An Exercise in Poetic Styles

Here’s a response I did for Uni. You might like to try the exercise out yourself.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Write a haiku (formal style) on the theme of water and then write a free verse piece (of no more than 10 lines) on the theme of water. Which style worked best for you? What stumbling blocks did you have to overcome in each?

Water Haiku

Your water cascades
Caressing valleys and hills
I will drink deeply

Stephen Thompson

Deep Water

Deep
 
How deep my heart has sunk,
into depths
unmeasured
 
(I swim
amongst broken hulls and dead men’s skulls,
coral memories and crustacean verdigris,
viscous cold and furtive shoals
shaping origami headstones,
draped in ocean’s finery.)
 
How drenched is my heart,
drenched in depths
unmeasured
 
Deep  

Stephen Thompson

 

I enjoy writing Haiku because it can be challenging to find a theme that works in the 5/7/5 syllable structure. Haikus can say so much in so little space and it’s one of the reasons I love them so much.

Free verse is always fun, because I can play around with meter and time, line length, enjambment, etc. without any need to worry about poetic constraints; it’s easier for me to come up with interesting imagery. Often the theme of the poem presents itself as the poem progresses, or a new one is formed when the poem is completed.

I love free verse, but I believe that learning forms with specific poetic structures (such as the villanelle, sestina, pastoral, etc.) force you to be a better poet, because you have to work outside your comfort zone and within a stricter format.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Everyday Rhythm and Poetry

Here’s an exercise I did for Uni, a fair while ago. Use the question for a writer’s prompt, if you like.

Do some exercise, listen to some music, or even listen to the clock tick. Find an everyday rhythm and write a poem of no more than 7 lines in response to the theme ‘Women’. After writing your poem, tell us if finding an everyday rhythm helped you or hindered you in your writing practice?

Woman. A poem.

Round and round it
goes, the anxious tide in ebbs and
flows, her conversation running on and
on, but leaving me with nothing

How I mourn my woman’s
song, but she’s long gone, a
whirlpool like no other

Stephen Thompson

The washing machine clunked and whirred through its cycle. Watery imagery crept into my poem in the first two lines (probably because I had no idea where I was heading at that point. I knew it had to be about women. Then, as usual, it became personal. Most of my poems are). I’m not sure if the machine’s rhythm helped at all.

I’ve been a musician for about 30 years, starting as a drummer and percussionist and then moving into guitar and singing, so rhythm and syncopation are things that come naturally to me. My ex-wife hated my constant hand and finger tapping.

When I write, I like to establish a natural flow. My recent experiments with enjambment on my blog have mixed up that rhythm a bit, and even though I used it in this poem, I found I maintained a rhythmic consistency.

Maybe the wash cycle did help after all.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Preludes. A Poem by the Master.

Preludes
By T. S. Eliot

I
The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o’clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
 
And then the lighting of the lamps.
 
II
The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer
From the sawdust-trampled street
With all its muddy feet that press
To early coffee-stands.
With the other masquerades
That time resumes,
One thinks of all the hands
That are raising dingy shades
In a thousand furnished rooms.
 
III
You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back, and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
The thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters
And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the bed’s edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands.
 
IV
His soul stretched tight across the skies
That fade behind a city block,
Or trampled by insistent feet
At four and five and six o’clock;
And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
And evening newspapers, and eyes
Assured of certain certainties,
The conscience of a blackened street
Impatient to assume the world.
 
I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.
 
Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

Following is a (very) brief analysis I did of this poem for a course:

This is a pretty cool poem by a master of the form. As you can see, I’m full of insightful analysis this morning. But ‘pretty cool’ is about all I can muster today, even with the benefit of my morning coffee (ahhhhhhh, coffee…).

Oh, all right, if I must. I do want some marks, after all.

Eliot uses figurative imagery extensively in this poem. The street is personified, a living thing people inhabit, a world that reflects and impacts them. Time and motion is distinct in every facet of this poem, each of the preludes a different part of the day.

The first stanza is almost exclusively literal: day’s end, when all the day’s concrete acts and ‘grimy scraps’ are washed clean by the downpour. The second stanza is the morning, with people rising to recommence the ‘masquerades’ of their lives. The third stanza flips to second person view point, with the protagonist dreaming and waking into his dark and sordid existence (oh, how I identify with this poem). The street is personified again here, like an animal with little understanding of what it sees each day (perhaps the way the street’s inhabitants perceive their world). The fourth stanza is evening; the street is an ‘infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing’, a living and breathing extension of the people existing there, ever the same and yet ever-changing, reflecting old and new, the passage of time and the mundanity of life.

Well, that’s how I see it, anyway. Maybe you see it differently?

Cheers

Steve 😊

Chuck. A character study.

I created Chuck for one of my short stories, written for uni. Following is a character study I wrote for him.

If you’re not familiar with a character study, it’s used to develop a character’s background and personality traits. From these elements the character’s mannerisms and dialogue come to life.

Some character studies are complex, some are very basic. I like to keep mine short and to the point. This gives me more ‘wiggle room’ in the story.

Cheers

Steve 😊

 

He had been Chuck most of his life. Charles was his father’s name, and the less he remembered about that man, the better. Chuck remembered Daddy’s huge fists and the indelible marks they left. But he remembered his mother much more, whose solicitous yet indifferent fingers crept to places he preferred not to think of, but could not avoid.

Chuck’s stutter and southern twang caused people to look down on him, even though he towered physically over them. His schooling had been the streets and a succession of foster homes; places where survival of the fittest was the credo and the only philosophy he required.

Chuck didn’t fit in. Naturally he gravitated to solitary roles, places he could be his own man–no complications with relationships or body language, as foreign to him as a cellphone to a neanderthal.

Chuck was a truck driver now and good at it. He tamed his mighty beast on the primal tarred veldt, his whip the double shift, country and western anthems his habitual companion. He worked the long highways like a corner beat, with scars as evidence; his belly peeped from under his t-shirt like a misshapen eye, Rip Van Winkle beard and Garth Brooks t-shirt decorated with spilt drink and dried food scraps.

What do you want to write?

What are the issues that you especially want to talk about / celebrate / examine in your stories?

There are a lot of stories in the world. There are many more hovering in the random threads and wings of my head. They long to burst forth from their cocoons, bright and beautiful butterflies ready to shake mountains, half a world away.

I’ve led a very interesting life, but by some measures it may not be very interesting at all (I have never run away from ravenous cannibals, for instance). I have many personally-affecting issues that I’d like to examine in my stories, yet when I think of what I really want to read in one of my tales, issues are not the first thing that come to mind.

As a burgeoning writer, I first and foremost want to entertain. I want to write stories that are emotionally engaging, that are exciting and that surprise with their twists and turns. I want my readers to feel that they connect with me as an author, that they “get” me in ways they didn’t think were possible except with perhaps a well-known friend or loving partner.

I may not be the best writer in the world, but if I can achieve this in at least some basic way (whether that be a reader’s fleeting smile or a tightness in their chest), I will have succeeded in what I set out to do.

Okay, so that didn’t really answer the question. In short, I love all genres of writing.

Like Iain M. Banks, I want to write speculative fiction and current-day serious fiction. Like Patrick Ness, I intend to write kinetic young adult novels. Like Nam Le, I want to write short stories of every type, that bring a tear to my eye and that provide a fascinating juxtaposition to life. Like Justin Cronin, I want to mix literate writing with the horror thriller. Like George R. R. Martin and J. R. R. Tolkien I want to write fantasy fiction that astounds.

But I don’t want to write like any of them. I want to write like me.

Cheers

Steve 😊

This was my response a number of months ago to a question posed to me in one of my writing subjects. My answer still holds true, now. (It also contains links to some of my favourite authors’ websites.)

So, what would your answer be?

Go wild in the comments, if you dare 😉

Place and Setting. A writing perspective.

Yet another of my long-overdue university out-takes. Following is an answer to a question about establishing place and setting for stories, that I wrote several months ago for one of my writing subjects.

I moved back to my parents’ house after being away for many (Read: MANY) years and I’m now living in the room I had as a teenager. Rather than get maudlin, as I did when I first moved in, I now like to see it as a new start—a fresh beginning. Or a stopover on the long, world-weary road of incomprehensible mid-life. Take your pick.

But it’s the nostalgia of the place that grabs me every time. I look out the window to see a family of rabbits picking amongst the emerald remains and hear the continual hum and click-clack-clicking of rail wheels on the tracks beyond. Every time my toes feel the knobbed woollen carpet that’s been here for so many years: still in good nick, just a little wear, but a bit flatter (like me); every time I look at my parent’s smiling faces, all wrinkles and sunshine (they obviously haven’t had to put up with me for long); every time I walk the old streets remembering handball at the bus stop and ducking swooping magpies in the spring, the scent of rain on the grass flats and long, sweat-soaked summers without a pool. Like the murky rooftops and telegraph poles marking time in the distance, it’s a wary combination of old and new, making me dream of yesterday, moan about today and hope for tomorrow.

It got me thinking about how place has such a dramatic impact on the stories we write. The story’s setting can become a character as much as the protagonist and antagonists. But it’s more than just atmosphere or setting specifics. It’s all in the way the setting evokes something that connects with the reader—maybe they can relate to it in the way something felt or looked, or smelt. Maybe they marked time for a while in a sunny backwater, too.

Recasting familiar settings for stories works. We take what we know and we forge it into something new. Authenticity is something I’ve discussed with a writer friend of mine. I always say (and I’m sure others have said this, too): “the reader knows when you fake it”. It doesn’t matter if the setting you’ve created is in the far future, your home town or a fantasy kingdom, it’s the feeling that you put into it, driven by your own experiences and emotions, that makes the difference. Lord of the Rings wouldn’t be the same if JRR Tolkien didn’t infuse the setting with not only his expansive research in languages and mythology, but also his love of the countryside he grew up in.

I find that I tend to rely more on recall than on visits to and notes about areas, but I’m lucky that I have a decent memory. And we all have an extensive lifetime of experiences—sights, smells, emotions, nostalgia—to build our settings with.

Every story we write, we build a place to call our own.

Cheers

Steve 😊

The Wait. A short tale.

She waited as he wasted away.

She watched and pined. He watched as well; sometimes TV, sometimes her.

She fed him hand-to-mouth. Eventually he refused to eat. As he grew thinner, the drip in his arm pulsed like a marathon runner, sucking exhausted breaths as it neared the finish line.

He smiled painfully. She did, too.

She cried when he slept–never when he was awake. Her tears fell gently on the back of his hand, where they ran off the edge in random segues before fading away with nary a whisper.

She knew when the day arrived. There was no announcement, no symbolic continuous beep on the machine, like on TV. She just knew. So did he.

They held hands.

She waited as he went away.

 

If you would like to read more of my flash fiction, click here.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Poetry Drought!

I started a new uni subject today, on writing poetry. Because I have to write a lot of poems for this subject it’s gonna mean a bit of a drought for my blog (normally I post a poem a day).

So I’m going to publish a few of my older poems to keep readers going until I have some time to post some new original poems (I can’t post poems from my current uni subject until it’s over, otherwise the plagiarism checker will pick up my own poems on this website lol).

So, without further ado, here’s an oldie but a goodie:

https://stevestillstanding.com/2017/02/23/today-a-poem/

Steve 🙂

Copyright Means Rent.

This was a submission for a uni course I recently finished, answering a question about Australian copyright law.  I included Alpha Girl and Beta Max because copyright law is pretty dry, and I don’t actually say that much about it here.

When I undertake university courses I see questions like this all the time, and think to myself “I’ve just read the subject matter, do you want me to parrot it back?” Perhaps I’m being a bit petulant, because I know we have to demonstrate that we have a working knowledge. So, rant over.

It is vitally important that authors today (or their agent, if they wish to employ one), have a working knowledge of the legalities of copyright and contracts. I know in some of my previous posts I have facetiously commented that “I’m lazy and would rather have the agent do the work on the legal stuff”, or words to that effect. Reading the week 8 study guide notes sparked my interest, calling to mind my times working in public policy, interpreting and clarifying legislation.

(“Did you just say you worked in policy?” says Alpha Girl, torn away from her magazine and ongoing role as permanent lounge fixture. “I thought you were too stupid to work anywhere—isn’t that why you laze around the house writing blogs all day, instead of getting a real job?”) 

Knowing your rights as an author in terms of the publishing, sales of rights and distribution of royalties are important to ensure you aren’t ripped off, for want of a better term.

(“You’ve been ripping me off for a while, now,” says Alpha Girl, under her breath. “I know ‘writing’ is your excuse not to pay more rent.”

“I can still hear you,” I reply.)

I found the section on What copyright covers interesting. Plagiarism is something that we are constantly reminded of as students, and I like to know that my own work is protected just as others are. Moral Rights and Fair Dealing (along with PLR and ELR) were aspects I wasn’t familiar with prior to reading the guide.

I found the most interesting section to be the Author Contract, and could see why the author’s (and/or his agent’s) knowledge of the contractual process could be so important – not only in regards to retaining rights in international territories, but also to include clauses on remaindered works to ensure options for buying old stock (as no royalties are available on them), Scope and Quality (the power of knockback!) and Subsidiary Rights (on-selling rights into other media).

(Beta Max bounds in after a hard day at work and equally hard session at the pub. He smells of stale sweat, alcohol and Winfields.

“What you working on, bro?” he says, staring over my shoulder as he opens a beer can.

“Copyright law,” I reply. He switches off, leaps over the back of the lounge and plants his butt on the cushions, spilling beer in the process; we both laugh. Alpha Girl scolds him with her rolled-up magazine.

“So, does that mean you’ll make money from your writing, now,” she says, scowling at Beta Max all the while.

“It means I know about contracts and protecting my work, just in case I get signed as an author,” I reply.

“So much for extra rent,” she says, rolling her eyes.)

The Sale. Part 1. A short series.

I’ve just started a new uni subject, and one of the threads on the discussion boards is about re-writing clichés. This is my first post from that thread (it’s not part of the marking process so I can post it here now, otherwise I would have to wait until the course was over).

I’m going to continue this series on a semi-regular basis.

 

It was a dark and stormy night.

Okay, it wasn’t really that dark. There were big street lights, like super A-grade halogens (the city council must have had a bigger budget in this town than my last). And I guess a light drizzle wasn’t really a storm, but I hated getting wet.

I wandered up to the old house, knocked on the door. Three knocks (always three knocks. I must have been a bit compulsive). Called out to see if anyone was home. Nobody answered. It was a grand old place, three stories, Tudor styling, three chimneys, nice iron fittings and railings. Stone gargoyles hanging somewhat out of place from the eaves. Your average suburban gothic chic. But I wasn’t going to let a creepy place and some damp weather stop me from making a sale. No way. I was going to sell a vacuum cleaner to these people if it killed me.

Famous last words…

To be continued…

 

Digital Destiny and the Crux of Divergence.

This is a short uni piece I wrote some months ago. It was the second appearance of Alpha Girl, Beta Max and Me in my writing, and the feedback from those uni posts was what lead me to becoming a blogger. I’ve removed the uni academic references from this version.

 

(“So, what are you doing now?” says Alpha Girl, housemate and self-professed Steve-hater.

“I’m writing my latest micro-novel on Twitter,” I reply, reclining on the lounge and not taking eyes off my iPhone. “It’s an existential philosophy in 140 characters, with an unnecessary M.Night Shymalan-twist ending.”

“Writing? I didn’t even know you could read.” She obviously forgets I now steal her newspaper every weekend to read the movie reviews.

“Can’t read? What do you think I do in my room all the time?” I say.

“I shudder to think.”

“You might be surprised to know that I’m currently reading six novels and I’m enrolled in two uni writing courses.”

“Two uni courses? Will they get you a job?”

“They’ve improved my writing.”

“You’ve nicely avoided the question.”)

Advances in technology are opening up opportunities for writers to expand their story-making into new art forms. The digital realm (hereby referred to as the electro-microcosmic frontier, or for those who prefer a more minimalistic approach, the internet) has allowed writers to experiment with various ways of utilising animation, sound and divergence (not Veronica Roth’s novel) to provide innovative experiences for readers.

The course notes indicate some writers might face a certain level of anxiety due to the “bewildering array of tools to generate multimedia”. As a result, they might be hesitant to take up these new art forms.

I’m a bit of an IT geek, always have been. This may be partly due to some mysterious aura I give off, like a bad deodorant that reminds you of a seedy night club venue. When I was working, people would come to me to ask me for help with their computers. I would stand there and ask the inevitable “have you switched it on and off”, then show them how to switch it on and off and receive profuse thanks when the computer magically started working again. In my semi-retired life, my friends still ask me the same things. I have worked on an incredible array of systems and programs over the last 25 years. I pick up new IT easier than Superman juggles elephants. I have desktop publishing, programming and graphic design skills and can use such arty programs as InDesign, Paint Shop Pro, Illustrator, Fireworks and PowerPoint, to name a few. I’m ideally placed to take advantage of this opportunity.

I love art in all its myriad forms. I love electronic media. I love the invention and ingenious possibilities brought by their combination. I draw in my spare time, I compose music; I’m a bit of an artist already. But I don’t want to take on a new form of writing. I want to be a “straight” novelist and short story writer (my apologies to any LGBT readers who may feel I have used that term in a discriminatory fashion – that was not my intent).

Old fashioned? Maybe. But I’m a strong believer that if you invest yourself in a new art form, whether it be a flash poems, generative texts, micro-fiction, or shadow puppetry at the pub, you need to invest yourself wholly. And I don’t believe I would be committed to these new forms enough to do anything more than make a cursory attempt. I guess I just wouldn’t want to be known as a “dabbler”.

And do I think that digital culture may replace novels? Not really. The novel goes through cycles of popularity, much like any other form of entertainment. All it takes is a new Harry Potter and suddenly the world is filled with a gamut of new book readers. Digital media often tends to be free, but along with freedom comes a huge breadth of content, some of which is of questionable quality. But that’s the same for anything, digital or not. I think there is a place for all literary forms.

As long as there are stories to tell there will be people to read them, no matter where they are or how they consume their content.

(“So, what are you doing now?” says Alpha Girl.

“What he always does,” says housemate Beta Max. “Contemplating his navel.”

“Oh, ye of little faith.” I reply. “I’m writing the next smash hit screenplay, composed entirely in Haiku verse. Every character recites their lines of dialogue in syllable structures of 5-7-5.”

“You are such an idiot,” says Alpha Girl.

“You won’t be saying that when Hollywood is at the door for the rights.”

“I wish you’d go out the door. And not come back.”

“Love you, too.”)

Borrower.

This is a uni piece I wrote a few months back. It was actually the first appearance of Alpha Girl, Beta Max and Me. I’ve removed the academic references and included one of my discussion thread responses from that week. NOTE: This was back when I used social media. Nowadays I only use it to promote my blog, which makes me even less well informed then I used to be. 

I haven’t read a newspaper in well over a year. It’s not that I don’t like newspapers; it’s not like I don’t have a ready supply of them each day. It’s just that I’m not really bothered to read them when I get my news through social media and television.

(“Are you on Twitter again?” says Beta Max.

“No,” I reply, quickly changing to YouTube.)

So, I was a little surprised when I read the Insider Movies section of the Sunday Telegraph and found a number of well written movie reviews by Vicky Roach, the reviewer in residence.

(“Why are you reading the paper?” says Alpha Girl.

“Research,” I reply.

“Why can’t you be normal like other people?” she says. I extend my tongue.)

When I read through Critical Review in my uni course notes, I thought to myself: “this is a bit clunky – I don’t recall reviews being this structured.” Identification of work, Context, Description, Assessment, Identification of reviewer – it all seemed a bit robotic to me. I got to the bit about “blending the elements”, and was somewhat relieved. Heaven forbid I’d have to write a review in such a stilted way.

So, back to the newspaper: Ms Roach reviewed four movies: Passengers, Assassin’s Creed, Rosalie Blum and Paterson. I really enjoyed her approach. She was knowledgeable about the art form (script and director techniques, for instance), had a good understanding of the plot and themes of each movie, and raised relevant points and criticisms insightfully. Her comments about Assassin’s Creed succeeding on a “kinetic level”, but failing to deliver in the end due to the character’s “moral ambiguities” and a lack of viewer investment in the outcome, struck home with me as I was planning to take my son.

(“We’re still seeing it,” says my videogame-loving nerd.)

Ms Roach obviously loves the film medium. You can tell from the way she crafts her reviews. (I love women who write well about things they love, especially when it’s a subject I know and love as well. It’s a bit of a turn on. Um, that probably was more than you needed to know.) As expected the smaller “art nouveau” films like Rosalie Blum and Paterson rated better than the big budget movies. Is this a thing with reviewers? “I will always take art over fluff!” I happen to like a little fluff with my art.

(“It’s like chocolate, marshmallow and vegemite sandwiches,” says Beta Max. “They shouldn’t work, but somehow really, really do.”)

Each of Ms Roach’s appraisals captured the essence of the five ingredients of a review, including context and a witty summation of each movie in the legend (for example: “French crowd-pleaser sure to leave audiences blum-struck”, with an attempted pun, no less). I especially liked the intro headline for each movie, in punchy prose – for Passengers: “Sci-Fi romance has too much space in its plot”. For Paterson: “Story of a secret poet has its own rhyme and reason”.

So now I have to read the newspaper every week, just to check out the movie reviews. And maybe read some of the other stuff: news and the like.

(“Are you finished with the paper” says Alpha Girl.

“Not much longer,” I reply.

“Buy your own,” she says.)

 

One of my responses to the discussion thread:

Hi

I, too, like short reviews. I think it’s a measure of a “real” reviewer to be able to do a review in a short format and not leave anything out; to be able to capture the essence of a movie, book or CD in a short, almost perfunctory way.

I have to admit that I’m not good at short. I think I’m a bit verbose at times (read: boring). Maybe I should try writing reviews as Haiku – that way I’m deliberately restrained by the form:

Assassin’s Creed film
Started well but ended bad
Little investment

Could be onto something here. I’m just going to rush out and patent the Haiku movie review concept.

Cheers

Steve

Novel Daze

My novel is back on track!

Rather than follow the advice of one of my previous blogs, and do it in bite-sized chunks (read about it here), I decided to devote myself to writing as a full-time job. As I’m a full-time student, I ironically have some time on my hands. I’ve shuffled my schedule (it’s not hard to shuffle nothing) and arranged my time so that I work on my novel every week day, for about 4-5 hours. Today was my first foray, and things are going swimmingly (that’s an old-fashioned expression, noobs).

I’m feeling a bit better about myself, I have a direction (one could almost say a purpose, but I’m not ready to believe that yet), and I have a better excuse not to work for a living (whereas before I had no excuse at all). My creative muse is flowing. I’m enjoying writing and I still have time to update my blog (yay!).

Now I just have to see how long it lasts (nooooo! The first wave of cynicism…).

In other exciting news (or average news, take your pick), I’ve nearly finished Madeleine St John’s novel The Women in Black, an Australian classic about five women who work in the ladies frock section of a department store in 1950’s Sydney. It’s required reading for one of my uni subjects, and it’s a riot. I’ve never read any chick lit before, but it’s fun. Check it out, it’s available through Text Classics from book shops, The Book Depository, or Amazon.

Fun fact: My mother remembered attending the same Sydney boarding school as St John and her sister. Yes, at the same time.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Diff. A short tale.

Here’s another short piece I recently wrote for uni. The exercise was to create some realistic dialogue. Hope you like it.

“So, you’ve finally met a girl?” Josh grinned.
Matt lowered his eyes. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“About time. I thought after your divorce you’d never get out there again. Tell me all about her. Is she a good sort?”
Matt smiled. “Yeah, she’s very attractive. She likes all the things I like. We can talk for hours about books, movies, art, comics, you name it. It’s like she was made for me.”
Josh rolled his eyes. “Nerds. So, what’s wrong?”
“There’s a bit of an age difference.”
“How much?”
“About fifteen years.”
“You old cradle snatcher, you. How old is she, eighteen or something?”
“Twenty-five.”
“Twenty-five? How old are you, anyway?” Josh did a quick calculation on his fingers. “Like, forty or something? You don’t look that old.”
“I’m scared to ask her out,” said Matt.
“You’re scared of rejection? Geez, mate, get over it and ask her. Then you won’t have to do the old ‘unrequited love depression session’ every time we chat. You can just be regular depressed like the rest of us.”

Cat and Mouse. A short tale.

This story is the prequel to a poem I wrote on my blog a while back. You can find it here.

I wrote this brief story for Uni. Now that the course is over I can post it.

 

The cat sat on the mat. She preened and purred, purred and preened. She watched the mouse. The mouse sat across the room, just outside his hole-in-the-wall. He did not preen, or purr. He watched the cat.

The cat had never eaten a mouse before and wondered if he tasted good. If you’re not sure of these things, it’s always polite to ask.

“Are you tasty?” she said.

The mouse seemed confused. “Tasty?” he replied. “As in, ‘my, you are one hip, cool and funky mouse’?”

She smiled. “No. As in, are you good to eat?”

“I guess that depends on your perspective,” said the mouse. “I would say definitely not.”

The cat yawned, rolled on her side and pawed the carpet aimlessly. “Are you fast?”

The mouse’s eyes narrowed and he rubbed his tiny paws together. “Do you want to chase me and find out?”

“Not really,” said the cat, drifting off to sleep.

Letter to a Facebook Friend

This is a uni piece I wrote some time ago. It was meant to be a letter to a friend about something I was very serious or concerned about, using real referenced materials. I went with satire and irony. I’ve removed the referencing from this version.

 

Dear Matt,

I’m writing to express my concerns regarding your increasing addiction to Facebook. According to your news feed you hardly ever leave your room anymore, don’t respond to texts or phone calls and were recently fired from work – all over your constant need to stay in touch via Fb.

Each of my Facebook friends (all 1524 of them) are concerned about your circumstances. I read on your mother’s feed the other day that you are now refusing meals and that you have barricaded your bedroom door (and blocked your mother on Fb).

In 2014 Facebook had well over 1.2 billion users, making 41,000 posts per second –  I assume that you were responsible for a good portion of those. Although Facebook remains a wonderful place for social connections, news and advertising profits, it is also a source of increasing cyberbullying, social reclusion and distraction. For example, British companies are impacted by billions of dollars of productivity loss each year because their employees spend so much time on Facebook.

Matt, my Facebook Friend, your other Fb friends only want the best for you. We’re not saying you should give up the ‘book, just detach yourself occasionally to eat and drink. And perhaps work for a living.

Looking forward to your next post!

Regards

Steve

The Player. A short tale.

Steve picked up his guitar. It was an old acoustic: earthy, time worn and weather beaten, with thick gauge strings slightly out of tune. He plucked the neck harmonics and adjusted the tuning heads, listening intently as each tone wavered and steadied. When he finished, he strummed an open G chord, and, satisfied with his efforts, commenced  playing a song he had written long ago.

As usual it was a tale of woe and forgotten love. Blues, but not quite blues; some jazzy sevenths and ringing open strings brought a gentle dissonance to the melody.  Lyrics breathily whispered to the night.

Steve drifted lazily back to bars long since closed and audiences long since forgotten –  he could almost smell the drifting smoke in the room. Gently rocking, his left foot tapped out a rhythmic beat in time to his strumming.

Then it was over, as if it had never been.

 

This is a uni piece I wrote many months ago. Everyone had to write an introduction for themselves. The final assignment has been marked, so I can post it now.

Cat and Mouse. A poem.

The mouse scampered across the floor
He was seeking cheese, or something more
His nose twitched, he raised his head up high
But there was no one there, so he breathed a sigh.

Then the cat had him between her paws
And he realised, this time, she’d won
The cat purred and smiled,
The game was finally done.


This poem is the sequel to a short story I wrote for uni. I’ll post the story once it’s marked (I can’t post stuff I’ve written before it’s marked because the plagiarism checker will pick up my blog).

The change in meter from verse 1 to 2 is deliberate. 

I’ll leave it up to you to decide how you wish to interpret the poem.

It was a change of scenery for me.

Rush Lozenge, Spaaaaaaaaaaaace Ranger…Ranger…ranger…ranger…

Here’s some dialogue I wrote for Uni. It’s not meant to be serious, and wasn’t included in any of my assignments, so it’s okay for me to include it here. Enjoy! Or not.

Captain Rush Lozenge, space ranger, stroked his gamma gun methodically. “There’s nothing more for it,” he said. “We have to take over that ship. This calls for a boarding action!”

Veedle, his alien octopus companion and occasional lover, rolled her four eyes. “Are you sure that’s the right course of action? Maybe we can just shoot them with our multi-mega watt space lasers.”

Lozenge grimaced, then struck a heroic pose. “Don’t be ridiculous, my love. We want them alive in pieces, not dead in pieces.” He stroked his chin thoughtfully. “Now if only we could work out how to get onto that ship.”

“Why don’t I just fly up to their airlock and connect,” said Veedle.

“That’s a brilliant idea, my adorable little eight-legged octo-pudlian. You’re not just a pretty pseudopod.”

“I try,” she replied.

Suddenly, the bridge door slid open and Banger, the ship’s part time cook, part time engineer and full time hairdresser, leapt in. “Captain,” he cried. “We just don’t have the power!”

“Damn,” thought Lozenge. “Well everyone. Looks like we’ll have to put our thinking caps back on.”

“Fire you in a hollow space torpedo into the other ship?” said Veedle.

“No. Too dramatic.”

“Crash our ship into their bridge?”

“No. Too messy.”

“Convert your body to electricity with the Galactic Ion Vapouriser and send you as a message to the other ship’s omni-communications system, so you can take over their computers like an electronic virus?”

Lozenge’s eyes widened like flying saucers. “By the gods of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Quorx Maidens of Ceti Four! You’ve got it, Veedle!”

 

Stupid Boy

(“Lord, I’m stupid,” I say, face palming.

“So, you finally agree with me,” says Alpha Girl.)

I started this blog to force me to write as much as possible. I want to be a real writer, after all (a poverty-stricken writer, more than likely, but a writer, nonetheless). I also wanted to post some of my Uni discussion thread posts, as I had received good feedback on them.

I’ve just now realised that I can’t post my Uni threads. The reason for this is that my Uni posts are being gathered into an assignment due at the end of the course. The assignment will be submitted via the SafeAssign checker software, which searches the web for similar articles, to prevent plagiarism.

So if my Uni posts are on the web, I will actually be plagiarising myself. At this point you may laugh out loud, if you wish.

I wrote to my lecturer, who recommended taking down the Uni-related blogs. This is not such a bad thing, as I currently have enough non-Uni related blogs to sustain a viable site.

But either way, I’m still stupid.

(“Why is she always so negative,” I ask Beta max.

“Don’t worry about it,” he says. “She’s like that with me, too. It just means she likes you.”

“I’d hate to see what she’s like when she doesn’t like someone.”

Beta max shivers. “You don’t ever want to experience that.”)

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