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Ode To The Hungover Man

You stumbling, shambling man

You dry mouthed, sore headed warrior

Memory, recent but impossible to grasp taunts you

Did you say that?

Did you mean that?

Did you really drink that?

Though the haze bacon and caffeine ring clear

Safe harbours in the chemical storm of your own making

The throbbing of your head plays the beat of a song that takes you back

To laughter and dancing and glorious abandon

A kiss

Her smile

You smile

Your stomach wrenches you back to the present as it somersaults

After relief and more shambling, you cocoon yourself

A survivor and liver of life

“Here’s to the next time” your mind mumbles

As you flee to sleep once more


100 Words A Day and Beyond: Re-Draft

At long last I have finally finished re-reading my story that I wrote 100 words a day of for a year. As I went along I covered it in notes because, given the way in which I wrote it, there was a lot that needed changing. Now that I have finished re-reading and re-evaluating the story I can see there is still a lot more to do. What I found is that I have tent poles of a story, some bits are already standing and connected, other bits need to be made to fit together with the rest. But mainly I need to flesh it out. The basic plot points will (he said tentatively) stay the same, I have a beginning, middle, and end, and various pieces in between. The details though are very much up for change.

When I first wrote this story I had no idea if I would even make it to the end, or if I did how I would get there. I forced myself every day to write 100 words and try to make sure they carried on from the previous day, and would in turn carry on to the next day.

Now I know where everything is going I can re-draft this story with far more focus and continuity. For instance, the image I had of the central character “the Man” changed very much from the start to the end of my year of writing this story so I am going to re-write him with this in mind. I am now also free of my limit of 100 words a day and so can more fully explore and develop other characters and the voice of the narrator. It means a lot of work, but also a lot of freedom and opportunity. It’s exciting. I go into this re-draft with a rough guide but also the ability to change what I want.

If you want to see what this story was originally you can read it here

What follows below is the redraft of the opening.

Thunder illuminated the great plains, and mountains that seemed to be their only boundary that towered before the Man. In the momentary light he saw a village straight ahead, huddled at the feet of the mountains. “So that is where I am headed,” the Man thought to himself.

   Purpose always drew him onwards. It guided him without ever telling the Man what would come next. That did not matter. Something always came next, it was the nature of the universe. Now “next” was the village and more importantly, the villagers. He wondered. The village was the first sign of life he had seen in days. Perhaps that was why he had felt the need to walk all the way: it impressed upon him the isolation of the villagers. Why, they might not have even heard the rumours of him, might even greet him warmly as a traveller with news of the wider world. The Man laughed. His experience had taught him better than that. More likely they would have heard a tale or two of him over the years and stretched it into a terrifying legend. No matter, everywhere he went it was the same, and he was sure it would be no different here.

   He completed the remaining miles in five steps. There was no use wasting any more time now that he knew where he was headed. The Man entered the village. Without seeing or hearing another soul he felt unwelcome. Lightless windows looked down upon him coldly. Doors remained steadfastly shut. Somewhere a wooden gate was slammed by the wind, creating a sound that feebly competed with the thunder that lit up this part of the universe once more. The Man stood in the centre of the village with his long leather coat blown behind him by the wind and waited for what was next.

   To his left a light came on and he turned his head to see an old man standing with a lantern at an open door. The old man’s eyes were wide. Along with his awestruck expression he wore a worn night gown. The two stood looking at each other for a moment, one bent and light, the other tall and dark. The old man beckoned the Man to come into his shack eagerly, and the Man acquiesced without pause that belied his surprise at the welcome.

   The Man filled the doorway for a moment before entering. He looked around at a scene of poverty and peacefulness. A single room unadorned by anything that was not necessary: a chair and a table, both wooden of course; on the table was a pewter jug and plate; a straw covered bed was in the corner; various tools hung on the walls. The old man himself was bunched down by a fireplace made of stacked slate, trying nervously to get a fire going as he kept furtively glancing back at the Man. Everything he saw as he surveyed the room appeared worn and used, functional. He thought coldly “every sign of being existed in none, of being lived in.”

You Did It

“You did it!” they all said.

“No, I didn’t!” was his defiant reply. It was malicious fantasy, designed to destroy him entirely.

But still they kept saying “you did it”.

It did not matter what he said. It did not matter when he demonstrated there was no evidence that he had done it, or when he showed evidence that it was not him who had done it. Still the world kept saying back to him: “you did it.”

He sought consolation from friends and family. “I don’t think you did it” was always their reply, with eyes that failed to meet his. Slowly he was abandoned. Isolated.

Soon he became a prisoner without a trial having ever happened. When he decided to venture from his prison everyone that saw him would stop, point, and say “you did it!”

But he hadn’t done it! He was sure of that, wasn’t he? Desperately, he clung to his innocence like a drowning man clutching at anything he could find. But just as a drowning man’s hand slips away from safety, so too did his innocence seem to disappear. The world said yes, and he kept saying no, quieter and quieter until yes was all he heard. Was that his own voice saying yes with the crowd?

Finally, the real trial did happen. “Did you, do it?” asked the judge.

“Yes, he did!” cried the world.

And he cried too, for he had forgotten the word “no”.

“Yes, I did” was his reply.

Waiting For The Crush

The planet was definitely getting bigger. Slowly, imperceptibly to the naked eye, it was growing. Yesterday it had not been there, and this morning it had only been a small speck. Now it loomed larger than a full moon.

   In the distance, though not all that far away could be heard the sounds of glass breaking, laughter, screams. As the planet got larger society cracked a little more. Josh did not care for that. He’d left the TV behind and been sat gazing at the impending doom for about an hour.

   It was brown, and mottled with various craters. In the top right there was a smudge that could have been a hand waving a sick greeting. Of course, everyone knew what it looked like. The pictures had been all over every channel with the man from NASA crying next to them. But it was better to see it like this. It was real. Seeing it on a screen fictionalised it and made it seem like all the other nonsense. The scientists had seen it on screens and paid it no attention. Now nobody could ignore it.

   There was an almighty crash which dragged Josh’s eyes away from the planet. He frowned. It was amazing how fast everything was breaking down, as if they were all racing the planet to complete Earth’s destruction. It would almost be worth it if the planet somehow missed Earth just to see what would happen, how they would continue, if they could continue. There was another puff of smoke out on the horizon.

   It was definitely getting bigger. He had only taken his eyes off of it for a few moments but he could tell. It was almost rudely big now like a nosey neighbour leaning over a garden fence. It would be an incredible sight before the end, filling the sky. Josh wondered if there would be anyone left to see that. He would of course be dead before then, he had no intention of waiting for the big crush. But for now, he was content to watch, just for a little while longer.

100 Words A Day And Beyond: It Makes Sense!

So it’s been just over a fortnight now since I began the process of editing my story that started out as a challenge to write 100 words a day for a year, so I thought I would post a little update as to how it’s going.

First off: it makes sense! This was genuinely a big fear of mine due to the way I wrote it i.e. write 100 words one day with no idea where it was going and then do the same again and again without really looking back. I was worried that the whole piece would be one big garbled mess with no clear narrative, just a sequence of snippets loosely held together. Thankfully this is not the case! A lot of that I think is more luck than judgement as the story lends itself to being written in this was as it is essentially the story of a group of people going on a journey, never knowing where they are going to go or what they are going to see next. This means I have what I hoped to have: the bones of a story. There’s still a lot that needs to be done. But I have something substantial to build upon.

So far I have been re-reading the story as I have not read any of it since I wrote it. As I go along I’ve been making notes, some about minor changes such as sentence structure or choice of words, others have been pretty major questions about plot and character as I attempt to build the story into even more of a coherent and quality narrative. I’m about a third of the way through and plan on reading it again after this time and to make more notes then. This is because I’ve realised I have managed to forget a lot of the things I wrote. Reading it all through twice will give me a better sense of the order of events and how they impact on the characters, how they affect the flow of the story etc.

One of the big changes I need to make involves characters, namely that I need some. This is the main way in which the way I wrote this story did not help. Essentially because I was more concerned with keeping the story moving and trying to have it make sense I neglected characters. The central character of the man is fine seeing as I intentionally did very little to develop him, preferring to keep him as a mysterious being. But the villagers who he takes with him are essentially just that, “the villagers”. They are all lumped together as his followers and faceless pawns. Every now and then I would briefly bring one to the foreground for plot purposes. But within a day or two I would forget about them and they would be bundled in with the others again. This then clearly needs to change. Like I said, the man is intentionally given little development or back story. But the villagers are who the reader will identify with, they are the ones who will change and develop over the course of the story. They are also a good opportunity as although I stress they are a small group there are several of them so I can develop a diverse range of characters who will be impacted differently by the weird and wonderful events of the story. To deal with this as I go through the story I am also making note of all of the different events that occur. When I finish my first read through I am going to create the villager’s characters, each one individually, and plot them against each of the events to map out how each of these events affects their character and so develop their arcs. This should add a lot more life to the story and make it better for the reader.

Aside from the writing side I’ve also started thinking about the marketing side as though it’s a long way off at some point I will be self-publishing this story and so will need all the help I can get. Of course I’ll be using my own social media to try and get the word out but that is rather limited. So far I’m thinking of contacting the local newspaper and my old university as I think that the way in which I wrote this story is unique and would be of interest to other aspiring writers and anyone with an interest in literature. Of course I’m welcome to any suggestions as without the backing of a publisher any exposure I can get is a bonus. Still though that is a long way off.

So that’s about all for now. There’s still a lot of notes to make and reading to be done, characters to be formed, and eventually some writing. I’ve decided to end these updates with a snippet from the story so I leave you with this.

The children felt the breeze before they heard it. It tickled across their skin softly at first, then it picked up enough force to blow away the oppressive silence and they heard it roar, rattling the leaves and branches of the trees. It died as quickly as it came. The children revelled to hear their breathing and the other minute sounds normally unappreciated. Then they heard the singing. It was everywhere, above and below, left and right, from without and within. It was singing not of meaning, but of sound alone, celebrating the beauty of sound. That was its only cause.

In the years after they heard the singing they would never be able to recreate what it sounded like, they would never even be able to remember it correctly. But when they tried to recall it they would always remember the feeling of it, a warm balm coating every aspect of their being. To hear the singing as they walked on made them walk with a renewed confidence, to grow in spirit, and, they realised looking at each other, literally. They returned to their adult forms and the baby wriggled free to walk as a child and then, the man.

He filled out the garments which had been cavernous for the baby and strode in with such purpose and vigour in the direction which the villagers had been walking that they felt vindicated. The song  only grew louder as they followed. Emboldened by the return of their guide and the spiritual salve of the music the villagers jogged after the man. The sunlight grew stronger and they realised the canopy of trees was thinning. Smaller plants grew now on the ground, breaking the monotony that was behind them. They reached the edge of the forest and looked upon a city.

This was the first time the villagers had ever seen a city . They had never before seen such a large impact made on the world by people. The city was entirely built of white rock which made it contrast with the entirely natural and colourful scene around it. It was nestled in a great bowl rimmed on all sides with forest. Waterfalls cascaded here and there, sending rivers and streams to slake the city. Within the high white walls ringing the city were buildings also of white, which grew in stature to the centre where the tallest of all stood.

“This is not the largest city built by man, but it is the most beautiful,” said the man, not quite smiling, but his face had softened showing his admiration for this metropolis. A slight vibration on the wind carried the sound of the city to the villagers. Even from this distance it could be heard and they marvelled at the size of the city. The man dragged himself away from the sight to pull aside an overhanging bush revealing a hidden path which worked its way down to the bottom of the bowl, running back and forth along the cliff.


100 Words A Day And Beyond

Ask any writer the hardest part of their job and they’ll tell you its getting the vision in their head onto the page in front of them. Moments of inspiration are rare and not conducive to getting anything finished. Most of the time its a hard slog between your motivation and your imagination. It’s even harder for aspiring writers for whom writing is not yet their occupation, just a dream, something they are doing alongside another job which is paying all the bills. It can be very easy to go days, even weeks at a time, without writing a single word as your dream gets put on the back burner for more pressing matters. To be a writer, successful or not, you need to cultivate a discipline, or else you will never get anything done.

This is something I found out for myself. Days and weeks did  pass with nothing written. Grand ideas and stories existed only in my head. I decided to change this. I came up with an idea I believe to be original. Every day for exactly one year I would write 100 words. To give you a frame of reference this post up to now is 200 words.

The idea was that 100 words was manageable. Even if I only had 5 or 10 minutes in a day where I could find time to write that would be enough to achieve my goal, and at the end of one year that would equal a story that was 36,500 words long. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is 28,944 words long so you can see how a little at a time could add up to a fully fledged story.

As I’ve said, the primary aim of this was to cultivate discipline, to write something every day. To some extent the content of what I was writing didn’t matter, just that I did write it. If by the end of it I had something even slightly coherent and interesting so much the better. The other aim was to challenge my imagination. I set out with no more in my mind than an image of a man, clothed in black, arriving in a village on a stormy night (the subject of the first 100 words). Everything after that I would come up with on the day. So there was also the challenge of making whatever I wrote that day carry on from what had come before, and also allow me to carry on to something new.

Let me tell you some days 100 words seems like a hell of a lot. There were many times when it took me longer than I’d care to mention to write such a tiny amount. There was simply nothing that came to mind. Nonetheless I persevered. On the other hand there were days when 100 words really did seem tiny. Some days the words would come pouring out. But then I would have to stop. 100 words was my limit and I stuck to it.

After around 60-70 days I stopped writing with no idea of where I was going. I realised I had at least one climactic moment I wanted to reach that would be the key message I would try to get across with this story (if you want to know what it was you’ll just have to read it). I soon realised I was going to get to this point with many more days still to go, just after the mid-point of my goal in fact. Rather than being the end this moment was going to be right in the heart of the story. That was alright though I decided. I would make it work, make it fit the narrative, and when I got to that point I would start wrestling with my imagination again and finish the story.

So that’s what I did. I got to this point that I had visualised in my mind and day by day moved passed it, coming up with the story on the fly. It was a lot like laying down tracks in front of a train. Then something great happened at about 200 days in: I knew what the ending was going to be. This was exciting and daunting I knew where I was going which made coming up with the story slightly easier. But I also had to do it in 160 days, 16,000 words.

As some of you who were following my updates on this might be aware I did accomplish this. In 365 days, 36,500 words, I said everything I wanted to say and have a somewhat coherent story. Now the next part of this challenge begins: making it publishable.

A story written like this is clearly going to need a lot of work. First of all its all written in 100 word paragraphs which is terrible structurally. Then there is the fact that I limited myself. There are a lot of parts that need to be expanded on, and then are also parts where I had to force out the words and the quality suffered for it. The story was also almost wholly improvised and so will feel rather disjointed. Now I know what I want from the story it will have to be reviewed with this in mind.

Basically there is a long way to go still for this story. But there is something there. I truly believe that somehow I have come up with a good original story, it just needs a lot of love and attention.

Way down the line when it is finally a completed work the next stage will be publishing. I have decided to self publish using a site called “Createspace” which is a site affiliated with Amazon. Through this I can format my story in an actual book, acquire an ISBN, design a cover, and sell it on Amazon in both printed and digital formats. I don’t have to worry about a publisher deciding if my work is marketable or not, I’ll be able to put it out there and let my story speak for itself. This won’t leave me J.K. Rowling in money (perhaps my favourite pun that I have ever come up with). But each copy sold will be a profit to me financially and more important it will get me a little closer to my dream of making my living from writing. At the very least it will expose me to a wider audience and really all I can ask and want is that people will read my stories. It’s going to be a lot of work but being able to hold a book I have written in my hands and to know that anyone in the world can read it will be all the reward I could ever want.

So now I need to get on with doing it. I’ll post updates and thoughts on writing this as I go on here and maybe the odd snippet from the edited version but otherwise if you want to read it you’ll have to buy it when it’s published. I’ll be leaving the original on here free to view. If you want to see how the edited version is going I’ll send it to you privately but I will ask that you give constructive criticism on it. Anyway watch this space and check out the original version here:


She woke up early that morning as ever. The sun was rising quickly, gently warming the Kentish countryside. She breakfasted quickly and set out to go to work, no time to waste.

She jumped on her bicycle. She thought of how her brothers had taught her to ride a few summers ago, tying her feet to the peddles, and smiled remembering the truck drivers face has he had braked to avoid hitting her when she had fallen down. The bluebells were blooming amongst the trees either side of her. Soon she emerged from the trees and then she came to the hop fields where she began the day’s work picking the hops.

She was with her own army of girls that had been left behind. All the men had gone away to war. She did not know it yet but her future husband was preparing to go to Normandy, only a few short miles away. Her and the other girls did not mind though, they were proud to do their part and to keep the country moving along.

It was thirsty work as the sun got higher in the sky. For a moment, the sunlight flickered causing her and the other girls to look up. That’s when they heard the planes. They crisscrossed the sky, their engines whirring and the sound of bullets rattling away. They stopped to watch the dog fight, unable to make out which side was which.

She would think of those pilot’s years later as she herself soared over the Kentish countryside in a glider, though her thoughts were distracted when the pilot’s wooden arm came unstuck, a problem she was sure those other pilots never encountered. How ridiculous that story would have seemed to the girl as she went back to picking the hops.