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Printed from https://shop.writing.com/main/profile/blog/beholden/month/5-1-2024
Rated: 13+ · Book · Experience · #2223922
A tentative blog to test the temperature.
Ten years ago I was writing several blogs on various subjects - F1 motor racing, Music, Classic Cars, Great Romances and, most crushingly, a personal journal that included my thoughts on America, memories of England and Africa, opinion, humour, writing and anything else that occurred. It all became too much (I was attempting to update the journal every day) and I collapsed, exhausted and thoroughly disillusioned in the end.

So this blog is indeed a Toe in the Water, a place to document my thoughts in and on WdC but with a determination not to get sucked into the blog whirlpool ever again. Here's hoping.

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May 31, 2024 at 7:25am
May 31, 2024 at 7:25am

My only excuse is that WDC made me do it. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Today, I wrote a poem consisting only of pictures. Well, emojis, that is. And that’s after swearing I’d never do such a thing. But I couldn’t resist.

This is how it happened:

The prompt for Express It In Eight was “Write a prehistoric poem.” A quick think revealed that was not going to be easy because the very definition of “prehistory” is that it’s from a period when writing hadn’t been invented. So to write a prehistoric poem would be an immediate anachronism. Which kinda made it a bit difficult.

But they did have cave paintings. And I could write a story (or poem) in paintings as symbols of words. And the only way to do that in print without fancy graphic programs and hardware was emojis.

So I wrote a poem using emojis.

Nothing too complex, of course - that would be really difficult both for me and the reader. Just one pic per line. And it’s only eight lines long, obviously. But it does tell a story of sorts. Poetically. Some of it can be deduced by hovering the cursor over the pic until it tells you what it’s name is. Otherwise you have to deduce from the nature of the pic what it’s meant to convey.

It’s a sort of non-word puzzle.

I won’t put the poem in here or even give you a link to it, as I’m not particularly proud of it or think that it deserves your attention. But if you fancy trying to decipher it, you’ll find it in the contest page. And I won’t even tell you to enjoy it.

Word count: 285
May 28, 2024 at 6:28am
May 28, 2024 at 6:28am
Official Contests

I have entered an annoying pattern with regard to the official WDC contests. Every month, I promise myself that I will get something done for them early so that it doesn’t hang over me for the entire month. Then I look at the prompt, have a think, and have no astounding inspiration. Often, I might have the germ of an idea but it’s not enough to start with.

So I wait.

And that, of course, is my undoing. Invariably, I have only a few days left when I have to admit that waiting isn’t going to give me a better idea. Then I start with what I’ve got and, usually, it develops as I write and I end up with something at least vaguely presentable. It gets entered just before closing date and I swear I’ll do something early for the next month.

And so the pattern continues.

I often say that most of my stories are begun before I know their ends, and it’s true. But it’s no way to live. The self-induced pressure is just as uncomfortable as it would be if applied by someone else (more so, in fact, since it’s easier to disappoint myself by giving up on it). Plus the possibility of fizzles is always present. A fizzle being a story that ends in just that, of course. I have quite a collection of those.

And now the end of May is near and I still haven’t had a better idea for Short Shots than I had when I first saw the visual prompt for this month. Once again, I’m going to have to start with that and see what happens. And it has to be good to stand a chance of placing, as usual.

Why am I telling you all this? It’s just another way of delaying the moment when I’m going to have to begin the story and see where it takes me. Procrastination is my middle name.

Word count: 325
May 26, 2024 at 12:48pm
May 26, 2024 at 12:48pm
Privacy Policy

With all this talk of updating privacy policies, I thought I really ought to have one so that I could update too. After much thought and consultation with experts, I've completed it. Here it is: Mind your own.
May 19, 2024 at 6:49am
May 19, 2024 at 6:49am
AI and All That

The palindromic Damon Nomad has put up a Newsfeed post about publishers requiring guarantees from writers that they have not used AI in their submissions. I am amazed that they should think that this constitutes an effective defence against such cheating (which is what it is, after all), since cheats can hardly be expected to tell the truth having already demonstrated their nature in this regard.

What astounds me even more is the number of writers who dabble with this demon called AI. If there is anything that threatens the profession of writing more than AI, I have not had the imagination to conceive of it so far. And, that so many writers play so merrily with the means of their own destruction is incomprehensible to me.

I am stupid enough to have thought that writers, of all people, would have the sense to do nothing whatsoever to assist in the fortunes of AI. If there is one invention that should be uninvented now, while we still can, it is AI.

Word count: 171
May 17, 2024 at 11:09am
May 17, 2024 at 11:09am
Quotation Cogitation

I am sure we would have many more memorable quotes if we were told, "Okay, these are gonna be your last words. Make sure they're good ones."

May 15, 2024 at 5:35pm
May 15, 2024 at 5:35pm
Being Consistently Inconsistent

A while back I came across one of these web things that claim to analyse your writing and tell you who you write like. Naturally, I threw a few things at it and, like most people (judging from today’s experience with the one found by Steven), it came up with a different name every time. I can remember that Conan Doyle was one of its wild stabs. And Stephen King, if my memory serves me correctly. It seemed that it was concerning itself more with genre and subject than style, so I ignored it and went about my business.

When Steven offered an alternative link to a similar contraption today, I watched everyone having a go before trying it myself. This actually produced a surprise in that one person achieved a steady answer every time - Stephen King for Steven. Everyone else was getting a different answer every time. Steven, of course, is published, so maybe this app is displaying something beyond the circus trick we all took it for. Is it possible that what counts is consistency more than anything else?

I thought I’d give the thing a go at some of my stuff. Started with excerpts from a short story hanging around nearby. Got a different author every time, really disparate - Jane Austen, Margaret Atwood and Leo Tolstoy. I knew I was versatile but in one story?

I threw a few more excerpts from elsewhere at it. Once again, a different answer every time. So I tried complete short stories. Same again, authors ranging from Daniel Defoe to James Joyce.

Now, it’s true that I tend to alter my style to fit the type of story I’m writing. So I get wordy when I’m writing something set in Victorian times, steampunk and stuff like that, much more direct and conversational for present times, and often experimental when writing sci-fi or fantasy. But the claim that my style changes all the way through something as limited as a short story, that surely is ridiculous.

So I am forced to the conclusion that the machine is not looking at style at all, but at things like subject, genre, word lengths, language pitch, and suchlike. But what then can we say about Steven? Is he just incredibly lucky and has hit the jackpot three times in a row on the random selection machine? In which case, I suggest he buy a lottery ticket right now. Or is it identifying something really consistent about Steven’s writing?

In the end, it comes down to what some nerd of a programmer thinks the machine should look for in assessing the writing of various authors. And I am rather dubious in accepting his judgement in that case. Although I’m sure he’s a great judge of D&D games authors.

Word count: 463
May 15, 2024 at 8:56am
May 15, 2024 at 8:56am
The Way of the World

When I was young, I was annoyed that the old had all the good jobs and were paid loads for doing them. Now I am old and just as annoyed that the young have all the good jobs and are paid fortunes for doing them. If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have lied about my age. Somehow I don’t think that trick will work now.

Word count: 68
May 5, 2024 at 6:49am
May 5, 2024 at 6:49am
The Problem

What do you do when you think of something to write about in the blog, but then you suspect that you may have written about it before? You could read back through the early years but that’s a substantial task now the blog is as overweight as it’s become, and you don’t want to waste the time. Do you write it anyway and hope that no one remembers the previous iteration, if there is one? Or do you forget it and try to think of something else?

I’ll tell you what I do.

I write a post about the dilemma so that the issue is avoided entirely. And, if it matters to you, the subject I was thinking about was the existence or otherwise of aliens. Yes, little green men. And no, there are none.

Word count: 135
May 3, 2024 at 5:55am
May 3, 2024 at 5:55am
Not So Cheerful

It is a great pity that the bus conductor has disappeared into the fog of history. This was, perhaps, the last profession in which, each and every day, you could tell people where to get off.
May 2, 2024 at 6:46am
May 2, 2024 at 6:46am
A Cheerful Thought

I am very amicable. Lots of people have commented on how easy I am to amic.

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