now and have done nothing with them; but this coming week I'm going to do the necessary and merge the two documents together and making all the adjustments that were missed in the last edit and spell checks. There's no need to quote to me about stable doors and such. I was new (and impetuous) to this e-book publishing and once I've integrated Dave's changes and possibly even added a couple of bits - including the What If Halloween Special I put up on the Comicbook Diaries blog last week - I shall right the ill judged wrongs I did and make a 'proper' version available. It is also my intention to explore a couple of other options - Nook, e-books and iBooks have all been mentioned and I've signed up to one of those on-line agent type things that do a lot of the donkey work for you and don't appear to take much in the way of fees.

So, by the time December rolls around; I hope to have the book available in different formats and also the definitive version. You know it makes the perfect Christmas gift!

Anyhow, the last 100 words has been a digression because this was initially going to be about me sitting in front of a blank screen and what happened to prevent me from doing anything but sit and listen to events unfolding outside...

We had a tense night because there were firework parties all around and three of the four dogs were having nervous breakdowns (Marley wanted to go and watch and say 'woo') and I was growing increasingly pissed off with people who decide to stand around in the drizzle watching pretty lights. When it had all ended and the dogs settled, the wife in bed and me bored, the party, three doors down, broke up.

Now, I do sometimes give the impression that I get exasperated at some of my Eastern European neighbours, but the family who live next to the Incest Family are all from Lithuania and they seem to celebrate November 5th (ish) with more gusto than a teenager who's just discovered wanking. God knows how much they spent on explosions, but for about 45 minutes WW3 took place above my conservatory and they all woo'd and ah'd and clapped and shouted slightly odd Baltic phrases. Anthropologically it was quite fascinating; in reality I wanted a harpoon gun and some acid.

The thing that struck me was how people leaving parties seem to forget it's gone midnight and most people are in bed. The vocals always seem to be turned up to 11 and when you can't understand what they're saying it sort of gets even more frustrating - I think it tweaks our xenophobe gene. Anyhow, I'm sitting here listening to a lot of words that sound both Russian and Finnish and every so often there would be a burst of English, which made the conversation all the more interesting. For starters, in the middle of a load of Lithuanian were the words, 'I'll f*cking slap the bitch' and 'You are a f*cking whore'. Now, I don't know if this was just them relating things they'd heard or had said to them, but the majority of the English words came from a very agitated woman and sounded like they were directed at a person rather than the retelling of something. I crept into Shortie's sewing room and peered out of the window. There were two woman squaring up to each other, surrounded by about six men, who seemed to be egging them on.

Next thing I knew, the blonde, who had a line in English swearing, attacked the other girl, grabbed her by the hair and all complimented by screeching, shouting, expletives and cheers from the men. From out of my direct view came the guy who owns the place; he strides into my view, grabs the two girls and bellows at them all. Obviously he's more than aware of what is happening right in front of his house and, worryingly for me, right by the Sexy Tractor. Then something really unusual and quite disturbing happened. The blonde girl starts ranting at him and he slaps her, clean across the face. I heard the thwack and winced. The girl then walked off followed by too slightly stunned looking male admirers. The rest of the gathering broke up quietly and the guy who lives down the road, dragged the other woman back into the house, literally. I went back to my office and stared at the screen a little more and then played some Patience.

About twenty minutes later, I was brought out of my torpor by, "I'll f*cking kill you, you c*nt". The blonde was back and she was standing in the road wielding what looked like a baseball bat. A load more Lithuanian was shouted and the owner waltzes into the street, takes the baseball bat from the woman with amazingly speed and ease and chases her down the road with her own weapon.

Jokingly, I've had the description of where I live - on Facebook - as 'dodgy' for ages and only last week, I changed it to 'slightly dodgy'... Ho hum...

***

Anyhow, enough burble aside. I have stairs to hoover; saag paneer to consider and a house to bop around to the dulcet tones of Ms Welch and her Machine!

Have a good weekend you spunky buggers!

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