Monday 20 August 2012

52 Short Stories in a Year Challenge - Month Two Update

Two months since I started the challenge of writing 52 short stories in a year, and here's my current progress -

Writing since June 21, including 52 short stories challenge

Writing since June 21, including 52 short stories challenge

Name Type Word Count Status 52 Short Stories Tally
1 The Ship Short Story 3793 Finished - to edit 1
2 Take me Back with You Short Story 2528 WIP
3 Take me Back with You Novelisation 14553 WIP
4 The Lost Train Short Story 4032 WIP
5 The Other Set of Feet Short Story 3749 Finished - to edit 2
6 The Hunter Novella 10248 WIP
7 Once We Were Children Short Story 2513 Finished - to edit 3
8 The Assignment Short Story 8802 Finished - to edit 5
9 Never Give Up Short Story 5111 Finished - to edit 6
10 Clones Short Story 1323 Finished - to edit 4
11 Beat Down 1 - Clones Serial Novella 5082 WIP
12 Sunfall Short Story 483 WIP

Started June 21st Word Count 62217

Target for Aug 20th Pages (300w/pg) 207

61 days Target 61000

Ahead 1217

As you can see, I have six completed short stories, although none have been edited.  I'm looking to sit on everything at least three months.  Being overeager to edit and publish/submit tends to result in stories that either have all the good stuff cut out or are riddled with errors.  It's always been my experience that editing is far easier once you have left your writing so long it looks like it was written by someone else.

I actually wrote less than last month, but then I did spend five days in Korea, and in this summer heat ... well.  My big production months have always been October through January, so I'll be looking for some serious bumps there.  Still, more than 60k or 200 pages in two months is a solid effort.

Now, in true garrulous writer style, I'll say a couple of things about the work I've started/finished since last time.

Take Me Back With You is turning into contemporary romance novel.  I think.  I'm not sure because I don't read them and I've never written one before.  There are no cyborgs or UFOs though.  Romance seems to sell well though so if I can maintain my interest long enough to get it up to a book of about 60k, I'll put it out under some cheesy pen name like Christina W. Ard.  Something like that ...!

Got a few more words done on The Lost Train, but its a bit stalled.  Should be able to finish it.  The good thing about having a spreadsheet is that I haven't forgotten its there yet.

The Hunter is starting to think its a novel.  It's set in the world of the Tube Riders, after the Tube Riders have fled London.  It's dark.  The characters are interesting.  Not sure what to do with it.  It's certainly not a sequel but its running parallel at the moment.

The Assignment is finished, and ran way over my 7k target.  It's probably the best of the lot so far, but its a bit long-winded.  Will have to chop it down.

Never Give Up is a story about cricket.  I like cricket, and I reckon I write cricket action sequences well.  My second pro published story was a story about a cricket match featuring a cyborg as a stand in player.  I'm thinking to write a bunch of short stories about cricket in the hope that Amazon gets popular in India.

Clones was something I whipped out in an evening in an attempt to mimic the sparse style of Ray Bradbury's The Lake.  It is a short literary piece about childhood loss and personality changes, hence the "clones" of the title.  Not sure if its any good or not.  Haven't looked at it since I wrote it.

Beat Down 1 - Clones has nothing to do with the story Clones above.  This my attempt to crack into the serial market.  This is a manga-style, dumb entertainment thing.  Its central character is a borderline immortal pro wrestler called Russell who has to save the world for various reasons in a silly comic way.   Yesterday I introduced a new character, Cap'n Nerv, who is half pirate, half chav.  Should be interesting.  I've already planned out perhaps six "episodes" of about 15-20k each.  I've already decided on a pen name but its a secret.

Sunfall is a story about a man called Richard who wakes up to hear that the sun has died and that the earth has three days before it becomes too cold for humans to survive.  He needs to find his girlfriend and tell her something important.  I don't know what yet because I only started it yesterday while I was waiting for some files to transfer from one USB to another before I could open up one of the other documents.

Anyway, enough talking, time for some action.


Wednesday 8 August 2012

South Korea trip part 1 - the DMZ

At the end of the July I took a short five day trip to South (and briefly North) Korea.  It is the closest foreign country from where I live in Japan but strangely enough I had never been there (except to change planes) in the eight years I've lived in this part of the world.

The first day we took a tour to the Demilitarized Zone, that is the area along the border with North Korea, stretching approximately 2km on either side.  No idea why they call it "demilitarized" when it is clearly packed full of firepower on both sides.

First stop on the tour was at a kind of visitor centre with lots of interesting artifacts kicking around, including this bridge, which had a wall at the far end symbolizing the closed border with the North, which was adorned with messages of hope from those people on the South side who had relatives in the North.

This bullet-riddled train was destroyed when the train line between the North and the South was bombed during the war.  This train has been left as a monument to that time.

Near the train above, this bridge is known as the Freedom Bridge, and is part of the train line between the North and the South.

This is the last train station on the South Korean side of the border that is still in use.  Note the sign to Pyongyang.  Hopefully one day you'll be able to take a train from one capital city to the other.

This viewing point is just a kilometer or so from the border.  Those hills you can see in the distance are actually in North Korea.  However, you weren't allowed to take photos any closer than this.  There was a line painted on the floor.  However, you were allowed to look through the viewing machines.  There wasn't a lot to see, though, except a few hills and some buildings that might have been factories in the distance.

This is the Joint Security Area, originally a village called Panmunjeom, on the actual border.  The blue huts actually straddle the border and are used for negotiations.  The soldiers in the middle are South Koreans, and stand in a kind of Taekwondo pose, some of them partially hidden behind the huts, as a defensive technique, so our guide said.  The soldiers at the front of the picture are from the UN, and appeared decidedly more relaxed.  The building in the background is in North Korea, and when we visited there was one guard outside.  Occasionally you can see North Korean tour groups on that side too.

The whole area was very tense, with our guides very strict on us walking in two rows, only taking pictures where they said, and not looking back when we left.  How much of it was necessary, and how much of it was for show, I couldn't tell.

Inside the middle of the negotiation rooms seen above, here I am on the North Korean side of the border, marked by a strip of concrete.

This monument harks back to an incident in the mid-70s when the area of Panmunjom was actually open and both groups of soldiers could walk around freely.  Two US soldiers went to supervise the cutting down of a tree that was obstructing the view from one checkpoint to another.  A group of North Korean soldiers appeared and the two Americans were axed to death.  After the incident the border was  set down and neither side was allowed to cross it.  This monument is at the site of the tree.  You can read a better account of the incident here.

This bridge, not far from the monument above, crosses the border, and is known as the Bridge of No Return.  At the far end is a wall now, but at the end of the Korean War several thousand POWs from both sides were brought here and told to cross the bridge to the Korean they wanted to live in.  Once their choice was made, there was no turning back, hence the name.  Incidentally, only about 1/6 people chose to go to the North Korean side.