The Day The Waters Went Up And The Lights Went Down

30 11 2016

skerton-bridge

When I was at school learning Geography; the one thing I would constantly hear from all the teachers, is that the first thing you need in order to start a settlement is the close proximity of water. That is a pretty obvious resource, as though while other necessities are also required; without access to water, your little settlement is not necessarily going to last all that long. One thing though my mind ponders after the events of last year though is that; when a settlement does start-up, do they ever consider how dangerous that water source could potentially be? Much like other cities/towns/villagers around the world, Lancaster has a river. Some of the other locations of the world might have small streams, or big wide rivers; Lancaster sort of has a large wide channel for water but normally, if you were to stand on one of the bridges in Lancaster, you would see that the River Lune appears to be pretty small and shallow. It runs through the centre of Lancaster in a wide trench and pretty deep trench; but normally does not even cover the entire patch of land at the bottom. When it does get high really does depend on whether there is an equinox or if there is plenty of rain to feed it, in which case the river can be nearly lapping the street level of St George’s Quay, which is the lowest road next to the river. St George’s Quay itself has been known to struggle with the flooding at times and over the last several decades, numerous plans were drawn up to try and prevent too much, including raising the road, to building the now erected wall along the river. Even when the river is high, if you go stand on Skerton Bridge, it does not look too bad. It can be deep and the channel is wide, but only really looks high if it gets to the Quay. That all changed on December 5th 2015.

River Lune Flood 5

It was a pretty normal Saturday. It was late in the year, and I had spent the day as normal, sitting behind my Laptop on the table. My head was spinning and judging whether or not I should go and see the film Krampus having seen the trailer a few times and my parents were discussing going somewhere. I think my Dad was supposed to be preaching away, I can’t remember where and I think my Mam was debating whether or not to go with him. Sometime later, my Mam was reading off her kindle, and saw a report announcing road closures, and that there was some flooding around the River Lune. Getting a little interested by this I decided to go out and have a look. The night was pretty dark by this time, it was early December, and I had no idea what I was going to see. I just thought the river would be higher than normal, nothing else. Skerton Bridge is no more than maybe 5 minutes’ walk from my house. I walk the same route every Sunday on my way to church which is less than a few seconds away from the north bank of the Lune. When I arrived I walked onto the bridge, and was amazed at what I saw. Now I was not wearing my glasses that day, I don’t require wearing them all the time but they do help. I walked onto the bridge, and looked down on it. I knew it could be high, but I wasn’t expecting the river to be wider too.

River Lune Flood 1

The river was literally bursting its banks, on both sides. On the north side bank, there is a little hill edged into the left hand side of the bridge. It’s a steady hill which allows people the use of a small tunnel under the bridge, allowing them to cross over to the other side without running through moving traffic. Well; the tunnel had water in it. The whole bank in that area was water-logged and level with the river. I have never seen that before. I heard it may have happened once, when I was perhaps 5 years old, I was now beyond my mid-twenties. The bridge was still accessible, but nearly jammed up with traffic. As I continued to walk across the bridge in awe at what I was observing, I saw that the bank on the other side, which is flat and is something of cycle path, that too had water on it, to the same level as the river. It was the same on the other side of the bridge. The little park near Sainsbury’s feeling a patch of water, submerging pathways. I quickly went back home, before popping immediately out again, with my Mam and my Camera. The dark sky did not help me much in taking pictures, but I got some though. Then, I went over to the Millennium Bridge. The Millennium Bridge is a small footbridge which connects the end of Lune Street with the top of the Quay. Knowing how high the river usually got around the Quay, I wanted to go see. I was right, the river was high there too, but more than I thought. I walked across, and could see swells, little whirlpool like effects near the bridge supports building and turning, and on the dip with the Quay side bridge entrance, I could see the river, nearly within finger reach of the bridge’s lowest pathway dip. It was amazing to see, I took photos and a couple of videos that night, though only one video really worked.

That night was something of a mini adventure for me. It was amazing to see the river like that. To see it not just high but bursting its banks. But what happened next was completely unexpected. I was upstairs watching TV when the lights and power went out. A few seconds later they came back on again without a hitch, but then a little while later, they went out again, but like before returned to full power within seconds. The evening was without hitch for maybe an hour or so more, and then they went out again, and they stayed out. My room was dark upstairs, I could not see a thing, and the only light source was a palaver lamp a friend got me for Christmas a year before (just shake it and it lights up). I looked outside onto the street. It wasn’t just our house, the whole street was gone, even the BP Garage was unlit (although one house across the road had Christmas lights lit up and working?). I cautiously and slowly worked my way downstairs, using the palaver lamp as my only torch. When I got downstairs, there was little light other than a few torches lighting the dining room. I went to bed soon after, but being the kind of guy who still needs something of a night-light to sleep, the darkness was hard to sleep in. It was not just a little dark, it was very dark. I was relying on a wind up torch to give me some help, but as I had images from the Krampus trailer in my head, it was hard not to spook myself out, but I still managed to eventually get to sleep.

Krampus (Legendary Pictures - 2015)

The following morning I awoke, needing to grab my bearings, and remember the previous night. I tried the lamp on my bedside table, nothing happened. Expecting the power to have returned during the night, I discovered it was still off. I got up and proceeded downstairs to see what was going on. The power was still turned off, with only battery operated equipment running. But with no power, there was very little information as to what was going on. We were still able to eat some breakfast, before heading out to church. We walked down the street; some roads were covered in water, it was not the case of water coming over the lips of the hills in the area, it was more the case of the sewers overflowing and simply coming up out of the wells in the streets. When we reached the bridge, we discovered two shocks; firstly, the river was still high. I took another video, surprised to see it still high, and it was flowing strong and fast. I have never seen it do that before. It was like a large open air sewer, carrying out everything it could out to sea, in a desperate attempt to keep the balance. That was the first shock. The other was that the bridge was closed. Somehow, as reports suggested, as the winds picked up, a container had blown into the river and hit the only two road bridges in the city. Both Skerton Bridge the Greyhound Bridge and even the Millennium Bridge were inaccessible.

We still went to church and had something of a bible study/prayer meeting, as there was only a few of us. Many people who come to our church were situated on the other side of the river. The only person to come from that side, did so by parking her car next to Carlisle Bridge, then walk across the very tall bridge that it is, and then all the way to church. It was at church though that we finally got some news regarding current issues. Firstly the lack of power was due to the substation flooding. Reports were stating that it should be back on by: Tuesday morning or evening. We also heard about some of the more serious damage caused by the river, as two people attending church at the time, living not far from us, had their house flooded overnight in a big way. Our little meeting adjourned, we went home, with the two people flooded in tow as my Mam made them some Cheese Sandwiches. Mam was pretty skillful with the beef roast bought at Sainsbury’s the previous night as she was able to have some use of the cooker and made some steaks for us to eat too. As the day went on, it became something of a more mundane and quieter Sunday than usual. Without my usual access to my Laptop or Games, I watched Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal on a portable DVD Player until it ran out of power. Mam and I sat in her Fiat Panda for a little bit to listen to The Bay radio in an attempt to find out some news, but the two clowns on the radio weren’t really all that helpful. Instead of presenting helpful and emergency news, they just sort of did a program like BBC Breakfast, getting other views of other people rather than provide the news that was really desired and needed. As evening drew in, the garage across the road opened a small hatch so some people could buy batteries and bits, so I popped across later in the afternoon to get some batteries to power lights and the radio. Apart from that, my Dad sat down with a book, and we all found ways to ride it through.

Sleeping Queens Kings and Queens

Later on I popped out for a little walk, and my senses and caution were tested as I experienced first-hand, what lack of power meant for the neighborhood on a winter’s day. I popped out with my Camera, and the night was beginning to draw in. I could still see some daylight, but it faded fast. I walked down Aldren’s lane, and saw first-hand how bad the flooding got in that area. The water may had gone, but silt remained, you could see though the patch of the wall where it had come through though, revealing a small channel where it could seep through with nothing to stop it. You could even see the level of how far inland the river got, and how high up the buildings it went, as the dark impression was still on the bricks. The whole area must have been like a mini boating pond, and a lot of silt remained on the path and road. I walked on a little bit, and got feelings and reminders of the film I Am Legend, with the dark night coming in, and houses blanketed without power. I decided to return home before it got too dark. By the time I was within reach of home, it was utter black. Not far from my home there is Ryelands Park, lit up by street lights and piercing lights of the city behind. Across the road there is of course the BP garage, and opposite to there is the once great, now nearly non-existent Skerton High School. Even on a dark winter night, you can see things. There is plenty of lighting from near and afar to light up the area. Well, on this Sunday night, none of these could be seen. I could not see the school, I could not see the faint outline of the city or Castle, I could barely see a tree in the park. In a small open space the only light being produced was from that house’s Christmas decorations, and the cars driving by, judging when it was safe to turn at a spot that once had working traffic lights. The evening was not too bad though, my Mam and Brother played some card games with me for an hour. We played Sleeping Queens and Straw, both fun games. My Dad read his book using a book mark light, and while it was cold due to the lack of heating, we still had an OK night. But like the night before, we went to bed a lot earlier than we usually do. Once again, it was dark and spooky, and getting to sleep was hard, but I managed it in the end. To be honest by this time I was feeling excited and was really enjoying some of the more social and quiet aspects of all this, and was looking forward to another quiet day.

River Lune Flood 2

The following day I woke up and tried the light; power was back on. I went downstairs and could see my Mam running around, while my Dad was busy phoning church members to see if they were ok, all the while the TV was on with News as to what was happening with the power. It was both great to see the power was back on, but also sad as it meant I had to go back to my daily routine at the time of having to do 35 hours of job searching, just to receive a tiny supply of money from Universal Credit. Anyway, I allowed myself some time to treat myself. I told everybody on Facebook I was OK with a post, and then to celebrate the return of Electricity, I chose an aptly named song to post on Facebook: The Power by Snap! I also spent some time texting and emailing others just to see if they were ok and let them know that I was ok. I also uploaded my photos and videos onto YouTube and Facebook too.

So life returned to normal? Sort of… Basically, both road bridges and Millennium Bridge were still unopened, and would remain that way until Tuesday. Well they were claiming that they wanted to make sure they were safe after the container collision. So could not really go into town unless I went the long way round, but I stayed in home to do my job search, while also making sure I put my 3DS and the portable DVD player on charge along with a few other pieces of electrical equipment just in case. It turns out that that was a good idea, as though while there was now power, it was announced that they would be turned off again later, which it was. I was able to continue doing stuff on my Laptop now it had some charge in it, but in the end, it was back to doing the other activities of being without power that I had acclimatized myself to doing the last few days: watching Going Postal and playing on the 3DS, until the batteries went out. From Tuesday onwards, it was pretty much back to normal, there were still feelings and rumours of losing power again, while the news debated the real cost and talked about the stronger tragedies of the incident: people losing their homes, possessions, road closures, broken roads and railway bridges. The news was awash with such things, while other people talked about their experiences and also rumours of more power losses to come, but did not happen, although some had to rely on generators for a while, many of which were in large areas for a week or two afterwards, not to mention the roads that needed mending, and the train bridges that needed rebuilding. But for most of us, life returned to normal. I had a dentist appointment on Tuesday, was at Barnardo’s volunteering that afternoon, and on Wednesday was attending a Christmas Party at UCLan.

River Lune Flood 4

The whole event for me personally was a weird one. At first it was surprising and something awe-inspiring; looking at what was usually a docile river turning into the controlling factor of a weekend. Losing power and taking the things in my life for granted, as though while they came back, they were gone, and I had to find other ways to use up my time, to the re-established joy of spending time with my family joy such an event could bring. A river becoming a torrent, several days without basic luxuries, being apart from many, not knowing if they were ok…or if they had knowledge of what was going on here – or if I was in it? Altogether, this event created an aftermath that would see general life return to normal, but creating a shaken experience as now I could really see the raw power of nature and what power and destruction my usually docile home town river was capable of.

River Lune Flood 3

GENEPOOL (One thing I wish I had done though was find a way into town during the night, just to experience how dark it must have been).





The Great Game Sacrifice

6 04 2016

My PS3 (and GameCube)

Since about 2009, I have owned a PlayStation 3. For many years I kept it in the front room of my house which enabled me to play it downstairs, as well as have a good internet access to enable the system to complete any number of the millions of system and game updates the machine requires on a too regular basis. Anyway, for some time my enthusiasm to play on the machine on a regular basis had begun to dwindle, and it had been a long while since I had bought any new games for it. I think the last time I bought a brand new game for it was when I bought Beyond: Two Souls back in 2013 (which then led to a reflective post on video games as a hobby). Well, roughly about this time last year, I decided to move the machine to my room, where I originally used to play on it when I first bought it. Putting the machine up there allowed me to give more of a part in the playing of games on the console, especially as I was no longer standing up. However, very quickly, my interest waned again and it was back to being a console in my room, just gathering dust, with a lack of enthusiasm with me to playing on it.

The issue really was that despite the games I owned for it, not many of them were games I wanted to instantly pick up and play at that time, and for most of the time I was either playing things that I had played too much, or stuff I did not want to play at that time of day/night. My interest had gone because I was not playing anything all that really interesting to me as a player. I needed new stuff to play really. Luckily, back in July I did pick up a bunch of cheap games I had not played before including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas and Lost Planet 2. I played MW3 and enjoyed the experience, but the other 2, I just found rather boring. Once again, playing on the console got un-regular, and on the evenings where I really wanted to play something, I would usually end-up on an entirely different machine. I t was sort of a never-ending sad story for my PS3.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Infinity Ward - 2011)

Eventually, the penny dropped. One night, I was playing on Brütal Legend, a game I really like, but got to a point that I was not enjoying, and came to the conclusion that I came as far as I could. I tried looking at my other games, and choosing one to play, but came to the stark realization, that for a lot of them, games that I really liked such as Brütal Legend, Killzone 2 and even Far Cry 3 (a game I have considered for a long time as one of my top favourites), it was clear that I did not want to play them again, well not at least for a long time, time for them to get interesting, time for me to forget something about them to keep them fresh, because right now, fresh they weren’t. It was there that I decided to trade them in. I cycled through the games I had, kept ones I was sure of keeping at least for now, like Mortal Kombat 9, Killzone 3 and Fairytale Fights, but got rid of the games I have mentioned above, including those I got back in July, and some others I had got down the line.

Fairytale Fights (Playlogic Entertainment - 2009)

Pretty much the following day, while on break from my time working at Barnardo’s shop, I popped into CEX across the road, chose a few games for possible purchase, and traded in my old ones. It was a hard decision to trade in games I loved, but I thought I could buy them again down the line if I wanted too. So yes, I traded in those games, got an alright price for them, chose a game, took it to the desk where I was told it had gone down in price, so I got an additional one too. I also went into GAME where I got an additional game for just 99p. I was both Happy and Excited, I was about to play games I had not played at all. One was a game I had known about since it was first released back in 2009, while the other 2 I had known about for a while but had not considered buying until near that time. But I was happy and really excited to try out something new. Those games were; Haze, Blur and Dishonored.

Dishonoured

There was still a bit of an issue though. While I may have had cool new games to play, I was still unsure about a game I kept. I decided to keep ModNation Racers, a quirky and very fun racing game that was something of Sony’s attempt at making their own version of Mario Kart, which actually worked; quite brilliantly. I sort of decided to keep it as it could be a good multiplayer game to have, despite the fact that I hardly ever play online multiplayer. I decided to keep it as more a split screen multiplayer game. Anyway, one thing that made the game really work for me was the single player campaign and story, which was very in-depth and thrilling from scene to scene. Since completing that part though, repeating the campaign was just so easy, and out of everything about the game, it was the campaign that really stood out for me. So by deciding to keep it, I decided to make it fun again, by deleting all my data on the console. As a result, the story was fun but challenging again, however, due to the deletion, the game kept getting interrupted by a screen demanding I do an update. It was of course an option rather than a demand to be fair, but when I would click cancel, another would pop up less than 5 minutes later. Having had enough over the years of constant updates on the console and its games; I decided to switch the console’s internet access off. The decision and the action of doing such a thing were actually very easy to come to, and do. At the time I did not regret it, and don’t now. Turning it online hasn’t really been of any advantage for me in the first place other to play on MAG. The only thing that was a bit annoying was that I lost some vehicle bodies in ModNation Racers, but apart from that, have had no issues with games, the console, nor any annoying screens telling me that there is an update required. For the first time in a long time, the console is more or less at a stage with which I am more than happy with it. I can now just play games on it and not have to worry about additional issues.

Since then, I have been happily playing on my games. So far I have been playing the story/campaign mode in ModNation Racers, played a few levels of Haze, and am some distance into Dishonoured, which I am really enjoying. Have yet to play Blur, but am sure will get round to it sooner or later, well more sooner than I was before getting it. I don’t know what will happen after I complete those games, whether I’ll keep them or trade them in, but now, am happier than I was before, and am more up for game trading than I was before, because without doing it, the PS3 in my room would be a lot more dustier now than it was less than a couple of months ago.

My PS3 Games (at the moment)

GENEPOOL (Did you notice the dust claw marks on my PS3?)





Next Week

13 10 2015

Film Reel

Starting next Monday and running all week-long until the following Sunday is the culmination of nearly 5 months’ worth of writing; becoming the biggest project I have undertaken since finishing university.

Pacific Rim (Legendary Pictures - 2013)

Back in May, when I had finished University and was looking for work (which mostly involved sitting behind my laptop sending and waiting for emails regarding work), my Mam suggested I do some kind of project to keep myself busy. As the months progressed I got involved with some volunteer work for both Barnardo’s and The Dukes while also writing stories for the Preston Short Story Slam. In May though, I finally decided upon a big project to undertake, one that while sounding easy from the outset became so big that over 4 months have passed since originally starting it. The project was to produce a week of film reviews.

AKIRA (Toho Co. Ltd. - 1988)

Some of my more regular readers may have spotted that it has been a while since I have posted a film review on here, not since Early June with the film 13 Assassins. Film reviews are nothing new to this blog as you may already know (or not know, in which case I do film reviews). To date I have written and posted 61 film reviews (including 2 two-part reviews) with genres including science fiction, world cinema, animation, monster movies, dramas, super hero films and not forgetting best of all: Godzilla. In the past I have done film review seasons (usually taking place in June) where I review more than 1 film a month, my usual output. But not once have I done an entire week of film reviews.

13 Assassins (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2010)

It was going to be a challenge, but I decided to do it, and as such stopped producing my regular output of 1 a month to concentrate on getting all 7 films for this week of reviews ready, so then I can just plan the week and get them posted. I decided to not just do any random bunch of films, but instead chose to do a series of films, and luckily there was a series that currently and exactly contains 7 films, one that I am a big fan of. So I chose to do that one.

Godzilla (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1954)

It’s not been without its problems. One of the films I did not have on DVD so had to buy it (got a copy for 75p from CEX), to begin with I did not commit to it too much and so had to make my own time schedule to work to, finding images, links, information and videos online was rather tricky and due to time slipping past I could not have it ready as quickly as I wanted it to. Now though I am glad to say that it is ready to begin.

The Raid (XYZ Films - 2011)

Over the past few months working on this, it has been hard, but have been able to become a better writer too as now I am able to think a bit more critically about things, about my own work, time management skills and overall performance (I am even thinking about producing an Evaluation of the project in order to, well – evaluate my performance). I am glad now that I am able to share this with you all, I hope you enjoy it.

The Hunger Games (Lionsgate - 2012)

You may still be wondering what the series in question is, well; I will be announcing that later this week. Although one of the posters in this post is a clue (despite the fact I have continuously left clues here and there on both here and Facebook over the last few months), try to guess which one.

X-Men: The Last Stand (20th Century Fox - 2006)

GENEPOOL (I did some rough calculations in my head, and have figured out that the total word count of all 7 reviews is nearly that of the minimum word count for most novels).





The Joy Of Cheap Games

26 08 2015

Geometry Wars Galaxies (Bizarre Creations - 2007)

I am a gamer, of that there is no doubt. I love playing video games; I almost play them every day at the moment. I like playing all sorts of games from different mechanics, to settings, to genres; I like all sorts of games. Games however have one major flaw. I cannot blame them for this, they are expensive to make and deserve to make their money back, however it is still rather hard to buy games when they are first released as they are rather expensive. Such the expense they are, I have not bought a single video game on its day of release since Beyond: Two Souls (I think).

Beyond: Two Souls (Quantic Dream - 2013)

Most games retail for the price of £40 in the UK when they are first released, and this is quite a lot of money, especially for those of us who are unemployed and looking for work. Even before that when I was on Student Loans and having a set amount of pocket money a month, about £40, that meant I could only buy a video game once a month and that was about it, and more recently I have been taken up by other hobbies and interests which sort of cut into this. As such I have not bought a game first day release since Beyond: Two Souls. It’s not like there are other games I want to buy first day of release either. I still want to play Far Cry 4, I like the look of the recent Godzilla game release for the PS3, and the number of 3DS games I would like to get for my Nintendo 3DS.

Godzilla (Natsume - 2014)

I have plenty of platforms that I play on, but due to the expensive costs games can be, I find that it’s much easier now to wait a while (roughly a year or two) until they become cheaper. Most of the games I have bought through Steam, or even GOG.com are when there is a sale on, because when it goes down in price remarkably, I can just get up and buy them. As for other consoles, I usually end up now buying them when they have dropped by a rather lot. Another 5 or 10 pounds I will be able to better afford Far Cry 4. While it could be a year away, I would rather buy Godzilla on the PS3 for a much cheaper price as money is valuable, and if you can get something for a cheaper price, why not? It’s a system I have used in the past and bought Spec Ops: The Line nearly a year after it was first released. In recent weeks I have played a lot of games, and bought quite a few. Some of these I have bought for rather cheap prices from GAME (and one from Barnardo’s) Now whether or not the quality of these games are any good is another question, but some of the games I have bought recently are games I never thought I would ever play. Games like Geometry Wars: Galaxies and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas, whereas games like Modern Warfare 3 and Lost Planet 2 are ones I have fancied playing in the past. The last 3 I actually got as part of a deal and only paid about £6 overall for all three of them. Most of these games though I have yet to play (at time of writing) as due to a recent busy schedule. I have been able to play Geometry Wars: Galaxies though and have found it to be rather fun.

Rainbow Six Vegas (Ubisoft - 2006)

Another game I have played recently is Harvest Moon DS. I have wanted to get a Harvest Moon game on my 3DS for a while now. I like these sort of games because while the idea of a farming game does not sound all that exciting, it is actually quite fun trying to run a farm, and do all the activities needed in running one. While I have sighted lots of Harvest Moon games in places like GAME, maybe CEX too, but when Harvest Moon DS turned up inside Barnardo’s, I just had to grab it. Why? Because it was going for about 99p. Doesn’t really show confidence in price from the shop selling it, but Barnardo’s isn’t exactly a video game shop. The other reason I just had to grab it is because of an issue with the cheap games thing. While most games reduce in price in rapid succession meaning that within a year a game could be nearly less than half its normal price, DS games don’t.

Nintendo 3DS

DS games cost the same as new games upon release. For some unknown reason (or that I just don’t know) however they don’t depreciate as quickly as other games. It could be that on one side because they are not a disc based format, are harder to make, but the lack of depreciation doesn’t make sense when you realise that the Nintendo DS is the Second Best Selling Video Game Console in history behind the PlayStation 2. So why it doesn’t depreciate is still something of a mystery. Because of the lack of depreciation though, it means that most pre-owned titles still cost rather a large amount of money, even if the game came out 2 or 3 years ago. Getting a copy of Geometry Wars: Galaxies and Harvest Moon DS then were good spells of luck as I got Harvest moon in the end for 49p, and Geometry Wars was £2.99. In the past when I wanted to buy games for my 3DS I have had to trade in games for value to buy them; such as when I bought Pokémon White. The expense bracket for 3DS game in particular means that while I do own a few games for the console (and borrow quite a few from my brother), I only have 1 3DS game (Super Pokémon Rumble) and consider it lucky that the 3DS plays all previous DS games too. Which does become rather sad when there are games I want to play on it, I will have to wait even longer to buy them.

Super Pokémon Rumble (Ambrella - 2011)

Waiting for games to get cheaper can get a bit tiresome when you want to just play them, but usually in the end it’s a lot more worth it, because even if the game turns out to be more mediocre, or just generally bad than what you were hoping for, at least you didn’t nearly break the bank buying it on day one of release. Also it means that you can play other things and try new things you didn’t first think about. It makes games less of a chore and plan as to which to buy next and the need to play the same as everyone else; something which it can easily become and more like the hobby you want it to be. You may also find a treasure or two too. For the time being I am just going to play the cheap stuff, (things pre-owned or mega cheap from GAME, CEX or That’s Entertainment), or things in the GOG.com and Steam sale seasons, but right now I have 3 PS3 games that I need to play, plus finish Beyond: Two Souls (I restarted playing it as I was too far behind).

Steam (Valve Corporation, 2003 - Present)

GENEPOOL





In An Attempt To Cure Writer’s Block

8 07 2015

Pen and Paper

Since finishing University a few weeks ago (and while waiting for Graduation in just over a week’s time), I have been trying to do a number of things to keep myself productive and busy. I have been looking for work, trying to come up with a career plan, writing weekly blog posts, coming up with ideas for stories and board games, reading when I can, playing games, baking cakes, volunteering at Barnardo’s and at The Dukes play in the park again. One thing though that I have wanted to continue since finishing, I have found rather hard, and that is writing stories. I like writing stories, I like all kinds of writing, and when I am in the zone, I just can’t stop. Starting is an entirely different matter however.

Darkmouth (Harper Collins - 2015)

I have kept up with my blog writing, and right now am writing a series of film reviews to be shown in a few weeks’ time, but writing large pieces of work is proving to be rather difficult. Writing big projects at University (in hindsight) was easier, as I was motivated to get the work done as best as I could, but now I need to find new motivation and am finding it hard. I am constantly coming up with ideas for projects, either it be stories, blog posts or board games, but getting round to actually doing them is what I am struggling with. Writing short stories shouldn’t necessarily be too much of a problem as they are small, quick stories to write, however, starting them is as difficult as any other project. Ideas for them are hard as they need to be concise, small, and not necessarily involve big incidents, or big things happening……….which is kind of what I like. Back in May I even came up with a plan to write at least one short story a month, but in June I (technically) did not write one.

A Cake and some Cake Pops I made recently.

I say technically; basically, last month I entered Preston’s first Short Story Slam. A writing/performing contest where writers write short stories to then read out. Writer’s need to write 3 stories of no more than 200 words that can be read in 4 minutes or less. It’s a head to head sort of thing (as far as I understand it) and I need to write 3 short stories for it. A week ago I wrote one story for it, I still have another 2 to write (at time of writing) but coming up with ideas for such a small word count I am finding tough, and even when I do have an idea, simply sitting down behind my laptop to write it is proving tricky. It was only when I had a voice going through my head telling me to write the first story that I finally did it (The Slam is at the end of July, so I still have some time). Even when it isn’t that though, writing in general (when it is not for my blog) I am finding tough. I can develop ideas quite nicely, (I prefer to do it in my head where I can visualise it, while find that writing it down can usually mean I end up leaving and forgetting about it), but that’s still not writing it.

Rory's Story Cubes: Prehistoria

In an attempt to cure what I think is writer’s block; I have started doing little exercises to get me writing again. While my mind wanders onto other ideas of approaching it, for now, this one is working. I have had Rory’s Story Cubes for over a year now. First I got a small expansion in the form of Rory’s Story Cubes: Prehistoria, but discovered using them rather hard, so I bought a copy of the base set, and was able to get going with them. To begin with I just used them as a little game to play with friends and at the Writer’s Society at University. Basically, the base set is a box of 9 dice, with each side on all the dice being a different image (54 images in total). You roll them, and then use the 9 images to make a story. It has to start with “Once Upon A Time” and can either be done as one continuous story as a group, or several stories. There are other versions of the base set and several expansions, all of which can be mixed and matched to create a diverse range of stories. Recently, I decided to use them to help me write some short stories. I use them in the same way as you normally would play with them; roll them and look at the pictures rolled (sometimes re-rolling if I can’t think of anything). Instead of telling the story to someone though, I would instead write my story in a Word Document.

Story Dice 1

I have been taking the pictures of the images I have rolled, considering possibly putting my stories online at a later date (with a photo of the dice to show what images I have to work with). I actually rather enjoy coming up with stories this way; they can be about anything and there are no restrictions as to the length of the story, nor the genre it is in. It really does help me to get back into writing short stories. While I have not done one for about a week (due to being busy with my current weekly schedule), I look forward to writing another one, and hopefully with time, be able to write some without assistance, possibly even bigger ones. Right now though, I have a Short Story Slam to enter.

Story Dice 2

GENEPOOL








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