The Tree Of Life

March 22nd, 2022

When actually signing up on the NaNoWriMo site I had to really ponder what I was calling this project – the Maidens of the Wild, Wild Women, Women of the Wilds, Life and Death and Extremes, The Cradle and the Grave, The Cycle of Life, Cyclic Decay… and so on when I had a dream about Baba Yada or rather a series of small baby houses and the concept of the power of 3 and how a lot of the deamons and witches where once gods and goddesses or spirits of nature who were hobbled and vilified by the powers that be.

And this lead me to thinking of things like Crone, Maiden, mother and the sisters of night, day and twilight and of the Life Tree in various cultures in Northern Europe of which really the UK is a part and so these are some of the stories that permeated my head as a child. And being as alot of the stories will be based in the Punk’s Universe and be sci fi and infect some stories that would match this criteria already exist… I began to think of mechanism for these monsters and guardians hidden in the wild places and of the placenta trees that are so important in the rest of the stories and I started to think about genetic variations and cauldrons to bring people back to life when Irish Kings and Welsh Kind and all the rest went to battle.

It wouldn’t take much for such mechanisms of life’s creation and restoration to go wrong to produce the sorts of horrors we’ve been handed in our mythologies. Now because of my family contains sailors and explorers and those who came home with strange brides and family from Russia, South Africa, Canada, Australia and so on… I have been surrounded by and collected other stories who’s mythosis seem to fit so well. As an older teen I started researching old stories, myths, legends and religious texts with the idea that they were all an echo of something much older linguistic wise, culture wise. And these inputs and concepts have shaped my own story telling.

My granddad – a sailor who knew the ice and knitted and carved and was many many things, was obsessed with an author called Von Daniken who writes pseudo-science/history books which straddle a line, my granddad took them all as fact but then later my Dad told me that they had initially been advised as popular science books and later the author said it was a lot of “supposing” – my dad paraphrasing the paraphrasing! But weather or not the pseudo science and pseudo history books are correct or not is not really what I am looking for when writing – I am looking for the Maybes and the What Ifs and MayHaps and these books along with conspiracy theories tap straight into that. Infact their whole existence is a symptom of just how much we do not know.

The other thing is that no matter how smart or educated or careful we are – all of us – EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US – believes something that is a little nuts just most of us are in denial and many will even fight to defend those beliefs. I went to a very interesting phycology talk on this subject including our pattern sequins behaviour seeing coincidence as important and trying to find the cause or it. Sadly I can not remember the name of the speaker but I think it was either the Cheltenham Science Festival or possibly the Oxford one.

I am still researching ancient cultures and languages and stories and the Tree of Life or Yggdrasil and extremophiles and space and fossils, and all of these are relevant to my story telling. As for what I actually believe – that is tricky and probably the subject of many more posts. For a start I don’t really believe anything – there is so little evidence that what we can know is really small – quiet simply we do not have very much to go on. Do I think aliens built the pyramids?

Probably not – do I think there was way more to ancient civilisations than we have yet discovered including technologies we’d see as “advanced”? Hell yes – in fact I have seen the historical narrative shift in this aspect in my life time. Advanced mechanics existed and was forgotten or guarded as religious secrets. Centuries before Copernicus and Galileo there are Anglo Saxon documents that show a hello-centric solar system – the planets go around the sun – I even got to see one such document at a special exhibition at the British Library.

Also we are missing a lot of the where that these cultures thrived due to changes in sea levels – areas that were on land are currently drowned and we have only really very recently thought to look in these shallow seas for civilisations origin. Add to that the callus and wanton stripping and destruction of ancient artefacts from various sites in Africa and the horrible concept of barbarianism and racism and eugenics and a lot of global history we had say 100-200 yrs ago is gone or muddled and in some cases forged or forgotten in some vault somewhere. Go back another couple of hundred years and Europeans are melting down the history of the Americas and trying to obliterate cultures that don’t fit with the current power struggle both at home and abroad.

The ingenuity of these ancient people was the same as our own and look what we have built!

And especially with the current nuclear threat – look at how easily it could all be lost and we could all end up with shortened life spans living in remembrance of glory and within a few short generations having nothing but ruins that seemed impossible. Roman ruins in Britain ended up inspiring myths about gods and giants and fairies because how else could such large fine structures have been built?

It’s almost like we have a tree of knowledge and sometimes it get felled but its roots run deep and it resprouts and sometimes heals a lightning split. And yes was also a reference to things like the secret societies – illuminate and knights templar and Da Vinci and all the rest and… I think it is a comforting notion but I think politicians just actually like to chase the power and play silly games with all our lives – but you know I could well be wrong – there are such societies actually registered as having existed through out history and so on.

And that was a lot of waffle and I could probably continue but instead I want to get back to planing the fiction that I’ve done all this research and soul searching for!

NB Anglo Saxon is no longer a technical historical term and is not used by academics but it tends to take a lot of explaining to non historians and everyone kind of knows what you are talking about and I haven’t personally worked out exactly what I am supposed to be calling that era and group of peoples yet though I have been researching this area of history a lot having ended up being called in to research a local Queen that founded parts of the city I live in and help create workshops and drop in sessions for schools and the general public which also branched out into Women’s History and so on (yes I know thumbs in too many pies!). Once I am more clear on this I will share it with everyone πŸ™‚ In the mean time you might have to look it up yourselves if you are interested πŸ™‚

Planning and Plotting

March 14th, 2022

Camp NaNo writing supplies

It keeps being bizarrely warm and sunny here so I have taken to taking my note book and tea outside and trying to do some plotting there! So where have I gotten too? Well I know what theme I am running on and though a lot of it will be set in the Punk’s Universe – not all of it will be – possibly not even the majority.

So far I have a list of titles that I think will work well with the theme and have even started writing intros and story starters to go with it not to mention bullet pointing some actual large story lines. I have even accidentally written some short stories which I am pretty sure we can count as a warm up or possibly world building!

Mostly I am researching old myths and legends that I think will be relevant.

I suppose I should probably say what the theme is! Unlike normally with me it is not some abstract concept or a piece or tech and how that would affect things – not this time it is kind of something else. I am looking at a certain group of myths and legends and thinking about the variations on that and how you further alter the concept to different basic genres like sci fi, fantasy, horror and of course just retelling the core stories in all of their own variations!

Its going to be like taking the markov chain and instead of collapsing it down to one possibility thread to create a story I am collecting those variations – those forks in time and wrapping each in a narrative. It is the sort of chaotic story planning that butterflies and gets messy and may well only result in a couple of short stories… but I hope it will be much more than that.

So what have I picked?

I suppose you could call it Maidens of the Wild – all those tales of the ginger bread cottage or the fairy bound to their willow tree or the sirens of the fresh water or salt water for that matter, the spirits wronged or just other – ice maidens, fox spirits, sacrifices to the bog. The witches and maidens, the hurt and the lost, the guardian and the avenger.

It might seem like a catch all and subjects too diverse to work together but I feel instinctively that there is an underlaying… something there.

Would Wild Women or women of the wilds be better? I still have a lot of thinking and planning and plotting to do!

Camp Nano 2022 – plotting

March 7th, 2022

I am going to be attempting CampNano this year with the hopes that I will do better than last years attempt – as I’ve said in previous posts what has been happening is I sign up and then do a couple of days and then life swallows me – now that might well happen again but I feel I should at least try!

So I am trying and I am planning and plotting and thinking about the exacts – because back in the day like a decade or so ago this particularly virtual writing camp was at Script Frenzy I still tend to think of it in those original terms but with a general writing camp laid on the top. But I might be getting a little a head of myself here… for those who don’t know CampNaNo is a side quest to NaNoWriMo which stands for National Novel Writing Month which is traditionally based in November. The idea is that you write 50, 000 words in one month and I have found it really helpful in the past – there have been online forums and chats and physical meet ups in coffee shops and pubs and theatres and I have friends who generally take part so we have writathons at their houses. Some writing retreats have been based around it and I have run little Creative-Tea after noons which during November have a nano flavour to them – basically there are vats of tea, mocktails, sandwiches, dips and so on and everyone writes away. The side quests are kind of when this happens not in November and they are called CampNaNo as in summer camp as the first ones were in the summer.

Now there are multiple Camps but I keep the April one based on scripts… except being me I never actually wrote a script… instead I wanted an excuse to work on graphic novels and comic books and those are drafted as… “scripts” so that was the sort of script I was aiming for except I can’t even do that right and they tend to be story board type creations scribbled in biro and going the wrong way in the note book – from back to front and they contain a lot of stick people and correction arrows.

With this in mind I am thinking of doing a kind of hybrid camp this April – a story concept that could be written fiction of various lengths, or stand alone comics or picture books or some strange merging with a bit of gaming thrown into the mix.

Its all a bit of a tangled mix in my head at the moment but I have a note pad and a pencil and there will no doubt be many bubble diagrams and spider charts.

Reboot

January 1st, 2022

I am trying to reboot The Punk’s Universe or Punk In Pink series – don’t worry I don’t mean starting the story again with updates and more actors or a shift in political perspective – I mean… well me.

I have been struggling for a long time with writing and being creative – since the head injury really which was now a ridiculous amount of time ago – I had a lot of content already written so the writing blogs and submissions got to limp along and I have had periods of clarity and creativity but I have done very little actual getting published or bringing projects to completion. Most of my energy and brain capacity has of late been taken up with the domestic – made extra hard by trying to care for my elderly mother as well as the kids whilst struggling with the now many medical problems of my own. Sadly my mothers health is failing and my kids have unfortunately had some of the autoimmune problems I suffer from triggered and we are adapting to this new normal which includes after affects of Covid and genetics.

I could go on and on with the misery memoir and state the sorrow and lost of loved ones and so on but that isn’t really the point of this post – it is purely to let people know why I have been struggling and what I am trying to do about it.

The new year as always seems like a good time to reflect on these things and to start planning and bring myself back into the creative fold.

So this reboot – it is not for the writing as such but for me – I am glitching and sluggish and need to do something – anything. I was given a creative writing course on the NHS to help me and that would have worked wonders but got kind of scuppered by my poor mum being rushed to hospital twice during the course and then needing even more care than before. I know some feel that I should just leave out this stuff and focus on my family – but I tried that and it didn’t work – it broke me worse than all the physical/medical stuff – I also tried to do nanowrimo and other creative challenges and kind of did a couple of days of each and then ran into the crushing dependance of everyone on crippled exhausted me. I still bizarrely managed to write a lot but maintaining in one story was hard and it ended up being jottings in scattered notebooks that I fell asleep on.

The same goes for the visual arts and arts and crafts – and I found it hard to actually even consider starting a project let alone dive back into on and the Punk Universe is dicey at the moment anyway – it contains within it what was supposed to be an alternative future but it has increasingly become more and more our reality and I kind of feel I waited too long to share it and then it was too raw to share with the current events that were happening and I stopped the launch I had planned for 2020 – a series based on global pandemics and climate change and economic collapse and war was perhaps not the thing to be sharing when that was the current speeding train of reality we were dealing with and then of course I got to sick to contemplate anything for months.

But the Punk Universe has had too much work put into it throw it away and too much of it was built by my dad who is no longer here and the kids keep making me characters to add to the stories or create pictures of the characters so really there is no choice but to move forward with this!

And so I am basically trying to start again from a mental point of view – I will attempt the challenges such as NaNo but not be upset with myself for having to fit it around things – I will revisit my projects in progress and try to get some sort of semblance of order in the myriad of notes and files I have. I think I have promised this all before!

I want to start submitting work again.

My eldest would like to resurrect The Spaces In-between which is a non-punk project but possibly just as sprawling and large and something I started with my friends 20 yrs ago. They are happy for this to happen and are still on board which is amazing!

I have the Moon Mania project which has a book I need to get published full of wonderful contributions from across the glob and some other publishing works for others (if they still want it).

And of course I want to take part in more of the communal projects – stuff like Hopeless Maine but I feel so useless and like any talent I once had has flown away – all I can do is try and hope that that feeling goes away and that I defeat the Imposter Syndrome.

Not really sure where to start with all of this if I am honest which is why I am writing this blog post because this in itself is a start and so it is started and so hopefully the next step will be that much easier.

And because one is never enough…

March 31st, 2021

I like doing two projects – mainly because sometimes it is hard to focus and swapping back and forth I find can help.

So the second project is called The Helix Seeds though I am still a little unsure of the title as it may not be accurate enough. It is a novel or rather at the moment a concept that I am layering into the Punk’s Universe during on of the space expansions but I am not even sure which one πŸ™‚

Very briefly for those who haven’t been following along/for the 3 people that actually still read this blog! The Punk Universe is a large multimedia and genre project that spans humanities deep part to its distant future. It contains ancient civilisations, upload, strange technologies, fabulous creatures, dark secrets and amazing truths. I have been working on it for literally decades and really should actually share more of it than I do.

The Helix Seeds is about a specific colonisation technic and what happens to the individuals and civilisations that result from plus of course how it all came to be. I am still trying to decide on structure and characters etc… I will in all honesty probably just start writing and see where it takes me. As of now there is no story line as such just a nebulous idea that plagues me at night when I am trying to get to sleep.

I have a feeling this is going to want to be a series but then they always do don’t they?

CampNaNo 2021

March 26th, 2021

Project: The Made Menagerie

Steampunk gothic horror graphic novel set in the Punk’s Universe about creatures that have been created in various ways – think the various “punk” and “core” genres mixed together.

Format – will be short stories and with a combination of illustration and comic book techniques as well as longer written pieces. Scripting of images will be key for the challenge harking back to the old screnzy script writing challenges of yore, with the longer prose pieces drafted as par the normal sort of NaNoWriMo novel writing challenge goes.

Challenge – script 100 pages, draft 50, 000 words, sketch and practice the images.

Status – prepping i.e. planning, researching, collecting materials, looking at layouts and styles.

Personalising The Writing

September 21st, 2020

I had a bit of a contradiction moment – get note pads with tear out sheets so there is no pressure for the writing to be coherent or chronological etc… then I thought but I want it to be obvious who’s note book is who’s – so me and the youngest have decorated the pads.

Sarah's notebook Jean's notebook Alaric's notebook Nanny's notebook as decorated by Mary Mary's notebook

I suppose we had all better start out NaNoWriMo prep!

Getting Things Rolling

September 15th, 2020

I have tried and failed to really get writing this year – mainly due to various health problems, not least of which was the covid. I have written about this on other blogs and barriers it has popped up but I feel my prose writing has probably taken the biggest hit especially the Punk’s Universe.

There are many reasons for this starting with the fact that I was just too sick to write for most of this year – I had a half hearted attempt at some CampNaNo but didn’t really get anywhere. I’ve had to adapt to my eyesight being damaged and potentially getting worse as well as lapses of fever, headaches over and above the migraines I normally have and of course a series of seizures and so on.

I am also adapting to having one (possibly 2) more autoimmune diseases which have been switched on by this damn virus and things like hospital trips with heart pain so bad I couldn’t speak.

Once the physical is taken into account there is the mental toll all of this has had on me and my family who had to watch me being carted off in an ambulance with no idea if they would ever see me again. I haven’t seen my friends or gone to writing events – in fact the last time I saw anyone socially as it were was a funeral. I have also now slightly lost track of how many friends have died and keep trying to message them and I missed a zoom funeral because I couldn’t get the computer to play ball.

Then there are carer responsibilities – once I was well enough my elderly mum came back which was just as well as my family who were looking after her have been flooded out of their home and it’s all a bit rubbish if I am honest.

Even with mask wearing my kids keep bringing colds home from school and then developing fevers and having to be re tested for the virus and isolate in the mean time so even though they are back at school they kind of aren’t and so most of this year when I have had any spare brain cells has been spent on homeschooling the kids. My partner fortunately was made redundant for part of the time – I say fortunately because the oldest was having to teach the youngest and that wasn’t fair but I wasn’t all that conscious and bills had to be paid etc… but then the job went which was stressful and stuff but worked out ok in the end. They now have a new job πŸ™‚

And once all of that is taken into account there is the issue of what type of stories I tend to write – apocalyptic fiction, dystopian hells, disaster movie-ask horrors… all of this is a little too close to our everyday lives so though this year should have been the big launch of The Punk’s Universe I had already put the breaks on it as soon as it looked like the pandemic was going global etc… but to be honest I haven’t been able to face writing it either.

SO what to write – I keep feeling drawn back to it but also feeling incredibly edgy about the whole thing. I also feel that I have had yet another near death experience so really should get a wiggle on with this project that has now taken most of my life :/

For CampNaNo I looked at and attempted to write different things and to work on a not ultra depressing bit of the story line – I just did not have the energy if I am honest. I am seeing all this stuff about awesome things being produced historically in quarantine and now by people I actually know – people are writing and drawing and crafting and I am… well happy if I feel well enough to watch some netficks and made some food for everyone and somedays I can not manage either of those things.

I have also seen people saying it is our duty as writers to record what is going on but I just can’t and see that as pressure we just don’t need. It is ok that I haven’t been creating – this is a crisis situation and the only must of a crisis situation is survival.

Having said that I want to start being me again and it is September and traditionally that is my NaNo Prep Month – so I have begun prepping – not in my normal way and not really sure where I am going with it all or why – but I am going and that is the important part and I will as always be dragging the entire family with me – elderly mother and 9 yr old inclusive.

So basically – things have been rubbish, The Punk is on hold, I am prepping to do nano but with no pressure what so ever whilst still trying to maintain my love for this as my writing time of year. Crossing fingers that things will improve but assuming a lockdown and more hermit hiding which should at least help with the writing.

Also new glasses are awesome though my vision is still not what it was so still adapting to eyesight and computer use – so not sure how much computer writing will happen verses long hand and dictation.

Wish me luck πŸ™‚

And hope, health, healing and happiness to everybody else <3

CampNaNo 2020 week 1 update

July 9th, 2020

The story I am working on is several ideas I’ve been having for years all kind of merged together, it is primarily being written for my youngest with their input so I suppose it is actually a combined effort.

I have so far managed the prologue and first chapter with most of the second chapters outline in place.

Of course it has done that thing of getting completely out of control on me and there are already pages of notes and concept lists. There is enough scope for a series or three trailing the main characters life and adventures. Think teen to young adult even if it is being written for and partially by the 9 yr old – I think the stories will grow up with the protagonist.

Camp NaNo 2020 – eep and ARG!!!!

July 2nd, 2020

I started June thinking I would plan my Camp NaNo – I was after all feeling a lot better and had even been out gardening but then on May the 16th I started to get little heart twinges and then my reactive arthritis came back – I have not suffered with it in yrs. On the pain killer I went and then a rash appeared and got worse and worse until there was emergency phone calls and pharmacies at 1 in the morning and then actual June arrived – as did the ambulance – those chest pains had got a lot worse all of a sudden.

Turns out that when you suffer a virus or infection like coronavirus it can muck your immune system up – get it over excited – well mine is over excited and attacking my thyroid of all things. I also have general inflammation. I had a whole suite of symptoms which I wont bore you with – all that really matters is that I now have to take medicine for about 18 months and be weary of infections getting out of hand as sometimes your immune system can completely close down on these medicines.

The medical problems I’ve had the last few yrs have not helped things and I don’t really know what’s happening with my vision and hearing – both of which have been affected. None the less I have started my Camp NaNo – it feels good to be writing again and it is all down to helping my youngest with learning at home – but more on that later – for I am having to pace myself with the writing and screen time and the creative writing is getting priority over blogging.