So it's late October, and outside it's ... sunny and warm. (Adopts craggy stare of doom-saying Scotsman) ... it's the end times, I tell ye, it's no' natural: the seas are gonnae rise up and potatoes'll be worth more than gold dust, aye, we're doomed, DOOMED I tell ye, Doomed ...

I just came out of a minor attack of flu, and not a pigeon in sight. Felt well enough a couple of nights ago to make it along to the Halloween-ish meeting of Edinburgh's Writer's Bloc at the Canon's Gate pub with Mike G and Phil Raines from GSFWC, at which surely the highlight was Gavin Inglis' 'Springheeled Jock', the delivery of which should surely be the measure of all pub spoken word events. Gavin, I salute you. And your comedy fake beard, wherever it may roam.

The past couple of months have actually been surprisingly busy in a fun way, which is one reason for (insert typical excuse here) my pathetic lack of blogging. What can I say? Sorry, I have a life, okay? Like Al says over at geek show, Duncan Lunan had a sixtieth at the Bon Accord several days ago: I don't know what deal the bastard's made with Auld Nick, but the fact he looks twenty years younger than he actually is ... well, it's no' natural, I tell ye ...

Writing: the ten minute script I submitted to the BBC's Tartan Shorts has currently made it as far as the longlist, but of course that's no guarantee it'll get any further. If it doesn't, it's going to my agent, who works with another agent to er, agent scripts for tv and film. People have said I'm getting my hopes up too high concerning scriptwriting, but the point isn't about getting your hopes up, it's about giving it a shot regardless of the hopeless bleedin' odds against it. You could make exactly the same series of statements about writing novels, and I got a couple of those published, so what the hell.

There's going to be another joint Writer's Bloc thing in mid-December, and I'll be back along to that: it's likely several of us from GSFWC will also be participating, so come along and say hello if you're in the area. I keep meaning to write something for it, but I'm hardly the best organised for this kind of thing - plus, I tend to set myself high standards: it's got to not only be a good story, it's got to be in a suitable style for reading aloud. Think more 'stand=up' than 'intricate prose'.


Wednesday last: disaster. I'm sitting at my usual place - laptop on coffee table, in kitchen - when the phone rings. So I stand up, reach for the phone, and my foot catches the power cord. Too late: the laptop slides off the edge of the coffee table, and hits the floor, edge first. The whole thing in slo-mo in my head.

Well, at first it looked like it was fine, but it turned out the usb ports were gubbed: I'd had a usb modem plugged into it when I stood up, and that clearly twisted and broke the internal usb slots. Oh joyous fucking day. And thank my lucky stars I hadn't stuffed my desktop pc away in a cupboard somewhere, like I'd been intending.

Thing is, since Wednesday, I've only been able to get on the net on my old desktop. And (aside from the mental shutdown mentioned in the next paragraph) I'm getting more writing done. Big surprise, really: it's way too easy to keep checking the email, look stuff up on Amazon, on the laptop. Now the work is evenly split between two machines: ancient pc for email and web, laptop for writing. One day I'll get a wifi card so I can not get around to ever sitting in coffee shops pretending it's actually possible to get work done surrounded by dozens of people talking loudly.

I crashed last weekend, and hardly did any writing, something I'm hoping to fix this weekend. Mind you, some good news: word from the agent is Against Gravity's been picked up by a Spanish publishing company for release in November 2006.

I think I mentioned before I'd put a short (ten minute) script into something called Tartan Shorts, where the BBC pick three scripts for production. The benefit isn't just to new writers, it's to producers, engineers, directors, whatever. I made the longlist out of maybe three hundred entries, which was apparently enough for me to get invited along to the BBC to talk to two producer types about how I saw the film being made, should it get so far as the top three: I had no idea what I was supposed to say, being entirely new to this kind of thing.

The story is set in an isolated religious community in the Highlands in the near future. It's very much science fiction.

At one point, one of the women said, 'you know, with the technology and the robots, it could almost be ...' She mused for a moment, before leaning forward. 'Almost sci fi.'

But it is science fic - I started to say, then closed my mouth and sat back, remembering the monthly lists of actors in Ansible saying their new movie featuring faster than light ships and aliens wasn't really science fiction, it was ... futuristic drama. I give up. I have no fucking idea what goes through these people's heads. No, I do know, but it's too depressing: what goes through their heads is Buck Rogers and flying cars and, I guess, a big blank nothing when it comes to imagining the world even a year or two from now.

So anyway, they're looking for a rewrite, for two weeks from now. What they're looking for seems faily reasonable, so that's something else to muck about with. I need a holiday.


I like this. Apparently there's a thing going around where people put up the first lines or paragraphs on anything they're either working on, or that's unfinished, unpublished or whatever. It came via Charlie Stross' blog, I think. So here's my contributions:

THE FRACTURE (unfinished novel)
Jacob gripped the shunt unit in his hand and glanced up, seeing a baneful Chicago moon hanging low over the alley. The unit pulsed red against his skin. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them, bright afternoon sunshine spilled across crumbling stonework and mossy flagstones. He put a hand up to shield his eyes from the sudden light and turned in the direction of the stables.

WESTERN GOTHIC (unfinished wild west horror fantasy)
Rain slashed down on the south-east coast of China, turning the sky into a slate-grey wall that extended from the top of heaven down to the waves that crashed against the pebbly beach. Lawton pulled the hood of his cape tight around his neck, rivulets of rainwater somehow still finding their way inside. He felt cold, damp and miserable; under the cloak, his wet cotton shirt stuck to his skin. He cleared his throat and tasted salt.

There were memories here.
If it had a name, it would be Teacher. Humans called its kind Baskers. It lifted its pale-furred snout and scented the remembrance of other times, carried to the rocky ridge on which it stood by warm, sulphurous winds blowing up from the lake below. The Basker tasted memories and snatches of thought, pissed or spat onto rocks and the wide roots of the canopy trees that towered over the landscape.

Lian stood on the roof of the only world she had known until the age of thirteen, and felt the wind lash at her face like a frozen whip.

Jonah woke suddenly to darkness, wondering just what it was he'd heard.
The back of his head rested against the scarred and beaten leather of the couch he fell asleep on most nights, usually to the serenade of police cars wailing their way downtown. The sound of the sirens always made him think of listening to Charlie Parker, forlorn yet also hopeful at the same time. He stared up at the cracks that patterned the ceiling, like the relief map for some river valley hidden for centuries from the sight of man. The plaster was now streaked with pale moonlight that drifted through tall windows overlooking a fire escape. Jonah shivered, the gas fire to one side of the window cold and inert as an empty promise. Here and there, beyond the narrow pool of illumination cast by the single bulb hanging above the coffee table, could be seen several tall canvases, all shrouded in white sheets.

Sonja looked up, and saw stars.
Her breath frosted in the cold night air, puffing out from behind the scarf wrapped tight around her neck and chin as a chill winter wind whipped across the darkened courtyard. Dark blonde hair spilled out from under a knitted cap pressed down over her head. Tutor Langley stood next to her, the craggy features of his face rising above the upturned collar of his heavy black coat like an island of basalt above a wine-dark sea.

Funnily enough, Stross isn't the only writer I've found who seems to keep two blogs - one regular one, one on LiveJournal. I'm not sure why. Just one is a bad enough excuse for excessive procrastination.