On Writing

Image found at www.npr.org.

Image found at http://www.npr.org.

On Writing

I just finished Stephen King’s book On Writing and I’m currently kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I even had it sitting on my bookshelf for probably close to a year now, along with other books on writing.  On top of all that I only read the book because I ran out of things on my kindle and spotted it on my bookshelf.

But wow, just wow. The blunt way he puts things and cuts right to the chase is just amazing. Read it over the course of a few days this week at work and home and it had me chomping at the bit. Now that I’ve read it all I want to digest it, to really let it sink in. It also made me aware of something. I’ve been treating writing like a hobby, not as a career or what I truly wanted to do.

Sure I’d come home and bang out a quick post, a poem or a bit of fiction, but it was really just a half effort. If I want to really pursue it, I believe I need to make it among my top priorities. I also need to work on stories over a thousand words and not just take the easy route. The book has been quite an eye opener to me. My pursuit of writing needs to be a 100% effort, not 25%.

I know some of this drive is just that freshly-completed-book rush. But  I don’t want it to fade, I want to keep my conviction. Part of my problem as to where I’m at now is a lack of time and privacy in writing. Hard to focus, hard to stay uninterrupted. But I do have some time in the morning, some time after work, and occasionally other bits of time.

It will be in these times I will have to really focus and get into the habit of just writing. Not checking my e-mail, playing LoL, or whatever else. I have co commit to this. I also need to watch myself, I find myself trying to build a blog at times rather than be a writer. I realize the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but I don’t want to lose my way.

So, that has been my epiphany this week. Sorry if it seemed disjointed and rambling. I wrote it to understand it myself as much as to relate it to all of you.

The Mortality Manifesto

Image found at www.ubergizmo.com.

Image found at http://www.ubergizmo.com.

The Mortality Manifesto


I don’t wanna freakin’ live forever. I mean, how do people stand it? You wake up everyday to the same boring life, the same dull existence. Makes me want to blow my brains out right now just thinking about it. But, that won’t do me any good. I’ll pop back up good as new, fit as a fiddle. You could even watch those damn nanites with a microscope as they patch my brain back together and seal the bullet hole. The industrious little buggers will  break down the bullet to use as raw materials. Whats a guy to do in a world like this? I can’t off myself, can’t off anyone else, can’t do nothin’. With personal nanites now in every single human, we’re pretty much immortal. And it sucks.

I know you can ask anyone else and they tell you its just the bees knees. Old Chet Henderson will tell you the advant of our nanite golden age has finally let him focus on his painting. Or Jenny Summers will tell you how her singing has never been better. Between you and me, they both still suck. You remove challenge or struggle, you take away the need to excel. All Chet does is paint pictures of his cats and Jenny manages to forget lyrics to even the most basic of pop songs while butchering them. The nanites may have preserved our bodies, but they didn’t make us any smarter or talented. They figured out a little too late intelligence isn’t a matter of rebuilding the brain, its the right conditions and stimulus. You could order the nanites to make your brain a copy of Einstein’s, sure. But then you’d just be Einstein with some jerks memory implanted. Wouldn’t be you no more.

Utopia has bought us nothing but time, time to keep living our dull lives. I suppose I could see the world, read all the works of the great philosophers, or maybe even memorize all the episodes of classic TV shows. But then I would just be another pretentious jerk among many. No, that’s not for me. There is nothing to it. I want us to get back to doing what humanity was made to do; getting ourselves killed in a variety of stupid ways with rare moments of brilliance. We gotta’ kick start evolution again. And in a hurry. Another fifty years of Chet’s cats and Jenny’s off-key singing and I’m liable to bury myself alive.

I’ve been doing some digging and I’ve found out a way to change all this back to how it used to be. You see, thanks to being immortal a lot of people have time to learn anything they want now. There is a fellow sympathist to the mortality cause, a nano-engineer. He knows how to reprogram ’em. I’m writing this and setting this up to post just about everywhere on a time delay. Either this will be my confession or my suicide note in about ten hours. The world will hate us or revere us, probably hate. But, screw it, right? It’s time we got busy dying again. Attached below is the copy of the code we’re going to use. They might block it if we fail, so get ready to tweak it. Remember the cause, everyone should get an equal shot at living and dying.

by Nicholas Byrley

I had a thought today while working, thinking about all the things I needed to do and what I had gotten accomplished that day. I said to myself, “I don’t wanna freakin’ live forever”. The idea of the mundane endlessly being repeated, day in, day out made me just sick at the thought. Then after that little personal crisis it occurred to me that had the making of a good story. Clinical or even true mortality is science fiction right now, but its certainly within the realm of possible science. The day will come when we might be able to live forever on this world, but will we want to? If all the vampire novels are true, you eventually get tired of it. Even more so when you take out the fantastic setting and realize you’re stuck with Chet’s and Jenny’s the rest of your life. The dull as well as the bright would all get their shot at immortality. Now it seems much less appealing, right?

That is what tonight’s flash fiction is all about, people who want to be mortal, who don’t want to live forever. They’re going to fight the good fight even if it’s all against them. It will at least give their lives meaning beyond taking up space. Maybe they succeed, maybe they don’t. I think it probably doesn’t matter for them. The doing is enough of a purpose, the outcome isn’t as important.

Well, I’ll quit rambling now. Let me know what you all think.

The Skycleaver Swords

The Skycleaver Swords

The Martyr’s Blade

It is the bane of tyrants, kin to Truthbreaker and Kinseeker.

Wielded for a noble and just cause, the blade always prevails.

With such power comes a hefty price, a debt that must be paid.

It can triumph in any conflict, but it demands your life as well.

The Truthbreaker

It is the might of old creation, the iron of the worldforge.

Some call it Truthmaker, to others it is the Godslayer.

Its might is unmatched, its power an unstoppable primal one.

Reality is the wielders to control, woe to those who face it.

The Kingseeker

It edge is the foundation of empires, the source of kings.

Those chosen by it are called lawgivers, true rulers of man.

To oppose it is to oppose order itself, it can not be denied.

A golden age awaits those who wield it, prosperity and life abounding.

by Nicholas Byrley

Maybe I’m channeling Fred Saberhagen, but the idea of magic swords is always a delicious one. I had at first the idea for just the martyr’s blade, then the second line of that poem pretty much wrote the other two. It makes fertile ground for a story, three opposing characters and their blades. Really one I should get around to writing…

Building Ideas

From the Ground Up or the Roof Down?

I’ve been writing my ideas and thoughts down more and more lately, so as to build up ample fodder for this blog. This has got me wondering though about how to flesh out these ideas when it comes time to write them. I haven’t used the traditional method as much as I should have. Usually when I have an idea I just start typing and the words flow however they want. Sometimes it ends up good, sometimes it’s just crap. When it ends up crap I try to determine if it was just a bad idea or if I wrote it badly. And more recently now that I’ve been trying to organize my ideas I am wondering if it might be because the idea lacked structure.

A lot of my ideas tend to be constructed from the roof down I think. As in, I see the end result and kind of start working from there to establish the bones of whatever it was I wanted to write. Any English teacher will tell you that this is a bad idea, and most of mine would probably berate me for not using outlines. I don’t only have issues involved in making the outline or structure of it, I also have trouble sticking to it. I think it feels a little constricting even if it was my own words to begin with. For me I question whether I even need to outline something that’s only going to be a few hundred words.

So as with most of my internal debates, I’m left holding all the possibilities and no real answers. The scientific way to test it would be to write several things using different methods and observe the outcomes. But then things vary by topic and inspiration so it has no control. I could ask others what they thought of different pieces, but it becomes a matter of personal taste. Other writers could weigh in on how they do it, but what works for them may not work for me. I fear as with most things I’m unsure of only time, practice, and patience will tell. If you all have any thoughts, please weigh in.



Hear Me, O’ Muses…


I’ve decided to write tonight on the topic of inspiration since I find myself lacking sufficient inspiration for the ideas I originally had. No matter how much I turned them over in my head I couldn’t bring them to fruition. Nor did my dinner of fried potatoes and boiled eggs . Not that I really expected the last two to. Instead I will write about inspiration, because I once heard those that can’t do, teach. So I will tell everyone about how I get inspired to hide my lack of inspiration. Genius or madness? Its a gray area.

I find a lot of my inspiration arises from randomness. Fragments of ideas are like threads that I slowly start to spool out in my head. I take a topic and then I try to build on it, trying to figure out what I really want to communicate. With no direction to work towards I find it very hard to get inspiration. Its why I struggle so much with short stories I think, because I don’t know where it ends. Sometimes I want to keep the thread forever unraveling and just explore all there could possibly be about it. That unfortunately turns into rambling interesting perhaps only to me and those bound by filial obligations. See, it turns into all that.

I also get a good number of ideas just from music. Random lyrics or good songs either help me work through ideas to fully form them or provide the genesis for new ones.  When I was attending college I wrote most of my papers while blaring rock music. It always helped keep the creative juices flowing. Also helped me bust out some papers right before their due dates. Fun stuff really. The other fifty three percent or so of my inspiration has to come from things I’ve read. Books, articles, posts, and anything really that I absorb.

I fill my head up with as much as it will take and then the collective bits bounce around until it spits something out. I’ve heard there are no original ideas anymore, and that anything that can be thought of already has. I found it a rather depressing outlook and have since decided to dismiss that. Its boring. Instead, I believe all those words, stories, and heartfelt memories from other authors can truly lead me to new horizons. There’s no telling where a fragment of a story combined with the other random bits of my head might lead.

Looking at all of that now it actually helps to see it laid out like that. Makes me think I should draw up a nifty creative diagram of some sort, charting my brains crazy path to creation. I’d never use it of course, my brain really doesn’t like to work visually. That is about all of it I can think of, but now I worry this post falls into the category of ramblings that may only be relevant to me…