Thursday, 17 June 2010

A (probably very unwise) challenge

OK, here’s a thought. I feel guilty for having copped out so frequently and I know that millions of people world-wide are probably having a crisis of faith at having been deserted so selfishly by their guru. (But let me just remind those whose faith is teetering that even gurus have to earn a living.) Anyway, back to the guilt. Back also to a talk/workshop I gave last night to a talented, energetic group of writers whose input into the main exercise was enthusiastic and highly entertaining. From names, settings, jobs and objects randomly chosen they created a series of characters and incidents all of which could have been developed into absorbing, readable stories if there’d been time. I hope they had as much fun as I did with it all. I drove home (40-odd miles) feeling exhilarated by their creativity and I woke this morning buzzing with ideas about how we could have taken the workshop further and got into such things as the details of opening paragraphs and twists in the tails of their tales.

So …

I wondered if that would work for a blog. Now this is me setting myself up for a huge fall but I’d be interested to see whether it’s possible to use a similar technique to produce not a crime story but a blog. I’m still busy with the two books but it’s important to take an hour or so off from them from time to time just to make sure my approach to them stays fresh. My suggestion, then, is that I should write a posting that combines random elements. I don’t mean I should write a story but that I should – let’s say ‘simulate’ – a blog. But the question then is, where do I get the random elements? I can’t generate them myself because, even if I was honest, there might be some subconscious aspect influencing my choice. So what’s the answer?

Well, you are. I’m suggesting that, as a comment, you simply challenge me with a word, a name, a theme, a setting or whatever and I’ll try writing a blog around a selection of them. If you like, we could even make sure the selection itself is randomised somehow. The problem is that there are untold hordes of you and most of you are writers so if you all contributed something, the length of the posting would make the whole internet crash and ensure that the two books never got written. Realistically, though, despite my claims of gurudom and world domination, I know that my readers are few and mainly visit out of sympathy, so I don’t anticipate excess.

So it’s up to you. I can now sit back and wait for the inevitable sagebrush silence.


  1. The Chester River snakes inexorably toward the bay, narrows bleeding into broader expanses until the silver-grey fresh water bleeds and twines with the turgid march of the tidal behemoth waiting at the mouth. We'd upped anchor early, the sky threatening, sails pulling hard on a downhill run, lifting, twisting in a gut-wrenching swivel to slam hard into the next short swell...

  2. All is green-blue. The water flows past my massive brow, while my powerful tail propels me forward into the plankton bloom.

    Weeeeeehoooooooofrrrrkkkkkkk...... the joy of being flows through the green-blue world
    TkTkTkTkTkTkTkTk frrrrr eeeeeeeeee will always be so

    i sometimes catch sight of birds swimming in the thin air as i surface to blow, and wonder at their stupidity, living in an element that provides so little flotation

    Pip-pip, pip-pip

    Returning to the Haven by command of the Director, i find my next posting is ... oh no!

  3. Couldn't you have set the bar a little higher Diane?

    And, for anyone else reading this, please be advised that that question was uttered with a sarcastic (and despairing) sneer. I love the passage (which also happens to demonstrate how well Diane writes) but if others offer similar paragraphs, all I'll have to do is paste them all together and preface it with some spurious claim about how my psychiatrist told me to give free rein to my subconscious.

    Since Diane was so quick off the mark, her challenge will be part of the blog so any other takers can propose words or themes as far removed from the Joseph Conrad approach as they like.

  4. Damn, while I was writing the response to Diane, that imbecilic DrDx sneaked in with one of his customary mammalian fantasies. I shall go back to writing the books for a while (strange how attractive that prospect now seems), and only return when other suggestions have been made and I feel the need to change tack. (As Michael might say 'See what I did there?')

  5. Oooo, DrDx and I are on similar courses methinks. Go back to your books, kind sir? Really, it's all about the blog!

  6. The comments lost me. :))) approximately 5 seconds into reading, my brain switched off. I bet it is me being foreign and enjoying simple phrases. :)

  7. Simple phrases are good, Scary. I like simple phrases. Simple phrases are what I was looking for.

  8. What, is this thing called Love?
    What is this, Thing-Called-Love?
    What is this thing called, love?

  9. Good triplet, DrDx. Well done.

  10. Banjaxed was I, ere I saw Elba: An example of a Pleomorphic Asymmetrical Koaniform Anagram. Discuss, deconstruct, get fairly drunk, discuss some more.

  11. Hmm, speaking of sage ...

    ... she rolled the leaves tight, a miniature purplish-green cylinder. The blade cut, sharp, snicking through, releasing an aroma of...

  12. The microtome makes a further pass through the brain tissue, barely a whisper as it takes a paper-thin slice out of .... what was that again?

  13. Oi, you two, push off.

    Not you, Linda. Your restraint is remarkable and very welcome.

  14. ok, I'm lost...what was the question?

  15. ...of pungent prairie, the fragrance of soft hidden yearnings. She switches to the microtome and flicks the thin-slice of brain onto the cutting board. Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a hint of garlic and a sprinkling of sage leaves. She quadrants the fleshy brain and wraps the seasoned side round a plump sea scallop.

  16. ...even as all trace of sentience spins hopelessly into chaotic darkness I sense her pearly teeth crushing my neurones by their millions, feel her hot impetuous breath which used to caress my skin so softly - when I had a skin - and the thought sparkles into renascent consciousness: by this means I will penetrate her very being.........

  17. Random, hmm.
    phantasm of color
    universal intelligence
    pregnancy test
    World Cup - oops, no

  18. ...leaving her in rapturous melodic spasms that will sweep, soft, sensually over her carapace, a metronome of desire and despair.

  19. OK, Gary's phlogiston did it. I'm calling time on this sequence. It looks an interesting wee challenge and, instead of my original intention (of using maybe 3 or 4 of the millions of suggestions), I'll try to get everything in. And, since just stringing the replies themselves together would produce a normal-sized blog, it means I can make it a two-parter.

  20. Hilarious! I read the later post, Dinsdale first. And I wondered if it was actually a guest blog by DrDx since it was so typically him.
    Well done mr Kirton.

    Do you like some more sentences/words for a new blog post?

  21. Glad you liked it, Anneke. The contributions by DrDx did indeed raise the tone, as did those from Diane the Dragon Lady.

    I still have part two of this story to write so I'll wait until after that before deciding whether to do it again. But it's fun and it certainly beats writing about grammar and things.