Not Watching This Weekend: Inspiration

It's the mockbuster version of this, basically.

It’s the mockbuster version of this, basically.

The Pitch: So, there’s this blogger, yeah? He’s been doing it for a while and still getting ideas for things to write about, but he refuses to learn lessons from his past. So, despite his recurrent failure to keep themed series of posts going, he decides to create a new one, telling himself it’ll be different this time, that he’s sure to be able to get inspiration, and it’s only one post once a week. Surely he can manage that?

Inevitably, things go wrong, and he finds himself one weekend completely devoid of inspiration. Rather than admitting his own failure, he strikes on a last desperate plan: surely inspiration will return in the next week, so all he needs is something, anything to fill the gap this week. That’s how he ends up plunging into the world of metafiction, making this week’s post entirely about his inability to come up with a post in the hope that someone, somewhere will be hugely impressed by a gambit that might have been interesting twenty years ago but is now pretty hackneyed and dated.

The ending comes rather surprisingly when he realises that he can’t even come up with a punchline, so things just sort of stop rather than concluding.


Liberated localism

I can’t remember if I mentioned it at the time, but I’ve had my first article appear in Liberator magazine this year. It’s called ‘The Failure of Localism’ and you can read it – along with the rest of the issue it’s in – here.



As I’ve written enough about Eric Pickles here this week, I decided my next piece about him should go somewhere else, so you can find it on Liberal Democrat Voice.


Nanowrimo 2012

November starts tomorrow, having settled into its new role as the month where you do something a bit different in order to give you something to talk about on the internet. As I already have facial hair, I can’t take part in Movember, so instead it’ll be another attempt at National Novel Writing Month. Amazingly, despite the fact it’s spread far and wide from its origin as something attempted by a group of friends in San Francisco to become a worldwide phenomenon, that stubborn ‘National’ clings alone to the front, with no concerted efforts to either delete it or add an ‘inter’ before it it. That’s probably because people don’t want to work out how to pronounce ‘NoWriMo’ or InNaNoWriMo’ after putting so much effort into learning to pronounce NaNoWriMo.

(Of course, if National Novel Writing Month didn’t exist, it’d be the sort of thing the National Office of Importance would have produced a poster about)

Yet again, I will be attempting to produce fifty thousand words of something during the next thirty days, and as this will be my fifth attempt after four previous successes, I thought I should share my wisdom with you all and collate the lessons I’ve learned over those previous 200,000 words. I may go on at length, so if you want to read more, you’ll find it beneath the cut.

Read the rest of this entry


As you’ll have noticed from my twitter feed yesterday, I managed to get a joke I’d written featured on BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Newsjack last night. If you want to hear it, then it’s available on iPlayer for another week, which you can listen to by clicking here. You should listen to the whole thing of course, but if you’re in a rush, my joke is at 21:20.

It’s the first time I’ve ever submitted anything to Newsjack, so maybe it’s beginner’s luck, but having something I’ve written appear on air does feel rather good. Now I just need to get on and try and think of things to submit for next week’s show.

Newsjack is open to anyone who wants to submit, so if you think you can do better than me, go ahead! The official website is here and the information on how to submit is here. Good luck!

UPDATE: And thanks to Jennie for reminding me that it’s available to download as a podcast as well.


WriteNight and National Flash Fiction Day

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned before that I’m a member of the Colchester WriteNight group at 15 Queen Street. We’re a group of writers that gets together twice a month (on the 2nd and 4th Mondays) to write, talk and go to the pub afterwards – all the traditional things that writers do.

As this week’s meeting was just two days before National Flash Fiction Day, tonight we had a flash fiction challenge, and as I’m trying to put more content up on this blog again, I thought I’d share what I produced. The challenge was to produce a 300-word story containing twenty words from a list (in order, if possible) on any subject, in any setting you wished. So, my mind came up with this:

“Green.” He said, satisfied.
A rather presumptuous statement, I thought, and wondered how to respond. It came in a flash.
“Archetypical opening.” I countered, hoping to inject a small bug into his processing. He grimaced like a disgruntled gargoyle, deep routines within him mulling over its meaning, staring through me as if I was transparent. Higher intelligences had a tendency to regard us humans as fleshy interruptions in their communing with the deep strata.
“The inevitable decline of Sparta.” He said, and the pencil in my hand snapped. My subconscious had ascertained the meaning of his talk, even if the near-infinite levels of complexity buried within his manner were incomprehensible.
My mouth was arid. Their simulacra were almost perfect, brash in their ability to replicate humanity to, but there was always something instinctively wrong, like an oval trying to pretend it was a perfect circle. Thoughts like that could make you psychotic if you kept them too long.
“Babble.” I said. “Balderdash, piffle and tosh.” Instinct told me the right response, and instinct was why I’d been sent here. I tried to relax, feeling like I’d sent my queen forward on an attack, then realising I’d not checked the location of his knights.
I was just to restore the balance with them, make up for the negligent way my predecessors had negotiated. I didn’t have to push for victory, just phone it in until sufficient respect had been paid.
The transition in him was sudden. “Policing.” He said, and I suppose that’s the closest his kind get to admitting error. Or announcing our immolation in seconds with barely a thought. That’s the problem with higher intelligences and symbol-based communication, it’s like us humans trying to talk to our gut flora and expecting witty repartee.

Not the greatest story ever told, but it uses all twenty words in order, and if you’re trying to work out what they are, I’ll point out that only one of them – ‘green’ – is used in dialogue.

Anyway, if that inspires you, National Flash Fiction Day is on Wednesday, and the next meeting of WriteNight is on Monday 28th May.

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I happened to be glancing through Adrian Mitchell’s Heart on the Left
this morning (as you do) and rediscovered the poem ‘My Shy Di in Newspaperland’, in which he took lines and headlines from the press coverage of Charles and Diana’s engagement in 1980 and turned them into a poem. Having many better things to do this morning, but in need of an excuse to defer them, I thought I’d try the same with a different public figure in today’s news, and see what the result was.

(Each line is taken whole from media coverage of the event – thank you Google News – and the link in the first word of each line will take you to the story it came from)

Relaying their personal thoughts

Surely the most well-connected woman in the country
Had not predicted the Paulsgrove riots
She said “persuasion” was more accurate
She believed a donation was made

Messages sent by the aides of politicians, but relaying their personal thoughts

It is at least surprising that any one person could be cosy with them all
It was a question she raised herself
I happened to relate this gem to a reporter from the Daily Mail
She considered Mr Blair a friend

Messages sent by the aides of politicians, but relaying their personal thoughts

On occasion and not very often
They went sour after The Sun switched
Tended to look like she was going to the office party
Hardly the incendiary display that many observers had anticipated

Messages sent by the aides of politicians, but relaying their personal thoughts

Those who feel she is in no place to complain
This is the list submitted to the inquiry
Number 10 Downing Street, from Number 11, the Office of the Treasury, from the Home Office, from the Foreign Office
Who she said was not at the dinner

Messages sent by the aides of politicians, but relaying their personal thoughts