Smugglers Edits no. 2

Following on from my editing of Sci-Fi cerative posts – this is number two in the series so far:

Marlon kept whooping and shouting and cheering as he turned his head straight up towards the sky. He was so excited each time he threw a card, all he could do was shout like a chimp. Up above, the clouds dissolved before his eyes. The storm of the century had been neutralised by the card, as if someone threw a bucket of water on a camp fire. Looking up Marlon saw clear skies and the sight of the heavens took the scream from his mouth. Completely silent, he fell. The smuggler saw a perfect night sky. Like thick, creamy velvet he felt he could almost scoop up the blackness in between the stars. Dark galactic ice cream, Marlon felt it would probably taste like liquorice.

The Milky Way stretched out and twinkled forever. There were shooting stars blazing all around, and far to the east the rainbow colours of a nebula cloud glistened against the black space. To the North, on the horizon a faint aurora pulsated.

Marlon kept his eyes on the skies for as long as he dared, a big smile stretched on his face. He knew that if he looked for too long after throwing a card, he risked going crazy, bewitched by the beauty. He had heard stories of men wasting away to skeletons, their skulls looking up to the sky, smiling even as they starved to death just to stare at the beauty above. With effort, he pulled his head down, wiped away the water from his face and turned his eyes back to where he had been searching during the storm, at the bottom of the Tor on the plains.

With the help of the starlight, Marlon could now see close to the horizon the place he was looking for. It was a slight rise in the plains, and at the base of the rise a small fire was burning. From the top of the Tor this was nothing more than a dot of light. It looked like another tiny star on the ground, except it was noticeably green in colour and flickering on the plains. Eyes straight ahead, Marlon blew a kiss to the velvet sky above and started his descent of Nea Tor. Shooting stars rained all around him but the night remained silent. Silent that is, except for the old rain water which squelched in his boots with every step.

Editing old work

I have been editing some old creative work. The Smugglers of Earth pieces I started a while back have some promise, but I rushed them and lost momentum. So here’s a bit of a restart, with more editing: 

The start of a beautiful thing is often something bleak.

Dominating the otherwise flat land of Colm Naiir was a tall hill called Nea Tor. It rose steeply from the plains like a whale breaching the surface of the sea. Nea Tor was so big some called it a mountain, but instead of snow it was capped by a massive slab of rock. In the sunshine the rock looked like a large limpet on the snout of the breaching whale. Now on the plains at night, in the storm of the century, the rock was invisible. Everywhere was howling wind, pouring water, driving rain, black and cold. It had been like this for the last four hours. Every few seconds a lightening bolt would light up the sky, revealing long sheets of rain pelting the Tor. If you had sharp eyes and you looked in just the right place on the rock when lightening struck, you might also have seen a tiny silhouette. A small dark figure standing at the very peak. A smuggler. 

Marlon’s jacket collar was folded up around his neck and face. The collar was so high that it was impossible to see his nose. A smuggler’s trench coat made of thick leather, the jacket was over five feet long hanging down his legs, with never ending pockets on the inside and tribal patterns punctured into the leather on the outside. In the dry it was incredibly warm but it was not waterproof without a spell, and Marlon had run out of spells before he started climbing the hill. All he had left in his pockets was a small pack of cards, which were soaked. 

Marlon’s dark brown eyes were trying to scan the landscape below him. The rain and wind pressed into his bones and plastered his hair across his face. From the limpet rock he would have had a view for many miles on a clear day, but with the storm of the century throwing buckets of water in his face, the task of finding what he was looking for was hopeless. He sighed and bowed his head. So. Much. Rain. His neck and his spine and his legs had a torrent of water flowing over them. Water ran from his head to his feet. Lightening cracked above his head making him dip down onto his knees. The wind was picking up strength and it now hurt his face to look up from his collar. 

Hunched on his knees he made up his mind and reached into his coat’s never ending smuggler’s pockets. He pulled a playing card out. Immediately, the card began to shine bright blue in his hands in the night. Marlon searched his memory for the correct words. He had learned them in the same place he had gotten his jacket. That was a while ago, but after some thought he found that he still remembered. “Stars, show your fire. Let light see my black and deep desires.” A single voice in a storm on top of a mountain. 

Immediately the card leapt from Marlon’s hands and flew like a bullet down the Tor. Marlon jumped to his feet and peered out into the rain to watch the card fly through the stormy night. Seeing the arc of its flight, the hairs on Marlon’s neck stood on end. He loved the cards most of all. 

As it neared the bottom of the hill the card turned smoothly and climbed straight upwards through the rain, leaving a trail of light in its wake. On a direct collision course with the clouds above, the storm roared and thundered anew. The card was completely unaffected by the tempest and held its course. It sped up, flying higher and higher aiming straight at the lightening and the thunder and the angry clouds. From the top of the hill it looked like a tiny missile heading towards an enormous alien mothership. This made Marlon scream as loud as he could, “Go you good thing! Go! Go! Go! Yeeehhaaaaaaaaa!!!!!” The card issued a deafening crack as it broke the sound barrier right before it hit the clouds. 

After that, all was silence. No more lightening, no more wind, no more rain. Only a single voice on top of the Tor. Marlon was still yelling with excitement.

You should blog or podcast

Why do you need to write a blog or to create a podcast? First off, it’s really easy to do. You just need a laptop and a mic. Second, because it lets you refine your ideas and thinking on whatever subject is at hand. And what better way to spend time than to clarify life?

Podcasting in many ways is easier than blogging, because talking is easier than writing. Conversations happen without the need to plan each word or sentence structure.

Neither of these activities will likely make you rich, so don’t do it for that reason.

Both of these activities will show you something about yourself and your ability to create and to stick with a discipline. Do it for that.

If at first you don’t succeed

Sometimes a project goes so badly wrong, the only intelligent response is to mush it up into a proverbial ball…

Then tear the ball to pieces….

Then throw it all on the ground in a big heap…

Then jump up and down on the heap twenty times…

Then set fire to it.

…..and start all over again.

Guests

In my early adventures in podcasting, I’ve learned something important: Guests need to be considered.

Guests are very important (obviously), but they don’t automatically know what you want from them. Already I have had guests who thought there would be videos of the chat posted on the internet (only audio btw), and who felt very uncomfortable with the whole idea of being recorded, right up to the point that I bullied them into a room to sit in front of a mic. I was oblivious to this. I thought they all wanted what I wanted and intrinsically knew my intentions – but why would they?

If you are going to interview people, you also need to work hard to line up a roster of interesting people. I have decided to start with a series of 4 interviews – one a week for a month. As a little teaser, let’s play have you ever.

Have you ever:

  • Devoted your life to art and wildlife?
  • Moved from Africa to Scandinavia?
  • Built a cabin in the wilderness?
  • Drawn cartoons for a living?

4 guests, 4 stories. Coming up on chimpwithcans.com

Embedding a track

Continuing with the podcast preparations, I am going to try and embed a Soundcloud track on this blog post.

This blog will be the primary place to go to hear my podcast. Therefore I want to be able to embed tracks so that they are playable without having to leave this site. This involves getting HTML code and pasting it into WordPress. I’ve never done this before, so here it goes with an old track I digitised from an LP a while ago:

Cute song. Radical embedding of audio!

One step closer to my podcast.

Types of podcast

Free form conversations. Structured research pieces. Reviews of products. Scientific discussions. Interviews. Creative stories. I want to create a podcast, but what sort of podcast should it be? I thought about this yesterday – I came up with a quick list of desirable characteristics:

  • I want it to be a long form conversation rather than a formal interview
  • I want it to be a weekly show if possible
  • I want to discuss in depth some ideas and stories that guests can bring with them
  • Topics of interest are as follows:
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Stories and narratives that affect our lives

After thinking about it for another day – I would stick with what i said, and I would focus on the stories as much as possible. Everyone has a story to tell, and humans relate to each other primarily through stories. Narratives. Archetypes.

I am going pretty well in lining up some guests. There are a few stories to tell already so we’re looking good. It’s an interesting exercise trying to find people to join you in a creative project like this. It forces you to look at your network of people around you, and to think of who might be interesting to listen to. It is the work that you have to go through to produce a series of podcasts. It is more intensive than i thought it would be.

I am already buzzing with my creative pursuit. It is happening alongside my office job career which is going just fine too. But the creativity is food for the soul.

Gimme fuel, gimme fire, gimme that which I desire.

Podcast Plans

One of my goals is to be more creative – specifically I want to create a podcast. So far I have gotten all the equipment, I have created a proof of concept and then a first pilot episode with my friends. These can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/chimpwithcans (you’ll also see some early soundcloud recordings I uploaded as a favour to my mum 🙂 )

All of this was done with the creative process in mind rather than the end goal (ie. wanting to just create SOMETHING, rather than knowing what sort of thing do I want to create). It has been fun. There is a long way to go, though.

Now I am trying to line up some guests for the more formal Chimpwithcans podcast. It is not an easy process and it is making me think more about what the goal of the podcast is. I thought to write down here what exactly I want to achieve from the podcast.

  • I want it to be a long form conversation rather than a formal interview
  • I want it to be a weekly show if possible
  • I want to discuss in depth some ideas and stories that guests can bring with them
  • Topics of interest are as follows:
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Stories and narratives that affect our lives

It’s broad and will be whittled down. I’m really looking forward to being more creative. I’ll keep updates here as they happen.